National parks in Croatia PLUS detailed visitor guides

Croatia is a nature-lover’s paradise. Vast swathes of the country are completely untouched and preserved, which is why its national parks are so glorious. Their landscapes are incredibly diverse and give you a taste of everything: sea, forest, mountains, lakes, rivers and islands.

Croatia has 8 national parks spread out across the country. In this post, we will give you a quick hit-list of what makes each park special, where you can find them, when to go, available activities, approximate ticket costs and a link to a more detailed visitor’s guide with everything you need to know.

Croatia’s national parks include:

  1. Brijuni National Park
  2. Krka National Park
  3. Kornati National Park
  4. Mljet National Park
  5. Northern Velebit National Park
  6. Paklenica National Park
  7. Plitvice National Park
  8. Risnjak National Park

Let’s get started…

All the national parks in Croatia

#1 Brijuni National Park (Nacionalni park Brijuni)

Brijuni Islands National Park
Image by NP Brijuni

Brijuni National Park is an archipelago off the western coast of Croatia containing 14 islands and islets (including that island that looks like a fish from above).

Brijuni was the official residence of the former Yugoslavian president Josip Broz Tito for more than 30 years. It is thanks to him that the wildlife and nature of these islands were so strongly preserved.

Closest major city: Pula
Activities: Walking, visiting the animals, swimming, sailing, diving, music festival
Landscapes: Adriatic sea, rocky islands, parks, meadows, pastures
Best time to visit: Summer

Ticket price: Ranges from 80 to 230 kuna, depending on time of year and age of visitor

Highlights:

View full visitor guide for Brijuni National Park here

 

#2 Krka National Park (Nacionalni park Krka)

Near the town of Šibenik, the Krka and Čikola rivers merge at the site of Krka National Park.

The park is filled with lakes and waterfalls that filter through tree roots under shaded canopies. Skradinski buk (Skradin waterfall) is known as one of the most beautiful calcium carbonate waterfalls in Europe.

Closest major city: Split
Activities: Walking (Swimming under the falls is no longer allowed starting 2021)
Landscapes: Lakes, waterfalls, forest
Best time to visit: Late spring or early fall

Ticket price: Ranges from 20 to 200 kuna, depending on time of year and age of visitor

Highlights:

  • Krka waterfalls
  • 860+ species
  • Boat excursions to Visovac Island, Roški slap, and Krka Monastery

View full visitor guide for Krka National Park here

 

#3 Kornati National Park (Nacionalni park Kornati)

Kornati National Park
Image by Croatia.hr

Kornati National Park is an archipelago made up of 89 islands, islets and reefs spread out over the Adriatic sea. The park is comprised of both the islands and their surrounding waters.

The islands, which can only be visited by boat, have very sparse vegetation giving them an almost extraterrestrial look. Nobody lives on the islands, so they truly have a wild, frontier atmosphere.

Closest major city: Zadar
Activities: Walking, swimming, sailing, diving
Landscapes: Adriatic sea, bushy and rocky islands
Best time to visit: Spring or autumn

Ticket price: Ranges from 150 to 14.000 kuna (this is not a typo), depending on time of year and size of your boat

Highlights:

  • Spomen-križevi (Memorial crosses)
  • Kornati pastures
  • Eagle owl
  • Underwater world around Kornati

View full visitor guide for Kornati National Park here

 

#4 Mljet National Park (Nacionalni park Mljet)

Mljet National Park
Image by dronepicr

Mljet is unique for many reasons. It is located on an island and includes part of the sea. Mljet is the greenest island in Croatia, which is why it is dubbed “Zeleni otok”, meaning “Green island”.

Over time, Mljet’s landscape has evolved. Freshwater sinkholes on the island were flooded due to rising sea levels. As a result, the sinkholes became inland seawater lakes perfect for a cool dip after hiking around the island park.

Closest major city: Dubrovnik
Activities: Walking, hiking, swimming, sailing, organized tours, diving
Landscapes: Adriatic sea, islands, submerged bays, sea caves, beaches, forest
Best time to visit: During summer, so you can swim in the submerged bays.

Ticket price: Ranges from 30 to 125 kuna, depending on time of year and age of visitor

Highlights:

View full visitor guide for Mljet National Park here

#5 Northern Velebit National Park (Nacionalni park Sjeverni Velebit)

Northern Velebit National Park
Image by Apartments Nives

Northern Velebit national park lies on the northern end of Croatia’s largest mountain range, called “Velebit”. Northern Velebit is dense with mountain trails that weave through a variety of landscapes.

It is easy to get lost in Velebit’s rich nature and not see another soul all day, just plants and animals. If you want to stay longer, you can stay a night or two over at the mountain lodge located within the park.

Closest major city: Rijeka
Activities: Walking, hiking, biking, guided tours, educational programs
Landscapes: Forests, grasslands, caves, mountains, valley
Best time to visit: Spring

Ticket price: Ranges from 30 to 70 kuna, depending on time of year and age of visitor

Highlights:

  • Hajdučki i Rožanski kukovi (strict nature reserve)
  • Mountain lodge Zavižan
  • Kuća Velebita
  • 950+ plant species and subspecies
  • Bears, wolves and lynxes
  • Štirovača valley

View full visitor guide for Northern Velebit National Park here

 

#6 Paklenica National Park (Nacionalni park Paklenica)

National park Paklenica in Croatia
Image by Parkovi Hrvatske

Paklenica National Park is Croatia’s second oldest national park. Paklenica is quite a rocky and mountainous park that includes two of Velebit’s highest peaks including Vaganski vrh (1757 m) and Sveto brdo (1753 m).

Closest major city: Zadar
Activities: Walking, hiking, rock climbing, organized tours, historical trails
Landscapes: Streams, canyons, caves, mountains
Best time to visit: Early spring or late summer

Ticket price: Ranges from 10 to 60 kuna, depending on time of year and age of visitor

Highlights:

View full visitor guide for Paklenica National Park here

 

#7 Plitvice Lakes National Park (Nacionalni park Plitvička jezera)

Veliki slap - Biggest waterfall at Plitvice Lakes National Park

Plitvice Lakes National Park is by far the most famous of Croatia’s 8 national parks. The park is made up of 16 interconnected lakes, each cascading into another through a seemingly endless series of jaw-dropping waterfalls.

You can weave through the forest and over the lakes and beside the waterfalls all day using wooden plank paths. Plitvice Lakes was named Croatia’s first national park in 1949. It’s also been on UNESCO’s World Heritage List since 1979.

Closest major city: Zadar
Activities: Walking, hiking, guided tours, boat rides
Landscapes: Streams, lakes, forests, waterfalls, mountains
Best time to visit: Fall or mid-winter

Ticket price: Ranges from 25 to 200 kuna, depending on time of year and age of visitor

Highlights:

  • Bright blue, green and azure lakes
  • Veliki slap (the big waterfall)
  • Tufa sediment barriers from the Pleistocene epoch
  • Lake tour programs
  • Hiking trails
  • Panorama train ride

View full visitor guide for Plitvice Lakes National Park here

 

#8 Risnjak National Park (Nacionalni park Risnjak)

Nacionalni Park Risnjak
Image by Croatia.hr

Risnjak is a richly-forested national park located in the mountainous region of Gorski kotar. The park takes its name from the lynx (called “ris” in Croatian), the rarest and most elusive beast in Europe.

Risnjak offers a smorgasbord of activities in comparison to the other national parks in Croatia. It’s also less famous than the others, meaning you’ve got a good chance of exploring Risnjak’s woods on your own.

Closest major city: Rijeka
Activities: Walking, hiking, guided tours, biking, adventure park, sports fishing, game observation, photography, movie presentation, carriage rides
Landscapes: River, mountains, forests, grasslands, valleys
Best time to visit: Whenever it is sunny

Ticket price: Ranges from 10 to 60 kuna, depending on time of year and age of visitor

Highlights:

  • 15 types of forest communities
  • Veliki Risnjak mountain peak
  • Snježnik mountain peak
  • Source of the Kupa river

View full visitor guide for Risnjak National Park here

 

Which of Croatia’s national parks do you hope to visit? Let us know in the comments.

 

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2 thoughts on “National parks in Croatia PLUS detailed visitor guides

  1. Jules Prom
    October 8, 2020 @ 5:21 pm

    I want to see them all! I just visited Plitvice Lakes National Park this week. Only spent 2.5 hours there and walked the lower lakes via the great paths. It was so beautiful! The waterfalls were breathtaking. I look forward to going back to see the upper lakes. Next on my list is Krka National Park.

    {reply}

    • Expat in Croatia
      October 13, 2020 @ 2:34 pm

      Hey Jules,

      I know, me too! I really want to check out Risnjak and Mljet. Those are the next two on my list. 🙂

      Cheers,

      Sara

      {reply}

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