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 are 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.
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 wonder, 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.
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 on your top must-visit places in Croatia if you want to be surrounded by rich and pristine wilderness.
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.
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 in 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 to 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.
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 which explains how money works in Croatia and local tipping customs.
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.