Exploring Croatia’s National Parks

Paklenica National Park Croatia

Croatia is known for its beautiful beaches, laid back coastal cities and ancient urban escapes like Split and Dubrovnik. Unless you’re really in the know, however, you may not realize that Croatia has some of the best national parks found anywhere in the world. From craggy mountains that leave rock climbers drooling, to stunning waterfalls, there are some amazing adventures to be had for the outdoor adventurer in us all.

Plitvice Falls National Park

So what makes Plitvice so special in the first place? Well, it’s a series of lakes arranged in cascades. The lakes are the result of several small rivers originally formed from mountain runoff. The lakes flow into one another, separated by natural travertine dams and all following the same general water flow. To stand in the middle of the park is to experience water and its power in a way you may not have before. Throughout Plitvice you are followed by the constant sound of water gurgling, either slowly dripping or in a massive cascading waterfall. You can’t escape the moistness of the park and the verdant green plants surrounding the lakes are a testament to the life-force found here. The lakes are also famous for their constantly changing colors, from green to light grey and even pale blue. Connecting the paths and lakes are miles and miles of walkways, allowing intimate access to this natural wonderland.

Plitvice Croatia

Plitvice National Park, Croatia

plitvice croatia

 

Paklenica National Park

This river canyon, located an easy drive from Zadar, is famous for its craggy peaks and mountains, attracting rock climbers from around the world. The park is the most visited climbing site in Croatia, and the largest in Southeast Europe. It’s hard to believe, but there are more than 360 climbing routes of various difficulty levels, offering challenges for the novice and pro alike. Summer is when most climbers visit and having visited the park twice, I’ve always been amazed at just how many climbers visit Paklenica. The park offers more than rock climbing though, it’s also a hotspot for hikers and walkers. There are 200 kilometers of trails and paths that lead from the bottom of the canyon all the way to the highest peaks of Velebit. A fun historical fact, the mountains contain a series of secret bunkers that were intended to house former Yugoslav leaders in the event of war or attack. Today of course, the park is just a wonderful place to spend the day outside.

Krka National Park

Another park in Dalmatia, Krka is close to the beautiful town of Šibenik making it a perfect day trip option. This park’s claim to fame is the river and falls that attract people from all over the world. Most day-trippers start with a visit to the Skradinski buk, a massive natural pool with high waterfalls at one end and cascades at the other. From there a raised pathway guides nature lovers through the forest, following the river as it ebbs and flows through waterfalls and pools, a peaceful and serene walk that’s perfect for some exercise and self-reflection. The park is large though, around 109 square kilometers, and there’s a lot to see and do, including some harder-to-reach falls. When I visited I saw a lot of families spending the day there with packed picnic baskets and swim trunks so they could dive in the chilly water of the pools. It’s a fun way to cool off during those hot Croatian summers.

 

Which one of these parks would you explore first?

 

This campaign was created and sponsored by Croatian National Tourist Board in partnership with iambassador. LandLopers retains all editorial control of what is published and as you know, I never shy away from honest commentary.

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By: Matt Long

Matt has a true passion for travel. As someone who has a bad case of the travel bug, Matt travels the world in order to share tips on where to go, what to see and how to experience the best the world has to offer. Also follow Matt on Twitter, Facebook and

15 Responses

  1. Ken Kai

    Great collection of images there Matt. The blue.. it reminds me of this really odd river that was flowing through the Northern parts of Australia. Just glowed such a similar blue to some of those shots you have there.

    Great pathways, too. No side rails. Looks really nice and open!

    Reply
    • Matt Long

      Thanks and yeah, great open pathways and just an easy, relaxed feel. Great spots to chill out a bit

      Reply
  2. Amanda

    Wow, I LOVE these photos! Croatia really is incredible, and I definitely need to spend more time traveling there.

    Reply
    • Matt Long

      Thanks and I think that’s great advice in general 🙂

      Reply
  3. Cristina's Ideas

    I do admit Croatia is one of the most beautiful countries in Europe. However, I don’t think its national parks deserve to be considered “some of the best national parks found anywhere in the world”. I don’t want to offend you. This is just my opinion 🙂

    Reply
    • Matt Long

      No worries, and this site is just my opinion as well. I’m not offended, but I do personally consider them to be amongst the best.

      Reply
    • Dani

      Christina, I don’t know where you have been but for its size nearly the whole country of Croatia could be enlisted as a national park. From the Rolling Hills of Istria, to Paklenica listed above, to Biokovo Mountains above Makarska Riviera and also the Dalmatian Coast and its island including Telascica and Kornati archipelago. Plitvice in my opinion is one place where you can hike all day in breathtaking beauty. Google Rastoke or Slunj, this is my hidden treasure of Croatia which is relatively undiscovered but just amazing. Per capita or square metre easily some od the best nature in the world. Greetings from Australia

      Reply
  4. Josh Frink

    Plitvice Falls looks amazing and I won’t lie is probably going to make it to my travel list. Thanks for sharing these great places. It’s always good to find the places most tourists don’t think of going to.

    Reply
    • Matt Long

      My pleasure and thanks for taking a peek!

      Reply
  5. Jessica

    I had the opportunity to spend time at both Plitvice and Mljet National Parks this past month, and both were breathtaking. Plitvice is absolutely stunning, although the windy wooden paths often leave you in the clutches of hoards of tourists. Mljet was much more isolated, and we loved biking through its lush forests and swimming in the blue island lakes.

    Reply
    • Matt Long

      I haven’t visited Mljet yet – but I’ll try to check it out next time! Thanks for the comments

      Reply
  6. Jen Seligmann

    Amazing! Plitvice has been high on my list for some time now so that would have to be where I would go first. Followed by all of the others now that you have brought them to my attention. My Croatia list is growing very fast!

    Reply
    • Dani

      You need at least three weeks in Croatia. Every one I met from Australia who didn’t have a pre set travel plan was extending their stay at the expense of other countries. Just the kind if place you don’t want to leave

      Reply
  7. Pat and Carla

    You have some great pictures. In particular the Plitvice pictures. We are planning a European trip for next year and it’s looking like we are going to have to make sure to carve out more time for Croatia. It keeps popping up in things we see and read. Croatia looks amazingly beautiful.

    Reply

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