My wife and I recently took the kids on a lovely long sunny weekend to Dubrovnik and we couldn’t recommend it more…here’s why
With a reasonable flight time from the UK and plenty of family-friendly accommodation, lots of great sights, plenty for the kids to do (ours are 5 and 8), beautiful weather, lovely food and local wine, and endless Adriatic sea vistas what’s not to love (apart from the cruise crowds – but there’s a big tip on how to avoid those below)? We took a 4-night short break flying out of Heathrow and came back feeling refreshed and pleasantly surprised at how much of a good time we’d had.
Where to stay
We are lucky to have a number of Croatian friends who recommended some great family-friendly hotels. We plumped for the Hotel Neptun located in Babin Kuk / Lapad Peninsula. The hotel is part of the Importante group of hotels that owns a group of different hotels along the same stretch of coast. The big advantage of this was that by staying in one, you had access to all the facilities of the sister hotels, all within the same location [note: sadly the amazing rooftop pool at the Royal Blue next door is for adults-only.
Hotel Neptun, Dubrovnik, prices from £150 per night. Check rates here.
The hotel has a range of rooms, but we decided to splash out on the eighth (and top) floor Premium Skyline Sea View Suite with Balcony which came with two separate rooms, small lounge and stonking views especially at sunset. The hotel itself is not the most attractive of buildings – as with many of the beach-orientated hotels in Dubrovnik it is a relatively unappealing concrete shell that has been recently refurbed to a decent standard. Th hotel had all the facilities we needed including a choice of 5 pools (including some nice kid-friendly shallow ones), 3 restaurants, spa and fitness area. Although it didn’t have a kids club, we found we didn’t really need that, and the kids were very happy playing in the various swimming pools when we weren’t out and about. The food was decent and service attentive,
Other hotel recommendations
There are a number of well-located and family-friendly hotels and apartments all within an easy striking distance of the Old Town. Probably the best of the crop (with a price to match) is the Sun Gardens hotel which does have a dedicated kids club, otherwise, Hotel More, Hotel Bellevue, Rixos Libertas, and Valamar Lacroma are all good options combining good facilities with beach locations and easy access to the Old Town.
A selection of recommended hotels in Lapad and north of the Old Town
Where to eat and drink
We ended up eating a mix of spur-of-the-moment tourist restaurants, recommendations from locals and the hotel eateries. All of which by and large were very passable with good fresh ingredients (especially seafood) and quaffable local wines. Our favourite by far was the excellent Restaurant Dubrovnik on Lopud Island (you need to go by boat). We also very much enjoyed our sundowner at the famous “hidden” Mala Buža Bar. We did do a touristy lunch in the Old Town (Dalmatino Dubrovnik), although a bit off the main drag, which was again very passable. For a top end restaurant experience, the locals recommend Pantarul. In Lapad Bay itself, we ate upstairs at Eden which had some good kid menu options.
How to make the most of your time…
There is a lot to do for kids. We made a couple of trips into the Old Town – once to walk around the city walls and cobbled streets in the morning cool, and a second time to go up the cable car in the early evening then a wander around town and a sundowner drink at the Mala Buža Bar.
We also chose to hire a small boat for a half-day, visiting three of the nearby islands, a sea-cave and some beaches including a fantastic fresh seafood lunch and drinks onboard. Your hotel will be able to organise a boat for you if you want to that. Friends had also suggested the clear bottom submarine but we didn’t quite have time for it.
Planet’s top travel tips
We’d recommend going either side of the peak (and very hot) summer season – either April to June or September to mid-November. You can expect warm days and evenings, and nice swimming temperatures with a low chance of rain.
To avoid the crowds, the Old town is best either early morning or early evening. It’s also best when there aren’t any big cruise ships in Port (or the passengers are still onboard them). These ships are an increasing blight for relatively small tourist cities like Dubrovnik which can often have their daily visitors numbers swell by in excess of 7,000 making it a distinct bun-fight to get around the main attractions.
You can avoid the worst of the cruise passengers by looking at when the big ships are in Port. All the ship movements are published in a handy downloadable form on the Port of Dubrovnik website (select arrivals/ departures from the lefthand menu). An example is shown below – it is colour coded to show how busy any given day will be and also shows the ship’s tonnage (GT), which gives you a good idea of how big the boats are. Most cruise ships passengers will be onboard a couple of hours around arrival and departure time which then gives you an idea on the best window to make your trip into the Old Town or up the cable car.
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