Croatia is famous for its dramatic coastline but it also boasts lots of mountains, canyons, lakes and forests that make Croatia a great place for walking, hiking and trekking. Croatia has a number of National Parks and significant mountain ranges. These include Paklenica and the Plitvice Lakes National Parks, whilst the Dinaric and Velebit are the highest mountain ranges in Croatia. These are shown on the map opposite and described below.
Accessed from the coastal village of Starigrad, the Paklenica National Park is a hiker’s paradise, combining craggy limestone gorges, dense pine forest and meadow-carpeted alpine uplands. Starting from Starigrad there are a number of circular day hikes, or by using the Planinarski Dom mountain hut you can explore more demanding hikes along the Velebit ridge. Paklenica is situated in the southern edge of the Velebit Mountains and has the highest peak (Vaganski Vrh at 1,757m high) in the Velebit mountain range.
The Plitvice Lakes National Park consists of an 8km string of 16 lakes, hemmed in by densely forested hills. This represents some of the most eye-catching scenery in mainland Croatia, with water rushing down from the upper lakes via a sequence of waterfalls and cataracts. There are many well organised and easy to follow paths, which coupled with regular shuttle buses and ferries between the main trailheads, make this a great place to go walking.
Gorski Kotar (that literally translates to “wooded district”) is the mountainous region in Croatia between Karlovac and Rijeka. This area is a spectacular landscape of green river valleys and forested hillsides that make this a popular summer hiking destination. Located within this mountainous range is the Risnjak National Park. Located near the town of Crni Lug, the National Park is dominated by Veliki Risnjak at 1,528m high.
The Sjeverni Velebit National Park (Northern Velebit National Park) is a vast national park with many peaks over 1,600m high near Krasno. These peaks include Zavižan, Gromovača and Hajdučki that form part of the Premužiceva staza trail. There are various marked walking and mountaineering trails from easy half day walks to longer multi-day hikes using a number of mountain huts in the National Park.
The Dinaric Alps cover many countries in central Europe, with its highest peak in Croatia near the border with Bosnia and Herzegovina. This peak is called Dinara and at 1,831m high it is also the highest peak in Croatia.
The Biokovo Mountains rise steeply above the Makarska Riviera and are popular with hikers and walkers. The peak of Vošac (1,421m high) is only 2.5km from Makarska and is a popular destination. Close by is the peak of Sveti Jure at 1,762m high and is the highest peak in the Biokovo Mountains. Be warned though walking in these mountains is strenuous and steep requiring a good level of fitness and experience.
Rab, Krk, Lošinj and Cres are some of the largest of the northern Croatia islands, and they are great places to go walking and hiking. These islands offer beautiful coastal walks discovering hidden coves, dense woods, and mountains that are a couple of hundred metres high.
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