With just the right balance of scenery and activities, Croatia is one of the most diverse travel destinations. Combining charming pebbled beaches, soaring mountains, natural parks, waterfalls there is so much to see and enjoy.
Croatia is just a slice of land along the shores the beautiful Adriatic Sea. It’s incredible having the option to choose between adventures with waterfalls, mountain tops or any of the eight National Parks. Each offers their own unique charisma and charm. No matter how you choose to take in the sights, by vehicle, boat, alone or an organized group, these magnificent excursions are all easily accessible.
Le’ts Talk About Some of the National Parks Near Split
1. Plitvice Lakes
Declared as Croatia’s first National Park, Plitvice Lakes, is the biggest attraction for all nature lovers. You witness the beauty of sixteen lakes and over ninety waterfalls, which will leave you with everlasting memories. If the stunning bodies of water and amazing landscapes aren’t enough, you will also be surrounded by other forms of nature. There are over a thousand varieties of plants and trees, with over 100 species identified in the park.
This park is also home to a wide variety of animal and bird species too, like the European brown bear, wolf, eagle, owl and wild cat. It’s one of the last areas in Europe with such a variety. You can even find over 321 different butterfly species!
It is not only the oldest but also the biggest Croatian National Park. It was added to the UNESCO World Heritage register in 1979. Public transportation isn’t available for your trip to Plitvice Lakes, but you can always schedule a guided tour. Many tours available can offer you a premium experience as well as comfort on a minibus. Regardless of when you visit, Plitvice Lakes will always leave you speechless, boasting spectacular scenery. Don’t stress about making all of the plans. Just kick your feet back and enjoy a tour to embrace the beauty of what is Croatia.
2. Krka Waterfalls
The natural beauty of Krka waterfalls should be on your must-see list of places to visit, as it has rich and varied flora and fauna. A total of 860 species and subspecies of the plants have been identified within the park, including several endemic species. There are 18 species of fish, but 222 species of birds making this park one of the ornithologically most valuable regions of Europe.
The National Park is a vast area of almost untouched wilderness, including one or more preserved or insignificantly altered ecosystems. The parks primary purpose is primarily to serve science, culture, education, and recreation. As you are guided through the paths, you will appreciate and be in awe of what the National Park has to offer. You can even end your visit with a swim under Skradinski Buk Waterfalls.
According to a mapping app, it will be just an hour drive from Split, but keep in mind during peak season it can be unbearable trying to get to the park on your own. You will encounter traffic and then have to find parking. Sometimes it is best to let someone else handle the stress and just book a tour. This is usually hassle-free and allows you to just focus on all the beauty around you.
On the Southeast side of Hvar, you will find the quaint island of Mljet, bordering two saltwater lakes named Veliko and Malo Jezero. Which are popular sights in this area. The National Park is the oldest marine protected area in the Mediterranean. It has been a popular spot for visitors for 59 years, with the amazing colors of the sea and trees with natural landscapes.
The entire surface area of the park is rich with life. The numerous endemic and endangered species are a testament to the importance of protecting the area. Mljet will not disappoint the cultural heritage fanatics. With its numerous archaeological finds and the history of the old island settlements.
Relax in the sun, go for a dive. or walk around. If you hike, you’ll love the journey to the peak of Montokuc and Veliki Sladin Gradac, where you can see the entire island of Mljet. It’s a great place for those 360 views, but also the perfect spot to enjoy the sunset. You may visit Mljet National Park by boat from Dubrovnik, Split and Pelješac, and by numerous excursion boats that berth mostly in the ports of Polače and Pomena.
4. Kornati National Park
In the Northern part of Dalmatia, you will find the treasured scattered islands of Kornati. Often referred to as a “nautical paradise” you are able to sail through the stone labyrinth of eighty-nine different islands, islets and cliffs. Some are quite large and others are small, totaling an area of 217 km2. The biggest part is the main island of its main island Kornat.
Here you will be impressed with the landscapes, where the vertical rocky cliffs rise up from the sea. Whether you are viewing from the sea, the beach, or in the air the island’s scenery is remarkable. The experiences are worth the visit, especially for people who seek the serenity of untouched nature. If you want to visit the Kornati, there is a full range of boat with varying capacities available.
Daily tours of the Kornati National Park are organized by registered ship owners and operators. They are authorized to transport of passengers by boat and have a contract with the Kornati National Park. This is done to help preserve the park and ensure rules are followed.
During the high season (July, August) you can find tours every day. In preseason and postseason (May, June, September, October) the tours are mainly organized for groups, but individual tourists can join. It’s best to contact the tour operator for the schedule. You can find a list of official tour operators and embarking locations on the official website of the National Park.
If adventure and outdoor activities spark an interest to you, Paklenica is for you. It is located in the southern part of the mountain, Velebit, with one of the most visited climbing and hiking trails in Croatia. All these trails are well marked, so you can easily find your way around.
It offers 400 marked climbing trails and around 175 km of hiking trails for different difficulty grades. For those looking just to roam and appreciate the wide range of plant and animal species, you will find that there are calm easy walks available too.
Enjoy the wildlife, with various types of birds, including eagles, falcons, and owls. It’s considerably close to the sea, so no matter when you visit you can combine watersports and climbing. Hiking on your own is a great way to explore, but some organized tours are also offered. With a guide, you won’t get lost and you always get extra bits of information you wouldn’t learn otherwise. To reach this National Park you may go by car or bus from Split. It is about two hours from Split, the second largest city in Croatia.
Enjoy and tell us about your trip!
Read more about destinations in Europe and family travel.