Home>>Our Playground – We love our National Parks
For many tourists, visiting Croatia’s national parks is a key reason for a holiday here. And because several of them (Plitvice, Sjeverni Velebit, Paklenica, Krka, and Kornati) are clustered in or near Northern Dalmatia, stopping at multiple parks is not only doable but, frankly, convenient. Our guides have spent their lives discovering the parks. Please don’t hesitate to ask about the activities we can arrange for you in each.
The park consists of 14 islands off the coast of Istria. The Brijuni Islands had some Ancient Roman settlements, but up to the late 19th century the islands were mainly used for their quarries.
In 1893 the Viennese business magnate Paul Kupelwieser bought the whole archipelago and created an exclusive beach resort. The estate was supplemented with first class hotels, restaurants, beach resorts, a casino and a yacht harbour and became a focal point in social life on the Austrian Riviera.
Officially designated in 1983, this park is famous as the site of Tito’s vacation villa. Almost 100 foreign heads of state visited Tito on his islands, along with film stars including Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, Sophia Loren, Carlo Ponti, and Gina Lollobrigida.
In 1956, President of Egypt Gamal Abdel Nasser, Prime Minister of India Jawaharlal Nehru, and President of Yugoslavia Josip Broz Tito met here to discuss their opposition to the Cold War. These ideas later crystallized into the Non-Aligned Movement. Tito died in 1980, and by 1983 the islands were declared a National Park of Yugoslavia, and in 1991. after the War of Independence, of Croatia.
Safari Park, which holds animals given to Tito, such as Sony and Lanka, two Indian elephants donated by Indira Gandhi. Sony, who was donated to Tito in 1970 as a two-year-old calf, died in 2010. Brijuni is also home of a 1700 year old olive tree.
For more information please visit NP Brijuni official page
Following the proposal of one of the most famous Croatian scientists, the botanist Ivo Horvat, in 1953 the government of the Republic of Croatia legislated a Law about the forrest of Risnjak becoming the National park.
The geography and wildlife make this a favorite among hikers. Risnjak forrest is a strong climate and vegetation barrier between coastal and continental parts of Croatia and has the most beautifully expressed phenomenon of karst sinkhole vegetation. It is also a natural bond between the Alps and the Balkan mountains and a natural habitat for all three European large animals (bear, wolf and lynx)
For more information please visit NP Risnjak official page
Croatia’s oldest park (1949) is world famous for its 16 lakes, disappearing rivers, and waterfalls. Located in the Lika region, it is the second most visited spot in the country after Dubrovnik. They are separated by natural dams of travertine, The encrusted plants and bacteria accumulate on top of each other, forming travertine barriers which grow at the rate of about 1 cm (0.4 in) per year. The lakes are renowned for their distinctive colors, ranging from azure to green, grey or blue. The colors change constantly depending on the quantity of minerals or organisms in the water and the angle of sunlight
Between 1962 and 1968, many Western film productions of Karl May novels have been shot at the Plitvice Lakes (mainly German-French-Yugoslav cooperations). The most successful film of this series, The Treasure of Silver Lake was also produced at some locations within the national park. (Lake Kaluđerovac served as scenery for the Silver Lake.
During the 1970s, detailed land registers of the national park were recorded. The park was inscribed on the UNESCO World Natural Heritage List in 1979 in recognition of its “outstanding natural beauty, and the undisturbed production of travertine (tufa) through chemical and biological action”.
For more information please visit NP Plitvice official page
The park covers 109 km² of the northern section of the Velebit mountain, the largest mountain in Croatia. Because of the abundant variety of this part of the Velebit range and its authenticity, the area was upgraded from its classification as a nature reserve to a national park in 1999.
The Park is criss-crossed with numerous mountaineering trails. The best known is the Premužić’s Trail, named after its constructor, the forester Ante Premužić who built it in late 1933. The path runs through the most beautiful and most interesting parts of the park. From the numerous peaks in the surroundings there are magnificent views of the Adriatic Sea and its islands (Pag, Rab, Goli otok, Prvić and Krk) as well as of the continental side.
It’s total lenght is 57 km, but only first 16 km (8-9 hours of walking) runs through the national park area. It usually takes three days to walk the total length of the trail.
For more information please visit NP Northern Velebit official page
The Paklenica karst river canyon is a national park in Croatia. It has two canyons: Mala (Small) and Velika (Big) Paklenica.
The most attractive and most valuable parts of South Velebit are surely the impressive canyons of Velika Paklenica and Mala Paklenica. Velika Paklenica canyon is 14 km long and 500–800 m wide. In its narrowest part around the Bunkers, the canyon is only 50 m wide. Vertical cliffs rise above both sides of the canyon up to a height of over 700 m. The most attractive part is the area around the steep drop of the stream downstream from Anića luka, where steep cliffs rise directly above the stream, forming the narrowest part of the canyon between Anića luka and the parking lot.
The highest peak of Velebit – Vaganski vrh (1 757 m asl) is also here. The area of Paklenica National Park is one of the most completely explored areas in Croatia in terms of speleology. 76 speleological objects are known and have been explored in the Park, namely 39 pits and 37 caves.
Hiking is the only way to really get to know Paklenica. The Park area contains 150–200 km of trails and paths. Paklenica National Park is also the most visited climbing site in Croatia, and the largest in Southeast Europe. The close proximity of seawater gives this climbing site a special charm, making Paklenica Riviera an ideal place to combine climbing and water sports.
Today, there are over 360 equipped and improved routes of various difficulty levels and lengths within Paklenica’s climbing sites, so each climber can find to their liking. The main climbing season begins in spring and goes on until late autumn.
For more information please visit NP Paklenica official page
The park was formed to protect the Krka River and is intended primarily for scientific, cultural, educational, recreational, and tourism activities. It is the seventh national park in Croatia and was proclaimed a national park in 1985.
Skradinski buk is one of the most attractive parts of the park. It is a massive, clear, natural pool with high waterfalls at one end and cascades at the other. In an area 400 m in length and 100 m in width there are 17 waterfalls.
Inside the park is the island of Visovac which was founded during the reign of Louis I of Hungary, home to the Roman Catholic Visovac Monastery founded by the Franciscans in 1445 near Miljevci village.
For more information please visit NP Krka official page
Kornati are the densest archipelago in the Mediterranean Sea. They number 140 islands. There are no permanent settlements in Kornati. The national park includes 109 islands, of which 76 are less than 1 hectare in size. Of the total land surface area of Kornati (62 km2), 85% is stony, and only 5% has been cultivated.
The names of the islands Babina Guzica and Kurba Vela, which in Croatian refer to buttocks and prostitution, offer an opportunity to explain the many vulgar names officially given to many places in the Kornati archipelago. When Austrian surveyors came to record the archipelago at the end of the 19th century, their local guides mocked them by making up vulgar names for the various locations.
Most of the terrain in the Kornati islands is karst-limestone which, in the distant geological past, arose from sediment from the sea. In the stone on the islands there are numerous fossils of crustaceans and fish. In the area there examples of all the typical forms of karst: bizarre shapes formed by the atmosphere, unexplored caves, areas of flat rock and, above all, cliffs. Karst rock is porous, rapidly draining and dry, and so therefore are the Kornati islands. Numerous cisterns supply water for people and animals.
For more information please visit NP Kornati official page
Mljet was discovered by ancient Greco-Roman geographers, who wrote the first records and descriptions. The northwestern part of the island includes an inland sea as well as a small island within it. It has been a national park since 1960.
The Benedictines from Pulsano in Apulia became the feudal lords of the island in 1151, and in 1187–1198 the Serbian Prince Desa of the House of Vojislavljević built and donated to them the Church and Monastery of Saint Mary on the islet in the Big Lake (Veliko Jezero) towards the north-west end of the island.
In 1809, during the rule of Napoleon, the Mljet monastery was disbanded. When Austria took over the island, it placed the forestry office in the building. Between the world wars, the building was owned by the Ragusa (Dubrovnik) Bishopric. In 1960 it became a hotel, and in 1998 it was returned to the bishopric.
The island has a long history of eco-damage. In order to ease their transport problems, the monks dug a channel to the south coast, from the lake Veliko Jezero, thus turning both fresh-water lakes into seawater-based ones.
The second incident involves mongooses. Small Asian mongooses were introduced onto the island in the early 20th century in order to reduce the venomous snake population (the island was apparently completely overrun). Whilst the mongooses completed this task, they also disposed of pretty much all the birdlife of the island. To this day, the island is notably short of hedgerow birds such as sparrows. Mongooses are a hazard for domestic poultry, and are also known to cause damage in vineyards and orchards.
For more information please visit NP Mljet official page
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