You know how when you visit some country there are just some places that you need to visit because without visiting them your holidays would feel incomplete. The same is with national parks in Croatia. You simply have to visit at least one of 8 Croatia national parks.
Croatia as a country is full of natural beauties, in any direction you go. Exploring them or just driving through the pure nature of Croatia can make your holidays get a much better ‘vibe’. So settle down in a cozy chair and let’s explore the beauty and diversity of national parks in Croatia.
When it comes to protected natural areas in Croatia, we have few classifications. The highest class is a national park and the class below it is a nature park. Have that in mind, because you might stumble upon many nature parks too. Again, these are places of beautiful nature too and we’ll talk about them more in our next posts.
We have included links for each of the national parks in Croatia so you can get more info from main website of each park.
introduction to national parks in croatia
We already mentioned that there are 8 national parks in Croatia and they are: Brijuni, Kornati, Krka, Paklenica, Plitvicka jezera, Risnjak, Sjeverni Velebit, and Mljet. Theoretically, you can visit them all during your vacation, but you’ll have some traveling to do.
All Croatia national parks are situated in south-western Croatia and many of them are along the coast and on the traveling routes that many tourists pass each year. When people come to Croatia they often visit one or two national parks.
The most famous one is Plitvice lakes in a beautiful part of Croatia called Lika. According to the statistics, Risnjak is the least visited of all Croatia national parks. But don’t cross it from your list just yet. Further in this post, we’re going to present you with the most important information about each park.
We encourage you to visit the Parkovi Hrvatske website to get into more details about visiting the park you want to.
best time to visit national parks in croatia
There’s no easy answer for this one. Every season is beautiful in its own way. National parks in Croatia gets most of their visits in the summer months when the income of tourists in Croatia is at its peak. That might be the worst time to visit any of the parks simply because there are many more people wanting to do the same and you get stuck in the line and do your best to admire the nature around you. That’s not how it goes. We always suggest that anybody should visit Croatia in the preseason or postseason months.
The weather is still nice in these periods but there are fewer tourists in Croatia. The same goes for the national parks in Croatia. Take September for example. The weather is beautiful, just right for the perfect vacation. And the best thing about September is that most of the tourists (especially families) are gone because school starts in this period.
how to choose which one to visit
Well, this depends on you and your preferences. Plitvice Lakes are the most famous national park in Croatia, but if you don’t like sharing your nature experience with few thousand people at the same time, then you’ll need to either find a time when fewer people are in the park or visit another one. Although, you’ll rarely be alone in the national park.
Let us present you with basic information about each park that might help you in choosing which one to visit when you come to Croatia.
what to have in mind when visiting croatia national parks
All national parks in Croatia are places of unique and highly protected nature. There are many things not allowed in parks area and rangers are making sure that everybody sticks to these rules in order to preserve nature.
First of all, making fire is strictly prohibited in each of the Croatia national parks. Don’t even think about doing it since the fines are quite large and you’ll hate the fire until the rest of your life. Make sure you know the rules of the park you are visiting.
Some national parks in Croatia prohibit swimming in the park area, that’s the case in Plitvice lakes for example. On the other hand, you can swim in most of the other national parks, at least in some of their parts.
Camping is also prohibited in some national parks. Also, make sure you have a valid permit if you want to do any kind of commercial filming or photography inside any of the national parks in Croatia. In most cases, you’ll need to pay some fee and you’ll be allowed to film whatever you want to. When it comes to drone flying in Croatia, some national parks have special requirements when it comes to drones so make sure you follow their rules.
Brijuni national park is situated in Istria and it’s the island group that was separated from the rest of the Istria peninsula a long time ago. It was a place of leisure and many famous people in the previous century used it for their holidays. Even the famous Tito had his villa there and spend a lot of time in Brijuni national park.
Apart from Tito, many princes and princesses and other elite class members become visitors to this beautiful place. Brijuni are also famous because of its flora with dominating holm oak and bay laurel. Brijuni are consisting of 14 small islands and islets.
When it comes to animal life, Brijuni are famous for their biodiversity. There are many exotic animals inside, including elephants. Most of these animals are not native to Croatia but brought to Brijuni throughout the years.
The ticket price for the Brijuni entrance is 220 HRK per person in the summer months. Children pay half of this price. If you want a VIP tour of Brijuni island, you’ll pay 1500 HRK for it.
Moving down to the south but still staying in a similar landscape. The Kornati are, just like Brijuni, a group of islands scattered in the beautiful blueness of the Adriatic sea. There are many more islands here than in the Brijuni group. To be exact Kornati islands are made of 89 islands, islets, and reefs.
They are considered to be a nautical paradise and navigating through this unique landscape will definitely make you feel like you’re in Heaven. There is a legend about how the Kornati islands were made. It says that God had some extra land leftover from his creation of the world and he didn’t know what to do with it. So he just tossed it behind himself, turned around, and saw that what he made looked beautiful and that’s how the Kornati were made.
The Kornati are situated near the cities of Zadar and Šibenik. Most of the islands are not inhabited but were once used to grow vegetables and other plant cultures. Stone walls are still visible on many of the islands.
Prices for the visit to Kornati islands vary according to your boat size, so if you are going to explore the Kornati with your boat, please check the prices table on their official website. If you are not a boat owner and want to take a boat tour to the Kornati islands, expect the cost of around 350 HRK for a guided boat tour.
And now something completely different, but close to Kornati islands. Krka national park is something different. It’s the landscape made by the Krka river on its journey to the Adriatic sea. This park is situated in Sibenik – Knin county and it presents an unaltered and unique natural landscape.
It’s full of canyons and waterfalls. It has a total of 7 waterfalls and a drop from the spring to the mouth of the river is 242 meters. Krka river has its spring near the Dinara mountain, the highest and one of the most beautiful mountains in Croatia.
Entrance to the park is possible from few directions and the entrance in the small town of Skradin is among the most popular ones. There are boat tours going from Skradin and exploring the Krka landscape.
The ticket price for the whole park area is 200 HRK in the summer months. Children from 7 to 18 will pay 120 HRK for the same visit while children under the age of 7 are free of charge.
Paklenica is one of our most favorite national parks in Croatia. That’s because we love the mountains and we spent a lot of time there doing our adventures. I had a rock climbing school there since it’s one of the most popular places for rock climbing in Croatia. Even in Europe. A lot of climbers visit Paklenica national park each year.
Paklenica is a beautiful canyon in the Velebit mountain. It’s situated near the Krka and Kornati national parks and close to the city of Zadar. Paklenica is full of natural biodiversity and rich forests. Apart from the canyons, Paklenica national park includes some of the most beautiful parts of Velebit mountain, including its highest peak – Vaganski vrh (1752 meters).
Paklenica is also famous because of its geomorphological structures. In the Velika Paklenica canyon, there is the old military underground complex made by the Yugoslav army. Today it’s the visitors center which you must see when visiting the Paklenica national park. The ticket price for the park is 60 HRK in the summer months for adults, and 30 HRK for children from 5 to 14.
plitvicka jezera (plitvice lakes)
When we speak about national parks in Croatia, Plitvice Lakes is one that comes first to mind. It’s the most popular of Croatia national parks and it’s situated deep in the wild landscapes of the Lika region. Plitvice Lakes are also the largest and the oldest of all the national parks in Croatia. These lakes are also on the UNESCO heritage list since 1979.
The park is covered in forests and it consists of a total of 16 lakes that pour one into another through beautiful waterfalls. Seven different routes are available for you to explore this beautiful national park and there are 4 additional hiking routes. There are wooden trails all over the park.
In the summer months, the ticket price for Plitvice national park is 200 HRK for adults, 125 HRK for students, and 70 HRK for children from 7 to 18 years old.
We already mentioned that Risnjak is one of the least visited national parks in Croatia. But it’s still beautiful just like the others. The reason why it is visited less than others is the fact that you need to hike to reach it. And many people avoid hiking in the summer months.
Risnjak national park is situated in the Gorski kotar region. It presents a vegetation barrier between the continental and coastal Croatia and its surface is covered in vast forests. It’s also a place where all 3 European large animals are present (bear, lynx, and wolf).
The highest point of the park is the Risnjak peak (1528 m). The entrance fee for Risnjak national park is 45 HRK for adults and 25 HRK for students and adolescents.
sjeverni velebit (northern velebit)
Velebit is the longest mountain range in Croatia and has 2 national parks on its surface. Paklenica and Northern Velebit national parks. The entire area of Velebit mountain is a nature park. Northern Velebit national park is a place of mountainous landscape and biodiversity. It encompasses many different and unique landmarks such as Hajdučki and Rožanski kukovi.
The ticket price for this national park is 45 HRK for adults and students and elderly people have special discounts.
We left Mljet national park for the end because it’s the closest one to us of all Croatia national parks. Still, we waited until the next year to explore it. In the midst of the Coronavirus crisis. And we did well since we were one of the rare people in the park that day. The reason for that was the closed borders of many other European countries and we believe that this situation might happen never again.
Mljet island is situated in southern Croatia, one of the most beautiful Croatian regions. It’s a small island and only a small part of it is in the national park area. We recommend you read our Mljet national park adventure post and you’ll get all the info you need when visiting this beautiful island.
Let us just say that Mljet national park consists of lakes which are connected to the sea and you can swim in them. They also have some of the most beautiful shades of blue you can imagine. The best exploration option in Mljet national park are bikes which you can rent when entering it.
leave no trace principles
Leave no trace principles are the best philosophy to live by when visiting national parks in Croatia. It’s a set of rules that, when followed, minimize our impact when exploring nature. There is a saying that you should never leave anything in nature except your footprints. And it’s one of the best things we have ever read.
You need to understand that national parks in Croatia are places of unique beauty and as such, they need to be preserved as much as possible. But these principles don’t apply only when talking about protected areas. We, as a human race, have a huge impact on the nature around us and it’s time we begin to minimize that impact. Every single of us matter. You and your choices matter.
Have that in mind when exploring the beautiful nature of national parks in Croatia or any other natural environment.