Location, location, location we are told – yes, it is key for a happy Croatian holiday villa for the whole family.
By Croatia Gems 31st January 2023
There is no point in being in any of the most beautiful Croatian villas, if you have a bored teenager making life difficult. Or perhaps you’re an active family who as well as messing about in the pool or making use of the villa’s gym, also want to get out and about to see the sights and soak in the amazing culture Croatia has to offer.
As Simon Calder noted in his newsletter, “mobility enriches humanity”; so your holiday will be enriched for seeing what the Split Riviera has that you won’t find at home. Experience the ones we list below will expand your children’s experience, their minds and vocabulary – makes ‘what I did on my holidays’ a cinch, a win-win all round!
Activities available on the Split Riviera
Omis (pronounced ‘Omish’) is just down the coast from the centre of Split (25km/30 mins’ drive). As well as a lovely town, a super beach with shade and crystal-clear water, it also has the Centina River flowing out into the Adriatic here. Fast flowing and in a gorge, the river provides adrenalin junkies with ample opportunities to let off steam. With zip wires over the gorge, canyoning expeditions and kayaking, there’s lots to offer from your holiday villa. Also, for those not afraid of heights a new road is being constructed over the gorge at height, so that the town can be bypassed by through traffic.
Split old town
Split old town is formed mainly from the UNESCO World Heritage site of Roman Emperor Diocletian’s Palace. ‘Palace’ is a bit of a misnomer, as it isn’t a palace or a museum. Instead, it is the city’s living heart, with winding narrow streets full of people, restaurants, bars and shops. You’ll find that the Split inhabitants have taken over the Palace and have occupied nooks in the rambling palace fabric to make their homes.
The Palace is a real living, breathing neighbourhood, and joyous for it. Wander round the impressive structure wide-eyed at what must have been the splendour and don’t be surprised to round a corner to find yourself serenaded by an acapella group.
Alternatively, step out onto Split’s magnificent Riva, have a coffee and watch the boats come and go. Or turn right and make your way up the hill to Marjan Park. Do be prepared for a climb but reward yourself with a fresh lime soda and super view from the little café on the way up.
Trogir old town
Trogir old town is another UNESCO World Heritage site! This lovely town is situated on an island now linked to the mainland by short bridges. Its narrow medieval streets are mercifully car-free, with courtyards and unexpected squares. Hence restaurants are often found in hidden courtyards, giving shade and resplendent with flowers and olive trees in pots. Expect people’s homes above street level, with Juliette balconies festooned with colourful flowers in tubs.
Make the most of the people watching opportunities in the cafes fringing the main square, or from the restaurants lining the harbour where the expensive yachts moor up.
Krka National Park
Up the coast about a 50-minute drive from Trogir is the Krka National Park. Skradin marks the entrance to the park. The amazing landscape was formed by Krka river’s incision into the limestone rock. Expect to walk along the boardwalks amongst the cascading pools above the waterfalls and take a swim in one of these waterfall pools. You can explore the folk museum’s reconstructed houses from yesteryear and to have a boat ride down the wide gorge.
Team your visit to the national park with a visit Sibenik with its UNESCO World Heritage cathedral, and picturesque old town. If you are feeling flush, sample the delights of Pelegrini, a Michelin star restaurant overlooking the cathedral.
Zadar Sea Organ and Sun Salutation
With Zadar just an easy 1.5 hour drive up the coast from Split, it’s a wonderful day out. Zadar Sea Organ and the Sun Salutation are award winning and unique.
Designed by local architect, the Sea Organ is an experimental musical instrument. It plays music through sea waves in pipes underneath the large marble steps (also a great place to swim from). Deep, soulful sounds play as it generates tunes from the incoming and outgoing waves. The rhythm of the waves control the variety of sounds throughout the day.
Next to it is another amazing design by the same architect – the ‘Sun Salutation’ – which transforms this area at night. It is a 22m-wide circle set into the paving which is filled with 300 multi-layered glass plates that collect the sun’s energy during the day, and then produce a spectacular waterfront light show as night falls. Both features have now been coordinated so the lights now reflect the sounds from the Zadar Sea Organ – stay to watch the fabulous sunset before heading back to your down to your holiday villa.
Where East meets West – Mostar is over the border into Bosnia & Hercegovina. Mosques and churches representing the different faiths make an interesting mix showing that cultures can co-exist peacefully. Mostar is famous for its medieval bridge spanning the fast flowing Neretva river, re-built after damage from the 1990 war. The picturesque streets are an interesting mix of modern life and tiny shops of the Turkish-style bazaar surrounding the old bridge. The cultural importance of Mostar’s old town and its famous bridge was added to UNESCO’s World Heritage List in 2005.
You may catch young locals demonstrating their talent and derring-do by jumping off the bridge into the freezing water. If visiting Mostar, you may be lucky enough to catch the Red Bull Cliff Diving event from the bridge. Then a platform adds extra height to the bridge to give that added thrill.
Whether it is to visit the nearby islands of Hvar, Brac or Solta, or to get a boat ride to a hidden beach for a picnic, an out-of-the-way restaurant or a trip to the Blue Caves, this area has so much to offer the active family when they want to escape from their holiday villa.
Check out other ideas for sights to see and adventures to have from your Split holiday villa here.
1: Zadar Morske orgulje Jazz HRT 021Fotoarhiva TZG Zadar
2: Fotoarhiva TZG Zadar
3: Fotoarhiva TZG Zadar 2
4: Le Salut au Soleil by TIM ERTL, Fotoarhiva TZG Zadar
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