National parks in Croatia

Mljet

Although Croatia is a relatively small country, we have a lot to offer! In today’s blog, we’ll write (or more accurately: boast 😊) about our eight national parks ( ). Some of them you’ve probably already heard of, the others might be interesting for you to discover. In addition to national parks, Croatia also has eleven untouched nature parks ( ). With no phone signal, they’re ideal locations for disconnecting from the outside world.

The Brijuni Islands ( )

Also known as the Brioni Island, this national park consists out of 14 small islands off the coast of the Istrian peninsula.

This national park has not only fantastic plant life, including a 1600-year-old olive tree, but various animal species as well. Zebras, llamas, Indian cattle and the Indian elephant Lanka, for instance, all found their home on this Croatian island.

The Brijuni Islands were the personal summer residence of President Josip Broz Tito during former Yugoslavia as well as a popular destination for numerous celebrities, such as Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton and Sophia Loren.

The Plitvice Lakes ( )

One of our oldest national parks, world famous for its captivating cascades.

Scientists have registered over 1,200 different plant species, out of which 75 are native. In addition, if you search hard enough, you will find brown bears, wolves and eagles amongst the snakes, lizards and turtles.

At the end of the Second World War, in 1949, the Plitvice Lakes were declared as a national park area. The Plitvice Lakes were also added to the UNESCO World Heritage register in 1979.

Have you heard of Winnetou and Old Shatterhand? The word about Plitvice’s natural beauty travelled so far that Karl May’s novels about the American Old West were filmed there.

The Kornati archipelago ( )

The National Park Kornati is a remarkable archipelago in Dalmatia. It consists of 109 islands with the biggest island being Kornat. It covers two thirds of the whole park, and is managed by the town of Murter.

Throughout the past, the Kornati islands had mostly vineyards, but after a disease which affected the grapevine catastrophically, the residents had to turn to olives groves. Today there are over 18 000 olive trees planted all over the islands.

There are still sheep farmers in the national park, but it’s considered a dying tradition, since the owners are turning to tourist activities instead.

Mljet ( )

Mljet is the 8th biggest island in Croatia, although the national park only includes the Great Lake ( ) the Small Lake ( ), Soline Bay ( ) and 500 metres of sea around those parts.

In the central part, the Great Bay, you can find the Isle of St. Mary ( ) as well as numerous fortifications and well-preserved tombs. The biggest town is Babino Polje ( ) which has a police station and a school, unlike the rest of the towns on the island.

The island was first discovered by Greco-Roman geographers in the 6th century BC. Ancient Greeks called the island Melita, which means honey ( ), and eventually became the Slavic name Mljet.

Mljet inline

Northern Velebit ( )

One of the most adventurous attractions is the Northern Velebit National Park. It holds the most attractive and most valuable natural areas. This rocky landscape is also the youngest national park in Croatia, established in 1999.

Northern Velebit is part of the Velebit mountain chain, stretching along the inner side of the mountains along the Kvarner Gulf for 150 kilometres. Its diversity of dense forests and pastures offers fantastic views for tourists and hikers, but it’s also an important habitat for brown bears, lynx and wolves as well.

The Croatian Mountain Rescue Service will gladly advise you on surviving holidays in Croatia. Among others, they recommend drinking a lot of water, informing yourself on bora, not wearing flip-flops while climbing and not taking selfies. In case of emergency call 112! 😊

Paklenica ( )

The Velebit mountain chain is famous for a second national park, too. National Park Paklenica lies at the southern slope of Velebit in northern Dalmatia. It was proclaimed a national park in 1949.

You can find many native animal and plant species there, and also enjoy one of many sports offerings including climbing, trekking, picnic excursions and many more.

The most significant marking of Risnjak is the karst landscape ( ), a terrain usually characterized by barren, rocky ground, caves, sinkholes, underground rivers, and the absence of surface streams and lakes.

Krka ( )

This national park is widely known for the magnificent waterfalls of the Krka River, which are located in the Šibenik-Knin County. It was proclaimed a National Park in 1985.

The Krka River has seven waterfalls and active water mills in between. The Roški Slap ( ) is the most impressive waterfall, made of cascades that form a lake ( ).

The National Park Krka is also home to five medieval fortresses, of which the fortress ( ) is the largest and best preserved.

In 1895 Šibenik became the first town in the world to have city-wide electricity thanks to Nikola Tesla and his inventions.

Risnjak ( )

Ranging from 290 meters above sea level to the 1528 meter tall mountain peak of The Great Risnjak ( ), hikers, trekkers, alpinists and other tourists are welcome to explore the natural beauties Risnjak National Park has to offer. Risnjak is located in the most forested part of Croatia, Gorski Kotar, but it is still very accessible through the town of Delnice.

It was declared a national park in 1953, since then the size of the protected area has changed multiple times, but the massive Risnjak has always been included. There are two theories to the etymology of the name of the park. The name Risnjak could either come from the Croatian word for lynx ( ), or from a local word risje ( ) which is a type of grass in the surrounding area.

Do you know the following useful words?

→ island → peninsula
→ vacation or holiday → excursion or day trip
→ olive tree → olive grove
→ grapevine → sheep
→ elephant → lynx
→ wolf → bear
→ sea → gulf
→ cove → coast
→ mountain → mountain peak
→ lake → waterfall
→ forest → fortress

Before exploring all the national parks, build up some energy by treating yourself to one of Croatia’s fantastic traditional meals  and a nice, strong coffee.  And don’t forget to send us a postcard!😊

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