Complete Guide To National Parks In Croatia

updated on
May 21, 2023
Complete Guide To National Parks In Croatia

If you are a nature lover, you should make a point of visiting Croatia. A large section of the country is made up of untouched and well-preserved land, and this is why there are many magnificent national parks. In the country, you can enjoy climbing mountains and hiking through the forests, lakes, and rivers. There are also various islands that you can visit.

In total, Croatia has eight national parks. We intend to review them briefly in this guide. Here is a list of the national parks:

Brijuni National Park

This is located on the west coast of Istria and is made up of 14 islands. Most of these islands are not open to tourists, but you can visit Veliki Brijun. This particular island caters to tourists. As a fun fact, more than 200 dinosaur footprints were discovered on this island. It also served as the home of Tito, who was the leader of Yugoslavia after the Second World War. Tito also had a personal zoo at Veliki Brijun, and this has now been converted to a safari park. This safari park is currently one of the biggest attractions on the island.

In the national park, you can also consider visiting the sites of two ancient Roman villas, as well as the famous St. Mary’s Church. This church was constructed in the 5th century and is said to have been used by the Knights Templar in the 1200s century. You can also visit the Byzantine Palace and museum in the national park.

Aside from history, the park has a number of sports you can enjoy in the national park. There is a golf course, and you can also enjoy games like tennis, archery, and biking.

The biking route starts and ends at the Veliki Brijun harbor, and it goes through all the major tourist attractions of the park. The park has various accommodation options, including Hotel Karmen, Hotel Istra-Neptun, and a number of villas near the harbor.

Krka National Park

Krka National Park is a great place to visit if you love waterfalls. While Plitvice Lakes gets all the attention for its waterfalls, the larger waterfalls are in Krka National Park. You can visit these waterfalls from the major coastal cities in Dalmatia, and this can even be done as a day trip. As of 2021, people are not allowed to swim in the waterfalls. The largest and most popular waterfall in the place is Skradinski Buk, and this is made up of at least 17 cascades.

The national park has a number of walking trails, and these are designed to be educational. On the trails, you will be able to learn about the history and wildlife of the place. More than 200 bird species live in this park, and they include golden eagles, griffon vultures, and peregrine falcons. If you’re lucky, you will even see the river otters.

In the park, you should also visit the 14th-century medieval fortress on the Krka River. Another option would be to travel by boat all the way to the Krka Monastery on Visovac Island. There used to be some mills on this island, but they have since been converted into a museum. Emperor Franc Josef II constructed a viewing post for his wife on the island, and this is now open to the public. With the post, you will be able to look at the upper section of the waterfalls more easily.

It is quite easy to access Krka National Park from Šibenik or Split. You can also take a boat from Zadar or Skradin and access the national park conveniently.

You should also note that you can use private transfers to go from Zadar, Split, and other key centers to the park. Private transfers are quite affordable. If you are a hiker, you can take the walking path in the national park, and your entire walk will take about 2 hours. This also includes the time taken for photos.

Kornati National Park

Kornati National Park is among the most amazing parks in Croatia. It is a group of 89 islands, islets, and reefs that are known for being the most densely populated in the Mediterranean. The park covers a coastline of 238 km.

You can sail through this national park on your own, but you will have to get a permit first. The money raised from these permits goes to the protection and maintenance of the national park. Another way of exploring the park is using day tours. These can be arranged in various locations, including Zadar. It is important to note that people who don’t own their own boats will only be able to explore the park by arranged excursions. Also, remember that some parts of the park are a bit vulnerable, so visitors are restricted from visiting.

A popular activity to enjoy in this park is snorkeling, so you should make sure you take your snorkel and mask for the visit. This way, you will be able to explore the bottom of the waters. You can also plan a diving tour in the nine scuba diving locations in Kornati National Park.

Kornati Islands are also the best destinations for eco-tourism. The tours in the park are operated by locals, and most of them are fishermen. In fact, they go back to fishing after the tourist season. You will also find the landscapes quite good.

Mljet National Park

This is a great place for tourists who enjoy adventure and great sceneries. It is located on Mljet Island towards the south of the country. Next to the park, there are two saltwater lakes. Some activities you can enjoy in this national park are kayaking, hiking, swimming, and sunbathing. Overall, it is a great place for relaxing.

Like many other small Mediterranean islands, Mljet is surrounded by myths and fables. One of the more interesting stories is centered on Apostle Paul. He is claimed to have had a shipwreck on the Croatian island, but others claim that the ship broke down in Malta. Another interesting story about the island tells about the goddess Calypso, who kept Odysseus captive in the place.

While these are hard to verify, one true story is that Benedictine monks used to live on the island over 1000 years ago. The monks resided in an abnormal site. In the middle of the lake, there is a smaller island, and on this island, there is a 12-century Benedictine monastery.

This building has now been converted into a café. It is a great historical site and is also famous for kayaking. You should also visit the place to enjoy good coffee.

Every day, you will be able to take a ferry from Dubrovnik to Mljet. In warmer months, you can get day trips from Korčula, Dubrovnik, Makarska, and the Pelješac Peninsula.

Northern Velebit National Park

For a more active vacation, you can consider visiting Sjeverni Velebit National Park. In English, this park is known as Northern Velebit National Park. It is worth noting that the Velebit Mountain form the border of the Adriatic coast and mainland Croatia. This place is great for photography, and the background makes it look like the photos were shot in Hollywood. In the mountain, there are two national parks, and these are Sjeverni Velebit and Paklenica.

Sjeverni Velebit National Park offers a number of activities, including biking and hiking. Most tourists mention that their best attraction in the park is the Velebit Botanical Garden. This garden was developed in 1967 and is situated close to the Zavižan Mountain Hut. This is the oldest high-altitude weather station in Croatia. The botanical garden is about 1500 meters above sea level, and it has about 300 plant species. Lots of hiking trails also start from this garden, and they lead up to three different mountain peaks. These summits are Velika Kosa, Balinovac, and Veliki Zavižan.

You should also consider taking part in the evening stargazing program of the national park. This program is known as Stars Above Zavižan, and it involves a night walk from the Zavižan area. You will have to pay less than €20 to enjoy this experience. The walk will take about an hour and involves the help of a guide.

Paklenica National Park

Paklenica National Park

This park is situated close to the Velebit Mountain and Zadar, and it features two torrent gorges. These are Velika Paklenica and Mala Paklenica, and they are parallel to each other. Most tourists in the country will be able to access the mountain, pine forests, and deep-cut canyons. If you are staying in the Adriatic coastal towns, you can take a day trip to the park. Since it has smaller crowds, you can use it to take a break from the busy coastline.

When visiting the national park, you should consider taking your comfortable shoes. There are trails and paths that cover a distance of 150 km, and these are suitable for experienced and inexperienced hikers.

This national park is not just great for hikers; it is also suitable for rock climbers, mountaineers, and spelunkers. You may find the climbs a bit challenging. You should also consider exploring the caves in the park. If you want to take the 2-hour walk along the mountain trail, you should consider taking a guided tour of the Manita Peć Cave. This cave covers a distance of 175 meters and is divided into two halls that have great stalagmites and stalactites.

The ecosystem doesn’t just attract human beings; lots of animals call the park home. In addition, there are more than 1000 plant species in the park. You will be able to spot countless bird species, including eagles and falcons. Less frequently, you will be able to see brown bears.

Plitvice National Park

This national park is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and it is among the biggest tourist attractions in Croatia. The waters in the lakes are so still that you can clearly see your image in the lake. Plitvice Lakes National Park is the most famous national park in the country and is located in the middle of two mountains. These are Mala Kapela and Plješevica. The national park was established in 1949 and attracts over a million visitors every year.

In the park, there are sixteen interconnected lakes, and in addition, you will enjoy seeing famous waterfall and cascades. The smallest waterfall is at a height of 25 meters, while the highest is at a height of 78 meters. The lakes in this park have distinctive colors, the most notable being azure-blue and green. The color is determined by the organisms in the water, the minerals, the season, and the amount of sunlight reaching the waters.

In order to access this park, you should take a day trip from Zagreb or Zadar. You can also use private transport to go from your city of residence to Plitvice. You can explore the national park in a day, and on average, tourists spend two to eight hours on the trip. The amount of time taken will vary depending on the length of the hike.

While you won’t need a lot of time to explore the place, you are still advised to arrive early in the morning. You can consider taking a Hotel near the park.

You should note that lots of people get to the park by midday. Therefore, you should try to get to the park early as this will allow you to take in the natural peace and quiet of the place.

Risnjak National Park

This is among the best places you can go to escape the busy city life. With a relatively untouched natural environment, it is among the best places you can go to reconnect with nature. It is worth noting that this is among the least known national parks in the country, so you shouldn’t expect to find a crowd. Just 15 km from the sea, there are valleys and mountains, and these are filled with limestone. While this terrain can seem rough, it is surprisingly accessible. It is located off the road connecting Rijeka and Zagreb.

In the park, you will occasionally hear the howl of wild wolves and will spot a deer or lynx. Once in a while, you may also see brown bears. You can even book an observatory in the summer, where you will be able to watch the animals and take photos. In colder months, you will instead have to book log cabins.

One of the best activities you can enjoy in this park is fly fishing. You should consider getting a fishing ticket , which will allow you to spend your day fishing in the Kupa River. That said, there are some fish species that cannot be taken when they are not in season. You should talk to the authorities so that you don’t break any of the rules.

In the park, you can also enjoy hiking, mountain biking and rock climbing. A number of walking trails cover the landscape of the Dinaric Alps. The highest point in the park is the summit of Mount Risnjak, which rises to a height of 1528 meters. The views from this point are breathtaking.

In the summer, temperatures in this park average at about 20 degrees Celsius. The winters can be extremely cold and snowy.

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