National parks in Croatia ranked by the pros and cons

Photo: Unsplash (Derek Sutton)

It’s too easy to miss out on the small country’s shocking variety of landscapes: the Dinaric Alps, the low mountains and cliffs hugging the coast, the dozens of islands, and the lush forests in the interior of the country. From the northern wild of Risnjak to the flourishing banks of Plitvice Lakes and beyond. Here’s our take on all eight—including the best and worst things about them—in order from worst to best, reports

8. Risnjak National Park

Risnjak National Park, a vast thicket of rocks and trees, sits on the land linking the Alps and Balkan mountains. The park is a true wilderness with the wildlife to match.

Pro: Perfect for those who want to escape to the less-traveled parts of Croatia. It’s far afield so wanderers will find the peace and space they crave.

Con: The isolated nature and limited accommodations.

7. Paklenica National Park

This is the place for adrenaline junkies. It offers rock climbers and adventurers a haven of craggy cliffs, steep climbs, and cave hikes.

Pro: The park includes rock climbing routes for all experience levels. Most climbs do not require lengthy hikes before donning your climbing shoes.

Con: Weather changes quickly on the mountain, and temperatures fluctuate throughout the day. Could be dangerous for the unexperienced.

6. Brijuni National Park

The storied history has resulted in a rather eclectic national park: island paradise anchored by a golf course, archaeological museum, and a strange collection of exotic animals housed in a “safari park.”

Pro: Brijuni National Park has it all—hiking trails, classic island beauty, cultural monuments, and a close-up look at the complex history of Yugoslavia.

Con: Despite its tagline, “unspoiled beauty,” you won’t find untouched paradise at Brijuni National Park.

5. Northern Velebit National Park

Though it’s Croatia’s youngest national park, Northern Velebit has already been included in the National Ecological Network and earned a spot on the continent’s European Destinations of Excellence (EDEN) list.

Pro: Perfect for spotting wildlife and wildflowers. Average temperatures are mild, even in the summer, allowing for a plethora of flora and fauna.

Con: Northern Velebit National Park is not known for its accessibility. The easiest “trail” is a two-mile hike.

4. Mljet National Park

Floating in the center of that lake is another island—a hidden gem within a gem. Welcome to Mljet National Park.

Pro: Mljet National Park houses a 12th-century Benedictine monastery and groves of olive trees. Does it get more fairy-tale than this?

Con: The remote location comes at a cost. This park has one of the heftiest entrance fees, and the fees are highest in the summertime.

3. Krka National Park

It’s easy to consider Krka National Park the relaxed little sister to Plitvice Lakes.

Pro: Unlike Plitvice Lakes National Park, visitors are welcome to jump into the clear, cool waters of Krka National Park.

Con: Sometimes all the families splashing around in this national treasure make the park feel more like a beach hotspot than a preserved wilderness.

2. Kornati National Park

Though Kornati National Park can only be reached by boat, it’s all swimming, snorkeling, and sailing through turquoise waters once you arrive.

Pro: What’s not to love about an archipelago with clear waters perfect for the annual Kornati Cup sailboat regatta?

Con: The park is surrounded by private property, so many areas on the islands have restricted access or are off-limits.

1. Plitvice Lakes National Park

Trails and boardwalks point you toward clear, placid lakes and trickling rivulets that quickly turn to crashing cascades.

Pro: The country’s largest and oldest national park, Plitvice Lakes National Park has the most developed infrastructure.

Con: Great marketing and development come at a cost. Sometimes the boardwalks become so congested that the trail comes to a standstill, feeling more like a queue than a hike.

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