Croatia’s Best National Parks

There is much more to Croatia than blissful beaches and dreamy historic towns (beautiful as they are). This versatile country also contains 8 stunning national parks and 11 nature parks, each of which offering alluring unspoilt nature. 

We’ve picked out the best national parks in Croatia, providing a mix of beautiful landscapes, geological wonders, and abundant flora and fauna. Read on below – and make sure to pack your hiking shoes as well as your swim gear! 

Plitvice Lakes National Park

Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia
Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia

Situated deep in the Lika forest, Plitvice consists of 16 individual lakes spread across different heights and settings, each of which flows into the next, creating a mesmeric and ever-changing colour palette. 

The lakes are lined with boardwalks, enabling guests to stroll through the park at leisure, taking in the stunning panoramas and enjoy the noise, color, and cooling mists of each waterfall up close. 

To see the whole park would be a long day and therefore we suggest arriving early. Longer trails (such as Trail K) take around 6 hours to complete; shorter trails (such as C or H) take 3-4 and will cover all the main highlights. All visitors can use the park’s free shuttle boats and buses to cut journey times down.

Krka National Park

Krka National Park, Croatia
Krka National Park, Croatia

Over thousands of years the waters of the Krka River have cut a deep canyon through the Sibenik’s mountainous hinterland. Along the way a series of natural barriers were created, turning this park into a wonderland of cascades and waterfalls.

A hike around the park will take around two hours, during which time visitors can admire these humbling and highly photogenic forces of nature from both upstream and downstream banks of the river. 

The Skradinski Buk is the largest and most famous waterfall. A bonus here is that visitors can swim in the clear pools at the foot of the falls – but don’t forget to bring water shoes, as the surface is rocky. 

There are two entrances to the park, we recommend the Skradin entrance so you can enjoy a 20 min boat trip to the foot of the park.  The other option is the Lozovac entrance, where a shuttle bus takes you to the top of the park. Both the boat and the bus are included in the entrance fee.

Mljet National Park

Mljet National Park, Croatia
Mljet National Park, Croatia

Taking up around 50 sq km at the western tip of Mljet island (part of the Dubrovnik archipelago), this national park is a unique blend of pristine forests, saltwater lakes, and isolated cliffs and coves, and beautiful islets. 

Activities on offer include cycling, hiking, kayaking, or simply kicking back and enjoy the opportunity to sunbathe, swim, and take pictures. At the centre of the larger Veliko Jezero (Big Lake) you’ll also find a former Benedictine monastery now turned into a charming traditional restaurant. 

Frequent ferries and catamarans run throughout the day from Dubrovnik to the towns of Sobra and Polace – your entry point to the park, making this an ideal day trip should you have time to spare.

Kornati National Park

Kornati National Park, Croatia
Kornati National Park, Croatia

The Kornati Islands in Northern Dalmatia is a collection of almost 150 uninhabited and unspoiled islands and islets. This is a true sailor’s paradise, and those plotting a route through the Dalmatian coast should consider this area of unrivalled natural beauty unmissable. 

Daily excursions out to the Kornati can be organised from the mainland; the small town of Murter being the best starting point. Enjoy a day on the Adriatic Sea, with these fully crewed trips including an enticing lunch of fresh fish and local wine, and lots of opportunities to swim, snorkel, and enjoy gorgeous natural scenery. 

Tip: bring plenty of sun protection, which is extra important when you are out at sea.

Brijuni National Park

Brijuni National Park, Croatia
Brijuni National Park, Croatia

This group of 14 islands is located off the Istrian coast, just north of Pula

Veli Brijuni is the largest of the Brijuni Islands and the only open to visitors, but is well worth a visit, boasting both ancient and prehistoric history with attractive Roman ruins and hundreds of genuine, perfectly preserved dinosaur footprints. 

There is an archaeological museum, a church that displays interesting exhibitions and, last but not least, a safari park filled with exotic animals that were given to Tito by celebrities and important politicians. Tito had a summer residence on the island and regularly received guests such as Liz Taylor, Richard Burton and Sofia Loren.

Regular ferries to Veli Brunij depart from the town of Fazana (this is the only way to reach the park, unless you have your own boat) and the ferry ride is included in the entrance fee.

More information on Croatia’s best national parks and other leading destinations can be found here

You can find more information about our deluxe Croatian cruises here; email our travel experts at customerservice@cruisecroatia.com, or call on +1 415 685 0816 in the USA or +44 208 004 2345 in UK and Australia, to start planning your getaway now!