An Ultimate Guide to Plitvice Lakes National Park: Croatia’s Natural Wonder
The natural wonder of Plitvice Lakes National Park has been enthralling tourists for decades. One of Croatia’s main tourist destinations is the park, which is situated in the country’s centre. A really remarkable natural experience is created by the park’s distinctive arrangement of lakes and waterfalls, nestled amidst verdant green trees. We’ll look at the splendour and background of Plitvice Lakes National Park in this guide.
Plitvice Lakes National Park is one of the most stunning national parks in Europe, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The 300 square kilometre park has 16 interconnected lakes that merge with one another via a number of waterfalls and cascades.
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Brief History of the Park
In 1949, Plitvice Lakes National Park was created, and in 1958, it received national park status. The park’s rich and fascinating history began in antiquity, when Illyrian tribes first settled in the region. The region has been governed by numerous empires over the years, including the Roman, Ottoman, and Austro-Hungarian. The park was severely destroyed during the Croatian War of Independence in the 1990s, which it played a significant role in. But since then, significant restoration work has been done, and the park has been brought back to its former splendour.
Top Attractions in Plitvice Lakes National Park
There are numerous spectacular natural beauties to be found at Plitvice Lakes National Park. The following are some of the top sights you shouldn’t miss when you’re there:
Veliki Slap ( The Grate Waterfall)
The park is home to several magnificent waterfalls, notably the Veliki Slap, which cascades over a 70-meter plunge and is the highest waterfall in Croatia. The Great Lakes, a chain of 12 connected lakes known for their striking turquoise colour, is another must-visit location.
16 Connected Lakes and Waterfalls in the Park
The 16 interconnected lakes in the park are well known for their vivid blue and green hues, which are a result of the water’s high mineral concentration and distinctive geological formations. By following the park’s network of wooden bridges and walkways, which wind around the lakes and provide breathtaking views of the nearby forest and waterfalls, visitors can explore the lakes.
Animals and plants in the park
Brown bears, wolves, deer, and more than 140 different species of birds can be found at Plitvice Lakes National Park along with a wide variety of other plants and animals. Beech, spruce, and fir trees make up the park’s woodlands, which create a stunning backdrop for the park’s lakes and waterfalls.
The park’s colourful wildflowers, including orchids and gentians, bloom all through the spring and summer, and visitors can admire them as well. Plitvice Lakes National Park is a delight to see with so much undiscovered natural beauty.
Hiking and Walking Trails in Plitvice Lakes National Park
An comprehensive system of clearly marked hiking and walking routes is provided by Plitvice Lakes National Park, enabling visitors to experience the park’s breathtaking beauty on foot. There are eight distinct hiking trails, with lengths and degrees of difficulty ranging from leisurely strolls to strenuous excursions.
The “A” trail, the quickest option, travels 3.5 kilometres in roughly 2-3 hours. The longest route, the “K” trail, is 18.3 kilometres long and takes about 8 hours to complete. The pathways lead visitors past stunning waterfalls, through wooden boardwalks across clear lakes, and through lush woodlands.
It is crucial to remember that in order to preserve the park’s natural beauty, visitors must stay on the authorised trails and follow all park rules. especially during the summer, wear suitable walking shoes and pack water and food.
Join one of the park’s organised tours, which are offered in a variety of languages, if you prefer to walk the park’s paths with a guide. These trips provide visitors the chance to discover more about the park’s vegetation, animals, cultural value, and history.
Overall, everybody visiting Croatia should go trekking and strolling in the Plitvice Lakes National Park. It is the ideal method to get a close-up look at the park’s exquisite natural splendour and to properly appreciate its breathtaking scenery.
Boat Tours and Cruises in Plitvice Lakes National Park
Visitors to Plitvice Lakes National Park have the exceptional chance to cruise around the park’s breathtaking natural treasures. A common way to see the interconnecting lakes and waterfalls of the park, as well as the varied wildlife and vegetation that inhabit them, is through boat tours and cruises.
In Plitvice Lakes National Park, boat tours and cruises are normally available from April through October, when the park is at its busiest. Visitors may see the park’s numerous lakes and waterfalls from a new angle on these trips, which provide breathtaking views and photo opportunities.
It’s crucial to remember that boat tours and cruises depend on the weather and may be postponed because of strong winds or other bad conditions. As guests will be walking and standing for long amounts of time, it’s also crucial to dress correctly for the weather and wear comfortable shoes. The park’s boat trips and cruises can be very popular during the busiest months, so it’s advised to make reservations in advance to guarantee availability.
Photography in Plitvice Lakes National Park
With magnificent natural beauty and picturesque settings that make for breath-taking shots, Plitvice Lakes National Park is a photographer’s dream. Here are some pointers for taking the ideal pictures at the park:
Tips for photography in the park:
- Take advantage of the natural lighting: The best time to take photos in the park is during the early morning or late afternoon when the light is soft and warm.
- Bring a polarizing filter: This will help to reduce glare and reflections on the water, making the colors more vibrant and enhancing the overall image quality.
- Use a tripod: A tripod will help you stabilize your camera and take sharp, high-quality photos, especially when shooting long exposures.
- Experiment with different perspectives: Try shooting from different angles and perspectives to capture unique and interesting photos.
Best spots for photography:
- Veliki Slap: The largest waterfall in the park, with a height of 78 meters, is a popular spot for photographers.
- Kozjak Lake: With its crystal-clear waters and lush green surroundings, Kozjak Lake is one of the most photogenic spots in the park.
- Plitvice Lakes Boardwalk: The boardwalks that wind through the park’s lakes and waterfalls offer a unique perspective and are a great place for photos.
Restrictions on photography in the park:
- Drones are not allowed in the park without a permit.
- Commercial photography and filming require a permit from the park authorities.
- Visitors are not allowed to enter the water or swim in the lakes, so underwater photography is not permitted.
How to get to Plitvice Lakes National Park
Because of its central location in Croatia, Plitvice Lakes National Park is reachable from many areas of the nation. Here is a list of the top routes to the park:
By Car: Driving is the most convenient way to get to Plitvice Lakes National Park. If you are travelling from Zagreb, head south on the E71 motorway towards Karlovac before switching to the D1 route for Plitvice. Take the E65 route out of Zadar heading east into Gornji Karin, then the D1 motorway heading north towards Plitvice.
By Bus: The Plitvice Lakes National Park is accessible by frequent buses from Zagreb and Zadar. From Zadar, the trip takes around two hours, and from Zagreb, it takes about three hours. The Autotrans website lets you check the schedule and pre-purchase tickets.
Train: Zagreb and Split offer trains to the nearby town of Ogulin, which is located around 50 km from the park. You can take a bus or a taxi from there to get to the park.
By Air: Zadar and Zagreb airports are the closest to Plitvice Lakes National Park. To get to the park from there, you can take a bus or hire a car.
Tips for Getting Around the Park: Once you are there, you can go around the park using the electric boats and shuttle buses that are provided. The electric boats travel across Kozjak Lake, the main lake in the park, while the shuttle buses run between the park’s gates and the higher lakes. The park can also be explored on foot by hiking, but be aware that the terrain can be difficult at times.
Accommodation near Plitvice Lakes National Park
As a well-liked tourist site, Plitvice Lakes National Park has a variety of lodging options close by. Hotels, guesthouses, flats, and campgrounds are all options for visitors.
The most common lodging choices for travellers are hotels and guesthouses. The majority of the hotels and guesthouses in the area of the park have services including restaurants, bars, and swimming pools. A few of the hotels are situated close to the lakes and offer breathtaking park views.
Rentable apartments are also available close to the park. These are perfect for families and social gatherings of friends who like more solitude and room. The apartments are perfect for self-catering vacations because they are completely furnished and come with kitchen amenities.
For travellers on a tight budget, camping is a popular choice. There are numerous campsites close to the park, and the most of them include fundamental amenities like restrooms and showers. Some of the campsites are close to the lakes, making for an interesting camping trip.
Rakovica and Korenica are the ideal places to stay when visiting the park. Both cities have a variety of lodging alternatives and are a few km from the park.
Budget, vacation dates, and your preferred sort of lodging should all be taken into account while looking for accommodations close to the park. It is advised to reserve your lodging in advance, especially during the busiest time of year.Booking.com
Planning Your Visit to Plitvice Lakes National Park
The best seasons to visit Plitvice Lakes National Park are in the spring or autumn when the weather is moderate and there are less visitors. The park is open all year round. Visitors are advised to arrive early in the day to avoid long lineups since the park can get very busy during the summer.
The cost of the park varies depending on the season and the type of ticket you choose. The park’s website is the best place to look for the most recent information. There are various different admission options available at the park, including single-day and multi-day passes, and there are discounts for both students and organisations.
Plitvice Lakes National Park tickets price table (2023)
|PERIOD – PRICE PER PERSON
|01.01. – 31.03.
01.11. – 31.12.
|01.04. – 31.05.
01.10. – 31.10.
01.06. – 30.09.
|Adults – group*
|Students – group*
|Children 7-18 years
|Children 7-18 years – group*
|Children up to 7 years and persons with disability (over 50%)
** From 01 June – 31 August price A is valid until 4 p.m., price B after 4 p.m. From 01 September – 30 September price A is valid until 3 p.m., price B after 3 p.m.
The park is open every day from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. during the summer and 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. during the winter. To preserve the park’s natural splendour, there are stringent laws and regulations in place, including prohibitions on swimming, smoking, and feeding wildlife.
Because the park’s pathways can be steep and uneven, visitors are advised to wear appropriate footwear and attire. Additionally, it’s a good idea to carry sunscreen, drinks, and snacks because there aren’t many amenities inside the park.
Visitors can have a safe and pleasurable time touring Plitvice Lakes National Park by making plans ahead of time and adhering to the park’s rules and regulations.
FAQ for Plitvice Lakes National Park:
How much time do you need in Plitvice Lakes?
To fully explore the park, it’s recommended to spend at least one full day at Plitvice Lakes. However, if you’re short on time, half a day is sufficient to see some of the main attractions.
Can you swim in Plitvice Lakes?
Swimming is strictly prohibited in Plitvice Lakes National Park to protect the natural ecosystem and maintain the purity of the lakes.
How long is the Plitvice lake walk?
The length of the lake walk varies depending on which trail you choose. The shortest route is about 3 hours, while the longest one can take up to 8 hours. Check out the hiking section of this guide
Do you need to pay to see Plitvice Lakes?
Yes, admission fees are required to enter Plitvice Lakes National Park. The cost of the ticket depends on the season and type of visit. Check out the tickets section
Should I go to entrance 1 or 2 for Plitvice?
Both entrances offer different routes to explore the park. It’s recommended to start at Entrance 1 if you want to visit the lower lakes, while Entrance 2 is the best option for visiting the upper lakes.
Do you need hiking boots for Plitvice?
Hiking boots are not necessary, but comfortable and sturdy footwear is recommended for the hiking trails, as the terrain can be uneven and slippery.
Is it hard to hike Plitvice?
The hiking trails in Plitvice Lakes National Park vary in difficulty level, but most of them are suitable for all fitness levels.
Which trail is the best at Plitvice?
The best trail depends on your personal preference and fitness level. Trail C is the most popular route and offers stunning views of the lakes and waterfalls, but Trail H is less crowded and provides a more secluded experience.
Can you see bears in Plitvice Lakes?
Yes, there is a small population of brown bears in the park, but they are shy and usually avoid human contact. It’s rare to spot them, but if you do, keep a safe distance and do not approach them.
Are there mosquitoes at Plitvice Lakes?
Mosquitoes can be present in the park during the summer months, so it’s recommended to bring insect repellent and wear long sleeves and pants to avoid bites.
How do you avoid crowds in Plitvice?
To avoid crowds, it’s recommended to visit the park early in the morning or in the late afternoon when there are fewer visitors. Also, consider exploring the less popular trails or visiting during the offseason when there are fewer tourists.
In conclusion, outdoor enthusiasts and those who enjoy the outdoors should not miss a trip to Plitvice Lakes National Park. It is simple to understand why it is regarded as one of Croatia’s most spectacular natural wonders with its stunning blue lakes, flowing waterfalls, and rich flora and fauna. Everyone can enjoy themselves in the park, whether they explore it on foot, in a boat, or with a camera.
Consider the ideal time to visit, how to get there, where to stay, and suggestions for making the most of your time in the park as you prepare for your trip to Plitvice. You may guarantee a memorable and pleasurable trip in this spectacular natural wonder with a little advance planning.
So prepare to explore the splendour of Plitvice Lakes National Park by packing your baggage and lacing up your hiking boots. Whether you’re an experienced traveller or a first-time visitor, the park’s breathtaking landscapes and diverse fauna will enthral you.