A UNESCO heritage site, the Plitvice Lakes National Park is a place of true natural beauty. This status was granted in 1979 and has become Croatia’s largest tourist attractions - from the pictures you will see why! Located around halfway between capital city Zagreb and coastal town Zadar, the lakes are both a must see and easy to get to. You can either do a day trip by coach, which run from towns and cities even further along than the capital, or by car so there really is no excuse not to go! The park even boasts a range of lodges and hotels for guests who really want to get involved with the wildlife and natural beauty here.
The park is highly diverse, with 16 lakes which are all inter-connecting via waterfalls spanning 300 square kilometres. This was one of the highlights of my trip to Croatia, and while unfortunately I didn’t get to see any of the bears, wolves, deer or other highlight wildlife attraction that can be found in the dense woodland the park is in - it still was an unforgettable experience.
This place is large, but will clear walkways and fairly accessible. You can take it as slow or as fast as you want, but I really don’t know why you would want to rush this! I think we spent around 4 hours in the park, taking in the natural beauty all around us! There are lots of routes to take, but essentially it’s hard to get lost as you do have to stick to the paths that are build for you. The best part is that they have build the pathways over the water and boggy areas, so you really can get up close and personal to these lakes and waterfalls!
Now unfortunately, you can’t swim in there lakes or waterfalls as it’s protected despite the fact the water looks good enough to even drink! So if you’re going in the height of summer, know that it’s best not to go at midday as it will be boiling. Try to head over either before 9am so you’ll be coming to the end by the hottest part of the day, or start much later around 4pm. The park is open until 8pm in the summer so you’ll still have plenty of time to enjoy yourself. Also remember to take lots of water, there are a couple places to buy drinks here but, as always in tourist hotspots, you’re going to pay a small fortune for that little bottle of aqua.
If you’re desperate to swim, try heading over to Slunj - a small village around 20km away. Here you can swim in the beautiful rivers surrounding the village and grab an ice cream on your way back - but be warned, the water is icy cold all year round! We also headed over to Krka national park where you can take a dip or a dive into the water to refresh after a wander into the surrounding woodland.
Plitvice National park was created over thousands of years, by water eroding away at the weak limestone and chalk rocks you will find here. These kinds of rocks are really susceptible to erosion which is why the park is full of caves, natural dams and other beautiful features as the landscape has literally been carved by water.
Now to have really cracking waterfalls, you have to have reasonable changes in altitude right? The park ranges from 1280m to 380m so bare in mind you will be walking up, down and all around. My top tip - wear some good walking shoes or trainers and you can thank me later. I saw a number of people stumbling around in flip flops and definitely regretting it! Some of the pathways are very slippy due to the water splashed on them by the waterfall so bare in mind you’re going to have to be careful.
Photographic credit for the above slideshow - Talento Production, just click on the image to move on!