How To Spent A Day In Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia
Plitvice Lakes is the largest and oldest National Park in Croatia and it is an UNESCO Heritage site bringing in over 1 million visitors each year due to its breathtaking views, its fauna and the unique turquoise water looks unreal.
It’s nearly impossible to plan a trip to Croatia and ignore the pull of this tempting paradise, so we're sharing some helpful tips for visiting Plitvice Lakes National Park in Croatia.
Plitvice Lakes National Park : The Most Stunning Destination In Croatia
Plitvice Lakes in Croatia is one of the world’s great natural wonders, a lush and pristine valley with 16 dazzling terraced lakes, 90 waterfalls and several kilometers of boardwalk. Often described as the most beautiful national park in Europe, Plitvice regularly makes lists of undiscovered gems or hidden secrets of Europe.
This fairy tale setting of aquamarine water, dazzling waterfalls, colorful dragonflies and scenic woodlands is one of Croatia’s most renowned tourist attractions—clearly for a good reason. You’ll have to share the picture-perfect scenery with heaps of other visitors, but don’t let this deter you.
Nearly every turn along the wooden trail is more beautiful than the last, revealing waterfalls of all shapes and sizes that plummet into sparkling, crystal-clear pools below.
The lakes are created by the karst area; a lot of what that means is over our head, but essentially there is a lot of porous rock in the area, like limestone, that allows the waterto sink through and form caves and underground rivers. When the waters reach hard rock, it begins to seep back up, forming the lakes that we see.
The park covers almost 300 square kilometers and Unfortunately, it’s no longer undiscovered or hidden, with around1 million visitors a year and 15,000 tourists descending on it a day in high season. In fact, Plitvice is fast becoming a victim of its own popularity, so if you want to soak up the natural beauty and serenity, so it’s best to go with a plan of what you want to see.
Hiking In The Park
There are 8 different hiking routes, the shortest being 3 hours. The longest takes up to 8 hours. So bring plenty of water and wear comfortable shoes. Convenient wooden walking trails make exploring the park simple and accessible. And hikers can opt to adventure further into the park along well-marked paths.
You’ll want at least three hours to do Plitvice Lakes justice, though you’ll likely find that’s not quite enough to walk around both the lower and upper falls.
Starting at Entrance 2, we walked into the park to the Upper Falls. It was the coolest thing to walk along the boardwalks, over the water and around the roaring waterfalls, even if the trail did get a little backed up.
After spending few hours, we headed for the trails to the big waterfall. We cooled off a bit from the mist of the waterfalls, and then hiked up to the top. The view got better and better as we climbed out to the valley, ending with a stunning view of the lakes and waterfalls from above.
We highly recommend making time to visit the Upper Falls; the crowds tend to thin out here, making it more enjoyable to soak in the magic of the landscape. Allow at least 6 hours if you plan to tackle the fastest reaching hikes. You’ll find a well-marked map at the visitor center when you arrive.
Getting To Plitvice Lakes National Park In Croatia
Plitvice Lakes National Park is located in central Croatia and many of Croatian Group Tours head to Plitvice Lakes. If you are in Zagreb or Split there are frequent buses and day tours (it’s about 2.5 hours from Zagreb and 5 hours from Split). Unfortunately, there are no trains to Plitvice lakes, so you can rent a car to go around the whole Croatia and car hire is surprisingly affordable in Croatia. The roads are great and you get to see some truly breathtaking coastal views! In the case of Plitvice lakes, the parking slots are available everywhere! We stayed in Zagreb and we found Zagreb to be a great home base for exploring Plitvice Lakes National Park in Croatia.
When To Go
Go in spring or autumn to see the biggest waterfalls, or summer to see the park covered in lush greenery. Like most places in Europe, visitors peak in July and August as much of the continent is on holiday. We have been there in April, the weather was very nice and the water was incredibly turquoise. But every season is different in its beauty. I bet it looks gorgeous covered in snow as well!
In short, doesn't matter when, just go there when you can, don't miss the chance! :)
Which Trail To Take
There are eight different hiking trails of varying lengths. Trail H is popular and shows a good selection of the park; it’s about nine kilometers long and can be done in around four hours. Loop K (18.3 kilometers) is the most comprehensive and takes six to eight hours, while trail E can be done in around two hours. A and B focus on the lower lakes, E on the upper lakes, while F, H and K take you through the whole park.
Additional Tips For Visiting Plitvice Lakes National Park
- Swimming is prohibited in lakes. Sad, but probably better for the preservation of this incredible natural wonder.
- Wear comfortable walking shoes as the boardwalks can be uneven. Flip flops are not recommended.
- Bring plenty of water and stay hydrated, especially during the warmer summer months.
- Food is available for purchase within the park. Alternatively, you can take sandwiches with you and organize a nice picnic with an amazing view to the lakes!
- Use the restroom before hitting the trail, as they are few and far between once you’re on the walking paths.
Regardless, the incredible scenery of Plitvice Lakes National Park is in no way overrated. It’s simply stunning in its beauty. Don’t miss this gem on any Croatia vacation!
Have you been to Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia? What do you think ?