While most nature attractions and National Parks near Split Croatia that are mentioned in this text are not in Split – Dalmatian County, we have made a list of preserved areas that you can visit in the context of day tours.
We know that during your vacation and visits to destinations, for many, the desire to experience the beauty and the magic of nature that surrounds the area is inevitable.
Can your vacation be truly complete without a time to enjoy the primal beauty that only nature can provide? In this guide, we will mention all the beautiful natural resources that can be visited during your stay in Dalmatia.
National Park Plitvice Lakes – UNESCO world natural heritage site
Plitvice Lakes is the oldest of the National Parks near Split Croatia. Known for its magnificent plaster cascades out of which the most famous one is the Great Waterfall, the largest waterfall in Croatia (78 meters). As a result of a continuous biodynamic process of creation and growth of travertine, a series of 16 bigger and a few smaller lakes was created, which are the most picturesque parts of the park.
As a border area between continental and Mediterranean climate, with an altitude difference of 1,200 meters between the lowest and the highest point within the park, this is a specific habitat that is home to many endemic and rare species. 1,267 different plant species are registered in the park, out of which as many as 50 species of orchids, 321 species of butterflies, 157 species of birds, 20 species of bats, etc.
A special place within the rich fauna is occupied by the largest European carnivores: brown bear, wolf, and lynx. Due to the uniqueness, natural beauty, and values of the national park, Plitvice Lakes was put on the UNESCO List of World Heritage in 1979.
Plitvice Lakes is the most beautiful and the first proclaimed park in Croatia, so it has to be on our list of National Parks near Split Croatia to visit. However, before departure please gather information on the weather in the park because it is within Lika-Senj County, which is significantly cooler than Split. What is more, be prepared for a lengthy ride, about 3 hours (242 km from Split, if you use the highway). However, if you like to discover the park with local experts you are welcome to join us on our Plitvice Lakes day trip from Split.
Be sure that you will not be disappointed after a long run once you experience the beauty of this natural masterpiece!
Krka National Park – Must-see waterfalls near Split
Between Knin and Skradin, deeply incised into the limestone plateau, lies the bed of the river Krka. The river is 72.5 kilometers long. This natural phenomenon is the largest travertine barrier in the Mediterranean and in its course, seven waterfalls can be found: Bilušića buk, Brljan, Manojlovački waterfall, Rošnjak, Miljacka waterfall, Roski and Skradinski buk.
It is characterized by the distinctively rich fauna – 860 different plant species. The park has 221 species of birds including a great number of nesting birds. Some species live here only during the spring and autumn migration. This park definitely deserves a top position on the list of National Parks near Split Croatia since it is a real gem of Europe in ornithological terms.
The park abounds with traces of ancient settlements, from the Roman Empire and many cultural and historical monuments
As the closest National Park near Split Croatia (85 km from Split if you use the highway), it is a destination that should not be missed. In the city, you will find a larger number of carriers that will provide you with a transfer to the park and if you want a piece of in-depth information about it, join us on our day tour to Krka National park from Split.
Nature Park Biokovo – The perfect destination for hiking
Nature park Biokovo is characterized by the distinctive beauty of the landscape, a great variety of wildlife, and a wealth of geomorphological forms and phenomena (caves, cracks, sinkholes, rocks, caves…).
Depending on the elevation and climate, the area is covered by vegetation that ranges from the Mediterranean to mountain species. Nearly 1,500 different species of plants are recorded in this park, among which, along with the old forests of beech, fir and black pine, there is a growing number of endemic and relict species (Biokovsko bell, narrowleaf knapweed, etc.).
As for the fauna, there are numerous reptiles and birds and more than thirty species of mammals that live here like dormice, bats, wild boar, chamois, mouflon sheep and wolves. This is the perfect destination for contact with wildlife.
The park can be visited by your own car (76 km from Split), but once you are there you can decide how much of the park you will explore on foot. For those with an adventurous spirit and in good shape, who want to really experience Biokovo, we do recommend hiking trails.
Nature Park Lastovo Islands – an oasis of peace
Lastovo archipelago consists of 44 islands, islets, and rocks. The archipelago belongs to the outer group of Adriatic islands and includes the island of Lastovo with its archipelago, island group Lastovnjaci, Vrhovnjaci this the island Susac.
It is characterized by special flora-fauna features of the land, as well as the richness and diversity of flora and fauna of the sea and the extraordinary beauty of the landscape.
The special value of the Nature Park is certainly given by the sea and seabed and it’s very rich wildlife. Of the total number of recorded 703 plant species, 53 species are endangered, and out of 141 species of vertebrates as many as 71 are endangered.
Special biological value and importance of the Lastovo archipelago are in endemic and stenoaendemic species such as the Adriatic coastal and lastovski lizard.
Going swimming on lonely beaches with crystal clear waters, surrounded by various spices of herbs that grow on every step sounds like a perfect break from everyday stress. Going into this oasis of tranquility will be a bit more complicated task because it’s on an island but we definitely recommend a visit to Lastovo, especially for those who want to enjoy the unspoiled nature and “recharge batteries” in a quiet and preserved nature.
Blidinje Nature Park – Wilderness area with a lake and a glacial valley
Due to its geomorphological characteristics, the wealth of wildlife and beautiful landscapes on 30th March 1995, Blidinje was declared a nature park.
In a unique natural complex that contains many endemic species of flora and fauna up to date some 1,500 plant species have been recorded, out of which more than 200 endemic, sub endemic and relict species. The park is the largest habitat of endemic white bark pine.
Within the park, there is a ski center. This destination can be interesting in the winter months as well due to the fact that Split and its surroundings do not provide great opportunities in terms of winter tourism. The center has different slopes, from beginners to those for skiers, with a four-seater lift (1942 per hour persons capacity) and a ski-lift. As part of the ski centers, there is a playground for the children.
In addition to ski tourism, the park offers hiking, rock climbing, mountain biking, educational activities aimed at getting acquainted with the flora, geology, hydrogeology, and similar activities.
Although this jewel of protected nature is not within Croatia, but actually in Bosnia and Herzegovina, we mentioned it on this list of National Parks near Split Croatia since it can be visited by land in just over 2-hour drive. Please do not forget a passport and visa in this case.
National Park Kornati – A necklace with 89 precious stones
Kornati archipelago consists of a group of 89 islands, islets, and rocks. The Kornati is the densest archipelago in the Mediterranean Sea, located in the central part of the Adriatic.
They are characterized by interesting geomorphology, indented coastline, and varied life of the community. The islands are mainly covered by vegetation of rocky pastures; each separated by stone walls and consisting of grassland communities typical to dry areas.
Rubble typical to the entire Adriatic coast, which is also present here, consists of a harsh land on the one side and extremely diverse underwater life on the other side. More than three-quarters of the park belongs to the sea, whose seabed, due to its diverse and rich underwater world, is the most important feature of this protected area.
The history of colonization of the Kornati archipelago reaches far into the past and we can follow the development of civilization in this region from the Neolithic period to the present day.
If you wish to visit an unusual destination on the Adriatic, Kornati is the right destination for you. Because this is an island archipelago, we recommend that you let at least the marine part of the way be handled by the agencies that visit the park from towns Vodice or Tribunj, which you can reach by land transportation means.
National Park Paklenica – Rock Climbing Heaven
Paklenica National Park is made up of flows of Velika and Mala Paklenica canyons carved vertically into the south slopes of Velebit. On this relatively small area, there is a great wealth of geomorphological forms, diverse flora and fauna, attractive landscapes and untouched nature.
Forests cover two-thirds of the park area and are characterized by the abundance of plant species.
About 90 caves are located in the park, among which in size and rich decorations stand out Manita Cave and Cave Vodarica. In this protected area, there are approximately 150 kilometers of hiking trails and roads. It also represents one of the most important European climbing centers. The park features over 360 organized climbing routes, most notably Anica Kuk (400m height).
If among all National Parks near Split Croatia you decide to visit this one, we would like to remind you that this is a bit more challenging adventure. If your departure is from Split, prepare yourself for 167 kilometers of driving. Also prior to the exploration of wild natural sites you are advised not to go to the mountains alone, to bring appropriate clothing, take enough liquids, choose the path that suits your physical abilities and consult with the staff of the park before your “expedition”.
National Park Mljet – The Green Island
Mljet National Park is located in the western part of the island. Indigenous forests of holm oak and Aleppo pine cover more than 90% of the park area. For that reason, the area has special biological and aesthetic value. It is therefore not surprising that it was assigned the title of “green island”.
Mljet National Park covers nearly 5400ha, including the maritime area 500m from the coast, islets and rocks, and so takes up about a third of the island. Apart from numerous coves, bays and islands, Park is also known for its two saltwater lakes, Small and Large Lake, which are submerged by sea karst valleys. Both are rich with a large number of different species of fish, crabs, shellfish and other marine organisms.
The vineyards and fields under olive trees further enhance the landscape diversity.
Lookouts Montokuc and Great Sladin Gradac, in good weather, provide visitors with a beautiful view of the entire park, the peninsula and the sea all the way to Korčula.
Within the park, there is a geomorphological phenomenon called Odysseus cave. Right there has Odysseus, after a shipwreck on the rocks of the island Ogigija, spent seven years in sadness and nostalgia of his home and Penelope, by looking into the sea, and a beautiful nymph Calypso, daughter of the sea god Poseidon, was even sadder lovingly stared at him.
The area of the park is a rich cultural and historical heritage site. In The Great Lake, there is the island of St. Mary with its ancient Benedictine monastery and a church, founded in the 12th century. In the settlement Polače there are the remains of an early Christian basilica, Roman palace and baths.
Mljet National Park can be visited throughout the year. There are three official entrances to the park, and during the tourist season, it is opened from 08:00 to 20:00.
Nature Attraction in Split – Marjan Hill
If you do not have time to visit some of the more remote destinations on the list, it is good to know that you do not need to go far from the city to enjoy the protected nature around Split. In the far western part of the Split peninsula, there is a forest park Marjan.
The peninsula consists of the northern and southern parts. This relatively small geographic area (length of 3.5 km and a width of 1-1.5 km) is showing significant diversity of plant species in their number and arrangement.
The local climate of the peninsula Marjan is defined by the fact that is it accommodated in the Adriatic-Mediterranean region, in the area of always green vegetation. This zone is also the hottest area of the coast where for at least 50 weeks of the year the temperature is above 5 ° C. The summers are dry and hot, and winters are mild and rainy. Mountains Mosor and Kozjak are on the north side, providing natural protection and not allowing penetration of influence of continental climate. The gentle landscape of Marjan, a nature reserve with high scientific value, has always attracted attention and has been the subject of interest of many botanists and travel writers who have explored and described the unusual exuberance of its vegetation.
Marjan Forest Park is an ideal destination for recreation, walking and spending time outdoors.
Also, along its southern side, the most beautiful beach in Split is located. An only ten-minute walk from the city center up the hill leads you to Vidilica which provides one of the most beautiful views of the city. In case you still want to reach the aforementioned beach or climbing site on the south side, the walk will be a little longer, or just take the bus 12 or 21 which passes through the center (church of St. Francis).
Whichever the destination among all nature attractions and National Parks near Split Croatia you choose, we are sure you will not be disappointed, and we wish you a pleasant and memorable experience of Dalmatia.