The nature has richly gifted Croatia landscape with several natural wonders, difficult to find in other countries. It’s really an embarrassment to choose the most beautiful among so many unspoiled landscapes.
It is difficult to chose the right ones among eight Croatia’s National Parks and ten parks of nature. Seven of National Parks are placed directly on or in the vicinity of the coast, while the eighth National Park, Plitvice Lakes, is less than 200 km from the coast.
I have chosen six of Croatia national parks and three parks of nature, according my experience the most beautiful landscape starting from Istria all the way to Southern Dalmatia region.
Watching carefully above map you can notice that three National Parks are located on the open sea , Brijuni, Kornati and Mljet. Krka river NP has its source in the Dinaric mountains finishing in Adriatic sea near Sibenik town. Two national parks, Paklenica and Velebit are along the coast overlooking the sea.
Croatia landscape – Brijuni National Park
Brijuni is a group of islands that lies close to Istria’s western coast. Its most beautiful part was proclaimed a national park in 1983. The islands are 6 km from Pula and are separated from the mainland by the Fazana channel through which boats from the Fazana harbor to Brijuni operate on a daily basis.
The Brijuni archipelago consists of two larger islands – Veliki and Mali Brijun (Big and Small), as well as 13 smaller, well-indented islands that have been inhabited since prehistorical times. The islands are known for their mild climate and rich vegetation, while the National Park is intertwined with tree-lined walks, parks and gardens of tropical vegetation.
This Croatia landscape is also famous for an open type Zoo, where animals freely wander the island, and there is also a safari park. The park offers many sporting activities: horseback riding, golf, tennis, sailing, windsurfing, bike, boat rental and diving activities.
On Veliki Brijun island there only few hotels and villas (very old with negative reviews) but in Fazan (only half hour long boat ride), you can find a lot of hotels. From Pula there are daily organized tours to this beauty of Istria peninsula.
Croatia landscape – Paklenica National Park
Paklenica National Park stretches in area of 96 km2 along the coast of Northern Dalmatia about 50 km north (northeast) from Zadar, above the Starigrad Paklenica summer resort. This area was proclaimed a national park in 1949.
The park is actually a continuation of the Northern Dalmatia Velebit Mountains with two highest peaks, Vaganski Vrh (1757 m) and Sveto Brdo (1753 m). This park is only 50 km from Zadar reachable by regular bus to Starigrad Paklenica village. All buses that travel the coastline from Rijeka south to Dalmatia usually stop here.
This park is suitable for all type to activities particularly hiking (there are trails of different difficulty and length). For the more adventurous, climbing is a very popular activity in the Park, that attracts climbing fans not only from Croatia. There are a number of climbing areas with different levels. Some are really only recommended if you’re an experienced climber.
The park in combination with Starigrad Paklenica, is ideal place with numerous beaches for families while National Park Paklenica for lovers of hiking and free climbing.
Beside the lodges and shelters inside the park, there is also a Mountain Hut with about 50 beds. More info you can find on Paklenica official website.
Hotels in nearby Starigrad Paklenica stand out Hotel Vicko, Hotel Rajna and particularly Bluesun Hotel Alan, all-inclusive.
Croatia landscape – Krka River National Park
Krka National Park established in 1985, with a surface of 142 sq km, follows the line of the Krka river, from its source in the foothills of the Dinaric mountains on its short journey through the limestone landscape to its finish in the Adriatic sea.
The river flows through a limestone gorge with eight sets of rapids. Two waterfalls, Skradinski buk and Roski slap, are the most impressive, particularly the second one with a 46 meter fall over seventeen limestone steps.
After the noise and rush of the waterfalls, all ends with a small lake crowned with island of Visovac. This small island is the site of an old Franciscan monastery, established in the 16th century.
Croatia landscape – Kornati islands National park
‘On the last day of the Creation, God desired to crown His work, and thus created the Kornati Islands out of tears, stars and breath!’ – George Bernard Show
An unmatched beauty, a network of countless islands and islets ( an old folk proverb says, one island or islet for each day of the year), the magnificent sea – all this makes the Kornati Islands an attractive destination of numerous excursionists and boaters.
The Kornati are a true promised land for boaters and yachting enthusiasts. Numerous coves provide safe shelter to boaters and fishermen. Being a National Park, the submarine zone is also protected by specific law and visitors are are recommended to be familiar what, when and where they can go fishing. Failure to comply with the law can be punished by rigorous fines
The islands are a unique pleasure and experience to all those who are eager on bathing in the crystal-clear sea, who appreciate peace and quietness but also feel enthusiastic about Eco-tourism without any modern facilities.
How to visit Karnati islands?
The only way to fully enjoy the Kornati island, is chartering 7 days – Saturday to Saturday a sailing-boat or motor boat with or without a skipper. If you want to charter a bare-boat, you’ll need a skipper license.
Renting a skippered boat in Croatia can be a great choice for a casual, relaxing and carefree sailing vacation:
- Sail-boats charter from Biograd for Karnati islands National Park
- Motor boat charter from Biograd
Croatia landscape – Plitvice Lakes National Park
The Plitvice lakes are Croatia’s most famous national park and are among the most beautiful sights in Europe. Due to their natural diversity, they are on the list of the UNESCO World Heritage.
The Plitvice lakes consist of 16 connected lakes and numerous waterfalls, surrounded by dense forests. Many trails and small wooden bridges, built just above the calm water host the travelers from around the world.
Besides on foot, you can explore the National Park by tourist train or boat throughout the whole year. You can visit Plitvice Lakes from any point in Croatia.
Croatia landscape – Mljet Island National Park
Mljet island is the southernmost national park. National Park covers his northwestern part of the island with an area of 5.375 ha of protected land and surrounding sea.
It was proclaimed in 1960 as National Park and represents the first attempt to protect an original ecosystem in the south Adriatic.
The world famous lakes of Mljet consist of the Great Lake, covering an area of 145 ha, with a maximum depth of 46 m. The Small Lake has an area of 24 ha and a maximum depth of 29 m.
The rich vegetation of the island, especially in the area of the national Park, assigned to Mljet Park a name of a Green Island.
Croatia landscape – Ucka Park of Nature
Ucka park of nature is located at the north of Istria peninsula and not far from Rijeka and Opatija towns. Nature Park has been proclaimed in April 1999, which makes it one of the most recent Croatian parks and protected areas.
In September of the same year, the Croatian Government, in accordance with the Nature Protection Law, founded the Public Institution to manage the Park, with the task of protection, conservation, promotion and use of the protected area of the Ucka Nature Park.
What are activities that offers this park of nature! The park provides excellent conditions for different recreational and sporting activities like hiking, mountain biking, free climbing, horseback riding, bird watching and many more. On park website you’ll find all necessary information regarding each activity.
Croatia landscape – Biokovo Park of Nature
Traveling from Split along the coastal road D8 to Makarska riviera, upon arriving to Brela village, starts 38 miles long narrow strip of Adriatic Sea naturally protected by majestic Biokovo Mountain slopes.
Biokovo is unique also because of its position and its biological diversity, which were the main reasons the Biokovo Mountain was proclaimed a Nature Park in 1981. Here you can read what this park offers to its visitors!
Croatia landscape – Telascica Park of Nature
Telascica is a bay surrounded by 13 islands and islets, together with 6 islets inside the bay of Telascica itself, proclaimed a Nature Park in 1988.
It is situated on the south-eastern part of the island Dugi otok (Long island), neighboring with Kornati islands National Park. Thanks to its position it is protected from the blows of the north-eastern wind from the mainland and the south wind from the open sea.
Because of these features, Telascica is one of the largest and best protected natural harbors on the eastern coast of the Adriatic.It’s ideal place for sports and recreation on the water like cruising, kayaking, recreational fishing, photo-hunting, cycling, trekking and diving.