Autumn colors at Plitvice Waterfalls, Croatia. Autumn colors at Plitvice Waterfalls, Croatia.

The Plitvice Lakes National Park in Croatia: A European Gem Where Unforgettable Adventures Await!

Wow, it’s finally summer! The days are longer to sojourn the breath in the beauty of nature in some of the coolest and most refreshing parts of the globe.

But instead of taking a trip to the popular tourist destinations, it’s time that you take the road less travelled. And one of the many places I can bet to steal your wanderlust is Croatia, a European country whose locale is in the Mediterranean. 

Now when you Google the place, you get three famous places up on the search engine: Druvovnik (of “Game of Thrones” fame), Split, and Plitvice Lakes. All three places you find are worth visiting.

However, you can see the world from a different angle if you choose to visit The Plitvice Lakes National Park in Croatia!

So, board your mind and those wanderlust-filled pair of eyes into the article till the end to get your senses of the feel of the place and how to get there through words intricately woven to experience, enlighten, and book your next ticket!

1. About the Plitvice Lakes

The Plitvice Lakes National Park in Croatia
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The Plitvice Lake, in short, is a paradise waiting for you! Located in the mountainous part of central Croatia stands the Plitvice. Bosnia and Herzegovina are the borders of the national park of Plitvice. 

Nevertheless, the lakes national park stretches to occupy Croatia’s Karlovac County and Lika-Senj County. And the best part of the Plitvice is its geography which is set on a Karst landscape with an abundance of complex waterfalls and lake systems that finally cascade into massive limestone dams called the tufas.

So, that’s why the Plitvice lakes are too little to be called a ‘pretty site’ as you can get some breathtaking visual feasts in this magical part of nature.

Today the Plitvice Lakes National has continuously grown towards becoming a tourist hub for nature lovers, photoholics, and strollers. It’s a place that has millions of visitors and has sized to become one of the best national parks in Europe!

2. Cascading Through Time: History of the Plitvice Lakes 

The Plitvice Lakes National Park in Croatia
By Zysko/Depositphotos. Copyright

From Illyrians, Celts, Japods, Romans, Slavs, Avar, and Croats to the Turks, the Plitvice Lakes have an account of their livelihood or seizure here throughout history. 

 The lake was founded in 1949 and paved to be established as a national park later for its distinct natural phenomenon. 

However, since the second world war, history began to brood around the Plitvice Lakes. The construction of the contemporary roadway running through the park since the 1960s has led to the development of civilisation and hotels along the roadway.

In 1979, the Plitvice Lakes underwent a submission to the World Heritage Site List that sparked tourism from the upcoming decade, making it a popular tourist spot.

Unfortunately, in 1991, the Serbian rebel troops slaughtered the Croats and claimed their building as barracks. They took over the park’s headquarters, allowing ‘0’ tourism. After this ethnic cleansing, four years later, the Croatian army overthrew the Serbs.

Central Croatia: Plitvice Lakes National Park - Rick Steves’ Europe Travel Guide - Travel Bite

As a result of this incident, the park was classified under the UNESCO World Heritage in Danger and was removed from the list in 1998. The core danger, in this case, was the threat of landmines. And two years after 1998, the national park expanded, and various significant steps were implemented to eliminate risks.

Besides that, the park has an annual ceremony to honour those that died in the civil war. And the four-year rule of the Serbs rejuvenated the flora and fauna in the park.  

Interesting Facts: Did you know? During the 1960s, the Spaghetti Westerns group underwent a film production here. Even the overdubbed ‘The Treasure in Silver Lake’film which was relatively poor, was produced here.

3. Exploring the Expanse of the Plitvice Lakes National Park

Plitvice Lakes, Croatia  [Amazing Places 4K]

By 2016, Croatia travel became popular in Europe, ranking it 12th among Europe’s most visited places. And the highlight is its national park that allows every traveller to take a step into a wonder of wonder and tranquil beauty. 

Now it’s your turn to initially take a step into its geography so that you can make the most of the journey of a lifetime waiting for you out there!

3.1 Landscape 

If you had read the article carefully, you might note the term Karst and Tufa while discussing the landscape. And to end your curiosity, here’s a brief explanation to keep you on track.

3.1.1 Karst

The Beauty of Plitvice Lakes National Park - Walking Tour Full HD

This comprises the national park’s existence in the 29,842 hectares of ground. The meaning of karst landscape is nothing but a combination of limestone and dolomite in the carbonite rock.

These minerals have resulted in the development of underground passages and caves in the national park. And these are visually distinct areas that arise out of the erosion of carbon dioxide-rich water. This erosion results in the development of funnels, fissures, and depressions collectively known as Karst fields. 

Underground pits and caves result from these highly concentrated minerals and the consistent erosion throughout time. 

However, you must note that the Plitvice Lakes National Park has pits over caves, with the underground caves predominantly present now. This is populated primarily by a sizeable population of bats and other cave-dwelling species. 

3.1.2 Tufa

From water drop to tufa barrier - Plitvice Lakes National Park

The national park became a UNESCO Heritage Site just because of the Tufa’s existence. They are a kind of structures that rise out of the many places of the lakes and connect with the park, giving a visually distinctive appearance.

3.1.3 Waterbodies of The Plitvice Lakes National Park

Plitvice Lakes National Park | Our FAVORITE stop in Croatia

True to its name, the Plitvice primarily comprises numerous lakes. They are of 16 types and are categorised as Upper Lakes and Lower Lakes. 12 lakes make up the Upper Lakes with an elevation betwixt 636 meters and 535 meters.

These are in ascending order from the least to the greatest in volume.

On the other hand, the 4 lakes comprise the Lower Lakes, at a lower elevation ranging between 523 and 503 meters. 

The Plitvice Lakes gets its name from the Plitvice River that discharges into these lakes from the north through Sastavci, a significant waterfall in the national park.

3.2 Flora

The Plitvice Lakes National Park in Croatia
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Forest areas are the primary vegetation prevalent in the Plitvice Lakes. 22,308 hectares out of the total landmass of the Plitvice are forests.

Beech, spruce trees, and various firs are the primary plantation in the forest. Within the forest terrain, the Čorkova uvala, a unique forest, has beech and fir trees up to 700 years old!

A combination of Alpine and Mediterranean vegetation is the predominant plant base of the region. However, these are incredibly unique because they experience microclimates in the landscape. 

3.3 Fauna

Plitvice Lakes National Park Bears

The diversity of animals is a highlight in the Plitvice Lakes National Park, and this place is one of the untouched places in Europe. As for animals recorded, there are fifty distinct species of mammals, 12 amphibious species, 321 species of butterflies, and 168 avian species.

The list is endless as they also are home to massive mammals like bears, Lynx, Wildcats, and wolves in the thick forest areas. Some prefer to stay in higher elevations, while others have nocturnal lives. 

Under the list of birds, you can bring in all the kinds you see in most of the forests. Interestingly, here you can spot nine species of woodpeckers, eight different owl species, with various butterfly and moth species up to 321 in number. However, there is more that is yet to get documented.

Finally, it is undoubted that the fish population is prevalent with the existence of lakes. There are countless varieties of fish species here. You can spot different brown trout species occupying the Upper and Lower lakes in the national park.

Fishes in Plitvice Lakes

Even lake-invasive species like the common rudd, northern pike, and chub are released into these waters.

4. How to visit Plitvice National Park?

Plitvice Lakes National Park in 4K, Croatia - Nature Walking Tour - Short Preview Video

A trip to explore Plitvice in your car is the best and easiest option. Don’t worry about the roads here; they are developed with a long-distance highway with a speed limit of 130. 

Subsequently, taking a bike to reach the place is also a good option as reaching the park can take you no more than a 2- 3-hour drive. But you cannot guarantee that time if you come from Dubrovnik, a Southern part of the Country. 

Here’s a time estimate of the different Plitvice Lakes routes by car;

  • A car ride from Zagreb to Plitvice Lakes National Park takes up to 2 hours.  And you have to cover 130 km taking the E65 road and Road 1 that heads you straight to Plitvice. 
  • From Zadar, with speed limits, it takes just a 1-and-a-half-hour ride. Just take the E71 road and a North faced direction of Road 1 to quickly complete the 119km drive to the park. 
  • For a car drive from Rijeka, take the roads A7/E65 and D42 to complete a 155 km ride to the park. It can take up to 2 hours to reach.
  • Plitvice Lakes from Split can take up to 2.5 hours. You can make day trips, but it’s best to take a night stay to take advantage of your trip.
  • Like Split, Dubrovnik to Plitvice is a long drive for you, and a night’s stay is a must as it can take up to 4 hours and 45 minutes with speed limits. You need to cover 432 km from road E65 and route 1. 

Also, if you wish to take a bus trip to Plitvice, check out Buscroatia, a great website to find bus lines to and fro in Croatia.

5. What is the Best Time to Visit Plitvice?

The Plitvice Lakes National Park in Croatia
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The Plitvice reaches its busiest months in summer in July and August and tends to get crowded. If you wish to see nature and not people, take a trip to enjoy the mystical beauty in May, June, or even September.  

The park is also open during winter, but you can assure yourself that the park showcases a different glory at this time with the lakes’ waterfalls wholly frozen.

Simply put, you might find yourself entering a magical forest in winter.

Ultimately, deciding which season suits you best is up to you. 

6. How Long to Stay at Plitvice Park?

The Plitvice Lakes National Park in Croatia
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It depends on how you wish to explore and enjoy the beauty of nature that words cannot explain!

Most visitors take a few days to enjoy the hiking trails on Plitvice. But you must note that the most scenic parts of the park are open for a few hours. 

So, it’s best to take a Plitvice Lakes tour which includes transportation, and stay throughout the day to relax and enjoy having lunch amid this beautiful park. 

7. Can You Swim in Plitvice Lakes?

The Plitvice Lakes National Park in Croatia
By Nuno da Costa Pereira/Unsplash. Copyright 2021

No! Since 2006 it’s forbidden to dive into the lakes because they are the water source for nearby locals. 

But here is some good news to dip into the turquoise water. Take a 2-hour drive from Plitvice to the Krka National Park to enjoy as much as you can. This park contains waterfalls too, but ensure not to swim below them! 

8. The Plitvice Lakes National Park Details

CROATIA'S #1 NATIONAL PARK: PLITVICE LAKES NATIONAL PARK! (4K)

Is your wanderlust going topsy-turvy to feast at Plitvice? If so, it’s time that you know all the details about the park to make the most of your time memorable at Plitvice Park;

There are two entrances to the park; one has the largest and most famous waterfall. The Plitvice Lakes opening hours are 07:00 and close at 19:00.

The entrance fee ranges from in-season to off-season, such as;

  • 180 kunas (25$) – peak season
  • 110 kunas, mid-season
  • 55 kunas during winter from November and March

See more here at the official website for the current price. Ensure to buy the tickets in advance as the park restricts the number of visitors per day.

Please note that the cost of the Lake Kozjak electric boat ride and panoramic view train rides are part of the ticket. Even shuttle buses are available around the park for tourists to enjoy the scenic view!

9. Things to Enjoy at Plitvice

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zxUtQOzu22Q

Instead of just being awe-struck and gazing at the beauty of nature, there are various places in the park where adventure waits with open arms for visitors to enjoy. Here are a few to help you navigate and find better once you step into the park;

  • Veliki Slap Waterfall
  • Forest Trails
  • Grabovača Cave Park
  • Horse riding at Ranch Terra
  • Cycling (Lika-Senj and Karlovac County)
  • Viewing and taking a boat ride at Lake Kozjak 
  • A guided tour of the Lake
  • Enjoy alone with a private tour
  • Lower Lakes Boardwalks
  • Taking a Panoramic Train ride
  • Hike around the place, and you might spot a bear if you’re lucky!

10. Finally, It’s Time to Cascade Into a New World

Hope this informative post provided you with the trending answers you seek before taking a trip to the Plitvice Lakes National Park. But no matter what time of the year you land here, there’s always something special Plitvice offers you to revisit the place!

So, book your tickets for your upcoming vacation to breathe in the beauty by taking a break from reality!

Also, go through our other interestingly woven articles for an informative read, and stay ahead of time!

Last Updated on December 21, 2023 by suchi

Author

Hephzibah
  1. Wonderful park! Great for a hiking day! Easy walking trails with boats and teams for transportation.
    For the best experience try to avoid the crowds and choke points along the way.
    Information provided in this article is very helpful for first time visitors.

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