Croatia's Most Spectacular National Parks

By Amanda Little


Set out on the most amazing adventure through the beautiful, natural scenery of Croatia. This growing destination has mountains, islands, cities, history and some of the most stunning national parks.

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Mljet

Kayak, swim, hike, and sunbathe while visiting the beautiful Mljet National Park. Those looking for adventure, look no further. Bordered by saltwater lakes and made up of a ring of islands, Mljet is covered in forest, vineyards, and small villages. Enjoy an excursion to the tiny island supporting the 12th-century Benedictine monastery, which has been turned into a cafe.

Enjoy exploring the land or water of this natural beauty. Wander through pine forests, float along through stunningly clear saltwater, and enjoy the adventure and treasures of the island that supposedly held Odysseus for seven years.


Krka

If you’re looking for waterfalls, fortresses or swimming opportunities you’ll find it and more at Krka National Park. Easily explored in a day trip from Split, Krka offers a museum made out of the old mills once in Krka and a cool 14th-century medieval fortress that can be seen along a boat ride on Krka River to the Krka Monastery.

Enjoy a leisurely stroll through the paths that wind through the park from the Dinaric Range to the sea near Sibenik. Go for a dip among the amazing waterfalls, admire the 656-foot deep canyon cut through the limestone hills, and of course, take photos! Don't miss the opportunity to travel to Croatia's secret islands which are stunning and mysterious.


Risnjak

Admire the towering limestone valleys and imposing mountains as you make your way through Risnjak National Park. Home to fierce fauna like bears, wolves, lynx, and deer, be sure to make a booking with the Risnjak observatory during the summer months to see some of these amazing wild animals. Log cabins are also available during the winter months, allowing for nature photography and animal discovery at any time of year.

While there are many activities to be found in Risnjak, the unique one is fly fishing. Fish all day if your heart desires on a single fishing ticket. Wade into the beautiful Kupa River, surrounded on all sides by dense foliage, and enjoy your time among nature. Just be sure to only keep in-season fish!


Paklenica

Composed of the two magnificent torrent gorges Velika Paklenica, the bigger, and Mala Peklenica, the smaller, Paklenica National Park is a hiker's paradise. Bring your comfortable, sturdy shoes to explore the powerful hiking trails, and mountain climbers, prepare to gear up. The park has everything from amazing climbs, to mountain trails, to deep dark caves, all available to tour.

Go below the surface to the 574-foot-long Manita Pec Cave, lined with stalagmites and stalactites and walk the edge of Velebit Massif that rises high above the sea and lays the world out below. Seek out the rare sight of the golden eagles and peregrine falcons that call the area home, and explore the rivers, paths, gorges, and foliage that makes this park unforgettable.


Sjeverni Velebit

Stop at the stoic Sjeverni Velebit National Park that offers mountain views so amazing they almost look like a fake movie background. These steep drops divide the Adriatic Coast from continental Croatia, and offer fun activities like hiking and biking, but the real draw here is stargazing.

Search for the stars above Zavizan program and walk high above the rest of the world with the endless expanse of the cosmos unfurling above you.


Kornati Islands

Hop along the archipelago of the Kornati Islands. Made up of 89 separate islands and one of the most densely grouped islands in the Mediterranean, explore as much as you want of the 150-mile combined coastline. The best way to see it all however, is to sail. If you’d like to sail yourself, be sure to get the proper permit from the park, or you can always join in on an arranged tour!

Be sure to bring your swim gear, and maybe even some diving gear, to swim through the beautifully clear waters and dive among the uninhabited islands, islets, and reefs. Wander among the rugged, rocky, and dry islands, mostly devoid of life but offering unique white rock formations, and stop in along the southwestern coast of Kornat for a bite to eat where over 300 buildings cluster together.


Brijuni

An archipelago of 14 islands covered in over 200 discovered dinosaur footprints makes up the prehistoric Brijuni National Park. Stop in at the island of Veliki to see the saurian remains, or visit ancient Roman villas, a 5th-century St. Mary’s Church rumored to be used by the Knights of Templar, and the Byzantine Palace and museum. There is plenty of history to be found here, and still more to see.

Golf and tennis are popular traditional attractions on the islands, but those looking for something a little different might like to try their hand at archery or biking through the islands.

Once you’ve had your dose of history, there is still plenty left to do in the national park, by way of sports. On the islands, you can play a few rounds of golf, or perhaps a game of tennis, practice your archery skills or explore the islands by bike. Covered in pine forests, meadows, oak and laurel forests, wild cucumber, and marine poppy, these islands are a magical destination.


Plitvice

Plitvice National Park is a stunning natural area that is almost surreal in its beauty. Boasting the title of the largest park in Croatia as well as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Plitvice is nestled between Mala Kapela and Ljesevica mountains. Throughout its lush flora and fauna are the 16 interconnected lakes that makes this park unique, as well as the breathtaking waterfalls that make it famous.

Clouds of butterflies drift over wooden footbridges, waterfalls tumble from 80 to over 250 feet, crystalline lakes support unique life and rich minerals that make them turn beautiful shades of blue and green, and all of it is available to see in a 6-hour hike or a 4-hour boat ride. Take plenty of photos and admire the landscape, but leave your swimsuit at home. Swimming in any lake is strictly off limits.

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