What’s it all about? Comprising of a series of tiered turquoise lakes, connected by gushing waterfalls and cascades in the forested heart of Croatia, we delve into what is commonly referred to as Europe’s best day trip; Plitvice Lake National Park.
Tell me more? Nested in the heart of Croatia’s Northern Dalmatia, Plitvice Lakes is located approximately halfway between Zagreb and Zadar. It was founded in 1949 and is Croatia’s oldest and largest protected National Park (296 km² to be precise). It features 16 crystal-clear lakes, each one connected by a series of gushing waterfalls and cascades. Visitors can explore the park using the marked trails consisting of wooden walkways, paths and bridges that wind around the edge of the lakes and trails.
The park is famed for its abundance of distinctive colour depending on the season and levels of minerals and organisms in the water, as well as the angle of sunlight. Nature lovers will adore the abundance of flora which includes a canopy of beech, spruce and fir that provides a shelter for over a thousand species of plants including 55 species of orchid.
How do I pronounce it? The English spelling is Plitvice Lakes National Park, where I’m sure the last three words won’t trouble you too much, but Plitvice might…plit-veet-seh. The National Park is known to locals as Nacionalni park Plitvicka jezera…but I wouldn’t worry about that too much!
How can I get to this magical place? Whether you’re staying in Zagreb, Zadar or the surrounding area, bus links to the Plitvice are excellent. A bus journey from Zagreb takes around two and a half hours while Zadar is approximately two hours away. Both depart from the main bus station. There are approximately 10 services a day in the summer, but be careful that not all the Zagreb to Zadar buses stop at Plitvice, some take a more direct route, sticking to the motorways. It is also advisable to book a seat the day before as it can get busy, especially in summer. If you have hired a car, you’ll find no problem finding a parking space. All visitors are advised to head to Entrance 2, the southern-most of the two.
What about kids? Most definitely! Kids will love the setting, especially the sound of the passing waterfalls. It’s probably not a great place to take infants though as there are quite a few hills and also the wooden walkways have no barriers.
Is it expensive? Not at all! An adult ticket costs between 55-180 Kuna (£6-£19), depending on the time of the year you visit. Children aged between 7 and 18 cost between 35-80 Kuna and kids under 7 are free. Two day tickets for adults cost between 90-280 Kuna while children are charged between 55 and 140 Kuna. If you’re staying at one of the National Park hotels (Plitvice, Jezero or Bellevue) and you want to visit for more than one day, just buy a ticket for one day and they’ll validate your ticket for the duration of your visit.
When should I go? The park is open all year round and each season has its attractions. In spring, the cascades are in full flow, in the summer, the vegetation is lush and the lakes turn a beautiful shade of turquoise. An autumn visit will find fewer tourists: a bonus for peace-seekers.
What if I’m hungry from all the walking? There’s a selection of cafes dotted around the park, ideal for recharging your batteries. A restaurant, Licka Kuca, just across from entrance 1 is also an excellent choice.
Will I be eaten by a bear? Highly unlikely! The Park is home to a wide variety of rare birds, insects and animals including the European brown bear, eagle, lynx, the European pond turtle, 157 species of birds, 20 different species of bat and 321 different kinds of butterfly. Don’t forget the binoculars!
What about for the more serious walkers? For more adventurous visitors, one of the most attractive places overlooking part of the Plitvice Lakes, but still within the National Park is an area known as Medvjedak (Bear’s Mount). It’s a 8km long afforested mountain slope that winds north-west from entrance 2 to entrance 1 and includes three peaks, including the highest, Tupi Medvjedak (868m above the see level).
Do I need to bring anything? In summer, it can get fairly hot so the shop and cafes are handy, when you need to refuel. Other than that, just be sensible, some proper footwear, hat, sun lotion etc. In winter, the park barely reaches above freezing and is blanketed by snow, so again be sensible and bring some warm winter boots, snow jacket, snow poles as well as many layers and extra clothes to change back into. Oh I also forgot… remember to bring the camera!
What if I want to go for longer than a day? You can of course spend more than a day here as a nice selection of comfortable hotels is located near to entrance 2. With comfortable rooms and facilities with some including a pool, gym and tennis courts, a short break to the Plitvice Lakes is the perfect way to experience the natural wonders of Croatia.
Where can I find book a holiday to Plitvice Lakes National Park? Balkan Escape offers a range of options. Speak to one of our advisors on 01775 719891 or visit out Plitvice Lakes National Park page here.