National Parks of Croatia
The main protected areas of Croatia are national parks, nature parks and strict reserves. There are 444 protected areas of Croatia, encompassing 9% of the country. Those include 8 national parks in Croatia, 2 strict reserves and 10 nature parks. The most famous protected area and the oldest national park in
Croatia is the Plitvice Lakes National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Velebit Nature Park is a part of the UNESCO Man and the Biosphere Programme. The strict and special reserves, as well as the national and nature parks, are managed and protected by the central government, while other protected areas are managed by counties. In 2005, the National Ecological Network was set up, as the first step in preparation of the EU accession and joining of the Natura 2000 network.
The total area of all national parks in the country is 994 km2, of which 235 km2 (91 sq mi) is sea surface.
All eight national parks are located in karst area. Plitvice Lakes, Paklenica, Risnjak, Mljet, Kornati, Brijuni, Krka, Sjeverni Velebit.
Plitvice Lakes, the most famous national park in Croatia. It is a phenomenon of Karst hydrography, consisting of 16 connected cascading lakes with numerous waterfalls, surrounded by a forest of beeches, firs, spruces and pine trees. Due to its natural beauty, Plitvice Lakes National Park has been entered on UNESCO World Heritage List in 1979. Plitvice is open throughout the whole year. Numerous trails lead you through the National Park. Furthermore, you can go sightseeing by tourist boat or train.
Paklenica, the Paklenica karst river canyon is a national park in Croatia. It is located in Starigrad, northern Dalmatia, at the southern slopes of Velebit mountain, not far from Zadar. It has two canyons: Mala (Small) and Velika (Big) Paklenica.It is one of the most attractive and most beautiful natural pheonomena in Velebit that has become worldwide mountaineering attraction. The forest phenomenon is one of the main reasons why the South Velebit area was proclaimed a national park. Areas of oak and oriental hornbeam forests, beech forest, black pine forests, and fern forest, can all be found in the park.
A special value is added to the park by the endangered and rare bird species such as the golden eagle, peregrine falcon, short-toed eagle and goshawk. Forest areas are rich with woodpeckers, the rarest among them being the white-backed woodpecker and middle spotted woodpecker.
In the Velika Paklenica canyon you can find the largest rock called Anica kuk, which is especially popular among climbers.
The Park area contains 150–200 km of trails and paths, from those intended for tourists, leading from Velika Paklenica Canyon to Manita peć cave, Lugarnica forest cottage and the mountain hut, to those intended for mountaineers, leading to the highest peaks of Velebit. The trails in the Park are marked with boards and mountaineering signs.
Risnjak, is a national park in Croatia, that was named after the Croatian word for lynx, a type of wildcat, which belongs to endangered species and is under special protection. It is located in Gorski kotar, the most mountainous and heavily forested region of the country, about 15 km inland from the Adriatic Sea.
The park covers an area of 63.5 square kilometers including the central part of Risnjak and Snježnik massif and the source area of the river Kupa. The administration and visitor center of the park are located in Crni Lug, a town on the eastern edge of the park.
Veliki Risnjak is the highest peak in the park and the second in Gorski kotar next to Bjelolasica. On its southern slope is located the mountain lodge called Šloserov dom, built by Josip Schlosser. The peak can be reached only on foot, from Crni Lug (3 h) or from an unpaved road beginning in Gornje Jelenje (1h).
The fauna is just as diverse as the flora. The park is home to mammals such as the brown bear, red deer, roe deer, chamois, wild boar, wolf, pine marten, stone marten, badger, weasel, squirrel and dormouse. The most important animal used to be the lynx, after which Risnjak got its name. Lynx was exterminated during the 19th century and has returned to Risnjak three decades ago, after a successful reintroduction project in neighboring Slovenia.
Due to its closeness to major road connections (motorway Zagreb - Rijeka) and vicinity of major tourist centers on the coastline it is most visited National Park in Croatia.
Mljet, is the most southerly and easterly of the larger Adriatic islands of the Dalmatia region of Croatia. The National Park includes the western part of the island, Veliko jezero, Malo jezero, Soline Bay and a sea belt 500 m wide from the most prominent cape of Mljet covering an area of 54 km2. The central parts of the park are Veliko jezero with the Isle of St. Mary, Malo jezero and the villages of Govedari (179 inhabitants), Polače (123 inhabitants) and Pomena (50 inhabitants). The main reasons for proclaiming the island a National Park is extraordinary indentedness of coast and lush flora with rich forests.
The lakes are salty and rich in various shells (mussels, pen shells, Noah's arcs, oysters), and plankton, which has already been a focus of several scientific studies. You can swim in the open sea or the Big Lake and if you visit the island in spring or fall you will be able to swim in the Small Lake which is always warmer than the Big Lake and the sea.
The island of Mljet has no airport. Dubrovnik Airport on the mainland provides the main international connection for the island. Mljet has ferry lines with Pelješac peninsula and Dubrovnik. Transportation to the island is provided by Jadrolinija ferry service. Sobra, the main port on the island, is connected to Dubrovnik-Gruž and Ston via a car ferry. There is also a ferry between Polače and Trstenik (Pelješac peninsula). There are two type of ferries available: a car ferry and a faster catamaran ferry (2.5 hours and 90 minutes to Dubrovnik).
Kornati, the Kornati archipelago of Croatia, also known as the Stomorski islands, is located in the northern part of Dalmatia, south from Zadar and west from Šibenik, in the Šibenik-Knin county. With 35 km in length and 140 islands, some large, some small, in a sea area of about 320 km², the Kornati are the densest archipelago in the Mediterranean Sea. The name of the archipelago is the plural form of the name of the largest island, Kornat.
The "crowns" of Kornati are the best-known phenomenon of the Park. This beautiful name has been righteously given to white vertical cliffs facing the open sea. The crowns are witnesses, but also the most beautiful result of long geological processes. You will probably want to know whether people used to live in Kornati in the ancient times. You can visit Illyrian buildings and ruins, which are the oldest on the islands situated on the hills of the islands of Kornat and Žut. Fortress Tureta on the island of Kornat was built during Byzantine time probably in the 6th century.
Not only the land but also the sea is within the protection of the National Park. Fishing is extremely limited in order to allow the regeneration of fish shoals that had been severely over-fished. According to tradition, the Mediterranean monk seal (Monachus albiventur) once lived among these islands. The name of the southernmost point on Vela Kurka (Mendo) is connected with this almost extinct species. The rare mollusc Pinna nobilis lives in the Kornati and is protected by law.
Brijuni, the Brijuni or the Brijuni Islands are a group of fourteen small islands in the Croatian part of the northern Adriatic Sea, separated from the west coast of the Istrian peninsula by the narrow Fažana Strait. The largest island, Veliki Brijun Island (also known as Brioni Grande or Veli Brijun), lies 2 km off the coast. The other islands are Mali Brijun, San Marco, Gaz, Okrugljak, Supin, Supinič, Galija, Grunj, Krasnica (Vanga), Madona, Vrsar, Jerolim and Kozada. Famous for their scenic beauty, the islands are a holiday resort and a Croatian National Park.
On the Brijuni there are several archaeological and cultural sites.
At four sites on Veliki Brijun Island over 200 dinosaur footprints have been discovered, which can be traced to the Cretaceous Period from where Brijuni Cretaceous Park gets its name.
There is the 13th century AD St. Mary's Church which was built by the Knights Templar. There are also two ancient Roman villa remains, from the 2nd Century BC and remains of a Byzantine palace. The last remain is Hill-fort which indicates a Bronze Age settlement on the island dating back to 14th century BC.
The combination of turquoise blue sea and fresh green is a true natural paradise where cultural monuments remind us of past times.
Krka, National Park Krka is one of the Croatian national parks, named after the river Krka that it encloses. It is located along the middle-lower course of the Krka River in central Dalmatia, in Šibenik-Knin county, downstream Miljevci area, and just a few kilometers northeast of the city of Šibenik. It 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.
When you are at the Krka National Park there are several places of interest.
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, located in the Krka National Park in Croatia. It is the lowest of the three sets of waterfalls formed along the Krka river.Due to the wealth and variety of geomorphological forms, vegetation, and the various effects caused by the play of light on the whirlpools, Skradinski buk is considered to be one of the most beautiful calcium carbonate waterfalls in Europe.
Roški Slap, located near Miljevci, is the second most popular attraction of the Krka National Park in terms of numbers of visitors. These cascades can be visited throughout the year.
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. The park also includes the Eastern Orthodox Monastery Krka founded in 1345. The island can be visited by a boat tour from Skradinski buk.
Sjeverni Velebit, is a national park in Croatia that 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, and started work in September the same year.
The whole of the Velebit mountain is a nature park, a lesser category of nature conservation. Another national park on Velebit is the Paklenica on its southern side.
The park reserve is protected and visitors cannot pass through except on designated trails. Inside the reserve there are the Visibaba (Galanthus) botanical reserve, with an abundance of the endemic Croatian subspecies of Sibiraea altaiensis, and the Zavižan-Balinovac-Velika kosa botanical reserve, famous for its outstanding collection of species of mountain flora. Inside the reserve there is the well known Velebit Botany Garden, founded by pharmacology professor Fran Kušan in 1967.
The special reservations in the park are two locales called Hajdučki kukovi and Rožanski kukovi. Their names come from a folk name given to large stone masses which rise up over the surroundings of the Velebit mountains. They are situated in the center of the park, but are not a regular part of it, access to them is restricted.
The peak Zavižan (1676 m) is located within the park. It is the site of the meteorological station with the highest altitude in Croatia.