Protected rivers of Croatia

Protected rivers of Croatia

In addition to being clean drinking water sources, the myriad rivers in Croatia are often areas of exceptionally beautiful nature. This is why many locations surrounding the watercourses have been legally declared protected nature areas, national parks, nature reserves, forest parks, nature parks, protected landscapes or natural monuments.


The area of the enchanting Krka River, which gives life to the rocky area that lacks water in the summer, has been a national park since 1985. With its waterfalls and living travertine formations, the river constitutes a natural karst phenomenon that contributes to the abundance of plant and animal life. Its source, the Topoljski Buk or Veliki Buk, which provides the backdrop adorning the royal town of Knin, offers each guest a unique opportunity to relish the scene of water “dropping” from the 22 m high waterfall, as well as taste pure spring water.

Krka, Skradinski buk

Just about 30 km from the source of the Krka River you will find the Glavaš spring, in which Dinara, the highest Croatian mountain, is “reflected”, and from which the Cetina River, one of the longest Croatian “karst beauties”, embarks on a 104 km long journey. Both the river and its source generously invite you to visit and marvel at the natural phenomena and enjoy the spring water teeming with flavour.

Zoran Jelača

In the centre of Plitvice Lakes National Park, Plitvice Stream plummets down Veliki Slap (Great Waterfall), the highest waterfall in Croatia, and forms the source of the Korana River together with the other lakes. Just like many others, you will probably come to the conclusion that the Korana boasts one of the most beautiful sources in the world. So, the next time you visit this Croatian natural gem, don’t forget to hold your hand out and catch drops of this natural fairy tale to quench your thirst.

Aleksandar Gospić

Located on the coastal side of Velebit is Paklenica National Park, whose two eponymous streams, the Velika (Big) and Mala (Small) Paklenica, flow through the gorges in an amount that is subject to the seasons and precipitation. And if you’re lucky enough to visit Paklenica during a period of increased water flow, you will be amazed by the sights and murmurs of fast-flowing streams boldly bounding towards the sea and carving out the unforgettable window of the gorge, which they have been doing for millennia.

Velika Paklenica
Alan Čaplar

The source of the Kupa River, one of the biggest and most attractive in the country, is situated in the very heart of Risnjak National Park and is a paradise for rafting, canoe and fishing enthusiasts. There are trails also leading to this stunning water source, so make sure to reward yourself with a visit to Risnjak National Park and the source of the Kupa River.

Davor Rostuhar

The immense value of the Gacka River spring water at Gacko Polje karst field has been recognised a long time ago, so it is hardly surprising that this area is protected as a natural monument. The Gacka, a clean river with an abundant flora and fauna, is world-renowned as a lake trout habitat, offering you its waters and nature in any season.

Goran Sekula

The Zrmanja is a river with water of the highest level of quality in Croatia and has been incorporated into Velebit Nature Park, the largest nature park in Croatia, on account of its exceptional value and beauty. Take a walk through nature and explore the hidden beauty of the karst in the area leading up to Velebit as you approach the river source and enjoy its waters.

Ivo Pervan

If your name is Una, which is derived from the Italian word for “one-of-a-kind”, there is nothing else to be said. This river, which mostly flows through the neighbouring country of Bosnia and Herzegovina, forming a unique national park there, emerges at one of the most beautiful sources in Croatia. You must visit this stunning protected slice of nature and drink the water cupped in your hands that springs from the depths of the karst.

Aleksandar Gospić
Besides these best-known river sources, there is a plethora of larger and smaller sources and bodies of water that are rightfully deemed Croatia’s greatest wealth.