For a small country Croatia abounds with natural beauty. With eight national parks and 11 nature parks, Croatia features extremely diverse protected areas. These parks are a dream for hikers, rock-climbers and island hoppers — with terraced lakes, mountains, forest, rivers and meadows.
This itinerary doesn’t have a time limit because it’s really up to your particular interests. If you prefer rock-climbing you’ll want to spend more time in Paklenica National Park. Hikers will want to spend more time in Northern Velebit or Plitvice. For water lovers, it’s Kornati National Park, Krka or Mljet.
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Stopping first at the Birds of Prey Conservation Centre a few kilometers outside of Northern Velebit National Park, you’ll get a great orientation to the area and Croatia’s youngest National Park and longest mountain range – Velebit.
There are a few accommodation options in the park, but a great alternative is to stay at Senj or one of the small villages on the coast. You’ll literally be between the mountain and the Adriatic Sea.
Traveling cross-country, stop at one of Croatia’s must-see destinations — Plitvice National Park with it’s UNESCO protected terraced lakes and waters that are constantly changing colour. I would personally spend two nights in the park, but one night is a must.
From Plitvice, the next stop is Paklenica National Park. This park covers 102 square kilometres and is located at Starigrad, in the southeastern part of Velebit.
From Paklenica it’s an easy drive to Zadar, where you can spend the day exploring with our Old Town walking tour or you can jump on a boat to cruise Kornati National Park. Unlike other National Parks this protected site consists of 89 islands and is lots of fun for all ages.
Spend the night on the island of Murter or return to Zadar where you’ll find a lot more night-life and dining options.
From Zadar, we do a loop to Pag Town on Pag Island. Famous for it’s UNESCO protected intricate lace and tasty cheese, Pag island has a wonderful lunar landscape, very different to the pine forests of Paklenica.
Spend half a day in Pag Town or the whole day traveling the island. Good stops include Novalja, Zrce beach (Croatia’s Ibiza) and the town of Lun with its century-old olive groves. From here you have a wonderful all-encompassing view of Velebit.
From Pag Town it’s back to Zadar and onto its biggest rival: Sibenik. These two cities have always had a friendly rivalry, each trying to out-do the other to gain more tourist numbers. I’ll leave it up to you to figure out your favorite.
From Sibenik, it’s a short drive to Krka National Park with waterfalls, lakes and hiking trails.
If you have a half day to spare, try our Dalmatia Wine Touring itinerary. If you don’t have time for Korcula, just do the Peljesac section.
From Mljet it’s a short ferry trip to the pearl of the Adriatic: Dubrovnik.