Plitvice Lakes National Park (Plitvička Jezera) in Croatia is one of the many places that I had never heard about until moving to Europe. Usually popping up on many “World’s Most Beautiful Parks” lists, Plitvice Lakes National Park is well deserving of this title.
The park, which was added to the UNESCO World Heritage list in 1979, is centrally located in Croatia about 138km south of it’s capital Zagreb. We drove up there on a saturday morning and checked into our Helena Bike & Bed apartment, a mere 6 km from the entrance of the park. Helena Bike and Bed rents out full apartments with multiple rooms, bathrooms and a kitchen. We enjoyed our evening there, relaxing with friends and savouring a glass of wine while taking in the beautiful view from our apartment balcony. On Sunday morning we awoke early, checked out of our apartment and made our way to the park entrance. Since we visited during the off-season, we walked right up to the ticket counter, purchased our tickets and were pleased to shuffle right on though.
Upon entering the park, our ears were already being teased with the sound of flowing water and as we walked further in we began to see the beauty that makes up this natural wonder. Waterfalls that flow into blue-green lakes are surrounded by a lush, green forest provide a beautiful contrast of colors. The sounds of birds singing and leaves rustling added to the park’s natural ambience. Plitvice Lakes is unique because the water contains travertine which contributes to the clarity and blue-green hue that is characteristic of the beautiful lakes and waterfalls.
Plitvice has many footpaths located throughout the park that wind through and around the flowing waterfalls, making hiking easily accessible. There are a total of sixteen lakes in the park all inter-connected by series of waterfalls. Around every bend is a new waterfall, some taller, some shorter, some narrow or wide. All shapes and sizes and just as beautiful as the last.
In March, the park wasn’t very crowded so is was easier to enjoy hiking at our own pace. However, even during high tourist season (we went on a Saturday in July and again in September) the paths were not particularly overcrowded or difficult to pass through. If a large group of tourists were passing by we simply stood to the side for a minute and let them pass, leaving the trail empty again. Even in the middle of summer, some of the shady areas protect you from the blazing sun and provide some breeze.
The park provides maps indicating different walks of varying length that visitors can embark on. These paths start from either of the two entrances of the park and can range from two to eight hours long. For us, we followed path C and took approximately 5-6 hours to hike through the park including the electric boat ride across the Lake Kozjak to get to the other part of the park. The boats run every 60 min. A restaurant, bathrooms and cafe area are located about halfway through the park at the site of the boat dock. I would recommend bringing a water bottle and snack if you get hungry or thirsty frequently. Once you’ve reached the end of the trail there is the option to take the sightseeing, panoramic train back to the main entrance.
Visiting Plitvice Lakes National Park is a magical experience and one that should not be missed. The park offers one or two day tickets with prices varying for each season. Although Croatia has recently jointed the EU, if is still advertised that the ticket prices are in Croatian Kuna. However, before visiting the park I would recommend checking their website to see if they have changed over to the Euro. There are also tours available in English, among a few other languages, or you can choose to explore the beauty of Plitvice Lakes on your own.
Please visit their website to find out current opening hours and ticket prices: Plitvice Lakes Ticket prices and hours of operation