Croatia is home to diverse landscapes where nature thrives, from karst-limestone caves to wild forests of beech and fir tumbling cascades, wetland deltas and wide open plains, it's no wonder it has been voted third best destination in the world in The Times and Sunday Times Best Country Awards 2020. Explore the best known Croatian landscapes from its national parks, with eight to choose from, here is our guide to Croatia's National Parks.
Krka - Dalmatia
The largest part of the amazing river Krka's course is through this national park, where many cultural and historical monuments can also be found. The most outstanding of these is a Franciscan monastery on the tiny island of Visovac, set in the middle of a lake widening in the river, like a precious stone. Inside the monastery is a picture gallery and church, the origins of which can be traced back to the 14th century.
In the middle of the canyon, further upstream is a second, this time Orthodox, monastery and in the high ground above the river are several old ruins. Here, old mills have been transformed into small ethnographic museums and are a popular attraction for visitors.
The main attraction of Krka National Park lies in its seven waterfalls. The widest of these is Roški Slap, although Skradinski Buk is the biggest and most well known.
- Plitvice Lakes - Lika
Plitvice Lakes were among the first to be placed on the UNESCO World Heritage List and the oldest of Croatia's national parks.
Surrounded by thick forests inhabited by bears, and wolves. Plitvice Lakes is a magnificent and dynamic face of nature that is constantly transforming. The national park represents a magnificent natural architectural phenomenon. They are the result of a rearrangement of the river bed by gypsum and gypsum-depositing plants, creating a string of 16 lakes.
It is easy to spend an entire day here exploring the raised walkways and jumping into one of the boats to help you work your way around. Keep your eyes peeled and you may be lucky enough to spot the Eurasian Lynx!
- Mljet - Dalmatia
Situated on the island of the same name, Mljet National Park is the most important protected area of the Dalmatian south. The park covers the western part of the island, which many regard as the most alluring in the Adriatic, full of lush and varied Mediterranean vegetation. The park includes two deep bays which, due to their extremely narrow links with the sea, are regarded as and indeed named lakes: the Great Lake and the Small Lake.
The island of Mljet is a genuine treasure trove of biodiversity. There are over fifty strictly protected plant species, orchids being especially abundant. Mljet also has a very rich cultural heritage, the most prominent example of this being the complex of the 12th century Benedictine monastery, which we very much recommend visiting.
- Brijuni - Istria
Brijuni National Park is a collection of two large and twelve smaller islands on the western coast of Istria. The Brijuni are renowned for their endemic flora and fauna and well preserved Mediterranean vegetation. The islands are not inhabited but there are numerous tourist attractions through the year. They are a great place to go on safari to spot the exotic species which enjoy the freedom to roam here.
The Brijuni Islands were once the residence of the privileged, political elite and global jet set and became a national park in the 1980s. They are now a strictly guarded geological, archaeological and natural treasure which only became accessible to the public after the independence of Croatia.
- Kornati - Dalmatia
The Kornati archipelago has the densest collection of Islands in the Mediterranean and eighty-nine of them were declared national parks in 1980. The extraordinary landscapes and beautiful natural bays are simply stunning. Famous for their high cliffs, unusual shapes and sparse vegetation, they provide a maze of stone and sea.
- Paklenica - Dalmatia
Paklenica National Park is located close to the city of Zadar, on the southern slopes of the Velebit mountains, the largest mountain range in Croatia. The park abounds with peculiar Karstic forms and caves, and its most striking features are two forbidding gorges: Velika and Mala Paklenica. Due to its climatic conditions, a lush variety of flora and fauna has been preserved.
- Risnjak - Gorski Korta
Risnjak National Park, near Delnice is a forested mountain area north of Rijeka. In addition to being a habitat to a number of wild species, it also serves as the source of the river Kupa. Most visitors are nature lovers, especially mountaineers who find the high peak of the massif a very rewarding challenge.
- Northern Velebit - Velebit
Northern Velebit National Park can be found in the north eastern section of the Velebit mountains and is crisscrossed with numerous hiking trails. The park has two famous karstic formations known as Hajdučki Kukovi and Rožanski Kukovi and the Lukina Jama pothole which is the eighth deepest in the world.