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National parks in Croatia (II.part) - why visit? We discover top reasons for it!

Print Published: 01/09/2021

Our journey in discovering the natural pearls and green diamonds continues. In the second part, we will meet the one-of-a-kind Kornati islands, the breathtaking Brijuni, the untouched nature of North Velebit, and the main star between them - the Plitvice lakes!. Every of the mentioned natural parks represents a completely natural habitat with a preserved ecosystem and beauties that leave you breathless! From marine protected areas, over to the Mediterranean protected areas all the way to the mountain and forest ones, all of them represent a true work of nature with a specific and unique eco-system.

Besides the beauties itself, you will get to discover all the available content, activities, events, possibilities for objekt vacation, traffic connection and offer of top-rated vacation rentals so you could easily and fastly come to some of these stunning destinations!

National park Kornati


The Kornati national park consists of 89 islands under strong protection and because of its specific look carries the nickname "landscape from Mars"

If you are visiting Croatia and want to see something unique and different, that anything you have seen, then you should visit the island of Kornati, one of many marine protected areas in Croatia. Just seeing this artifact of Mediterranean-protected areas will leave you breathless!

The Kornati was announced as a national park in 1980. and it is the most invented island group of the Mediterranean. It consists of 89 islands that cover 216 km of square feet with just a quarter lying on the dry land part. The islands are a true rocky pearl of the Adriatic in which only the remaining drywalls witness the hard island life in conditions that are not for living. Drywalls were built to make borders between the private lands since the Kornati was a private island in the past. Today, 300 km long will is an artifact of non-material cultural heritage!

On the whole, 140 islands are located in this area and are divided into two groups: the Kornati and Piškera islands. All of them are stone islands with no green land that represent the true fortune of the rock phenomenon and the karst surroundings. Some of them are Malo Šilo and steeps Klobučar and Piškera.

The first things you will get to see when arriving are the unusual relief and the look of the island and sea of top purity and cleanliness. Because of the large number of sunny hours, the sea is full of the living world. There are 850 animal types on the island including corals, crabs, snakes, mollusks, cranes, dolphins, and turtle heads. For the last two-mentioned, Kornati is their only habitat on the Adriatic which ensured that the islands get the status of the European network of protected areas.

Despite the unpleasant living conditions, there have been found 650 plant species on the island. That includes the Mediterranean vegetation cultivated by human hands, 350 types of seaweed, 3 underwater types of plants including Posidonia Oceanica which is an indicator of ecosystem cleanliness. That is why the Kornati islands are a part of the Natura 2000 habitat network.

Natural richness in a rocky and naturally poor area

The main attraction of the national park is the look of the island, popularly called the "landscape from Mars". The whole island looks like another planet, unique and atypical in comparison to any other island in the Adriatic aquatorium. The look of the island is defined by a Sheppard way of life and hard living conditions on the carst relief. That is why even today you can see more than 2000 sheep freely roaming the island and 18 000 planted olive trees on the Kornati island. It is the cheese and oil the most remarkable products of the Kornati islands which you have to try for yourself as well.

Besides nature, the island is full of historical remains. There is the fortress Tureta and the chapel on the Piškera island. Once a sacred place for fishermen, today represents a pilgrimage center every July. Traces of life date back to the Neolithic times, while there are remainings of Ilyrium villages and Roman sea salt factories and fishing ponds. Besides that, the Kornati houses and apartments, as well as the sea boats called gajete tell the tale of life on the rocky island.

This area is ideal for seamen and charter lovers since it is a sanctuary from bad weather and is a fish-rich area. But, there is no place for relaxation on the sea. You have to be very careful, respect the instructions, adapt to the weather conditions, and get a license to sail freely. The entrance fee is between 150 and 300 kunas but includes a whole day field trip. On the Kornati islands, there are 9 locations where you can enjoy underwater and recreational scuba diving, canoeing, cycling, kayaking, camping, mountain climbing, and exploring the living world.

On the Kornati island, there are 16 accommodation locations so you can choose between an apartment, villa or a vacation house, and 20 camping spots so there is a rich offer of the rental unit for objekt vacation. The island is full of restaurants with a top gastronomy offer. Rental unit offers can be found in the nearby area of Murter, Zadar, and Šibenik. You can easily arrive at the Kornati from Zagreb, Rijeka, or Split, from where you can try out "island-hopping" on Dugi Otok and the nature-park of Telaščica.

This natural phenomenon on Dugi Otok is perfect for complete relaxation and winding off from everyday life. The island does not have constant residents, drinking water, public transportation, or direct ferry lines. Everything on the Kornati is completely in touch with nature representing eco-tourism of the highest standard.

National park North Velebit


North Velebit is one of the last preserved mountain park forrest areas and a wild life shelter in the world

One mountain with 2 national parks - Velebit, protected by UNESCO since 1978. National park North Velebit got its status in 1999. and is spread out on 109 km square feet area. Human touch is seen in the dry walls, sheppard houses, and ruins of ancient buildings.

Despite the small park area, there are found 8 habitats and 10 protected plant and animal types. 80% of the national park is covered in forests making it a true park forest, while bears, wolves, and wild cats are the main attraction of North Velebit. The most famous part of the park is the hips that were created from sea emerging. Those are the Hajdučki and Rožanki hips with more than 400 pits under strong protection! This area is an underground paradise with 3 dens deeper than 1000 meters. Those are the Lukina, Slovačka, and Velebitska pits that are home to autochthons animal species like the Velebit leach.

North Velebit is a mixture of grass, wood, and rocky parts which makes it ideal for mountain climbing. It has 5 viewpoints over 1500 meters of sea level with the most famous one, Zavižan, with its one meteorological station. On it, there is the botanical garden open half a century ago that holds special star watching nights in the evening hours.

To meet the mountain, take a stroll on the 16 km long Premužićeva trail and make memorable photography on Alan and Mirovo. While you are there, discover the Velebit road that splits the sea and continent, Lika and Dalmatia. The remainings of life are traced back to the Neolithic times, and the sheppard houses and Roman paths witness the agricultural, trading, and animal breeding tradition of this area. On those foundations was built today's specific eco-system.

Although the winter lasts for 7 months, there are more than 1500 plant and fungus types on North Velebit. This area is one of four centers of endemism with 40 locally autochthonous endemic types and species. One of them is the Degenia Velebitica - the symbol of the national park that can be found on the back of the Croatian currency, lipa! Besides that, 420 fungus types grow in these areas, and most of them are in the mountain valley.

Wild animals habitat in peaceful nature

The national park is a true habitat of beasts and predators - the natural owners of sea and land. Bears, wild cats, eagles, wolves, spiders, all the way to the 30 beetle types, butterflies, 100 types of birds, and 40 mammal types. Here, you will see nature in the full meaning of the word.

North Velebit is ideal for mountain climbing, trekking, walking, hiking, cycling, but also offers educational routes. A visit to the Interpretative center in Alan is fun for all, half-day and all-day tours are adjusted to every guest type, multimedia presentations, staying a night in the mountain cabins, 30 hiking trails, the Cerovačke Cave, Gornja and Donja cave are just a part of a rich program. It is ideal for one-day field trips, but also multi-day visits. Of course, don't forget to try out the homemade fritule and rakija, so you can be warmed up and ready for the biggest heights!

If you are thinking about when to visit the national park, then it can be any time! Every period of the year carries with itself a specificity of flora and fauna and the most beautiful natural postcard. All you need to do is to bring your mountain climbing gear, clothes, booths, jacket, a lot of water and inform somebody where are you going and for how long are you going to stay. Also, choose the right rental unit and adjust it to your needs and interests.

Just like Paklenica National Park, North Velebit is an easily approachable destination thanks to its specific geographic location. It is close to Rijeka, Zagreb, and Split. The park is visited by 15 000 guests every year, and the entry price is just between 25 and 45 kunas, and it is worth 3 days. We reccomend a visit in June when Velebit Ultra-trail is held, visiting the Velebit house and meeting Zavratnica, Štirovača, and Baške Oštarije. There you will get to see all the biodiversity that inhabits such a small area.

Check the rich offer of the rental unit that varies between peace and isolation in a vacation house of the inner parts to the Mediterranean atmosphere by the coast. You can always rent an authentic mountain cabin if you are visiting the park in groups. It is your choice!

National park Brijuni


Besides natural beauty and the richness of flora and fauna, Brijuni can be proud of the political and social role they have had in the past

In the heart of Green Istria has located a true natural pearl and the definition of leisure on the highest level, and those are Brijuni. This 14 island group is located on 36,3 km square feet, of which 78% makes the sea part. It has become a national park in 1983. This green paradise has been over a century a place of meeting for politicians, high government officers, presidents, royals, artists, actors, and other members of high society. That is why Brijuni is considered a mixture of luxury and natural beauty in complete touch with its environment making it a true monument of park architecture.

The national park has been inhabited since prehistoric times, while the first trails of civilization trace back to Roman times. That is the period when most of the weekend villas were built, including the czar's residency. Olives and grapes were grown, while the rocks and salt were exploited. After the big wars, Brijuni became a true tourist pearl with a top offer. Already then, Brijuni had pools, sports fields, parks, and promenades with a top gastronomy offer. Most of the historical documents are kept in a local museum, including the first pre-historic trails.

The thing that makes Brijuni recognizable and gives them an identity value is the richness of flora and fauna. Above all, that includes the Mediterranean vegetation with over 600 autochthonous types and the world-known Brijuni safari park. This "little zoo" is home to over 100 moufflons, deers, peacocks, elephants, ostriches, llamas, and the autochthonous types of Istrian cattle, sheep, goat, and donkey which is famous throughout the world!

A park of great natural, historical, and political value

The islands are dominated by landscape parks decorated over 100 years ago. There you can find an olive tree 1600 years old and beautiful stroll walks beside the sports fields for volleyball, tennis, or soccer. For a quick sightsee, there are specially designed tracks for electric scooters and bicycles. Interestingly, only 20% of the Park is covered by its land, but there are plenty of activities on them. Besides that, thanks to good organization, on Brijuni you can find peace and a place for relaxation.

Since most of the park is covered by the sea, it is expected that here you will get to meet the rich sea fauna. The most famous residents are sea turtles and good dolphins, and a rich fish life since Brijuni is a big nesting point for them, as well as for other sea creatures. So, here you can see the Mediterranean protected areas with periska and prstaci, brown algae, cloaks, autochthonous pink corals, and many, many more.

In the park complex, you can visit the Mediterranean garden on an unbelievable 17 000 m square feet with 170 different types of autochthonous plants. This attraction is the best representation of all the natural luxury and the culture-historical importance of Brijuni. Besides the botanical garden, Brijuni have their ZOO opened in 1910. Although it was primarily considered a transition point towards Europe, by the passage of time it has become a unique eco-system with a Safari and an Ethno Park. There you will get to meet the rich animal life, and to make you happy - there are no snakes!

Bird lovers will find their interest in Saline, an ornithological area with three swamp areas. In the museum, the entry discovers the dinosaur traces found in these areas. Through the archeological park discover the history of Brijuni and the living underwater world that includes the Posidonia habitat.

The mixture of rich history and natural beauty

This national park was visited by presidents, prime ministers, queens, kings, princesses, actors, actresses, singers, and many other members of the elite society. But, the history traces back to pre-ancient times which is witnessed by the dinosaur footprints in the park entry. The oldest locality is the church of Saint Mary from the sixth century in Kastrum built during Byzantine times. Be sure to visit the luxury villas in Verige, the White Villa, Brijunka, Gradina, and the house of Dr. Lenz. Just a stroll through the park will take you back to the Middle Ages.

As a part of the national park, three exhibits are always open for visitors. In a fun and interactive way, they tell the tale of the place's history. On the Brijuni you can also find sculptures of various themes that introduce you to the world of natural beauties and the rich cultural and artistic legacy of the park. To get more information, just download the app Brijuni pocket guide so you can have all the needed information in one place.

Brijuni also offers the possibility of an active vacation. Cycling on the 13 km long route, golf field with 18 stops, underwater diving, snorkeling, tennis, kayaking, electrical automobiles tours are just a part of the offer. Of course, visit some of the beautiful beaches like Saluga, Saint Jerolim, Rankun, or Verige and enjoy the rich gastronomy offer that combines elements of traditional and modern cuisine which correctly underlines the character of the national park.

In regards to the organized tours, you can adjust it completely to yourself and your wishes. From the daily and half-day tours, archeological or culture-historical ones, to the family ones, on Brijuni anybody can find something for themselves. And yes, pets are allowed!

Brijuni are very available thanks to the closeness to Pula and Rijeka and you can easily arrive at the destination by plane, car, or train. All you need to do is get to Fažana which is the closest place to the Park. The prices vary between 125 and 210 kunas and include guided tours and boat tours. Roman, Austro-Hungarian, Venetian, Italian, or Croatian - in every era Brijuni played an important role, no matter if it is a military one or political, sacral, social, or tourist one. They are a living witness of past times, big political meetings, and a true monument of park architecture. So, get to meet them this year!

National park Plitvice lakes


Plitvice lakes are the biggest, oldest, and the most famous national park in Croatia

The best comes for the last, don't you agree? Although every national park is a thing of beauty, the Plitvice lakes National Park are the shining star between them. It is Croatian most recognizable tourist brand which pictures broadcast around the globe.

Natural beauty and nature preservation were recognized a long time ago. That is why the Lakes have become a national park in 1949 and were included in 1979 on the UNESCO list of the world's non-material heritage. Besides being the most famous one, Plitvice is the biggest park. It stretches on a 300 km square feet area. The goal was to protect the authenticity and the future biological evolution of the park.

Plitvice lakes consist of 16 big and many small lakes connected in slopes. The highest difference between them is up to 100 meters. They are located in the heart of Lika and divided into Upper and Lower Lakes. There are 12 Upper and 4 Lower lakes that differ in size, magnitude, and the geological past. The lakes themselves were created as a product of the natural biochemical process and by the living world inhabitants that lived in these areas. This specific ecosystem is even today changing its shape and appearance since the process is never-ending.

It considers that the lakes are 15 000 years old and consist of 11 wood communities. That includes the beech and fir park forest taller than 50 meters!

That Plitvice lakes are a natural pearl full of biodiversity is concluded that one-third of flora in Croatia inhabits the area! 1460 plant species, 40 habitat types from which 19 are under special protection and 7 from the Directive of protection of special inhabitants. Just here, you can see the endemic species of orchids, golden "Lugria Sigurace" and the Croatian pink that are authentic species.

Plitvice Lakes National Park is full of animal life that doesn't fall back from the flora richness. Protected types of crans, insects, butterflies, 12 reptile and amphibian species, 163 bird types, and 58 mammal species including 21 classes of bats inhabit the area. The mountain part is dominated by beasts like the brown bear, wolves, and wild cats, all the way to the docile otters and owls. So, during your visit, you will get the sea the full natural richness in one place!

Rich offer in an even richer environment

Since it has a mountain and a carst surrounding, there are many pits, caves, coves, and scrapes to be visited in the Plitvice Lakes National Park. Just here, you can find 114 speleological objects of high paleontology value. The reason for this are the sedre barriers which are the creation material of the lakes and are of unmeasurable biological value. So, the community area of rocky woods locates the only underground habitat in Croatia which is still unexplored enough. Biodiversity, ecology, natural beauty, and specific biochemical processes vital for the survival of the whole ecosystem are the universal value of Plitvice lakes.

If you are considering what to visit first and how to maximize your time, then let us tell you right away that you don't have to worry about anything. Both park entries offer 4 tour programs lasting between two and eight hours. It all depends on the amount of time you have and what do you want to do. There are 2 mountain climbing routes in the offer, two recreational paths Čorkova Uvala and Plitvica, and 5 cycle and walking routes. Also, there are options of mountain cycling, hitchhiking, rowing on the Kozjak lake, camping, swimming in the Korana river, and skiing in the winter. So, you won't get bored that easily during your visit!

Although a completely natural environment with minimum human intervention, in the ending parts you can see the remainings of old times. Those are, above all, traditional villages by the Korana river, remaining of a sawmill factory and old mills, fortresses, Ilyrium, and Roman remains that point out the economic and military history of the area. Some numerous unexplored localities and toponyms will surely become even more important in the future. While visiting, try out the gastronomy offer that includes mushrooms, meat, and local delights like kuglof, zeljanica, or salty masnica.

Nature, history, and a top gastronomy offer wrapped into a fun vacation filled with different activities - holiday on the Plitvice lakes

When to visit the Plitvice lakes and how to come?

If you are thinking about when to come, then we will tell you right away - anytime! In the summer you can glance into the size of the lakes, while during winter, the frozen lakes create the most beautiful white ice fairytale. The entry price is between 50 and 200 kunas depending on the time and date of your arrival. The same is worth for the working hours of the park. But, be patient and prepare for big crowds. Over a million (!) visitors annually visit the Plitvice Lakes National Park and because of such high numbers, the government is thinking about limiting the number of visitors to the Lakes don't lose their UNESCO status.

In regards to its good geographic location and destination popularity, Plitvice is well-traffic connected with organized tour operators from all places. They are located halfway between Zagreb and Split, while, private arrangements of different types can be found anywhere. Besides that, thanks to such a rich tourist and natural offer, no matter how many times you visit Plitvice lakes, you will always find or discover something new! Because of that, coming just once isn't enough to "sink in" everything Plitvice has to offer.

To visit them, you don't have to be in any special physical condition since everything in the Park is adjusted to the guests. The problem is the mentioned crowds, but visiting them is surely going to make you feel you got the worth of your money. Swamp localities, the hydrological power that inspired Tesla, the richness of color, and the watercolor of all variants of green and blue color that change their shape depending on the time of the day, month, or the biochemical structure are just some of the reasons why this year, you should become a part of the most popular and known tourist story in Lika!

National parks are the pride of Croatia and their most recognized tourist commodity

From the incredible flora and fauna, biological uniquity, rich possibilities of active holidays, national parks are the pearls of the crown in the Croatian tourist offer. They represent the very best Croatia has to offer and are the countries national pride.

The fact that every tenth part of the land in Croatia is a law-protected area including Marine protected Areas and Mediterranean Protected Areas is proof of the nation's natural wealth. Park forest, water, animal and plant life, sea, natural and historical sights, and localities are a reason why Croatia can be considered a rich country. So, it is vital to preserve and protect this area!

Because of that, it is good to reflect to be ecologically aware while visiting any of the mentioned national parks to preserve the area in the same state you have seen it for the first time. All you need to do is not hoard or throw away the trash, be nature friendly, don't throw anything in the water, rip out plants or scare the animals so you can come next year and enjoy the same breathtaking scenes with yourself or your closest ones! But, we believe those are not the things we should emphasize since most visitors are ecologically aware nature-lovers. On the other hand, rules of behavior are the same or at least similar to any other tourist destination and are known for most travelers.

Each national park is a special place and a unique story of rich vegetation and a living world living, growing, and evolving in it for thousands, even millions of years. That is the result of a specific geographical position, climate conditions, and biochemical processes that have been carried on for centuries and millenniums. So, during your stay, you won't feel monotonous or repetitive because getting to meet at least one of the eight national parks, you would need to spend all of your vacation time exploring flora and fauna.

Besides that, every one of them is a top tourist destination arranged by the highest standards so, during your visit, you would have everything by your hand. The offer is so big you won't have a lot of "empty space" and you will not miss out on anything. From family activities, over to the extreme sports and adventurism, to rich history, culture, nature, social significance, and other popular amenities, in any of the national parks, you will find something for yourself, we guarantee you that!

The same goes for the offer of accommodation so you can adjust the choice of a rental unit to your interests and financial possibilities. From the "Robinson Crusoe" style ones to the top 5-star vacation house with air conditioning and "all you need" offer will make you come again next year. And in the end, you can try out the most beautiful treats and completely adjust the journey to your interest, budget, and time.


Protected areas cover 10% of Croatia's territory. Get to know them this year!



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