- Kornati National Park (part of the Zadar Archipelago): Kornati’s 140 islands are really the tops of mountains that were above sea level 20,000 years ago but now are mostly submerged. One side of each island is rocky and lightly blanketed with vegetation (a few grapevines and olive trees). The other side, facing the sea, is a sheer rock wall known as a “crown” that plunges almost 76m (250 ft.) straight into the water. Sixty-nine species of butterflies live here. Perhaps the most interesting part of the park is Kornati’s underwater landscape, with offshore rock formations supporting flourishing flora and fauna.
- Krka National Park (less than half an hour from Šibenik): This park was formed to protect the Krka River, which runs from its source near Knin to the sea near Šibenik. The river has created a series of spectacular gorges, waterfalls, lakes, and rapids on its trip through the mountains. The jaw-droppingly steep Skradinski Buk and Roški Slapovi are the most impressive of the falls. Between the two are Lake Visovac and Visovac Island, home to a Franciscan monastery.
- Paklenica National Park (btw. Zadar and Karlobag): Paklenica’s raw beauty is best appreciated by hikers and nature lovers. But even motorists respect the imposing Velebit peaks because the limestone cliffs that soar above deep gorges and dense vegetation are visible for miles from nearby highways. Even from afar you can see cave openings and imagine what’s inside.
- Plitvice Lakes National Park (145km/90 miles southwest of Zagreb): Plitvice is Croatia’s best-known natural wonder. The park’s 16 crystal-clear turquoise lakes and countless waterfalls put on a great show. The lakes flow into one another and tumble over deposits of travertine, creating waterfalls that drop a few feet or plunge as much as 64m (210 ft.). All this beauty is set in a dense forest accessed via footpaths and populated by bears and wild boar.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.