If you want to get really wild this summer then Croatia is the perfect destination for you. Famous for its lakes and beaches, the Mediterranean country attracts backpackers from all over the world. Plitvice National Park is the most popular and attracts more than 1,000,000 people each year.

Situated in the mountainous Lika region, the UNESCO World Heritage Site is home to 16 gorgeous lakes and over 90 waterfalls. Just a few hours from the capital Zagreb and Zadar on the coast, the national park is easily accessible by bus and car.

Plitvice Lakes National Park

Image by Lassi Kurkijärvi (Flickr/Creative Commons)

With its maze of lakes and waterfalls that sparkle in emerald green and sapphire blue, Plitvice lakes are divided into two groups: 12 Upper and 4 Lower.

You could spend days just exploring the individual lakes alone. There are specific hiking trails available for backpackers, and most visitors vary the length and time of their walks depending on their accommodation. 

Set in deep woodland populated by deer, bears, wolves and boars, Plitvice is government protected and is not saddled with tourist restaurants or shops. If you want to stay close to the lakes, there are excellent hostels available throughout the summer months. Check out our availability here for the best prices.

Plitvice is open daily all year round, with longer opening hours during the summer (usually 7am to 8pm). Prices are staggered according to the seasons. It costs 55 Kuna (€7.25/$8.50/£5.50) from January to March and in November and December;

- 110 Kuna (€14.50//$16.50/£11) during April to June and in September and October;

- 180 Kuna (€24/$27/£18) in July and August.

Kornati national park

Kornati national park

Image by ansorgj (Flickr/Creative Commons)

If you want to explore the lake less travelled, then Kornati National Park (near Zadar) is a beautiful archipelago of 100 islands. It’s best explored as part of a cruise, but the individual islands are also accessible if you book a day-trip from the mainland.

Kornati is located close to Sibenik and Vodice in North Dalmatia and is easily accessible from Split by bus or car. The archipelago was officially declared a National Park in 1980 and the underwater world is now a paradise for swimmers and divers.

Dolphins

Image by Rob Schleiffert (Flickr/Creative Commons)

Go on a boat trip and learn about the exceptional beauty of its lush forests and natural bays whilst staying in North Dalmatia. Visitors arriving here will get the chance to explore the lake's unique eco-system. You may even see bottlenose dolphins or sea turtles if you book a cruise.

With so much unspoilt beauty spread over 320 square kilometres, there is certainly no shortage of things to see and do in Kornati.

Like Plitvice, the prices to the National Park are graded according to the seasons. It’s 125/HRK person (70 children/concessions) from June to September and 70/50 HRK respectively from October to May. 

There are plenty of fantastic hostels in nearby Zadar, but if you want to stay close to the lake, then we highly recommend Amarcord Boutique Hostel Skola where you can unwind gracefully for only €20 per night. 

*Header image by Clark & Kim Kays (Flickr/Creative Commons)