The national parks in Croatia are some of the country’s most beautiful places to visit, but Plitvice and Krka get way more attention from tourists than the rest. So how do you know which is the best Croatian national park for your particular trip?
Here is information about all eight beautiful parks plus a map for how to find them, so you can decide which park best fits your travel needs.
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Where to Stay in Croatia
If you’re visiting Croatia, chances are that you’ll spend some days in Dubrovnik. Here are our recommendations for where to stay in Dubrovnik. We’re in the process of creating comprehensive guides on where to stay in other Croatian cities, but for now, we recommend checking out Booking.com as early as possible since this is a popular time to visit. These are some of the places we suggest you check.
Budget: Apartment Larica Miha Pracata is a historic building in the heart of Dubrovnik Old Town. You can easily leave your apartment and instantly be at some of the best architectural and historical attractions Dubrovnik has to offer. Check out prices and availability at Apartment Larica Miha Pracata.
Mid-range: Soleil Luxury Rooms offers some of the most modern amenities you will find in the Old Town of Dubrovnik. Check out guest reviews, prices, and availability at Soleil Luxury Rooms Old Town.
Luxury: Boutique Hotel Stari Grad showcases elegant style and you can see plenty of designer accents all over the hotel. The interiors and arrangement of all furniture are well-executed, creating a comfortable and cozy place to stay in the Old Town of Dubrovnik. Check out guest reviews, prices, and availability at Boutique Hotel Stari Grad.
Map of The National Parks in Croatia
The 8 Croatian National Parks
In no particular order…
Plitvice Lakes National Park
Plitvice National Park is a natural reserve in central Croatia. It spans 114 square miles of thick forests and interconnected lakes. In fact, Plitvice National Park is most known for its sixteen gorgeous freshwater lakes, which you can all visit in a day with a boat ride.
Aside from boating, you can also go swimming and hiking in the park. Explore it in all of its wonders, including the 256-foot waterfall called Veliki Slap. Plitvice National Park, one of the oldest and largest national parks in Croatia, is a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Kornati National Park
Kornati National Park covers eighty-nine islands, islets, and reefs in the Kornati archipelago of Croatia. It is often referred to as a nautical paradise because of the clear blue waters of the Adriatic Sea that surround it.
It is a favorite destination among yachtsmen and sailors. Tourists also love to go island-hopping among the islands of the Kornati National Park. If you want to spend a day here, you can choose one of its many beautiful bays to dock at.
Go swimming, snorkeling, or scuba diving to observe the park’s marine life up close.
>> Read More: 9 Great Sandy Beaches in Croatia To Enjoy <<
Sjeverni Velebit National Park
Sjeverni Velebit National Park, also known as Northern Velebit National Park, is located in Velebit, the largest mountain range in Croatia. It covers 42 square miles of land in the northern region of Velebit.
Every year, about 15,000 people visit this national park to go hiking and camping. It is also close to the coast, so you can spend a day at the beach swimming if you want to.
Sjeverni Velebit National Park should be of your top must-visit places in Croatia if you want to be surrounded by rich and pristine wilderness.
>> Read More: 13 Traditional Croatian Breakfast Foods: What to Eat for Breakfast in Croatia <<
Paklenica National Park
Paklenica National Park is comprised of the tall mountains and dramatic canyons of Velika and Mala Paklenica in Croatia. As you hike its trails, you will witness different stalagmite and stalactite rock formations, especially in the Manita Pec cave.
This protected nature reserve is also home to a variety of birds and wildlife. You may encounter eagles, falcons, and deer during your visit. (You should also be aware of bears!).
Aside from hiking, adventurous folks also love to go rock climbing at the park. Paklenica National Park covers 37 square miles of land in Starigrad, Croatia.
Krka National Park
Krka National Park is a natural reserve in southern Croatia. Its natural beauty thrives because of the water from the Krka River.
This national park is mostly known for its seven waterfalls including the Skardinski Buk in the south and the Roski Slap in the north. Inside the Krka National Park, you can go swimming in its clear blue waters or hike along its trails.
The park is also of cultural and historical significance. You can still find the ruins of ancient civilizations and medieval fortresses at Krka National Park, if you feel more comfortable visiting in an organized tour, check this fun day tour and boat cruise.
>> Read More: How to Visit Krka National Park from Split on a Day Trip <<
Risnjak National Park
Located in the most mountainous and forested region of Croatia, the Risnjak National Park is a thing of natural beauty. You can find snowy mountain slopes, clear blue lakes, and thick green forests inside this national park.
There are so many things you can do inside Risnjak National Park so you’ll never go bored here. At Platak, you can go skiing and snowboarding at a ski resort.
Then, head to Lokvarsko Jezero for warmer weather and a sunny day by the lake. Aside from these activities, you can also go hiking and mountain climbing at one of its several trails.
Mljet National Park
Mljet National Park is located on the small and elongated island of Mljet in the Adriatic Sea. This national park is home to several natural and historical points of interest.
When you visit Mljet National Park, make sure to see its twin lakes, Veliko and Malo Jezero. In the middle of Veliko, you will find a small islet called Melita where the Benedictine Monastery is located.
Today, this old building is now a café and restaurant where you can eat a nice meal. Island-hopping is also a popular activity at the Mljet National Park.
Brijuni Islands National Park
The Brijuni Islands National Park is comprised of fourteen small islands in Croatia.
If you want to visit here, the best way to do so is to rent a boat that can take you island-hopping or join one of the many ferry tours that take tourists across Croatia’s national park.
While you’re at the Brijuni Islands National Park, you will be surrounded by the clear aquamarine waters of the Adriatic Sea and the thick forests that populate each island. On Veliki Brijun, the biggest island at the national park, there’s a golf course where you can play golf.
What to Pack for Croatia
Mosquito repellent: You can bring ones with DEET or without DEET, or I love having some of these mosquito repellent wipes that I can keep in my bag in case I suddenly start to get swarmed and don’t have my regular repellent with me.
Sunscreen: You can buy sunscreen in Croatia, but it’s likely cheaper at home or bought online in advance. I love this solid Neutrogena sunscreen. Who doesn’t love a good solid for liquid swap? Great to keep in your bag without worrying about sunscreen explosions
A rain jacket: There can be some surprising weather sometimes even in the summer in Croatia, so bring a jacket that can handle rain and a bit of wind – especially in the mountains. We like this Columbia rain jacket for men and this Marmot Precip jacket for women. For colder weather, an ultra-light down jacket rolls up and packs easily in your day bag so it’s good to bring along – I have one similar to this.
Comfortable walking shoes: You’ll want to wear at the very least good sneakers for your trip and you may be more comfortable with hiking shoes if you’re planning to do several hikes in Croatia on your trip. I recommend these Ahnu hiking boots for women and these Keen boots for men.
Snacks and plenty of water for your day out: We recommend bringing water with a filtration system like this GRAYL water bottle so you can refill your water bottle from streams, lakes, and rivers in the mountains! Here are some great easy to pack travel snacks.
More Croatia Travel Resources
Headed to Croatia? We have some great travel resources to help you with your trip. First read our guide to planning a trip to Croatia, which covers visas, budgets, vaccines, and much more. We also have a Balkan currency guide that explains how money works in Croatia and local tipping customs.
If you’re still putting together your itinerary, here’s a great list of places to visit in Croatia and our Croatian Islands Guide and Croatian Waterfalls Guide to help you choose.
Next, you’ll want to read our guide to shopping in Croatia so you know which souvenirs are truly local gems.
If this will be one of your first trips in the Balkans, check out our massive list of things to know before traveling the Balkans as well as our Balkan bus, road trip, and itinerary guides.
We publish new articles and trip advice nearly daily! For more information about traveling to Croatia and the Balkans, bookmark our Croatia and Balkan travel pages, where you’ll find our entire archive plus anything new we publish before you leave for your trip.
Finally, Don’t Forget Your Travel Insurance!
I’m sure you’re aware that travel insurance is essential for Croatia and for travel in general! This is especially true when you’re talking about traveling with your camera and smartphone because you don’t want your trip ruined if they get lost, stolen, or fall in the lake!
Allison and I have both been paying customers of World Nomads for the last three years. We love the peace of mind it gives us in case of emergencies, accidents, illnesses, theft, or trip cancellation or disruption.
While Croatia is perfectly safe to travel around, there’s always a risk inherent in everyday travel, so it’s better to play it safe. The saying goes “if you can’t afford travel insurance, you can’t afford to travel” is true!
Pin this Guide to Croatian National Parks for Your Trip
Stephanie has been living in and traveling around the Balkans for the past three years. She’s written for National Geographic Online, appeared on CNN Arabic and in the New York Times, and ridden more Balkan buses than is good for a person.