Plan on spending at least a day on this island, perhaps two. The northwest part of the island is parkland, but you can anchor in Polače or Pomena. There are fewer berths in Pomena, but it will get you closer to the park (get there early during peak season). While there is much to see and do in Mljet, the Big and Little salt lakes are definitely the highlight. There is a charming little bridge you can swim under, and the lake itself features gentle currents.
Entrance fee: 100 HRK
Kornati is a lovely archipelago, the name being derived from the Latin “corona” meaning “crown.” Perhaps the crown jewels of Croatia, these islands were declared a national park in 1980. They are inhabited, but very sparsely populated. Almost everyone you will encounter here is a visitor—and quite often, you will have the lovely beaches all to yourself.
Entrance fee: 150-300 HRK
Brijuni is actually a group of fourteen small islands in the northern Adriatic. The park service has given it the nickname, “The Hidden Paradise.” The islands are quite well-known; in fact, a lot of famous people have visited. Yugoslav president Josip Broz Tito was a regular during the summers in the 1950s, and numerous actors, celebrities and dignitaries stayed with him at the resort. Today there are several comfortable hotels and villas where you can book accommodations. Play golf, tennis, or other sports, or simply go on a bicycle ride or a hike to take in the natural beauty and balmy Mediterranean climate.
Entrance fee: 125-210 HRK
One of the most dramatic national parks in Croatia is Paklenica. This park is characterized by a narrow canyon between craggy cliffs. For more than half a century, this rugged land has been protected. The entry fee is low, and once you pass through the gate, you will find yourself with more than 150 kilometers of hiking trails to explore.
Entrance fee: 40-50 HRK
This amazing park immerses you in natural splendor whilst giving you an opportunity to learn a bit about the history of public lighting. Here you will find the ruins of the first hydroelectric plant in Croatia. The plant at Skradinski buk on Krka was constructed clear back in the 19th century, becoming fully operational on August 28th, 1895. In fact, the city of Šibenik was among the first on the planet to have public lighting, thanks to the efforts of Nikola Tesla.
While visiting Krka, be sure to also stop off at the Roški waterfall. Not only are the falls themselves beautiful, but the distinctive cascading rapids are quite unusual and are among the most magnificent sights in Croatia.
Entrance Fee: 30-110 HRK
Travel 15 kilometers northeast of Rijeka, and you will find yourself in one of the most astonishing parks in the country. Mountainous Risnjak actually is the most densely forested region anywhere in Croatia. Occupying 63.5 square kilometers, it offers endless opportunities to explore. Walk among beech, fir, elm, maple, ash and yew trees while breathing in the scent of alpine snowbell, black vanilla orchid, edelweiss, and alpine rose. Be sure to bring your camera and your binoculars; while hiking or climbing, you might spot a red deer, brown bear, or even a wild boar.
Entrance Fee: 45 HRK
This is the newest national park in Croatia, declared as such in 1999. You may only walk through the park on designated trails in order to preserve the delicate mountain flora. Climb a mountaineering trail in North Velebit and you will be able to enjoy a commanding view of the Adriatic and look out at the distant islands. There is also quite a bit of history preserved here in the form of “summer lodges”—the ruins of old dwellings occupied by cattle farmers and shepherds in days long passed.
Entrance Fee: 25-45 HRK
Established in 1949, this is one of the oldest national parks in the country, entered into the UNESCO World Heritage register thirty years later in 1979. Karst formations rise high over sixteen beautiful lakes spanned by narrow, graceful bridges. These mesmerizing pools may range in color anywhere from sapphire blue to emerald green to sparkling azure, thanks to their bacterial population. All the while, the play of sunlight and shadows through the towering karst formations causes the hues to shift with restless beauty.
Entrance Fee: 55-180 HRK
So now you know more about the natural wonders of Croatia. As you have probably noted, entrance fees to these eight national parks can vary with season. If you are mooring a charter boat, you will also need to pay an extra fee, so be sure to plan for that when you are putting together your trip budget. Any one of these parks could easily provide you with days of activities—so set aside as much time as you can to really immerse yourself in the grandeur of each.