If untrammelled nature is what you’re after, then Croatia certainly offers variety, with stark mountains, forest-cloaked islands and wetlands teeming with wildfowl all vying for your attention. Several unique locations enjoy national park protection: most celebrated of these is Plitvice, a descending sequence of clear blue lakes punctuated by a stunning series of terraced waterfalls and foaming cataracts.
One must-visit offshore attraction is the Kornati archipelago, an extraordinarily beautiful group of largely uninhabited islands whose sparse covering of shrubs and sage produces an unearthly palette of grey, green and purple shades. A major target for yachting folk, the Kornati can also be reached on day-excursions from the mainland.
Sweeping views of the coastal islands can be enjoyed from the desolate grey slopes of the Velebit mountains, where the Northern Velebit and the Paklenica national parks offer trails along cliff-enclosed gorges and scenic ridge-top hikes. And those who make it to the far east of the country will be rewarded with a glimpse of the mysterious sunken forests of Kopački rit, a renowned haven for wading birds.