Visit Croatia’s Nature Hot Spots

Croatia is famous for its historic cities like Dubrovnik and Split with centuries-old architecture. As impressive as they are, the country boasts a wide range of scenic landscapes and has prioritised preserving nature. It's home to many spectacular natural places that go well beyond its idyllic beaches, much of which can be found in national parks and reserves. There are many destinations for breathing in fresh air whilst gazing out at magnificent scenery, where bears and wolves roam the forest, eagles soar through the skies, and bottlenose dolphins leap through the Adriatic. Putting some of these best nature spots to visit in Croatia on your itinerary is sure to make for an unforgettable trip.
Krka National Park waterfall

Krka National Park

Renowned for its abundant and diverse flora and fauna, Krka National Park is home to many endemic, rare, and threatened species with the Krka River that winds through a valuable entity for many. There are over 220 bird species, including golden eagles and peregrine falcons, many subterranean animals like the olm, 10 fish species that include Adriatic salmon, and about four dozen mammal species, including four endangered European species, the otter, wild cat, wolf, and greater horseshoe bat. But the star attraction in the park, with boundaries stretching for over 43 miles along the Krkra River, is the waterfalls. There are seven travertine falls, including Skradinski buk, the highest in the Mediterranean which spills 150 feet into a tranquil pool below.

Mljet National Park

Mljet National Park

Located on what’s often called the greenest island in Croatia, Mljet National Park covers about a third of Mljet Island, easily reached by ferry from Split and Dubrovnik. Located at its northwestern tip, the densely forested park is ideal for nature lovers with two saltwater lakes, Veliko (Great) and Malo (Small), renowned for its water in surreal shades of vibrant blues and greens. At the heart of Veliko is a tiny islet topped with a 12th-century Benedictine abbey and church, accessed via a short boat ride. Visitors can also explore the lakes by kayak and enjoy sunbathing and swimming from the lakeside beaches. Hiking and biking the picturesque paths that wind along the shorelines and through the woods are possible too.

Cetina River

Cetina River

One of the most stunning natural wonders you can visit during your Croatia holiday, the Cetina River is tucked into the heart of the country providing breathtaking scenery and opportunities for all sorts of outdoor adventure. A karst spring supplies its strikingly clear, brilliant blue-green water which runs about 63 miles through the scenic surroundings of Dalmatian Zagora parallel to the Adriatic before emptying into the sea in Omis. Flowing through rugged Cetina Canyon, visitors can enjoy views of the river as well as towering mountains and lush forest whilst on a guided canyoning trip, picnicking, hiking, whitewater rafting, and ziplining. Whizzing across the river brings an entirely different perspective on the rapids below along with a heart-pounding thrill.

Plitvice Lakes

Plitvice Lakes National Park

The most famous and largest national park in Croatia, Plitvice Lakes National Park is home to 16 lakes, each of which flows into the next whilst the water is a brilliant array of turquoise and emerald hues. The park is also home to lush greenery and many diverse plants and animals, including the lynx, grey wolf, and brown bear. Croatia’s tallest waterfall, Veliki slap, can be found here as well. Translating to ‘great’ or ‘large’ waterfall, it can be found at the end of the Lower Lakes, cascading for nearly 256 feet. The wooded paths, little bridges, boardwalk, electric boats, and a panoramic ‘train,’ make it easy to explore the incredible panoramas in both the Upper Lakes and Lower Lakes sections. 

Telašćica Nature Park

Telascica Nature Park

Telascica Nature Park is one of the lesser-known of the best nature spots to visit in Croatia. It’s located on Dugi Otok, just west of Zadar on the mainland, covered in a thick forest with pine, olive, and fig trees, along with secluded coves and steep cliffs. The park is the ideal place to go when you’re seeking tranquillity, complete with peaceful beaches and a breathtaking underwater world with remarkable clarity and captivating caves. An abundant array of flora and fauna can be found here as well, including more than 400 plant species and nearly 500 animal species, most notably 15 species of birds of prey and the endangered peregrine falcon. Birdwatching, snorkelling, diving, fishing, and cycling are all popular here.

Dinara Mountain

Dinaric Alps

The Dinaric Alps is a mountain chain that separates the continental Balkan Peninsula from the Adriatic. One of Europe’s most mountainous and rugged areas, the heart of the Dinaric Alps slices through northern Montenegro and Bosnia and Herzegovina before reaching Croatia at Dinara Mountain. Although much of it is barren, there are picturesque villages and lush forests hidden among dramatic peaks. Hiking Via Dinarica, with three different routes, is one of the most popular ways to explore it. If you like forested paths and waterfalls, take the Green Trail. For breathtaking sea views, the Blue Trail follows the Adriatic coast. The most challenging is the White Trail, connecting the most impressive peaks with views of lush valleys, rivers, and lakes.

Cormorant nest Kopački Rit

Kopacki Rit

Kopački Rit is a nature reserve in the Slavonian region, located close to the point where the river Danube and river Drava meet in northeastern Croatia. One of the largest wetlands in Europe, it’s a paradise for birdwatchers with nearly 300 bird species recorded here. The vast floodplain includes two main lakes, Kopacevo and Sakadasko, which are surrounded by a variety of lush vegetation from oak, poplar, and willow forests to grassland and aquatic flora. A boat at the Veliki Sakadas pier can bring you to explore it as you watch for large colonies of birds like herons, egrets, ducks, geese, cormorants, and white-tailed eagles. Bicycles are available for hire if you want to explore the reserve’s three marked trails.

Krupa River

Krupa River

Last but not least, one of the best nature spots to visit in Croatia is the Krupa River. A jewel in the Dalmatian Hinterland, it’s one of the country’s most beautiful. It may only be a little over four miles long, but on this stretch you’ll see magnificent cascades highlighted by lush greenery, spilling down steep cliffs into the crystal-clear emerald river. Escape the crowds and explore the Croatian wilderness around it, perhaps with a hike to the 18th-century Kuda’s Bridge which highlights the prettiest area of the Zadar hinterland. You might conclude your hike with a visit to the Orthodox monastery, one of the oldest in Croatia, lying along the river banks. Dating back to 1317, beautiful frescoes await inside.

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