About National Parks in Croatia
The landscape of Croatia offers much more than coastal resorts and historic towns; there are some exceptional National Parks and protected landscapes which offer the visitor a unique experience. We have selected some great accommodation in our favourite locations, the justly World-famous Plitvice Lakes National Park, the often overlooked Krka National Park not far from Split and Mljet Island off the coast near Dubrovnik.
Many of the other National parks featured below are easy or best visited from one of our featured locations or even en-route between places on one of our excellent fly-drive itineraries.
The Park is open daily all year round, with longer opening hours during summer. There is an entrance fee, which acts as a contribution to the Park's upkeep and protection. In the summer the park is green and full of lush vegetation while in the winter the lakes and waterfalls freeze leaving spectacular ice sculptures.
Designated a national park in 1985, National Park Krka has a very rich and diverse flora & fauna. It includes the region along the river Krka which runs through a deep canyon and forms beautiful waterfalls. The town of Skradin is simply magical in its every detail; including the peace and quiet of the Visovac monastery and the burst of water drops of the Skradinski Buk waterfall.
Mljet is one of the smaller but most beautiful of the Dalmatian islands - its western half is given over to a Nature Park to protect the environment of its famous salt lakes. The park is densely wooded and has two lakes which are joined to the sea, the 12th Century Monastery of St. Mary is in the middle of the largest one.
With its area of almost 2,000 km², the Velebit Nature Park is the largest protected area of Croatia, larger than all other protected areas taken together. Within the Park, there is a series of smaller protected areas, including two national parks: Northern Velebit and Paklenica, and the strict reserves of Hajdučki and Rožanski kukovi. On this magnificent mountain that in its diversity, unique relief and richness of plant and animal life is one of the most significant in Europe, there is a whole series of natural sights ranking among the highest values Croatia has to offer. Therefore, this whole 150 km long mountain is protected as UNESCO World.
The area of Paklenica National Park has an exceptional diversity of geomorphology. The most attractive and most valuable parts of South Velebit are surely the impressive canyons of Velika Paklenica and Mala Paklenica. Velika Paklenica canyon is 14 km long and 500-800 m wide, in its narrowest part around the Bunkers, the canyon is only 50 m wide. Vertical cliffs rise above both sides of the canyon up to a height of over 700 m; the most attractive part is the area around the steep drop of the stream downstream from Anića luka, where steep cliffs rise directly above the stream, forming the narrowest part of the canyon between Anića luka and the parking area.
One of the smaller National Parks, set around Mount Risnjak, protects the karst landscape of Gorski Kotar near Rijeka. There has been no settlement nor cultivation in the area so it is a pristine ecosystem. The forested area has lots of snowfall in winter and forms the watershed between the Adriatic and the Black Sea (all rivers running to the east of this point eventually find their way into the Danube). The higher areas are great spots for seeing Alpine flowers such as Edelweiss and mountain orchids; wild animals such as the lynx, brown bear and deer roam the area, too.
This small group of islands just off the southwestern coast of Istria protect excellent tracts of unspoilt Mediterranean vegetation. The islands have been off limits to tourists for much of their recent history which has led inadvertently to their ecological importance - President Tito and earlier an Austrian industrialist made them their private domains. The larger island (Veli Brijun) has a safari park which holds a collection of animals, offered as diplomatic gifts to President Tito, as well as some fine Roman and Byzantine ruins.
Within the central part of the Croatian Adriatic, at the mid-way point between Šibenik and Zadar there is a group of islands called Kornati. Due to its exceptionally beautiful landscape, interesting geomorphology, diversity of the coastline and especially because of the rich bio-diversity of the marine ecosystem, the greater part of the Kornati Maritime Zone has been declared a national park . Today, the National Park of “Kornati” occupies an area of about 220 km2 and it includes 89 islands, islets and cliffs, alltogether with a coastline about 238 km. In fact the park protects the reefs and waters too and 75% of the park area is sea. The white limestone under the coastal shallows gives the incredibly beautiful blue colour of the sea. The cliffs in the southwest rise up to 80m and are the highest coastal feature along the Croatian Adriatic.
The big city lives with the silent beat of history, a lively spirit of the young and its particular Mediterranean charm. The first inhabitant of Split was the Roman emperor Diocletian who started to build his palace in this friendly bay around 293 AD. After his abdication he withdrew to this luxurious palace of about 30 thousand square meters.
Biograd Na Moru
Once the crown city of Croatian kings, today Biograd on sea is a well-known tourist and nautical centre as well as the focus of the Riviera that goes by its name. The city lies on a peninsula surrounded by modern marinas and a promenade with an unforgettable view of the Pašman Canal and the islands scattered within it.
Zadar is a city of exceptional history and rich cultural heritage, a city of tourism.
Knin is located near source of river Krka, at the three border point of Lika, Bosnia and Dalmatia, at a cross-roads of important routes between the interior and coast, which is why Knin is often called Key of Croatia and Door to Dalmatia. The city of Knin is rich in cultural and historical monuments and natural highlights whose power and beauty leave visitors breathless. Almost 6.000 of the 17.000 inhabitants are younger than 19; this certainly gives this town the right to be proud as the holder of the title of the youngest city in Croatia.
Where to visit
National Park Krka has a very rich and diverse flora & fauna; it includes the region along the river Krka which runs through a deep canyon and forms beautiful waterfalls such as Skradinski Buk.
Paklenica National Park's landscape offers exceptional, dramatic and largely unspoilt landscapes providing walking and climbing for outdoor lovers.
"We are back home and suffering from post holiday withdrawal, we have thousands of photos to sort through and just as many wonderful memories. I thought while it is all still fresh that I would drop you a line to say thanks. The whole trip was amazing and everything worked without a single hitch. The hotels that you booked for us were spot on and the car hire etc all worked perfectly. Really the holiday could not have been easier so a massive thank you for all your advice and organising. The highlights were the national parks. Apart from Plitvice, we also visited Krka and Paklenica and could have spent longer at all of them. Split, Trogir and Dubrovnic were amazing but busy, I also loved the smaller villages that were less crowded.The Sail /Bike trip that we added in was an amazing way to see some of the Islands and it fitted perfectly into your itinerary. A final big thanks to you - it was so easy to arrange this trip, you were always prompt with your responses, answered all my questions and took all the stress out of planning this holiday. A pleasure to do business with. "
S Gemmel, July 2016