Blessed with a diverse landscape ranging from towering mountains to enchanting forests and dream-like lakes with cascading waterfalls, Croatia is home to some of the world’s most inspiring natural sites and landmarks. Fortunately for you, five out of Croatia’s eight national parks can be visited while on a sailing holiday with Zizoo. Learn more and start planning your ideal sailing itinerary with our guide to 5 National Parks in Croatia Not to Miss on Your Sailing Holiday.
Kornati National Park is one of our favorite spots for a sailing holiday in Dalmatia and it’s also one of the most beautiful national parks in Croatia. If you are looking for a place to test out your sailing skills or simply admire and explore Croatia’s unique island landscapes, a sailing holiday through the Kornati Islands is a perfect choice. Sail to and fro while discovering secluded bays and trails that define this picturesque archipelago.
Not only is Kornati one of the most intriguing national parks in Croatia, but it was also recognised worldwide for its unique landscapes, geological formations and rich underwater life as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Visiting the park gives you a sense that you’ve traveled back in time as very little of the 89 islands have been developed by humans. Given its seclusion and lack of any major touristic facilities, Kornati has also been described as a place to experience Robinson (as in Crusoe) tourism, making it an ideal place to get away from it all and enjoy the crystal clear waters and uninhabited islands of Croatia.
How to get there:
Kornati Islands National Park can be easily reached from the nautical hubs of Biograd na Moru, Zadar and Sibenik. You can learn more about the national park and get the complete guide to sailing to the Kornati Islands from Biograd here.
Paklenica National Park is well worth a visit if you are chartering a yacht in or around Zadar in a region known as the “heart of the Adriatic”. A wonderland for hikers and climbers, Paklenica is rich with flora and fauna and makes for an inspiring trek along the impressive canyons and wild mountain meadows of Dalmatia. In fact, climbers from all around the world come to Paklenica as it has become a major alpinist destination. The park offers over 400 climbing routes that are perfect for both beginners and adventurous expert climbers.
In 2017, Paklenica was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List as one of Europe’s finest examples of primeval beech forests. Paklenica is also part of UNESCO’s World Network of Biosphere Reserves together with North Velebit, another national park located slightly further north.
How to get there:
From your yacht charter base in Zadar, you can spend your holiday traveling up the coast and around the island of Pag to the dock your boat in Starigrad or Seline before visiting Paklenica. The Paklenica Riviera offers stunning views of towering mountains, green forests and picturesque pebble beaches that define the 20K stretch of seacoast across from Pag and is certainly a place to miss if when sailing in Dalmatia.
Brijuni National Park is found off the western coast of the Istrian peninsula. Made up of 14 small islands, Brijuni is a unique park with an intriguing history. Known most famously as the State Summer Residence of Tito, Brijuni has served as an important refuge since the prehistoric ages and continues to provide visitors a peaceful getaway today.
The national park is characterised by its wild meadows and is home to both local and exotic flora and fauna. If you are on a family sailing holiday in Croatia, a trip to Brijuni’s Safari Park might also be of interest. Established in 1978, the safari park offered Tito’s royal and celebrity visitors a chance to view some of nature’s most stoic animals. Today, you can still enjoy the elephants, llamas, and zebras that roam the grounds freely. Around the islands, you can also admire the crystal clear waters and perhaps have a chance to catch a glimpse of a sea turtle or pod of dolphins that call this area home while sailing off the coast of Istria.
In addition to its many natural sites and attractions, the Bruijuni archipelago is also rich in history and culture. From dinosaur footprints to the ruins of a Roman villa, you’ll be able to trace some of the most important eras of Croatia’s past in Brijuni National Park.
How to get there:
Brijuni National Park is best reached by a private yacht charter from the historic city of Pula. Set sail to St. Nicolas Bay on the island of Mali Brijun to dock your boat and enjoy a day or two exploring the diverse islands. Find more information about excursions and activities to take part in during your stay at Brijuni here.
Krka National Park is one of the most iconic spots in Croatia and rightfully so. The ethereal waterfalls, lush forest and translucent river and natural pools within Krka make the perfect setting for a relaxing day ashore while on your sailing holiday in Dalmatia. Declared a National Park in the early 1970s, the Krka River and its natural and cultural surroundings were recognised for their undeniable beauty, impressive geological phenomena, historic sites, rich biodiversity and, of course, enchanting travertine waterfalls. You could easily spend the entire day exploring the grounds of the park, swimming in its refreshing pools and learning more about Croatia’s history.
Given the fragility of the archeological sites, natural formations and endangered species that thrive in and around the Krka River, the park’s protection is of special importance. When visiting the park, please make sure you do your part in preserving this natural treasure by adhering to the park rules. More information about visiting the park can be found on the official website.
How to get there:
Located just 10km inland from Sibenik, you will have easy access to Krka National Park with a chartered yacht. While you cannot sail all the way to the park’s entrance, you can dock at the marina at Skradin and take a water taxi from the park.
We also suggest combining both Krka and Kornati National Parks on your itinerary. Get our 7-day guide to sailing from Sibenik for more details.
A popular day trip from Dubrovnik, the protected island of Mljet is the final national park in Croatia you just can’t miss. Considered one of the most beautiful islands in Croatia, Mljet is also the greenest. Not only is Mljet a pleasure for sailing or cruising around on a private boat charter from Dubrovnik, but the island is also an ideal place to go for foodies, beach bums and lovers of history and nature.
The national park covers about one-third of the island and was set in place to protect the island’s wildlife, sealife, and flora. In addition to the island’s natural wonders, including its two salt lakes and legendary caves, Mljet is also home to many vineyards and has become famous for its red wines as well as its local cheese-makers (it’s the perfect pairing, right?). The calm, and warm waters that surround the island’s shores are also perfect for a day out at the beach.
How to get there:
Mljet National Park can be reached from one of our many yacht charter bases in Dalmatia, making it one of our favourite spots for a 7-day cruise from Dubrovnik. Spend a day or two cruising around the indigo blue and turquoise waters that surround the lush forest-lined shores. You’ll find many natural anchorages in Polace or one of several small harbours or restaurant moorings along the Northern coast.
As you can see, the national parks of Croatia offer a little something for everyone. Ready to see them all? We suggest starting your sailing holiday in Zadar as the central location offers you the chance to visit three of Croatia’s eight National Parks including Krka, Kornati, and Paklenica. Contact our team or take a look at our sailing guide to Zadar for more details.