Croatia’s Best National Parks

While many people visit Croatia to explore its ancient cities and soak up the sun on beautiful beaches, it has a wide range of pristine landscapes that go well beyond the sand. With landscapes that include everything from forests where bears roam and mountains laced with waterfalls to canyons carved by turquoise rivers and plenty of nautical paradises, it may be no surprise that the country is home to eight national parks. 

Of course, if you only have limited time, you’ll probably have to narrow down your options when trying to decide which to visit. Nature lovers, photographers, and adventure seekers of all types won’t want to miss Croatia’s best national parks. 

Plitvice Lakes National Park

Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia
Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia

Plitvice is the most popular national park in Croatia, with countless photographs capturing this incredible work of Mother Nature. Its 16 lakes range in shades from turquoise to deep emerald, often so still you can see your reflection on the surface. In between, there are many waterfalls spilling from 75 to over 250 feet while lush greenery frames it all. Visitors can walk the scenic paths to visit the Lower Lakes, Upper Lakes, or both, taking in mesmerizing views of cascades like Veliki Prstavac, Mali Prstavac, and many smaller falls. Along the way, keep an eye out for wildlife like the Eurasian brown bear.

Krka National Park

Krka is renowned for its rich, diverse flora and fauna. There are more than 220 bird species, providing a birdwatcher’s paradise, along with over 850 species and subspecies of plants. But the star of the show is arguably its seven travertine waterfalls, with Skradinski buk the Mediterranean’s highest, plunging for 150 feet into a tranquil pool below. There are several walking paths that reveal information on the park’s wildlife, including river otters that can be seen frolicking in Krka River, while golden eagles, peregrine falcons, and griffon vultures might be spotted in the trees or soaring above.

Mljet National Park

Mljet National Park
Mljet National Park

Located on the southernmost of the larger Adriatic islands in Dalmatia, Mljet National Park covers 5300 hectares of the northwest section of Mljet Island. Densely forested, it’s known for its picturesque scenery and opportunities for outdoor recreation, including winding paths for hiking and biking, kayaking, and swimming. There are two stunning saltwater lakes, Malo (Small) and Veliko (Great) in brilliant hues of blues and greens which are connected by a small canal. Along their shorelines are idyllic beaches for sunbathing and in the middle of Veliko is an islet topped with the ruins of a 12th-century monastery and a church. 

Kornati National Park

Kornati is a national park that protects an archipelago of the Mediterranean’s most densely grouped islands. In some areas the passageways between them make it feel as if you’re sailing through a maze among rocks. Peacefully secluded, it includes 89 islands, islets, and reefs, providing a marine paradise with rich flora and fauna on land and underwater that can only be reached by boat. If you don’t have your own, there are excursions available – don’t forget a snorkel and mask if the gear isn’t included as no visit here would be complete without marveling at what’s below the water. Diving and fishing are possible too.

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