A couple of news reports yesterday revealed that Croatia’s wonderful national parks have been very popular with visitors so far this year. A grand total of 2.12 million people have visited the country’s eight national parks during the first nine months of the year. Of this, almost 90% were foreign visitors (1.82 million being the actual figure), with the remaining 300,000 being domestic visitors.
The stunning Plitvice Lakes National Park was far and away the most popular, receiving 1.01 million visitors of the total figure. The park reached the important one-millionth visitor milestone – for the first time ever – in late September this year, which is a fantastic achievement. Last year the park had hoped to reach the magical one million mark, although ending up receiving only a few tens of thousands of visitors less. Given that this was for the whole of 2010, this year the park certainly looks like it will have very healthy growth in its visitor numbers. With its truly mesmerising mix of lakes and waterfalls, increased interest in the park this year is no real surprise – and we’ve noticed that there’s been plenty of press coverage on Plitvice too! (Such as this article from the Daily Mail.)
The second most popular national park was Krka, which received 652,000 visitors during January to September this year. This too is no surprise and given its location (close to the coast, with easy connections from Sibenik) and wonderful features including its many waterfalls (such as Skradinski Buk, a series of seventeen waterfalls). Visitors to Krka can also bathe in its waters (unlike in Plitvice), which makes for an enjoyable experience.
After Plitvice and Krk, Brijuni National Park, off the Istrian coast, came in third with 143,000 visitors. Paklenica National Park, a joy for hikers and climbers, was in fourth position with 107,100 visitors, whilst the national park on the island Mljet was in fifth place with 93,000 visitors. Sixth was Kornati National Park which welcomed 82,400 visitors whilst in seventh and eight were the national parks of Risnjak and Northern Velebit which received 17,000 visitors each.
Croatian daily newspaper Vjesnik last week reported that some of Croatia’s National Parks are attracting healthy visitor numbers this year. The two main Parks attracting the most visitors are Krka and, unsurprisingly, the amazing Plitvice Lakes, which together account for 1.4 million of the 1.7 million total number of visitors to all of the eight National Parks of Croatia. (2009 figures)
Plitvice Lakes has already passed its half a millionth visitor in 2010, and is hoping to reach the magic million mark later this year. (Last year, just under 850,000 came to Plitvice; there were 550,000 visitors to Krka). In June alone, comparing this year to last, there was a rise in visitor numbers of 6%, with 5% in July; overall, there has been a 7% increase in the first seven months of 2010.
A spokesperson for the park, Vlatka Ruzic, says there has been a substantial increase in the number of Russian visitors this year, helped by the abolition of visas for the summer months. There’s also been a jump in Japanese visitors – who often like to take in a National Park when in this part of Europe; Vjesnik says that each year, visitor numbers to Plitvice from Japan rise by 40%.
As wonderful as these two Parks are, if you’d like to get away from the crowds why not consider one of Croatia’s other nature offerings? Official statistics for 2009 show only just over 100,000 visiting the Brijuni islands, and just under 100,000 going to Paklenica.