Why Istria Is Great Family Travel Destination

sports park on the water

You want to enjoy your vacation, but need to make sure your kids have fun, too?

It is not always easy to indulge everyone, and you know group traveling means some will need to compromise more than others.

If you are planning a trip for the whole family, it is understandable you’d like to go somewhere safe, so you can unravel. Finding a perfect place away from home for family travel can be challenging.  

Why not consider Istria for your next family trip?

Croatia now ranks amongst the top 10 destinations for unconventional family travel, and thus Istria becomes a lucrative idea.

Doesn’t matter if your family seeks an active stay, loves to relax in private resorts, or prefers to explore the world of gastronomy, Istria is a great place that combines these worlds into an unforgettable vacation.

Safety & Atmosphere

Safety in Croatia is well-rounded. The overall crime rate is low, and you’ll hardly meet someone who owns a gun. According to Safearound, Croatia is 83% safe, and the most occurring crimes are petty thefts.

Our sea is safe, especially if you compare it to oceans. You don’t have to fear shark attacks, sea snakes, or dangerous whirls in the sea that might suck you in. Even the jellyfish are rare although the climate and current changes can cause periods of increased appearances.

One thing I love about Croatia is the quality and safety of tap water. You won’t get sick if you drink water in your accommodation, wherever you stay, so forgetting to buy a bottle back will not be a big deal.

I remember walking around Watford, UK, when I leaned in to drink tap water in the train station toilette-I forgot I wasn’t home anymore. Luckily, a local girl stopped me and offered to share her bottle of water.

It shocked her I tried to do that.

It shocked me I couldn’t.

In Istria, water is clean and safe. It is somewhat hard because it comes from a limestone-rich area, but limescale doesn’t cause health problems, especially not in the short time.

For thefts, you can easily prevent those. With a few smart moves, your belongings will be safe, and your vacation hassle-free.

Trust me, you don’t want to spend a single minute in our slow-paced police stations, so do everything you can to avoid it.

For example, these are the tips I can share:

  • Don’t leave stuff visible on the front seat of your car (or the back seat). Put everything in the trunk.
  • Lock your bicycles well if kept out of sight.
  • While on the beach, don’t bring a lot of cash with you, especially if you will leave your bags unguarded (in that case, bring as little as possible).

It doesn’t mean it will happen to you, but these petty crimes are most likely to take place on a busy beach, so, if possible, keep your stuff in the eye.

If you keep a common sense, the sun might be your only enemy here. It can scorch, so avoid going sunbathing in the middle of the day. I know you have a limited amount of time to get that tan, but health should always come first.

Allow your body to get used to the sun rays, and you will not have to avoid it because you got burned.

You will see the atmosphere in Istria is great as Istrian love children and welcome them with open arms. It is not unusual to see an ice cream seller perform tricks with scoops and cones for kids.

It is easy to get used to the Istrian laid back life and an easygoing vibe.

Outdoor Activities

If you are one of those parents that can’t get your kids to play outdoors and you think they are spending too much time in the house, you could leverage the plethora of outdoor activities around Istria to break the habit.

The Istrian peninsula is a perfect place to get back on track with an active life.

Istria is so green, you will want to spend every minute outdoors.

You will find a lot of preserved nature and national parks here. Beautiful nature is mixed with conservation.

There are parks and green areas in every town to take a break and let kids play as most of the parks have dedicated playgrounds.

Nature parks, reserves, and protected landscapes are spread all over Istria.

For example, you can head to Palud near Rovinj for some bird watching, visit the squirrel park in Umag, or explore waterfalls in the north (Zarečki krov near Pazin, Butori waterfall in between Momjan and Oprtalj, or Škarline nature park near Brtonigla) or even go underground to admire some of our caves (Baredine, Mramornica, and Pazin cave being the most known).

And what’s more entertaining for kids than dinosaurs?

We have two dinosaurs themed parks in Istria – one in the south located in a nature park Cape Kamenjak, and the other one in Funtana on the northwest coast, between Vrsar and Poreč.

Dinopark Funtana is well-established show park that proud itself with life-sized dinosaurs, acrobatic shows, and many other activities, including dinosaur rides. The dinosaur experience on Kamenjak is a more natural one where you can follow the footsteps of those who lived there long before we came to be.

For something more exciting and unusual, there are several adrenalin parks in Istria. Activities there range from zip lining, zorbing, paintball, to quad and wall climbing. Move your muscles in adrenalin parks in Medulin, Pula (end of the Lungomare walkway) or in Glavani in central Istria.

If you get a boat to Brijuni islands, you will enjoy a safari and see many animals, including zebras, deer, and peacocks. Brijuni are a beautiful national park, and it is a great idea to rent a golf cart to explore them or cycle around.

Animal lovers will want to know that Istria is abundant in horse ranches where you can feed or pet horses and book riding lessons. Horse rides on the beach are popular for a reason.

Beaches Made For Kids

Many beaches here are perfect for kids. They are mostly rock-and-pebbly, which bothers our stiff feet more than the children’s. However, you can get a pair of cheap swimming shoes on every stand or shop, which will soften your step but also protect the feet from occasional sea urchins that can lure from the shallows.

Urban beaches have a mild incline, so the water is not too deep right away, ensuring enough safe zone even for non-swimmers. If you want to spend the whole day on the beach, get your kids a pass to the inflatable water park, and they will not want to leave.

Ambrela beach in Pula

Lifeguards keep an eye on the swimmers on most beaches, and they train to react fast and swim even faster. So, parents can loosen up knowing there is someone experienced who can come to aid if anything goes wrong.  

When I was learning to swim in Umag (more than twenty years ago), there were no lifeguards nor sports parks on water, only my mom and a clear blue sea.

Luckily, the sea is clean now as it used to be, and the blue flagged beaches are a proof of that. The sea water is tested for quality every 2 weeks in summer. Currently, Istria is a home of over 40 blue flag beaches and even two blue flag marinas.

Food Variety For Picky Eaters

Croatia has inherited different cuisine through the past, so the food here varies from Italian, Greek, Turkish, Hungarian, to German. Although I would recommend trying local seafood dishes in restaurants and taverns, I know many people who come here don’t even like fish.

That’s why Istria offers great pizzas! Most kids love pizza, and restaurants have it. Pizzeria Buffalo in Vodnjan won an award for having the best pizza in Croatia, so you could start from there.

For a snack on the budget-bakeries offer a variety of bagels, donuts, and other pastry (try burek!).

Cheeseburger menu in Piantina fine fast food, Pula

With many fast food joints and the rise of gourmet burger bars, you can find junk food everywhere. Luckily, you will find many fruits stands around, offering a healthy alternative when you want to grab a light snack.

It’s Affordable

Croatian coast is in high demand and the prices are slowly increasing, but it is still 15-20% cheaper destination than western Europe, and yet it is well connected with most cities on the continent.

If you are traveling with toddlers, they will get most of the things for free. Kids get discounts or a free pass for events etc., depending on their age.

Traveling around Istria is simple and short even though summer is the time when traffic jams are the usual. Still, the Istrian towns will never be as busy as Dubrovnik.

Getting from Pula to Rovinj takes only 20-30 minutes. And I encourage you to explore Istria as much as you can. You can even hop to Venice quick without taking a plane.

For example, I needed more than an hour to get to work from one part of the city to another while I lived in the capital of Croatia, Zagreb. But traveling from Pula that hour and a half ride by car will take you to another country.

Accommodation is also economical, depending what you prefer. Classic camping is mostly the cheapest, but there are other affordable options.

Different Accommodation For Everyone’s Needs

Even if you came back in Istria every summer, you could experience a  different vacation every time. There are many nice hotels around the peninsula, from those gorgeous boutique ones to family-oriented hotels.

You can stay at a small hotel that is family-run or seclude yourself in a private villa with a garden and a pool somewhere in central Istria. Why not book your stay at some of the holiday villages and resorts, or live like a local at a self-catering apartment? Many of those are someone’s home during the winter and rented for tourists in summer.

Private house on the beach in Peroj

For connecting with nature, camping will be a perfect choice. Istrian campsites vary from a two-star to luxury. They include restaurants, sports, and many entertaining programs, like Arthur youth program in Arenaturist camps. All camps are well equipped, so you won’t feel like a Robinson Crusoe in any of them.

Camping Brioni near Pula

If that is what you prefer, then you can sleep in a lighthouse or rent a cottage on in one of the small villages like Forčići and have a recharge holiday alone or with your loved ones.

There are many reasons to visit Istria and I am sure you will fall in love with it if you do.

While the endless beaches, cuisine, and many outdoor activities keep you busy during the stay, knowing you are in a safe place will help you forget your mundane life and spend your time in Istria relaxed, like you deserve.


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