Visiting Croatia’s National Parks
Croatia is a beautiful country with stunning cities like Dubrovnik and Split and charming towns and villages. But Croatia is also known for its fantastic natural beauty. There are 19 designated national parks and nature reserves in Croatia. You can visit them with your own vehicle, by using public transportation or by booking a tour.
Here are some of the most popular and beautiful parks in Croatia. Let’s go!
Plitviče Lakes National Park
Plitviče Lakes National Park is known for its series of lakes joined by waterfalls. The park is a forest reserve in central Croatia. The terraced lakes are in limestone canyon surrounded by winding trails and wooden walkways. You can also see the lakes from an electric boat or tourist train.
There are 12 upper and 4 lower lakes as well as countless waterfalls. The water is a beautiful turquoise blue and is surrounded by lush greenery in the summer months. It almost looks like something from Disneyland it is so magical and gorgeous.
The park is extremely popular, in fact you might get caught in a traffic jam of people on the trails in the summer. Try to arrive in the early morning or go for a hike in the afternoon, as the busiest times are midday. Off season is also a wonderful time to go when things are a lot more peaceful.
Another way to find solitude in the park is to avoid the lakes area and head to other trails in the park. There are many kilometers of hiking routes as well as bike paths.
The water looks so inviting but unfortunately swimming is prohibited at this national park. Check out Krka National Park instead! (see below)
Getting to Plitvice Lakes National Park
The park is conveniently located between Zagreb and Zadar. If you have your own car and are driving between the two, Plitvice Lakes is a great place to stopover. You can also stop here if you are traveling by bus or train. The visitor center will even store your luggage for a few hours while you explore.
Spend the night near Plitvice. There are lodgings within the park and in the town nearby. Here are some top choices:
- B&B Millenium House is a 5 minute drive from the national park and also has an onsite restaurant
- Ethno Houses Plitvica Selo has lovely cabin style rooms and is just steps from the waterfalls
- Villa Sumrak is just a 15 minute walk from the waterfalls, let the hosts cook your meals too
Would you like to visit Plitviče Lakes National Park on a guided tour?
Kornati Islands National Park
The Kornati Islands are a chain of 140 islands extending 35 kilometers in the Mediterranean Sea. The national park consists of 109 of these karst-limestone islands ranging in size from large to tiny. There is evidence of human habitation as far back as the Neolithic, and many fossils in the rocks.
Combined your visit to the Kornati islands with nearby Telašćica Nature Park where there is a calm cove for boats and a fascinating salt lake.
Getting to Kornati Islands National Park
This park is a bit more difficult to access on your own unless you have your own boat. However you can book a boat tour to take you around the Kornati Islands. I recommend booking in advance but you can also find a tour operator in Zadar or Murter.
Spend the night near the Kornati Islands. There are lodgings available in the surrounding area. Here are some top choices:
- Vegros Mobile Homes have views of the sea and are perfect for sightseeing in the area
- HD Beach House II sits right near the beach and is modern with everything you need
- MS Estrada Mobile Homes are great if you are traveling with kids
Would you like to visit Kornati Islands National Park on a guided tour?
Krka National Park
If you love the look of Plitviče Lakes National Park but really want to go swimming in the water, check out Krka National Park.
The national park is located on the Krka River with many hiking trails and waterfalls you can swim in. Check out the Franciscan Monastery on Visovac Island and the Krka Monastery up river which can be reached by a boat ride from Roški slap. Hike the interpretive nature trails to Oziđana pećina cave.
Getting to Krka National Park
You can visit Krka National Park on a day trip from Split. You can get there by car or bus, or book a guided tour.
You can sleep overnight in Skradin or Sibenik, or head back to Split if you are staying there. Here are some lodgings nearby:
- Hotel Bonaca has a swimming pool and air conditioning for those hot summer days
- Stay in a traditional stone farmhouse at Agrotourism Kalpic
- Walk just five minutes from Villa Barbara to the boat to the Krka National Park waterfalls
Would you like to visit Krka National Park on a guided tour?
Mljet National Park
Mljet National Park is the northwest section of Mljet island in the southern Dalmatian coast of Croatia. The park contains two large saltwater lakes, one of which has a small island with a 12th century monastery. I find this mind-boggling and awesome! An island in the sea with huge lakes on it, with another island in the middle. It’s like the droste effect!
The park has walking and cycling paths, and is also served by a bus. You can rent kayaks in the park between the large lake and small lake at Mali Most. You can also swim in the lakes, and in the summer the temperature is warmer than the sea.
You can reach the small island called St Mary in the large lake by boat or kayak there yourself. The monastery is now home to a cafe where you can get a snack and beverage after your boat adventure.
Get your entrance ticket for the park in Pomena or Polače.
Getting to Mljet National Park
You can reach Mljet National Park by catamaran from Dubrovnik or along the Split-Hvar-Korčula catamaran line. You can stay close or even within the national park:
- Apartments Matana Chano are self-catering apartments with amazing sea views
- Apartments Hana is just next to the entrance of Mljet National Park
- Apartments Slavica is just a 10 minute walk to the national park lakes
Would you like to visit Mljet National Park on a guided tour?
Northern Velebit National Park
The Sjeverni Velebit National Park is a beautiful landscape in the largest mountain range in Croatia. From the hiking trails you can get fantastic views of the Adriatic Sea and many small islands. You’ll also pass by the ruins of the homes of shepherds and farmers of yesteryear.
The hiking trails range from relaxed to intense. Climb the highest peak in Croatia or check out the botanical garden.
Getting to Northern Velebit National Park
The headquarters of the Northern Velebit National Park is the village of Krasno, which can be reached from all major cities in Croatia by car, but it is closest to Zagreb.
There are rustic lodgings in the park and some nearby, check the website of Velebit National Park for details.
For more about Croatia’s Parks, check this guide.
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