Last week we explored Rovinj and all that this Istrian city offers kids and parents alike. This week, we’re traveling to Split, a destination of many hidden treasures. Famous as a port to islands like Hvar and Korcula, Split is also a highly desirable destination in its own right – and not just for grownups. From medieval castles like Diocletian’s palace to thrilling water sports (including one of its own!), Croatia’s second largest city offers enough excitement to keep the whole family entertained for days on end. Here are just a few of our favorite activities:
Although sea kayaking can be quite the adventure for experts, the calm waters of Split are the perfect place to introduce this fun activity to kids. Learn paddling techniques and safety along the coast of the Marjan peninsula as you explore secluded bays and pebble beaches, where you might also stop along the way to cool off or even snorkel through the clear water.
The newly opened Split Aquarium brings the underground world of the Adriatic Sea to visitors of all ages, with more than 130 different native species across 22 tanks, along with flora and fauna unique to the region. At 800 square meters (8,600 square feet), the attraction features sharks, eels, lobsters, turtles and stingrays, which kids can pet. Don’t forget to buy a souvenir in the gift shop to remember your walk through the sea!
Rafting on the Cetina River
Young daredevils will feel like Indiana Jones (or his 21st century equivalent) as they raft the Cetina River, one of the most scenic canyons in the world. Located just a half-hour drive from Split, the Cetina canyon is one of the loveliest unspoiled natural wonders in Dalmatia, rife with jungle-like scenery and emerald water. Appropriate for kids ages 8 and older who can swim, the Cetina River rapids are categorized between novice and intermediate (Level 2/3). Don’t forget extra clothes and easily dried shoes!
Visit Marjan Hill Nature Park
A symbol of Split, Marjan Hill rises above the city offering a cool respite in the summer months. No visit to the city would be complete without a walk or bike ride through the park’s nature paths to admire the birds, plant species and stunning coastal views from the top. For the full experience, don’t forget to wander inside the Museum of Ivan Mestrovic, a tribute to one of Croatia’s most famous sculptors at his former palace. Today the museum holds the Ivan Mestrovic Gallery, showcasing some of his finest work.
Small Red Submarine
For kids who like to have stories all their own, you won’t want to miss the Marieta semi-submarine, an experience to which no schoolyard friends will be able to reply, “Oh, I did that, too.” Taking off from the Split waterfront, the bright red submarine is available for day or night tours. See abundant marine life from a personal viewing window five feet below the surface, or walk out on the deck to enjoy a spectacular view of Diocletian’s Palace.
Picigin on Bacvice Beach
Pici-what? Don’t worry, we’ll show you how to enjoy this traditional game! You can also easily catch on to the rules by watching the world’s best “piciginasi” play on Bacvice Beach. The athletes’ acrobatics as make this sport as fun to watch as to play, and kids can practice themselves in the shallow water – no jelly shoes required. Played year-round, picigin is even popular among fanatics on New Year’s Eve, although we recommend getting your start in warmer weather! Bacvice Beach also features a leisure park equipped with many kids’ activities, including slides, a trampoline, and a rubber castle.
Want more ideas for family-friendly vacations to Croatia? See our Family Journeys for full itineraries.