8 National Parks In Croatia and Why You Should Visit Them
The eight national parks in Croatia are an elegant collection of natural beauty each speaking to the heritage, culture, and history of the greater country in its own way. The shifting topography from the coastline to the hinterlands provides unique visions of mountains and rolling hills, glistening sea and thundering waterfalls.
Drama, beauty, and prestige demonstrate the elegant and tumultuous, the opulent and the inevitable as empires fell, civilizations rooted, and the borders of modern Croatia took shape. The true wonders of the national parks across the country stem from their untamed and unstructured nature, where awe rises from the rawness of the landscape and the sea breathes ineffable marvels into daily life.
The preserved scenery is a blessing that makes green space or azure seas accessible to travelers. Lose yourself in the forest, dive into the crystal-clear waters, embrace the brilliance of Mother Nature. Croatia’s national parks are endlessly rewarding and an easy way to experience the layers of time.
Plitvice Lakes National Park
Plitvice Lakes National Park is the quintessential image of Croatia after the staggering walls of Dubrovnik. The collection of waterfalls creating a curtain that spill between turquoise lakes is an elegant portrayal of Croatia’s natural scenery. The setting is home to year-round wonder, glistening in the summer with crystal-clear water and shimmering with cascades frozen in motion during the peak of winter.
The landscape transforms and demonstrates the shifting charms of the seasons when left to their own devices. The trails weave throughout the park offering different perspectives on the waters while traversing over 11 total miles. The Lower Trail carries you over the lakes and beside the mist of the pouring falls and the Upper Trail gives way to an incredible panoramic view.
Beyond the elegance of the falls and lakes is the introduction to the 72 endemic plant species, 20 identified species of bats, and more than 50 mammals that include hedgehogs, wild boars, and massive Eurasian brown bear. Most people don’t spend enough time in the area to spot the wildlife but those who do extend their stay can discover the fascinating ecosystem of the greater national park.
Krka National Park
Krka National Park is often considered an alternative to the crowds at Plitvice Lakes, and a destination celebrated for its rare beauty. Shaped by the Krka River, the protected landscape winds through Dalmatia in southern Croatia and covers 42 square miles. It is home to the largest travertine waterfall in Europe, in addition to a legendary collection of seven waterfalls that balance picturesque beauty with raw power.
The combination of river, banks, and falls create a stunning hotspot for biodiversity supporting more than 850 types of plants that flourish in the wetland. Wildflowers and greenery frame the natural pools at Skradinski Buk, where the waterfalls tumble over the highland and flow elegantly down the opposite ridge below. Krka National Park has approximately 40 grottoes and pits collectively between Skradisnki Buk, Roski Slap, and Visovac alone.
It’s a great place for an active excursion into the thrills of natural Croatia with kayaking, snorkeling, whitewater rafting, and even paragliding. Travelers who prefer to stay dry can easily cycle around the wilderness or find a delicious plate of Skradin risotto. Wildlife in the park includes otter, olm, badger, and deer but the timid animals often steer clear of the more popular corners of the river.
Mljet National Park
Mljet National Park protects nearly a third of the island located more than 20 miles from the coast of Dubrovnik. It is famous for its saltwater lake, 12th-century Benedictine monastery, and pathways crisscrossing the landscape. It is also believed to be where Greek hero Ulysses fell captive for seven years during Homer’s legendary Odyssey.
The park is much more than just the island’s borders, spreading to include the shores and waterways around the archipelago to create a hidden treasure that glows among the blue waters and emerald woodlands. It is one of the few places in Croatia that has white sandy beaches. The civil history of the national park dates to the ancient Greeks who settled around the shoreline as early as the 6th century BCE.
Staggering rocky outcrops and access to fantastic activities like kayaking, canoeing, cycling, and hiking offer more soul-stirring ways to connect the natural surroundings. The local inns also offer fantastic traditional dishes highlighting flavors specific to the islands, including eel stew and goat milk cheese.
Brijuni National Park
Brijuni National Park covers nearly three square miles but includes 14 isles that reflect the paradise of near northwestern Istria. Civilization in the area dates back to the Stone Age and the Romans eventually built rustic villas on the islands that produced oil and wine. The generations have left unique footprints across the land and shores, including the Yugoslavian dictator, Josip Broz Tito, who lived in one of the three residences on the collected isles.
The gorgeous landscape gives way to surprising locals brought over during Tito’s residency, including roaming herds of zebra, camels, Somalian sheep, and Indian cows, as well as a number of Asian elephants among the more endemic species of deer and hares who reside in the oak forests. Dinosaur footprints, perfect covers for yachting, and rolling green meadows that offset the azure waters song the shores showcase the marvelous diversity of Brijuni National Park.
Kornati National Park
The collection of 89 islands in Central Dalmatia embody the essential beauty of Croatia and its famous position along the Adriatic Sea. Sheer cliffs plunge into the water to create a breathtaking panorama from atop the shoreline or a sensational view when on a boat looking upwards. Inland, the protected landscape features rocky desert and arid flora.
Undisturbed and undiscovered, hidden coves offer secluded getaways for those looking for a moment away from the crowds and exploring the waters around the islands can lead to sightings of dolphins or sea turtles, especially in summer.
The uninhabited nature of the islands make them even more exciting for sailing excursions to open beaches that feel as though they take you back in time. Snorkel in the crystalline blue Adriatic and explore the islands to find traces of human settlements dating back to Neolithic times. Roman mosaics, passing whales, and local dishes inspired by the regional lamb and seafood show the impressive cultural layers of the national park.
Paklenica National Park
Paklenica National Park inspires mountaineers and climbers from around the world. The protected landscape spreads across more than 36 square miles of the southern Velebit range that includes two dolomite limestone canyons. Coastal channels and a selection of local flora add to the diverse ecosystems shaped by the plunging cliffs, soaring peaks, and walls of trees.
The more than 1,000 plant species protect the biodiversity by supporting wildlife like rare birds that nest in the rocks. In addition to being just a space for mountaineers, the national park also offers fantastic trails for bikers and hikers eager to overcome the challenging rocky slopes. Local dishes celebrate the alpine environment but also adhere to the unique arid environment with lots of grappa, cheese strudels, and preserves.
Sweeping mountains define Northern Velebit National Park. Verdant forest fills the sloping valleys beneath the sharp peaks that represent the largest mountain range in Croatia. The dreamscape features primeval wilds of untouched beauty with intense karsts and white rocks among slopes that taper out to towns featuring cultural heritage shaped by the harsh landscape.
Alpine trails weave and wind across the scenery leading to fantastic viewpoints of land and sea. Adventurers trek, hike, cycle, or mountain bike to discover new corners and hidden vistas. Hidden among the gems of the park are a meteorology station and a Botanical garden. Velebit can feel treacherous and rewarding especially after you discover the regional dishes shaped by the surrounding mountainous terrain like Lika lamb and a specialty cheese.
Risnjak National Park
Risnjak National Park represents all things pastoral in Croatia. The protected landscape features gorgeous mountains, charming hills, expansive meadows, and lush valleys with a climate that combines the coastal and continental. Bears and wolves naturally thrive in the area’s diverse habitats, which includes 14 different types of forests.
Butterflies and wildflowers bring in the spring and the leaves change colors in the fall. The winter snow brings skiers and the narrow mountain passes offer panoramic views. Villages and towns around the park’s borders celebrate the traditions of the local habitats by building customary mountain houses and cooking mouthwatering recipes like wild blueberry crepes. Fishing, game-watching, and long walks are quiet joys visitors can enjoy when surrounded by the perfect scenery.
Find the Right National Parks to Visit On Your Workation
Croatia’s national parks are an indelible part of the national heritage. The landscapes, panoramas, and wildlife demonstrate the wonders of the natural world and create an unnamed connection to the history that has shaped local culture. Crystal-clear waters that glisten turquoise, islands that spring from the Adriatic Sea, inspiring waterfalls, dramatic mountain peaks, and impressive green pastures add to a captivating collection that provides undeniable and unforgettable experiences for visitors from around the world.
Workation has the information you need and want for a personalized visit to Croatia. The more you know before planning, the faster and easier it is to start your Workation experience. We can maximize the time you have by focusing on the best methods for providing a work-life balance that includes a combination of activities, exploration, your work schedule, and local knowledge. Take one step closer to planning your Workation or before speaking with a Workation specialist, find more information about the What do you need to know before traveling to Croatia for a Workation?