Ever heard of Una National Park? It is one of the most underrated destinations in the Balkans. This National Park is in Bosnia & Herzegovina and it shares its border with Croatia. Hence, you can easily include a visit to Una National Park in your Croatia itinerary.
If you’re following me on Instagram, then you must have seen pictures of Una National Park already. I have been raving about this place on social media, and I’m finally penning down my travel experience in a post.
It was our second visit to Bosnia & Herzegovina and this little country never fails to surprise us. Last year we visited Kravice Waterfalls near Medjugorje, Visegrad near Serbia and Vjetrenica cave near Dubrovnik.
I did not end up writing a post about all these places for my selfish reason. I do not want to share information about them and invite the world to see them. [Yes, my blog DOES get visited by many people all over the world.]
- What is Una National Park all about and Why Visit it?
- Where is Una National Park?
- What to see in Una National Park – Top Sights
- Martin Brod Waterfall – Milančev Buk
- Unac River Picnic Spot in Martin Brod
- Štrbački buk – Waterfall in Gorjevac
- Rmanj Monastery in Martin Brod
- Unac Tunnel in Martin Brod
- How to Reach Una National Park?
- Una National Park Entrances:
- Villages inside Una National Park:
- Difference Between Una National Park and Una Mamea Park
- Where to stay in Una National Park
- Where to Go After Una National Park?
I do realize that places like Una National Park mostly get visited by road trippers. It is easier to reach with a car (you can rent one for cheap). After all, it is a headache reaching here on a bus.Check Car Rental Prices in Bosnia-Herzegovina
We did this trip on our camper van. Considering how massive this national park is, one has to be highly determined to see this national park to arrive here by public transport and walk (or cycle) a lot.
What is Una National Park all about and Why Visit it?
Una National Park is established around the Una river and its tributaries – Unac River and Krka River. Just like Plitvice, there is a lot of tufa in this national park too. As per the park’s official website, tufa makes Una beautiful. As a result of tufa, the park has cascades, waterfalls, river rapids and white water passages.
The park includes Krka river’s starting point, its entire course and its confluence with Una river. Krka river is just 6 KMs long and forms a natural border between Croatia and Bosnia.
On the other hand, only the lower course of the Unac river is a part of the national park. It creates a spectacular waterfall where it meets the Una river. I will talk about that waterfall later in this post.
Una National Park is massive and covers an area of 196 square kilometers. There are several villages inside and many lucky people call this place their home. (Imagine – how awesome it would be to live inside a national park). In a way, it reminded us of Serbia’s Tara National Park or Montenegro’s Durmitor National Park – they also have villages inside.
Where is Una National Park?
Una National Park is very close to Croatia and Bosnia & Herzegovina border. It is Bosnia-Herzegovina’s northwestern part. It includes mainly Bihać area and a bit of Drvar and Bosanski Petrovac.
The town of Bihac is just 30 kilometers from the extremely popular and heavenly Plitvice Lakes National Park of Croatia. We visited Una National Park right after Krka National Park in Croatia, and it is 120 kilometers from there.
Here’s the distance of Una National Park from some of the nearby destinations: (Note, I’m calculating the distance to the nearest village inside Una National Park – for some is Bihać town and for others is Martin Brod. The distance between Bihać and Martin Brod is 50 KMs)
- Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia: 30 KMs to Bihać
- Zadar, Croatia: 119 KMs to Martin Brod
- Krka National Park, Croatia: 120 KMs to Martin Brod
- Banja Luka, Bosnia-Herzegovina: 160 KMs to Bihać
- Split, Croatia: 195 KMs to Martin Brod
- Kravice Waterfalls, Bosnia-Herzegovina: 253 KMs to Martin Brod
- Mostar, Bosnia-Herzegovina: 254 KMs to Martin Brod
- Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina: 324 KMs to Martin Brod
Hopefully, the above information helps you as you visit Bosnia-Herzegovina and Croatia on a road trip. Check our Balkans road trip itinerary here.
What to see in Una National Park – Top Sights
Martin Brod Waterfall – Milančev Buk
Martin Brod waterfall was the first spot that we saw in Una National Park and our jaws literally fell. It is massive, has lovely pools and there’s lush green vegetation all around. It is where fairies are born in a fantasy world!
We paid an entrance fee of 1 euro per person and walked around the hill to reach the waterfall. The walk barely took us 5 minutes. Towards the end of our walk, we heard the sound of water and got very excited. As we got a bit closer and caught the first sight, we realized it was the “perfect-looking” waterfall.
It wasn’t as massive as KRKA national park’s main waterfall or the Kravice waterfall. It felt magical because of the area around it, the pools under it, the thick vegetation all around. It actually gave us a feeling of being in the middle of a forest and reaching a secret paradise.
There is a wooden ramp that goes on top of the pools to go closer to the waterfall, we must have stood there for a very long time. Sounds cliche but all our senses came alive because on that spot we could feel the water on our skin, taste the freshness of the droplets, hear the swish-shoosh, smell the dampness and of course see the epic beauty.
We visited the Milančev Buk waterfall in the afternoon and there was literally no one around. Compared to the maddening crowds in the nearby Plitvice Lakes or Krka National Park – this was a refreshing change.
Unac River Picnic Spot in Martin Brod
Unac River picnic spot in Martin Brod is barely 1 KM away from the waterfall Milančev Buk. Out of all the time we spent in Una National Park, most of it was here. It is actually a camping spot too. The best part is that you can camp next to the river for free. How awesome is that!
This spot large open grounds, clean toilets, showers, wooden gazebos, and picnic tables. It is unbelievable that you don’t have to pay any parking or camping fee. I would have happily paid someone for maintaining it or at least tipped but there was no box. We almost camped here for the night but then we decided to get an apartment because started raining.
The part of the river that you can see and enter from this spot is very clear and blue. It is a part of the Una River called Crno vrelo, which means “Black Spring” in Croatian.
The name of this spot on Google Maps is Camping & picnic place Lucica. If you’re planning on camping here then please note that you will have to take your van down the slope and not every car can handle this, especially the old ones.
Štrbački buk – Waterfall in Gorjevac
Štrbački buk is the most visited waterfall inside Una National Park, mainly because you can also enter it from Croatia without crossing the border. The entry from Croatia is from Una Mamea Park. At 25 meters, it is the highest waterfall in Una national park, but not the most spectacular. (The one in Martin Brod is better looking).
Strbacki Buk is a multi-tiered waterfall and it is possible to do rafting here. The sheer volume of water that you will see flowing down here is massive as compared to even the biggest waterfall in Plitvice. Click here for information about Strbacki Buk rafting.
You need to pay an entry fee of around 2 EUR to see the Strbacki Buk waterfall. The maintenance of this area is amazing. There are wooden benches and boardwalk that goes up and close to the waterfall. There are restaurants in this area too.
Just like Milančev Buk, the waterfall at Martin Brod – this area also has a picnic spot that’s right outside the waterfall entry.
Rmanj Monastery in Martin Brod
Rmanj Monastery in Martin Brod has quite a history. It is an Orthodox monastery that was founded in the 15th or 16th century by the village founder – Katarina Branković after she lost her young son.
This monastery has had a rough past. It was abandoned during the Ottoman Empire in 1578, burned by the Turks in 1663, rebuilt in 1737, yet again burned down during Austro-Turkish War of 1787–1791, renovated in 1863, again damaged in anti Ottoman uprising in 1875, repaired in 1883, used as a hospital in World War II and bombed by the Germans in 1944. Insane, no? It was finally renovated in the 1980s. It is now a National Monument of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Anyway, I’m not into history, I usually don’t enter museums or religious buildings but I liked something about the Rmanj Monastery and enjoyed photographing it. It is near the bridge that goes over the river, very close to the waterfall entrance.
Unac Tunnel in Martin Brod
There is a bridge that goes over the river that’s close to Martin Brod waterfall. There’s a path that goes for 2 KMs to Unac Tunnel. This bridge is close to Ramanj Monastery.
The owner of the restaurant that’s outside the waterfall in Martin Brod told us about this tunnel. He also mentioned that there are bats inside the tunnel and it is divided into two parts.
We visited Una National Park with our 8-month-old baby and it wasn’t possible to go inside this tunnel. However, I want to mention this place so that you don’t miss out on it.
How to Reach Una National Park?
We arrived here by driving from Croatia, which is definitely the easiest way of getting here. I can not imagine reaching here by public transport because it is a bit remote.
In order to arrive here by bus, you have to first reach Bihac – the biggest town in Una National Park. You can take a bus from Bihac to Kulen Vakuf. The bus crosses Una National Park’s entrance 2, which is 4.5 KMs away from Strbacki Buk waterfall. You will have to walk to the waterfall and then walk back to the place where the bus dropped you.
You can also take a bus from Bihac to Martin Brod and walk to the waterfalls. Martin Brod isn’t so big and hopefully walking here won’t be a problem. The only thing is, there isn’t any bus timetable on the internet and you will have to personally visit Bihac bus station and ask.
Again, I’d like to mention that it is not the best idea to arrive here on public transport. If you get stranded and do not find a bus to take you back, keep in mind that the national park is remote. Renting a car in the Balkans isn’t so expensive and can sometimes work out to be the same cost as taking public transport if you can split the costs.
If you’re a solo traveler and renting a car doesn’t make sense to you then the easiest way to reach and experience Una National Park is by joining a tour.
Bus from Plitvice Lakes to Una National Park
Reach Una National Park on a bus from Plitvice Lakes is possible. Get to Slunj, a town that’s close to Plitvice Lakes and get onto a bus to Bihac. From Bihac, you have to take a bus to Martin Brod or Kulen Vakuf. (See the previous section for more details)
I have visited Slunj town on two occasions, and it also has a waterfall that’s called “mini Plitvice Lakes”. Seriously, Mother Nature is going crazy here with her benevolence!
There is a bus that goes from Zagreb to Bihac and crossed Plitvice Lakes at 8 am. This bus is operated by Autopromet d.d. Slunj. Ideally, if you want to make this journey then you should visit the bus station in Karlovac or Slunj to find out about the exact timetable.
Una National Park Entrances:
Una National Park park is massive and has multiple entrances. The time we visited, we did not know of all the entrances but I’d like to share this information with you to help you plan your trip:
- Entrance 1 – Gorjevac (close to Štrbački buk waterfall)
- Entrance 2 – Ćukovi (close to Kulen Vakuf village, this is a better road for Štrbački buk waterfall but entrance 1 is closer)
- Entrance 3 – Ćelije (this is also close to Štrbački buk waterfall)
- Entrance 4 – Račić
- Entrance 5 – Martin Brod (Milančev Buk waterfall)
- Entrance 6 – Lohovo
In our case, we arrived inside the part from entrance 5 and left from somewhere close to entrance 1 and drove towards Slunj in Croatia.
Villages inside Una National Park:
I will share information about the three main villages that you need to know about to experience all the top sights. Of course, there are more than just these three.
This part has the largest concentration of waterfalls, has the stunning Milančev Buk waterfall, Unac tunnel, Rmanj Monastery. Be sure to check out the “natural washing mills” in Martin Brod called Bučnica. It actually means “a natural laundry machine”. You can find more information about the bučnica here.
This is the most inhabited village and here you can see the abandoned fort Ostrovica.
This village is where we stayed. The views are stunning because there are mountains all around. We could see an abandoned fort here too on top of one of the hills. The biggest waterfall – Strbacki buk is just 8 KMs from here.
Difference Between Una National Park and Una Mamea Park
Una National Park is inside Bosnia & Herzegovina, whereas Una Mamea Park is a smaller park in Croatia. Una Mamea Park only features Strbacki buk waterfall but Una National Park has an area of around 190 square KMs.
Where to stay in Una National Park
Apartment Denis Una in Orašac
Apartment Denis Una is the perfect place to stay in Una National Park. This is where we stayed and loved it. It is an apartment that’s in Orašac village. There is a lovely Bosnian family that runs this place. Thankfully they speak decent English and it was easy to communicate with them.
The family lives on the ground floor but the apartment for the guests is on top, with a separate entrance. The upstairs area is perfect because there’s good view from almost every window. There is a large sitting area in the balcony where we enjoyed a very lavish Bosnian breakfast.
The apartment has two bedrooms, kitchen, living room and a bathroom. There is a washing machine, oven, fridge, stove, TV – and we even had a baby bed in our room. We had a traditional Bosnian dinner here which we will never forget.
Orašac village is adorable, wish we were here for longer. The apartment is super comfortable and we paid just 30 or 40 euros for 4 people and one baby. We paid a little more for breakfast and dinner.
Doesn’t this breakfast look super yum? It was and the best part was that most of the things were right out of their own farm. The fruits were really good and so were the tomatoes. I did not click any pictures of our lavish dinner here but that was also excellent.
Where to Go After Una National Park?
Ostrožac Castle, Bosnia
Ostrožac Castle is 17 KMs away from Bihać in Una Valley. As per Lonely Planet, Ostrožac Castle is one of the top sights in Bosnia & Herzegovina.
Plitvice Lakes, Croatia
I have mentioned this before but Plitvice Lakes is just 30 KMs from Una National Park. This national park is a natural wonderland because there are 16 lakes, 2 rivers and many waterfalls and cascades. Just like Una, even Plitvice thrives because of tufa. Be sure to read our detailed Plitvice Lakes travel guide.
KRKA National Park, Croatia
KRKA National Park also has waterfalls and one of them is massive. The best part is that you can swim in the natural pools under the biggest waterfall. We visited KRKA National Park right before Una, it is just 120 KMs away from Martin Brod.
Kravice Waterfall, Bosnia & Herzegovina (and Mostar)
Kravice Waterfall was one of our best swimming experience in a natural pool. It isn’t as big as the waterfall in Krka National Park but in our opinion is more beautiful. It is 253 KMs away from Una National Park. The nearby town Mostar is famous for its Ottoman styled brodge and is one of the most visited places in Bosnia & Herzegovina.