I use strollers on a daily basis in Zagreb (where we live) and I’d say the city is very stroller friendly. However, once you get to the coast, it can be a bit trickier.
Split’s center is built around the remains of Diocletian’s Palace and there were no elevators or paved streets back in his day, so stairs and cobblestones make strollers a little inconvenient. However, walking along the promenade (the Riva) and a little outside of the “Palace,” strollers are no issue.
In Dubrovnik you’ll run into the same problem. If you want to walk the city walls, you’ll need a baby carrier, however, through the main center, the smooth white marble stones making pushing strollers a breeze. Be sure you go through the Pile or Ploce gates if you take the stroller, though, as there are ramps which make getting into the old town, easier.
Plitvice Lakes National Park + strollers = bad decision. The pathways through the park are mainly wooden planks which lead to “natural” paths that go through forested areas with tree roots and other obstacles for strollers, so save yourself and bring the carrier (this goes for other national parks, too)!
Be very mindful if you go to the lakes with toddlers or young children, as there aren’t any railings to hold onto along those wooden paths, nothing to stop someone from falling in - same goes for Krka National Park.
Basically, if you are looking to see ruins, fortresses, old churches or national parks, leave the stroller at the hotel.
All of the above items are readily available. You can buy baby food, diapers and wipes at any small local market store, however, those smaller corner stores often don’t stock bottles, pacifiers or formula. For those items, the bigger grocery stores usually sell them (bigger Konzums, Plodine, Spar), and you can always find them at stores like DM, Muller, Bipa (which sell deodorant, sunscreen, make up, other toiletries, snacks, and more).
Baby formula can also easily be found at the pharmacy (which might not have a wide selection of brands, so you might want to bring some from home if your child is particularly picky), but it's a good spot to go in a pinch.
Glass baby food jars are still more widely sold than the squeeze packs, which is unfortunate, as the squeezables are much more convenient for toting around in a backpack or purse. The glass jars also come in limited flavors and you can’t really find veggie-fruit mixes (it’s one or the other, along with those that contain various kinds of meat / fish and starches, of course).
The squeeze packs of baby food are now becoming more popular, but again, there are limited flavors. There aren’t really any veggie-fruit mixes with baby food here, so pack some from home if your child has a favorite. There are plenty of options for rice and wheat cereals, though.
Cows milk is stocked in every store, but if your child drinks an alternative milk like almond/rice/soy/coconut, you can find those at DM, Muller, bigger Konzums, Plodine or Spar stores. These places usually have a section for gluten-free items as well as some ‘natural’ baby snacks, too.
Yes, you can absolutely buy the tylenol/advil equivalent in Croatia (like baby lupocet and neofen), however, my kids really dislike the local version I’ve bought at pharmacies here (they will take the Tylenol brand my mom brings over when she visits, without a problem). Just some friendly parent to parent advice: it might be a good idea to bring the brand you use at home.
If you do forget to bring some from home, you can easily head to the pharmacy (LJEKARNA) to pick some up - they don’t sell them at the grocery stores or at any other shop here, strictly at the pharmacy.
It’s no problem to bring the whole family out to eat at a restaurant in Croatia. Some restaurants now have high chairs for little ones, but definitely not all. It’s a very good idea to pack a “hook on high chair,” as they aren’t that bulky and they really save the day sometimes. In my opinion, they’re worth it (especially for cafes, which never have high chairs and we do the baby pass back and forth to take turns and drink our coffee)!
Booster seats are non-existent - I’m not even sure if they still use those back home anymore (I was a small kid and I remember using them until I was 10 haha :)
As for kids’ menus - don’t hold your breath! It’s really hit and miss with these, but we usually just order a few items and share between us (the whole dining experience in Croatia is more family-style anyway, where you can order some platters and try a little of everything).
My older kids’ favorite is “pohana piletina” which is just a breaded/fried chicken breast. Another favorite is “cevapi” which are basically hamburger fingers (sounds weird, but they’re a classic, and every Croatian child loves them).
Restaurants don’t have plastic cups for kids either, instead they usually serve juice in the little individual glass bottles they come in, along with another glass to pour it in (so much glass for little hands). My kids have broken them on a few occasions by accidentally knocking them over, so now we usually just pour it straight into their sippy cups.
Lastly, we’ve never been given crayons and paper for our toddlers to color on while we wait for our meal, so make sure you have something to keep your little one occupied, if need be.
Although Croatia is a conservative country, breastfeeding is very much accepted and widely practiced. I have breastfed all of my babies in public, all over Croatia, and have never had any negative experience. At the park, in restaurants, walking along the street, sitting at the square, wherever my baby felt hungry, I fed him/her.
I was given one of those scarf/blankets for breastfeeding as a gift years ago, but never used it, as it gets hot in the summer and my babies have never been fans of being covered. No one will give you any trouble for showing the amount of breast skin needed to breastfeed.
Diaper changing - In shopping malls, there will almost always be a designated room for diaper changing (and sometimes breastfeeding). In restaurants, there are very rarely change tables for use. My best tip is to use the stroller as your change table, which we have done many times out of necessity and never had any issues.
Make sure you secure a car seat ahead of time with any car company you book with, whether it be for a private transfer, or a car rental if you plan on driving yourselves. Any serious company should and will have car seats readily available in any size, you just have to ask in advance. If you’re in Zagreb, we recommend Zagreb City Transfers!
The best beaches for toddlers are probably the sandy beaches, for a few reasons. Firstly, because the sea is shallower for longer; secondly, because sand is softer on their little feet; and lastly, because you don’t have to worry about them eating little pebbles, which is the case with most of the pebbly beaches here (something my youngest discovered recently).
Here are a few great sandy spots:
#1 Sakarun (Dugi Otok (island) ) - soft, fine, white sand, shallow water, paradise.
#2 Sunj (Lopud Island) - soft golden sand
#3 Zuljana (Peljesac Peninsula) - there are a few sandy beaches around here
#4 Saplunara (Mljet Island) - a nice sandy lagoon
#5 Vela Przina (Korcula Island) - golden sand, not as fine
#6 Rajska Plaza (Rab Island) - soft sand, long beach
#7 Kraljicina Plaza (near Nin / Zadar region) - sandy beach, fine sand when you get a bit deeper in the water
#8 Plaza Bok (Susak Island) - the whole (small) island is pretty sandy
#9 Zaglav (Vis Island) - fine sandy beach, less crowded than Stiniva Beach (which is the most popular on the island)
Be sure to bring a sun umbrella or a sun tent for your little ones, as many beaches don’t have lounge chairs or umbrellas to rent (and on the beaches with umbrellas, it's on a first come, first served basis, so unless you get there super early, there won’t be any available). It can get very hot in the summer, so load up on sunscreen and bring water!
One big plus for toddlers about beaches in Croatia, is that the water is usually nice and calm. My son (2yrs) isn’t a huge fan of swimming, so any waves splashing in his face wouldn’t make the situation any easier! Young children can sit and play at the beach and not worry about waves pushing them over or ruining their sandcastles.
The best time to go to the beach for our family was in the morning from about 9am-11pm, and then back to our accommodation for naps/rest time and a late lunch, then back to the beach from 5-8pm. The last part of the day is perfect because the sun isn’t as strong anymore and the beach is much less crowded.
One last tip - bring a wagon! I just saw a family do this for the first time this summer and I don’t know why I didn’t think of it sooner. There is so much stuff to bring to the beach when you have young kids, the wagon can carry it all + your children!
Croatia is toddler & baby safe to travel, just make sure you bring a baby carrier (for non-stroller friendly areas), some children’s/baby pain/fever relief, and ask hotels and car companies in advance to have pack-n-plays and car seats available for you. Almost all baby related items are accessible and purchasable and Croatia is a safe, clean country to explore!
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