Plitvice (pronounced pleet-wee-cheh) Lakes National Park is a huge forest reserve in central Croatia. It is known for a chain of 16 terraced lakes, interconnected by waterfalls, that extend into a limestone canyon. Limestone = that amazing blue colour of the water.
Walkways and hiking trails wind around and across the water, and a ferry links the upper and lower lakes. The walkways are very narrow. I spent a lot of time stuck behind large groups of people who had stopped to take photographs and were blocking the walkways! I was there in the shoulder season – apparently in the middle of summer the crowds can be quite intense. The lakes have over a million visitors each year. For me, it took around 3 hours to walk through from one end of the lakes to the other. It would take far longer in summer.
The lower lakes are the site of Veliki Slap, a 78m-high waterfall.
The lakes are at a high elevation in the Dinaric Alps of Croatia. As such, it can be quite cold there. I visited in late May and unfortunately had quite a lot of rain.
Hours and costs
The lakes are open all year round although the opening times vary and some entrances may be closed. All entrances are open from April to October. You should check the website for up to date information.
Prices vary throughout the year – again, check the website for details.
Half day and full day tours are available although you can enter the park without joining a tour (as I did). All transport within the park will be included in your ticket, which is great because it’s really too big to walk around the whole thing. There are various places to buy a meal in the park as well.
The lakes are located about halfway between Zagreb and Zadar in Croatia.
A bus from Zadar to the lakes takes about 2 hours. A bus from Zagreb to the lakes takes just over 2 hours (you can book tickets online). So it is an easy day trip you can organise yourself if you start from either of these cities.
You can also reach the lakes as a day trip from Split, although at 6 hours travel time each way it’s a long day and it’s not possible using public buses as the times don’t line up well. However, there are organised tours on offer (like these from Viator, or numerous local tour operators), you could hire a car and drive yourself, or stay overnight at the lakes. There are also a few hotels right outside the entrance – the advantage of this option would be that you could get into the lakes early before the crowds.
Complete your experience
5 Books from Croatia, a collection of 5 samples featuring unique literary voices from Croatia. You can download it as a free PDF here.
I’m drawing a blank at this one, I’m afraid!
I enjoyed duvec – a tomato-based meat and vegetable stew similar to ratatouille.
I’m drawing a blank on this one too! So here is a song I like at the moment: Oblivion by Moonbase Commander