Stretching from the Velebit mountains to the rugged Dalmasia coast, Croatia’s landscape is diverse and dramatic. To optimize your time to enjoy everything from Croatia’s national parks and karst regions to saltwater lakes, organize your entire trip with flexible airfare, accommodation and airport taxis that can be booked before you leave.
To help with your planning, we’ve selected some of the best places to enjoy Croatia’s natural beauty, according to global travelers.
Zlatni Rat Beach, Split-Dalmatia County
The triangular peninsula of Zlatni Rat Beach, nicknamed the ‘Golden Horn’.
The pointed shape of Zlatni Rat makes it the most recognizable beach in Croatia. Stretching out from the pine forests of Brač Island, the ‘Golden Horn’ attracts many visitors, surfers and snorkellers. Its natural protection also makes windsurfing popular. For a view of the sparkling Adriatic Sea, climb the Vidova Gora mountain and observe the coastal angle from above. After a day outdoors, you can refresh yourself at the beachside bar at Zlatni Rat Beach Hotel.
Red Lake and Blue Lake, Split-Dalmatia County
The mesmerizing Red Lake in Europe’s largest sinkhole
Formed from a collapsed cave, this karst rock pit sits on the edge of the village of Imotski and will leave you mesmerized. In spring, melting snow fills the 220-meter-deep Blue Lake and forms a cyan-colored surface. In summer, the lake dries up and is used as a soccer field by the locals. There’s also Red Lake, whose eroded cliffs stand 260 meters above and below the water’s surface. Before setting off, learn about the terrain of the Biokovo Mountains over smoked pršut ham at Hotel Venezia Imotski.
Skradinski Buk Waterfall, Šibenik-Knin County
Skradinski Buk Waterfall is the pride of Krka National Park
In the lush Krka National Park, the teal Skradinski Buk Waterfall is the main attraction. Admire the rapids, limestone steps and small lakes from the wooden walkway, or take a guided boat tour and hear about the history of Skradinski Buk when it was the first European hydroelectric plant. You can even change into your swimsuit and get up close and personal with the waterfall. Finish the day with a glass of wine from the Rooms Ive accommodation’s vineyard in nearby Lozovac.
Blue Cave, Split-Dalmatia County
The otherworldly-looking Blue Caves will amaze anyone who comes along.
There are many limestone caves carved into the coast of Biševo Island, but the Blue Cave, which extends up to 24 meters, is a very special one. When the sun shines on the water inside, the cave shimmers in aquamarine and electric blue colors so that the subsurface turns silvery and pink. To enjoy the serenity there, take a small boat from Mezuporat Bay early in the morning. Apartments Kastelani on Vis Island are just 15 minutes away and air-conditioned.
Plitvice Lakes, Lika-Senj County
The pools and waterfalls of Plitvice Lake flow downstream for eight kilometers.
Croatia’s most popular waterway is like a picture out of a fairytale. Plitvice Lake consists of 16 ponds and 90 waterfalls that flow over mossy tuf rocks. The water flows especially fast in spring, but you can try the larger Gavanovac and Kaluđerovac lakes for a paddle boat ride in summer. Even in low season, the autumn colors and cool waters are still worth enjoying. Nearby is Hotel Plitvice with rooms with a view of the park.
Northern Velebit National Park, Lika-Senj County
Unique rock formations dominate the landscape of Northern Velebit
Known for its many rocky cliffs and rich biodiversity, Northern Velebit National Park covers much of Croatia’s largest mountain range. Along its winding trails, you’ll find sharp limestone boulders, purple Siberian iris beds and ancient meadows. To enjoy views of the valley, peaks, and coast all at once, climb to the Zavižan weather station on the summit of Vučjak at 1,644 meters. Stay near the village of Jablanac for easy access to the surrounding natural beauty.
Mljet National Park, Dubrovnik-Neretva County
The picturesque village of Polače is the entrance to Mljet National Park
Mljet Island is a beautiful lush forest that is a short catamaran ride from Dubrovnik. Mljet National Park covers its northwestern part, while hiking and bike trails surround its two sparkling saltwater lakes. Rent a kayak and stop by the 12th-century Benedictine monastery at Veliko Jezero, then relax at the lagoon-like Malo Jezero. At Villa Radulj, you can enjoy fresh seafood and beautiful sea views, just a 5-minute drive from the eastern side of the national park.
Galešnjak Island, Zadar County
Galešnjak is a favorite unspoiled island in the Zadar archipelago.
Nicknamed ‘Lovers Island’, the heart-shaped Galešnjak is one of the most beautiful islands in the Zadar archipelago. read more