Jaw-dropping national parks of Croatia

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Croatia has a total of 8 national parks in the country that cover about 1,8% of the country. Visiting all of the national parks in one visit can be a daunting task unless you have plenty of vacation time on your hands. However, each one is better than the rest, and they all have something amazing to offer. Stunning waterfalls, amazing islands amidst deep blue sea, majestic mountains – it is almost hard to believe that a small country like Croatia can offer such astonishing diversity.

The national parks in Croatia are not just about pristine nature and beautiful landscapes – many of them offer thrilling activities like swimming, hiking, biking, rock climbing, scuba diving… 

The best time to visit most of these parks is during the Spring and Autumn months when there are fewer visitors or in the summer – when you can swim, snorkel and scuba dive.

To visit the most famous National Park in Croatia, Plitvice Lakes, and other engaging locations, visit our itinerary page and plan a vacation enriched with some significant sites of Croatia and Slovenia.

Plitvice Lakes National Park

Plitvice Lakes, one of the most beautiful places on Earth, are also a listed UNESCO World Heritage Site. The main attractions of the National Park are 16 lakes interconnected with the world-famous Plitvice Waterfalls. The tallest waterfall is 78 meters tall. 

The lakes enchant visitors by its incredible colors, ranging from green to azure blue and lush greenery. Beautiful wooden footbridges and pathways invite for a long, up to 18 km, walk along the crystalline lakes, besides misty waterfalls and bountiful shades of green.  

The National Park goes beyond beautiful cascading lakes. It occupies an area of 30,000 hectares, covered by beech, fir, and spruce forest. Deers, bears, wolves, boars, and numerous rare bird species live in this well-preserved piece of biodiversity heaven.

The Plitvice Lakes National Park is a fantastic day trip from the nearby cities of Zagreb or Zadar. 

Krka National Park

The mouth of the river Krka is a beautiful set of breathtaking features, waterfalls, stunning canyon, and crystalline lakes. It attracts nature lovers, hikers, cyclists, and offers an exciting day for a trip from Dalmatian cities. 

The most appealing falls in the park, Skradinski Buk, consists of nearly 20 different waterfalls and is almost a half-mile long. Swimming beneath Skradinski Buk, in the clear crystalline pool, is a beautiful experience.

The National Park is home to 850 types of plants and over 200 species of birds.

Apart from the waterfalls, Krka National Park enchants with 14th-century fortress located on the Krka River, and the dreamlike island monastery of Visovac. 

Mljet National Park

Mljet is a most heavily forested Croatian island, recognizable for its unique and unusual beauty. Salt lakes, ancient stone monastery, olive groves, vineyards, and dense forests create a mystic atmosphere and radiate with an extraordinary harmony of nature and human culture.

Here you can relax in the tranquility of the Mljet stunning nature but also enjoy different adrenalin activities – kayaking, swimming, hiking, and biking.

Day trips to Mljet are available from Korcula, Dubrovnik, Makarska, and the Peljesac peninsula. 

Risnjak National Park

The mountainous region of Croatia, only 15 km from the Adriatic coast, hides least known Croatian National Park Risnjak. 

The park covers an area of 63.5 square kilometers and consists of the central part of Risnjak and Snježnik massif and the source area of the river Kupa. 

The rugged terrain offers stunning views to rock climbers and hikers, while for less adventurous visitors park offers fly fishing in Kupa River. Or a cabin in winter and an observatory in summer to make close-ups of Risnjak wildlife. The park is home to brown bears, deer, wolves, wild boar, and of course, lynx. The Risnjak mountain was named after this secretive and rare beast – “ris” means lynx is in Croatian. 

Beautiful National Park is a place where you can find more than 1000 thousand plant species and subspecies.

Paklenica National Park

Paklenica National Park lies on the southern slopes of Velebit, near Zadar. Its central part are karst gorges of Velika Paklenica (Great Paklenica) and Mala Paklenica (Small Paklenica), with cliffs rising to 400m.

Velebit Range is a part of the Dinaric Alps, located along the Adriatic coast, separating the Dalmatian coast from the hinterland. It is the largest (but not the highest) mountain range in Croatia. 

The steep limestone cliffs that line the canyons are perfect for hiking and rock climbing. Stunning views and challenging walls attract rock climbers from all over Europe.

The park has over 15 kilometers of beautiful trails. The tops of the mountain ridges overlooking the valleys, rivers, dense forests, and two picturesque lakes, Velika Paklenica and Mala Paklenica.

The park is home to over a thousand plant species along with many endangered and rare birds that nest along the cliffs. 

Sjeverni Velebit National Park

Beautiful mountain landscapes of Sjeverni Velebit (Northern Velebit) National Park attract hikers and cyclists who enjoy tranquil nature and stunning views.

A unique attraction is Velebit Botanic Garden, at 1500 m above sea level, with 300 different plant species. From here, you can take many beautiful trails into the spectacular nature of the National Park. 

Stars above the Zavižan program is also a lovely thing to do here. It is a one-hour night walk to do stargazing with a guide. Free of light pollution, Sjeverni Velebit reveals the full beauty of a starry night sky.

Kornati Islands National Park

One of the most famous Croatian National Parks, Kornati, is often mentioned as “nautical paradise.” This archipelago will put to the test all the nautical skills of the crew, but also reward with views of the incredibly beautiful intact nature. The Kornati archipelago consists of 89 islands, islet, and reefs along 238 km of coastline. They are the most densely grouped islands in the Mediterranean.

Besides sailing, Kornati is an excellent place to enjoy swimming, snorkeling, and scuba diving. Underwater is incredibly rich, diverse, and full of marine life.

Brijuni (Brioni) Islands

Located off the coast of Istria, the National Park Brijuni is an archipelago of 14 beautiful islands with a long history. Archaeological and historical sites date back to the times of dinosaurs, Roman Empire, ages of templars, and fast forward to the communist era, when Tito, Yugoslav president, enjoyed a fancy private residence here.

The largest island Veliki Brijun is the main tourist attraction of the National Park. The island, covered with idyllic meadows, parks, and oak and laurel forests, is incredibly scenic. 

Here you can enjoy golf, tennis, archery, biking through the open zoo a or swim in crystal clear sea. A 13-kilometer bike route starts at the Veliki Brijun harbor and runs past the main tourist spots. 

During the summertime, an abandoned fort of Mali Brijun island becomes the open stage for spectacular theatre shows performed by Ulysses Theatre.

National parks in Croatia provide unique and diverse experiences, from pristine Plitvice lake, wild mountain landscape of Risnjak to stunning Kornati and lush island Mljet. They will test your physical limits in Paklenica or Sjeverni Velebit and feed your soul with picturesque Brijuni and Krka nature. Wherever you are in Croatian coast, some of the national parks is just around the corner – easy to reach and totally worth a visit.

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