September 12, 2023 – We have explored the options, and though it’s not a big country, Croatia offers an incredible amount of places and activities for just about anyone. Last week we looked at all the top places to take your kids in Eastern Croatia. In our tour from east to west to south, let us now suggest just a few of the best places to take kids on vacation in Central Croatia.
Explore the Nature – Falls and Rivers
Hills, rivers, waterfalls, a desert. It’s got it all. Whether you’re looking to take your kids for a more relaxed vacation of long and leisurely walks or have them running up and down until they can’t anymore, we got you.
We all know that all top kid vacation spots include the most fun element – water. A few places come to mind instantly. The obvious picks include Plitvice Lakes and Rastoke, but let’s not forget the beautiful, clean rivers that hide amazing little spots everywhere you look.
Our discovery of the year must be the Mrežnica Love Island (search for Otok Ljubavi on Maps) not far from Karlovac. It is a secluded little spot in nature but has enough facilities to make for the perfect day trip. Coffee, ice cream, barbecue spots (or fast food if you need it simple), a slide into the river – what more do you need? The river is crystal clear and refreshing in the summer, but even if the weather is not as warm, a picnic by the water would be so much fun.
The entire valley of the Gacka River falls into the same category. The river is incredibly clear, and the landscape wherever it passes is just stunning. The most popular spot to explore this beauty is the Majer source (Majerovo Vrelo) where more than sixty mills produced flour, with a few still active and adorning the coastline. We suspect that taking a walk here in autumn might end up being one of your better ideas.
Hills, Woods, A Desert
If you are not a huge fan of water, I can not pretend that I understand, but I can respect that. Which is why the next suggestion will be the opposite – try and explore Croatia’s desert! Yes, camels included. Đurđevački Pijesci, or the Sands of Đurđevac, is one of the most surprising little spots in Croatia. They are sands of the river Drava that were blown to this area by persistent, strong winds. They used to stretch over 12 kilometers and carry the nickname Bloody Sands, but now they’re a much tamer area where you can see camels, goats, donkeys, horses, chickens, peacocks, llamas, and over 30 distinct species of butterfly.
And now for the running up and down. What better way to get all the energy out than going for a hike? In central Croatia, you can do that just about anywhere. Croatian people do like their hikes in nature, which is reflected in how the hiking trails are arranged. No need to worry about safety, getting lost or even getting bored. All official trails are marked, and there is often plenty of educational content along the way.
For example, the Samobor Žumberak Nature Park offers more than 300 kilometers of cycling routes and over 350 kilometers of hiking trails. We have been to its southeastern part at Plešivica and can confirm that it’s beautiful, relaxing, just demanding enough, and that there is so much to explore. And the food at the mountain lodge was more than decent. While you’re there, also make sure to visit the nearby towns like Jastrebarsko and Samobor to enjoy some more of the unique scenery and delicious food, including, but not limited to the famous kremsnita.
Fun Vacations for Kids Include Adventures and Animals
Ziplines, adrenaline parks, caves, bears, deer, or fish; you make your pick. Either way, both the parents and kids will get to experience something fun and exciting. Adrenaline parks are quite popular, and there are plenty nearby; a quick search should do.
The Pazi Medo (Beware of the Bear) Zipline is one of the longest single-piece zip lines in Europe, whose total length is 1700 meters. A speed of more than 120 km/h is possible with a tailwind (from the north). Even if there is a headwind (from the south), it reaches speeds of around 100 km/h. I have tried it myself and can vouch for beautiful views and plenty of excitement. I do also recommend checking out their bouldering rocks.
The Deer Valley ranch, founded in 2009 is part of OPG Bićanić where they breed deer and fallow deer. There are also black Slavonian pigs and three horses on the ranch. It covers an area of about 15 hectares, and it’s a cute little spot for a day out with the kids. The owners note that “it is a privilege for us to take care of animals and we do it with special love and joy. We are not the owners of the animals, the ranch is their home, and you will have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to enter their habitat.”
Aquatika Karlovac is the only freshwater aquarium in Croatia. It is financed by EU funds, in order to develop awareness of exceptional biological diversity. At the same time, it aims to educate its visitors on how to sustainably use Croatia’s exceptional natural resources in the function of tourism. They’re inviting you to visit and see for yourself the exceptional wealth of Croatian rivers, lakes, ponds, and swamps in one place.
Check Out the Museums
Finally, for a bit of culture and history, you can always check out the museums of central Croatia. Our top picks for this autumn include the established and well-known, but unmissable Krapina Neanderthal Museum, the brand-new and quirky Oroslavje Science Park, and the dreamy, magical Ivana’s House of Fairy Tales.
As we said, the Krapina Neanderthal Museum is arguably the most numerous and richest collection of artifacts paying respect and educating on the existence of the Neanderthal man gathered in one locality. In an unusual and modern, interactive way, it presents all kinds of interesting things from the life of the Krapina Neanderthal. Fun fact: it’s also where X-rays were used to analyze fossil bones for the first time in history.
If exploring science sounds more like a fun vacation for your kids, why not take them to learn how to play Ode to Joy on the fly? Maybe they would love to know if it’s possible to talk in a whisper while 30 meters apart? How to learn the lesson of Pythagoras in one movement? If it is possible to walk around the solar system in just an hour? These are just some of the questions that the Oroslavje Science Park asks and answers.
For a fairy tale ending, of course, we’ll suggest Ivana’s House of Fairy Tales. It is a unique multimedia and interactive visitor center that celebrates fairy tales and all kinds of fairy-tale creations. Acting on the principles of knowledge, creativity, and the use of new technologies, it presents the fairy tales of the most important Croatian fairy tale writer, Ivana Brlić-Mažuranić, born in Ogulin in 1874, as well as the fairy tales of numerous other Croatian and world fairy tale authors.