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Recognised in 2021, Dinara is Croatia’s latest Nature Park. Unspoiled nature filled with plants, animals and incredible mountain views, it’s perfect for walking, hiking and mountaineering.

Welcome to Dinara, the newest Nature Park in Croatia

Dinara. In the foreground, an abandoned mine in Suhopolje. © Croatian State Institute for Nature Protection.

1831 metres loom above you. Indeed, as the highest peak in Croatia, Dinara mountain dominates the skyline. From 2021, this mountain is the centrepiece of Croatia’s latest Nature Park. Significantly, people come here because this mountain and its neighbours offer incredible views. And, it gifts walks and hikes within unspoiled nature. Furthermore, it offers a step back in time, a glimpse at how life once was. Indeed this, and much more waits to be discovered at Dinara Nature Park.

Adrian Horos is the ancient Greek name for the great Dinara mountain – it means ‘border of the Adriatic’. Although, included within the Dinara Nature Park, the Troglav mountain is even higher than Dinara. But, Troglav straddles the border with Bosnia. Its peak, standing at 1913 meters, is located on Bosnian side. Furthermore, part of Kamešnica mountain, which also exists on the national border, is also included in the park area.

Church of Holy Salvation, Cetina, 8km northwest of Vrlika. Dating from the 9th century it is the only pre-schism church constructed with a bell tower which is still standing in Croatia. © Croatian State Institute for Nature Protection.

However, mountains are far from all there is to Dinara Nature Park. Also, it holds the source and upper course of the Cetina River. Additionally, the Hrvatačko, Paško and Vrličko karst fields run alongside it. Forestland, river valleys, waterfalls and caves – some underwater – help make an incredibly varied topography. Furthermore, they provide a habitat for all manner of animals. Specifically, birds, spiders, insects, rodents, butterflies and more. Actually, the entire park covers some 63,000 hectares of land. As a result, Dinara Nature Park is the second-largest Nature Park in Croatia.

Why visit Dinara Nature Park?

Dinara. © Knin Tourist Board.

Perfect for walkers and hikers, the wide panoramas in Dinara Nature Park can often leave you gasping. In contrast, rare, colourful flowers crop up on slopes and meadows. You sometimes need a sharp eye to spot them. So too, some of the smaller animals that live here. But, it is such divergent assets that make Dinara Nature Park such a fascinating visit. From the epic to the minute, from barren rock, caves and canyons to forests, waterfalls and floodplains. Herein lies a rich and varied vista for your eyes to dance around. Furthermore, it’s a landscape that actually benefits from your visit.

Mountain ševa. Its only nesting place is on the Dinara. © I. Budinski, udruga BIOM.

Sustainable tourism and the protection of traditional rural life

Although the classification of Nature Park grants the area protection from some human impact, Dinara Nature Park is not reserved or off-limits. As a matter of fact, this is an environment that welcomes visitors. In fact, you’re encouraged to come. Because your visit will help preserve the endangered rural way of life that’s shaped this landscape.

A landscape shaped by human hand
A shepherd, his sheepdogs and sheep, on Kamešnica. © Croatian State Institute for Nature Protection.

This area, its foothills, meadows and grasslands, and the plants that grow here are the result of years of animal husbandry. In fact, numerous archaeological finds confirm that the Illyrians were so occupied here more than two thousand years ago. Specifically, remains of their shepherd’s huts and cattle pens have been found.

Guaranteed sunshine on Dalmatia’s coast and islands is an irresistible draw to summertime tourists. However, long before they arrived, such conditions often meant drought. Indeed, in the summer months, livestock keepers from these regions would herd their cattle to the plentiful grassland of Dinara. Actually, relatively recent statistics prove the point. In detail, towards the end of 1808, as many as 1,105,000 sheep, close to 750,000 goats and 134, 000 cattle were recorded here.

A Croatian goat in Dinara Nature Park. © Croatian State Institute for Nature Protection.

These days, people’s options are greater. Subsequently, few young people want to follow in the footsteps of those who shaped this land. However, in the region of Dinara Nature Park, that lifestyle does persist. Furthermore, if you visit, you are helping to preserve both the lifestyle and the landscape.

Sir iz mišine. Sheep’s cheese, made in sheep skin, still made traditionally in this region of Dalmatia. © Croatian State Institute for Nature Protection.

Go and see traditional sheep cheese made, fermented inside the animal’s skin. In fact, it’s thought that ‘Sir iz mišine’ (cheese from the skins) is a tradition here solely by accident. It’s guessed the fermentation of the cheese happened while storing milk during the warm, summer grazing period.

PHOTOS: Incredible views and spectacular scenery of Dinara Nature Park

View from the top Dinara in a NW direction. © Croatian State Institute for Nature Protection.

The most popular activities for visitors to Dinara Nature Park are walking, hiking and mountaineering. But, capturing your expedition in photograph must come a very close second. Debating whether or not to pack your camera? Bring it. Although it’s very difficult to forget some of the sights you see here, its better still to have a permanent reminder.

Miloevo jezero. This lake is home to the fish Phoxinellus alepidotus. Extremely rare, the only part of the world it is found is the karst fields and inland rivers of Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina. © Croatian State Institute for Nature Protection.

Dinara Nature Park – source of the Cetina river, Glavaš

The source of the Cetina river. © Cabrio2.

Dinara Nature Park is the source of the Cetina river. Actually, several springs occur at the river’s start, near a village itself called Cetina. Find the village not quite halfway between the town of Drniš and the nearby Bosnian border. However, there is one spectacularly coloured lake, often called Glavaš, that is thought of as the main source. Notably, it is several hundred metres deep, its shades changing rapidly from the brim to the centre. Furthermore, this arresting sight is within view of two defensive medieval fortresses, Prozor and another, also called Glavaš.

Another view of the Cetina’s source. © Knin Tourist Board.

Geology of Dinara Nature Park – waterfalls and caves

The Krčić waterfall near Knin. © Wikipedia.

Like the Cetina, water has passed through this region for millennia. Running from high ground on its way to the sea, its persistence has gorged away at the ground. And, in some places, the rock has been worn away. Although, in others, it’s been more stubborn.

As a result of this ancient struggle, the contemporary course of rivers has been defined. Furthermore, several impressive caves and waterfalls have been formed in the karst rock. In fact, one of the waterfalls, Topoljski buk, also known as Krčić waterfall, is some 22 metres high. Find it close to the village of Kovačić, near Knin.

Additionally, some of the caves in the Nature Park have sections that are completely underwater. Notably, these environments are the habitat of some extremely rare species.

Activities: Hiking, walking, trekking, orienteering on Dinara

Some of Dinara’s hiking trails, signposted. © Croatian State Institute for Nature Protection.

Looking to leave opponents in a cloud of dust as you rip up a race track in a buggy? Then you’re looking at the wrong place. In fact, the visitors warmly welcomed inside Dinara Nature Park are those who will help preserve it. The excitement here is timeless, breathless nature and scenery.

Covered with mountain terrain, river valleys and interesting geological features, Dinara is a gift for walkers and hikers. There are numerous trails. Furthermore, you’d be well advised to research beforehand those on offer. Actually, anyone can find one to suit their abilities and what they want to see. Interested more in ancient architecture and tradition? There’s a path for you. Prefer to escape the influence of man altogether? You’re covered for that too. What’s more, with so much to see, over such a huge area, you can revisit many times and get a different view.

Old Mill andBridge on the Grab river. © Croatian State Institute for Nature Protection.

Flora: Plants and trees of Dinara, a natural habitat

Ophrys apifera, known in Europe as the bee orchid. © Bernard DUPONT.

Over 1000 plant species live here, a fifth of Croatia’s flora. In fact, 75 of them are uniquely indigenous to Croatia. Some are quite rare. Equally, others are more commonplace. But, they are often very beautiful. Furthermore, the forests and meadows of Dinara Nature Park create a habitat essential to its non-human inhabitants.

A typical mountain meadow on Dinara. Subsequently, it’s a great habitat for small rodents and others. © I. Budinski, Udruga BIOM.

Fauna: Animals of Dinara Nature Park

A Griffon vulture, one of the rare inhabitants of the Dinara Nature Park. © Pierre Dalous.

Dinara Nature Park’s forests and valleys are home to animals like the brown bear, wolf, lynx, wild boar, badger and rabbit. Furthermore, its lakes and the park’s relative isolation make it a favourite for indigenous or migratory birds. Specifically, the golden eagle, snake eagle, grey falcon, griffon vulture, pheasant, quail, woodpecker and warblers can all be found here. Additionally, around 15 species of endangered lizards, snakes and amphibians also live here.

The Apollo or mountain Apollo (Parnassius apollo), a resident of Dinara. © Hinox.

In detail, at least 20 of Dinara’s animal species are indigenous to the park area. Sometimes known as the meadow viper, Ursini’s viper or meadow adder, Vipera ursinii is itself an extremely rare snake. However, recognised subspecies Vipera ursinii macrops can only be found in karst fields running parallel to the Adriatic.

Vipera ursinii macrops. © Benny Trapp.

Where is Dinara Nature Park? Map, Mountain Peak


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Dinara Nature Park is in the Dalmatian hinterland of Croatia. Its northernmost access point is close to the city of Knin. It stretches along the border with Bosnia and is split between the Croatian counties of Šibenik-Knin and Split-Dalmatia. Coordinates: Sinjal, the peak of Dinara mountain itself, is located at a latitude and longitude of 44.0627° N, 16.3875° E.

Dinara Nature Park. In blue, the border with Bosnia. In red, the park boundaries. © Croatian State Institute for Nature Protection.
Dinara Nature Park, with reference to the areas of each town and municipality it passes through. Dinara Nature Park. In blue, the border with Bosnia. In red, the park boundaries. © Croatian State Institute for Nature Protection.

Weather

The area of Dinara Nature Park on general has a moderately warm humid climate with warm summers. However, with the mountainous areas being at such a high elevation, temperatures can cool significantly as you rise. Furthermore, in winter, high areas are frequently covered by snow. Here’s how the weather in nearby Knin looks today and for the rest of the week.

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How to get to Dinara Nature Park

Plane

Knin is less than 100 km distance from Zadar airport. In fact, it's around an hour's drive between them. You can read up on Zadar airport here. Furthermore, from Knin to Split airport the distance is only 77 km. The airport is south of the city. However, from Split airport to Dinara Nature Park, the nearest park entrance is closer still. Specifically, from Split to Sinj is a distance of just 45 km. Additionally, from Split to Trilj is a distance of only 50 km. Read up all about Split airport here.

Road

As Dinara Nature Park covers a lot of surface area, there are many locations where you can drive to and enter the park. The key two points of entry would probably be Sinj and Knin, both easily accessible by road. A1 motorway passes very close to Sinj (you need to exit at the Dugopolje exit), while the old main road connecting Croatia's north and south goes through Knin. If you decide you want to drive on the A1 motorway as close as possible to Knin, the best way to do it is to leave the motorway next to Krka National Park. Thereafter, drive around half an hour to Knin.

Looking for a fast, reliable and trouble-free transfer to or from Dinara Nature Park? Contact TC transfer partner Adriatic Transfers for your one-stop solution.

Hrvatsko planinarsko društvo 'Dinara' Knin - Croatian Mountaineering Association 'Dinara' Knin

Planinarska kuća Brezovac. © Hrvatski planinarski savez.

Founded in 1953, the Croatian Mountaineering Association 'Dinara' from Knin knows their part of the park better than most. They organize excursions, hikes, tours, expeditions, camps and mountaineering competitions. Additionally, they manage the mountain lodge Brezovac, which is located at an altitude of 1050 m. Actually, this mountaineers lodge traces its history back all the way to 1911.

Another mountaineering association within the park is Hrvatsko planinarsko društvo 'Zolj' from Vrlika.

English language guide to Dinara Nature Park

Looking for an English language guide to take you around the park? If you're visiting the park's north or coming from somewhere in Sibenik-Knin, here you go. Lucija Petrović can be contacted at [email protected] Alternatively, visiting the park's south? Contact the local tourist boards for suggestions.

Where to stay? Knin - gateway to Dinara Nature Park

Knin. © Knin Tourist Board.

Lying near the northernmost point of Dinara Nature Park, the city of Knin is a great place to make a base. Aside from the town hotel, there are other accommodation options. But, you might only be planning a day trip or one night's stay. In that case, we recommend you make time to also see Knin Fortress.

Accommodation inside Dinara Nature Park for hikers, mountaineers, on the peak

Visitors can spend the night at the comfortable mountain house Brezovac. Also available are the functional mountaineering shelters Glavaš and Martinova košara. Actually, there are three mountaineering shelters around the peak, Sinjal. Furthermore, there is a large and very nice one near Lisanjski vrh (above the Cetina source). And, if you're climbing to get to the peak, there's yet another, called Osijak. Both 'Dinara' and 'Zolj' associations can help you arrange things. Additionally, so too can the national mountaineering association, HPS. And the English language guide detailed, Mrs. Lucija Petrović.

Planning, precautions, things to do before you visit

Dinara. © Croatian State Institute for Nature Protection.

If you're planning to tackle the peaks of the park, it's worth considering going with a guide. Alternatively, if you're going in your own group, plan your route before you set off. Tell someone outside your party about the route you plan to take. In fact, it's a good idea to leave a map of your route at your lodgings. Charge your mobile phones. Make sure you have appropriate footwear. Specifically, trainers and sandals are not appropriate for tackling the mountain areas. Wear boots, even in summer. And, make sure you check the weather forecast.

What you need: Things to take on a visit to Dinara

Regardless of how long you plan to be in the park, take enough fresh drinking water. Equally important, once you've finished, please don't leave any empty plastic bottles behind. Additionally, take fully charged mobile phones. Furthermore, remember to take a jumper and long trousers, even if it's t-shirt and shorts weather when you set off. In fact, a spare t-shirt and a change of socks is also a good idea. So too are plasters, for any minor foot blisters you might get while walking.

Emergency help

If you get into trouble on the mountains, calling emergency services at the earliest opportunity is best. The emergency phone number for Croatia is 112. Read all you need to know about emergency services in Croatia here.

More information

For more information, you can contact Knin Tourist Board here and Sinj Tourist Board here.