When we think about the ingredients required for our dream family holiday, we want a little bit of everything: somewhere we can relax, feel pampered, keep the kids entertained, discover something different and explore new horizons.
Oh, and a beach. We definitely need a beach. Or about 40 of them.
Forget every place you’re thinking of travelling to this summer because we have your next favourite destination: the heart-shaped Istrian peninsula of northwest Croatia.
Whether you’re looking for adventure, chill time or everything in between, Istria offers something for children of all ages (and their parents). You can visit postcard-perfect ancient towns and uncover Roman and medieval history, or spend your days playing on pebbled beaches with emerald-clear waters.
Sightseeing and snorkeling, cycling through Istria’s verdant landscapes or going underground to explore the many caves with their impressive ceiling adornments, flying on a zipline (at the Pazin Cave) or visiting one of the many aquariums showcasing fish and other species native to the Adriatic Sea... and those are just a few of the myriad options available to you and your family to shape your holiday into what you will most enjoy.
You don’t need to explore the whole peninsula; the Istrian Riviera alone is the perfect family summer holiday destination. Offering plenty for families in search of sun, sea and surf, the best part is that none of your friends will have discovered it yet.
In fact, British Airways is only just starting a direct flight route from London Heathrow to Pula, Croatia (on the Istrian peninsula), this July, offering convenient twice-weekly flights throughout the summer. Flying time? A mere two hours and twenty minutes.
Hemmed by a 250-kilometre coastline, the Istrian Riviera is known for its rocky beaches, glittering waters and spell-binding views. 44 beaches along the coast boast Croatia’s coveted Blue Flag rating (a symbol of eco-responsibility, signifying pristine waters and cleanliness).
Poreč is a stunning resort in the middle of the Istrian Riviera which combines old-world history (Roman ruins, a Byzantine Basilica, charming cobbled streets and Venetian architecture) with the comforts and delights of the seaside.
The Peninsula is an ever-popular beach destination, and the resorts boast plenty of family-friendly accommodation options. Crucially, they offer kids clubs across all ages, including playrooms, classes, workshops and child-friendly entertainment like music and theatre shows, which means adults can have some much-needed downtime. You can also expect to find fun on-site activities for you all to enjoy together, including tennis, swimming pools, mini-golf, pedalos and more.
Poreč also hosts one of the Istrian Riviera’s newly opened water parks, Aquacolors Water Park, which is packed full of entertainment for kids (and adults) of all ages.
From the hardcore – the conical funnel known as Magicone and the 48-metre free fall slide – to the gentle (artificial wave pools, a lazy river you can wade along in), it does adrenaline rush and calm chill-out in one, and you can easily spend a day there. Bonus: a good night’s sleep for everyone.
For those staying between Brtonigla and Novigrad, the Istralandia Waterpark is another popular destination with funnel and raft slides as well as foam parties, beach volleyball, magic shows and dance and swim lessons.
Another way to explore the great outdoors and rich history of the Istrian Riviera? It’s all about the cycling: make your way from the unspoilt blue coastal waters to the lush green forests, by way of medieval castles, Roman architecture (the amphitheatre in Pula is one of only six surviving Roman arenas in the world), vineyards and olive groves.
You can also discover hidden Istria on one of the many scenic walking and hiking trails, or even see the rustic countryside on horseback. If the kids need more stimulation, there are caves to explore around the coast, as well as Adventure Parks dotted around the peninsula. There’s also laser tag (Pula), go-karting (Umag/Novigrad) and ziplining (Pazinska Jama).
Ready to pack your bags, then?
Book now at BA.com.