Plitvice Lakes National Park is an absolute “must visit” place in Croatia. That is, if enjoying a day discovering one beautiful waterfall after another all nestled into a forest surrounding a crystal blue lake sounds like your kind of day. It certainly is for me. It was a day I won’t forget and would gladly repeat.
We rented a car and drove from our location in Split, Croatia. Not that you can’t take a bus or visit the park on a guided tour, but we really wanted to get there early to beat the crowds. That was exactly the right decision. It also allow us to visit the nearby Caves of Barać in the afternoon and have the full day to visit the park.
Check visiting times as rates for visiting as well as opening and closing times change with the season.
Visiting the Plitvice National Park
First thing in the morning the park is quiet and serene.
There are two entrances to the park, and several ways to tour the area. Check out the map at the entrance and make your plan. Each trail is well marked. It is possible to take a long hike of about 6 – 8 hours by following trail K, which is what we did. Or you can take shorter trails and make use of the bus or ferry to see the whole park without having to do so much walking.
The trails in most sections are the park are either covered in wooden walkways or gently sloping dirt paths.
The views from both sections of the park are stunning.
UNESCO World Heritage
The park, which UNESCO named a World Heritage Site in 1979, extends over 296.85 square kilometers (73,350 acres). It is made up of 16 lakes that are formed by natural dams, with waterfalls flowing between them. While in the park there are often markers to help locate your current elevation and position along the water flow.
Choosing the Right Path
In retrospect, I may have given a second thought to taking the full “K” trail., which wound its way around one of the larger lakes.
It was no doubt the most secluded part of our tour through the park. But secluded also means less well maintained. At one point that we had to shimmy over fallen logs hoping not to fall into large sections of deep mud. And by the time we make it back to the popular waterfall areas, the crowds from buses had made it there to join us.
Crystal Blue Water
The stunning blue water is one of the most dramatic features of the park. During the morning hours the water was clear but appeared dark green. As the clouds cleared and the run began to shine, the turquoise waters appeared giving the forest area a tropical feeling. It was unique and unforgettable.
Favorite View of Plitvice From Above
After a long day of hiking punctuated by a few wrong turns, we were quite tired by the time we made it back to Entrance One, where we had started our day. At this point the sun was shining brightly and we were given one our most favorite views of the day.
Plitvice Lakes National Park is a three hour drive from Split and about two hours from Zagreb. Use the handy site Rome2Rio to find several routes and transportation options, along with prices. There are several hotels in the area that vary in price. We can recommend the Hotel Degenija, which has comfortable rooms, is very close to the park entrance and has a restaurant. Note: the restaurant gets busy at night so book at reservation in when you check in.
There are a few markets in the area to purchase a few groceries and snacks for your visit. There is a restaurant in the park but there are quite a few places that are more remote. It’s best to bring water and a few snacks to take along. Many people take along sandwiches for picnics alongside the water. The local ducks manage to find these people and gather hoping for scraps of bread.
Although Croatia is part of the European Union, they haven’t yet converted to the euro. Follow this link for current exchange rates for the the Croatian Kuna.
Many people speak English in Croatia’s tourist areas and main cities. There is also plentiful information available in different languages (such as menus and other visitor information).
It is possible to drink the water in Croatia, but if you do go branch out and try some of their craft beer and wine. Our post on things to eat while in Croatia is coming soon!
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