Dubrovnik is not the easiest vacation spot with a baby or a toddler. The most critical choice you make is your accommodation and its location. Most challenging things are the streets which might have no pavements, numerous flights of stairs and no restaurants which can be considered children friendly. On the other hand, Croatians are as children friendly as can be.
Choose your location wisely
One of your most critical choices you have to make is the location of your accommodation. It is more critical in Dubrovnik than in many other towns since Dubrovnik is surrounded by hills which means you might end up carrying your stroller for several flights of stairs. Playgrounds are also scarce so selecting a location near one is a wise choice and saved our nerves. The best location in our opinion for families with small children are the areas of Lapad or maybe Babin Kuk.
Map of the Lapad area
We stayed in Lapad. Lapad is situated about 3 kilometres from the old town. Its absolute best are the promenade, playgrounds and beaches.
Promenade Kralja Zvonimira: The promenade is a street where cars are not allowed to drive. It is a great place for the kids to run safely. On both sides of the promenade are restaurants, cafes, ice-cream bars and hotels. The promenade is also great for your strollers to run smoothly which is a luxury in Dubrovnik. In the end of the promenade is a beach.
The promenade ends to the beach
Playgrounds: Along this promenade are 2 playgrounds which were highly used by us and can be recommended. They were nothing special but enough to get the most of energy out of our 3-year old. Just a heads-up: It seems that there is the survival of the fittest contest going on in the playgrounds. Bigger kids might be unsupervised so watch out for your toddler. Local toddlers are of course carefully followed by their parents. There is also a yard filled with bouncy castles and trampolines on the promenade but it costs some kunas.
The other playground on the Lapad promenade belonged to a hotel but unfortunately the equipment was in a pretty bad shape
Beaches: Most of Croatian beaches are either rock or pebble. In the end of the promenade is a beach which for locals is sand but in my opinion is 50 % pebble and 50 % sand. To my knowledge, this is the only even partly sandy beach in Dubrovnik. Our 3-year-old loved to collect small pebles as her treasures.
There is also a lovely beach called Copacabana in the area of Babin Kuk. You can easily walk there with strollers from promenade by first following I. Dulcica and then turning right and following Vatroslava Lisinskog through the camping ground straight down to the bay. Copacabana is, in my opinion, more beautiful and it is shallow for about 5 metres from the waterline. It also has more to look at as the great cruise ships flow past the beach. The pebbles by the waterline are very small and easier on the foot as well. There is also an ok tavern by the beach with reasonable price range and spectacular view.
Lapad beach is half sand, half pebble
The lovely view from the Lapad beach
The Copacabana beach
Bus connection to the Old town: There is a very convenient bus ride to the old town by bus number 6 which only lasts for 15 minutes. The bus leaves from Kralja Tomislava and comes back to the M. Bratosa. You can also walk to the Old town from Lapad. By foot and with strollers the trip took us about 35 minutes one way but is definitely walkable if you are interested in a bit of exercise with your strollers.
Walk to the harbour: You can also easily walk to the Gruz harbour were the most of the ships leave. It only takes you 10-15 minutes with a stroller and there are pavements all the way.
Groceries and baby stuff: In Lapad there is a gathering of shops (locally called a mall but in my opinion nothing like it) on Kralja Tomislava which is right next to the promenade. There is a bigger supermarket Tommy where they sell almost everything you need and a shop DM which carries a bigger selection of baby foods, diapers and other baby necessities (more about baby stuff below).
for the baby
There is a good selection of canned baby food available in DM-stores and an ok selection in bigger supermarkets. Most of the baby food is German (available brands are Hippo and Babylove). The food tasted the same as our Finnish versions and our baby did not suffer any stomach ache. Of course there are some Croatian mixes but many were familiar to us as well. There is also a variety of formula available (available brands Nan etc.).
It is also easy to make your own baby food if you have a kitchen and perhaps a blender at hand. There were potatoes, carrots, broccoli and cauliflower available in supermarkets as well as plenty of fruits. Also if you are a porridge maker oatmeal flakes could be found in both store types.
for a toddler
Although Croatians are very kid-friendly people, their restaurants are still far behind in making life easier with smaller children. Even though we ate out every evening, we came across only one high chair. It might be that there are more high chairs available in the old town but we preferred to dine in the Lapad area. There were also no menus or utensils for children. We took the habit of ordering an extra plate for the toddler and giving her what the adults were eating. Eating with an adult fork proved too hard for our daughter so she ended eating with her hands most of the time.
We could not find any restaurants with a play area and as it took a while for the food to arrive our daughter became quite restless. I recommend that especially if you are dining in the Lapad area near the playgrounds, bring your baby monitor or walky-talky along. One can play with the toddler in the playground, until the food comes and then holler you back via the baby monitor or walky-talky.
From the supermarkets you can find all the necessities for a toddler. DM-stores again carry more selection in drinks and snacks for that age group as well.
Restaurant recommendations in the Lapad area
As already mentions none of these were not especially child friendly but had good food in a reasonable price as well as ok customer service.
– Buono, Uliza kneza Domagoja 1, italian typen food, everything I tried was good http://www.restaurant-buono.com
– Lapad, situated on Petra Zoranika, very nice ambiance especially in the evening, good grilled food
DM stores have a wide selection of baby foods,
I feel that with small children your only option is to choose a place where there is a kitchen and a fridge. This is why we chose to live in an apartment. Our 3-year-old could not survive a hotel room for 2 seconds. The location of the apartment was very good but the apartment itself was a bit of a disappointment. On the basis of our experience I recommend the following questions even if your apartment is named child-friendly
– how many flights of stairs are there are from the street to the appartment (there are always stairs – even on ground floor) and to the terrace?
– is there space for you stroller?
– are the railings safe for a smaller child?
– are there heat/cool air pumps in all the rooms?
– are there utensils for children e.g. smaller forks, a potty and high chair? Maybe also a blender for self made baby food. Prepare to get a ”no” a lot of times.
– is there an electronic mosquito repellant in every room?
Ground floor apartment but still two flights of stairs
However, you got to pick your own mandarines – even though they were raw
Must see: Island Lopud and Sunj beach
Even though the old town is the number one thing for most tourists, it does not impress your toddler that much. The old-town is shaped so that on both sides there are very steep stairs and along the middle there is a plateau. On the plateau you can move around with a stroller. However, when you exit the main street Stradun and try to enter the smaller streets you might encounter difficulties as your stroller does not fit there. If you end up leaving the stroller to your accommodation, there are many many many many tourists groups following their guides even in the off-season. They make moving around quite hard for a toddler and the stairs are still mostly too steep for a young child.
What I recommend is that after a stroll in the old town you forget about it and concentrate on the islands. We visited island Lopud as we had heard that there would be a beautiful sand beach there. It was definitely worth the trip and I recommend it to all who travel with small kids.
There are over 10 companies in Dubrovnik who offer the cruise to all 3 Elaphite Islands. However, this means mostly that you will spend the entire day in a small boat, hopping from one island to another. This might suit some but for families with small children, it is often difficult because there is no time for napping and nothing to do on the boats. In addition, these cruises cost 250 kunas per person.
The cheaper alternative is to hop on Jadrolinija (state owned ship company) waterbuses and make your own schedules. The water bus trip to Lopud costs 23 kunas (high season)/ 19 kunas (low season) one way. Kids under 3 travel for free. Tickets are bought in the Jadrolinija office although you cannot find the opening hours anywhere. The water buses run from the harbour of Gruz and go to Lopud (and some other islands) 4 times every weekday and twice during the weekend. We left at 10 from Gruz and left from Lopud at 15. The trip from Dubrovnik to Lopud takes about 45 minutes. More information can quite easily be found on Jadrolinija’s website (http://www.jadrolinija.hr/en/home) which is quite efficient in English.
The ship that we rode was called Ilpositra. It had 3 levels and I recommend the highest if the weather is good. However, stand in line on time because everybody wants to be on the top deck. On the middle deck there is a very small kiosk with some drinks for sale. The smokers usually take up the seats on each side of the boat on the middle deck. The lowest deck does have seats indoors but they do not have a view.
The Sunj beach is found on the other side of the Lopud island as the harbour and small village. You can walk the trail there – the distance is about 1600 metres. Just follow the signs. But if you are crunched for time as we are usually, hop on a golf cart, play 10 kunas per adult (kids go free) and enjoy the 10 minute ride. Remember to leave the stroller home. Notice that the golf carts are not waiting for the tourists in the harbour. You can find them waiting by restaurant Robinzoon if you follow the signs towards the Sunj beach. You can fit up to 8 persons into the bigger carts so a bigger group can travel together.
On the Sunj beach you can find sun beds and 3 restaurants. Although, I recommend bringing your own picnic lunch because it’s quite handy with the ship and the golf cart. The beach is absolutely beautiful. It is shallow for about 50 metres which is perfect with small kids. And as you have laid on the pebble beaches it is a welcome chance for the kids and adults to play with the sand.
Many tourists also visit island Lokrum which is a 15 minute boat trip from the Old town. You can read more about it here on the momaboard-blog (http://momaboard.com/cities/dubrovnik-croatia-the-ultimate-guide-with-kids/blog). You can also read about their trip to Lopud, although, they had not liked Lopud and Sunj as nearly as much as we. Remember, that there are 1246 island in Croatia so there is plenty of choice and we were left with a bunch we would still like to visit.
The lovely Sunj beach
The Sunj beach is a hidden bay
Enjoying the sand
Golf carts will make your trip to the beach a lot faster
Arriving from the airport (to Lapad area)
With a Taxi
Our landlord negotiated a price of 53 euros for a taxi ride (a bigger taxi for 6 persons) from airport to the area of Lapad. It would have been 30 euros for a taxi for 4 persons. The ride took us approximately 40 minutes to Lapad. This was very handy although the taxi driver took us to a wrong address at first. It’s good to notice that there are no car seats for the baby in the taxis so we brought our own.
With a Bus
There is also a bus which takes you from the airport to the main bus station. It costs 35 kunas or 5 euros per adult. However, from there you have to continue with a local bus to Lapad and it only rides once every hour. In the buses you are expected to fold your stroller but from the looks of it not too many tourists are abiding. Toddlers and babies can ride the bus for free.
Bring these along to Dubrovnik
• good baby and toddler carriers are essential as this is the promised land of stairs
• mosquito repellant for kids and a plug-in device for scaring of mosquitos at night (also sold on spot)
• cream for mosquito bites
• plastic shoes (Crocs etc.) for swimming on pebble beaches (and in apartments for indoors as the floors are
• a thicker quilt for your baby to lie on on the floor in the apartment and also in restaurants (if they do not crawl)
• insulated bag which holds the baby food or your picnic lunch cold or warm
• toddler fork, knife and spoon (if used by your child – these are not recognized by restaurants) and a cup with two handles if needed
• a sack-n-seat type of baby seat/high chair for the baby if you have plans to move anywhere outside the old town
• if you visit Dubrovnik during fall or spring, bring windproof clothes as the ocean breeze can get chilly
If you have any questions, I’m more than happy to answer just post them here or send me an email at [email protected]