National Parks of Croatia – 8 must-visit nature treasures
- by croatiaweek
- in Travel
Croatia is known for its stunning natural beauty all over the country. With so much to see, it can be difficult to decide where to go first.
The country is home to eight exceptional national parks, as well as a number of nature parks, each offering something unique and worth exploring, from stunning waterfalls and crystal clear lakes to rugged peaks and lush forests.
Whether you’re a hiker, or simply a lover of nature, there is something for everyone in Croatia’s national parks. Below are the 8 you don’t want to miss when visiting.
Plitvice Lakes National Park
Plitvice Lakes National Park is the most famous and visited nature park in Croatia. Located in central Croatia, the park is home to a series of interconnected waterfalls and lakes surrounded by dense forest. The water is so clear that it seems to change color as the day progresses, and the scenery is nothing short of breathtaking. Visitors can take a boat tour or hike the many trails that criss-cross the park, offering different perspectives and stunning views along the way.
Risnjak National Park
Located in the Gorski Kotar region of Croatia, Risnjak National Park is a true gem. This park is perfect for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts, offering miles of hiking trails that wind through dense forests, up rugged peaks, and past crystal clear streams. In the winter months, visitors can ski or snowshoe on the park’s trails, while in the summer, there are opportunities for fishing, kayaking, and swimming. Risnjak National Park is also home to a variety of wildlife, including lynx, wolves, and brown bears.
Mljet National Park
Located on the island of Mljet, Mljet National Park is a stunning coastal park that is known for its crystal clear waters and lush vegetation. The park is home to two saltwater lakes, which are connected by a narrow channel and surrounded by dense forest. Visitors can rent kayaks or boats to explore the lakes and visit the small island that sits in the middle of one of the lakes. The island is home to a 12th-century Benedictine monastery, which is a popular spot for picnicking and swimming.
Paklenica National Park
Located in the Velebit Mountain Range, Paklenica National Park is a hiker’s paradise. The park is home to several peaks that offer stunning views of the surrounding landscape, and there are miles of well-marked trails for visitors to explore. The park is also known for its deep canyons and rugged cliffs, which offer challenging routes for rock climbers. Visitors can also explore the park’s rich history, including ancient Illyrian and Roman fortresses, as well as the remains of a medieval settlement.
Brijuni National Park
Located off the coast of Istria, Brijuni National Park is a group of 14 small islands that offer a unique blend of natural beauty and cultural history. The islands are home to several beaches, as well as a rich variety of wildlife, including deer, mouflon, and wild boar. Visitors can also explore the park’s historic ruins, including a Roman villa and a medieval castle, as well as its botanical gardens, which are home to over 200 species of plants.
Krka National Park
Located in the Šibenik-Knin county in Dalmatia and known for its stunning waterfalls and cascading rivers, Krka National Park is home to a diverse array of flora and fauna, including rare species of birds, reptiles, and fish. The park’s centerpiece is the Skradinski Buk waterfall, a series of 17 cascading waterfalls that are up to 46 meters high. Visitors can hike along the park’s trails, swim in the crystal-clear waters, or take a boat tour to explore the more remote areas of the park. Krka National Park is also home to several historic sites, including the remains of a 12th-century Augustinian monastery and a fort from the Illyrian period.
Kornati National Park
Kornati National Park is an archipelago located in the central part of the Adriatic Sea and the park covers an area of 140 square kilometers and is made up of 89 stunning islands, islets, and cliffs. The landscape is characterized by rugged cliffs, crystal-clear waters, and unique geomorphological formations. Visitors to the park can explore the islands on boat tours, swim in the serene bays, or hike along the park’s trails. The park is also a popular destination for water sports, including diving, fishing, and sailing. The local fishermen have preserved traditional fishing methods, making Kornati National Park a unique blend of natural beauty and cultural heritage.
Northern Velebit National Park
Northern Velebit National Park is located in the northern part of the Velebit Mountain Range in Croatia. The park is known for its diverse landscape, ranging from dense beech forests to high peaks. The beech forests within the national park were added to the UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2017. The park is also home to a rich diversity of flora and fauna, including endemic species of plants and animals, making it an important area for scientific research. The park is also a popular destination for hiking, with numerous trails that offer breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape.