Plitvice Lakes National Park
A bucket-list travel destination not to be missed! Plitvice Lakes National Park is a true natural wonder.
Before my recent trip to Croatia, I had heard it was one of the most beautiful places on earth.
Known as the land of a thousands islands, Croatia offers craggy coastlines speckled with lush green isles down its entire length, with awe-inspiring mountain ranges in the background.
Yet it was the waterfall parks that first captured my heart!
Me and travel buddy Amanda from KevinandAmanda.com
Living in the Blue Ridge Mountains, I have seen my fair share of waterfalls.
Within an hour from my house I can drive or hike to at least a dozen falls that are considered natural beauties. Waterfalls have a way of awakening our senses and refreshing the soul.
Therefore, when I learned some of the most stunning waterfalls in the world were in Croatia, I could not contain my excitement.
We had the chance to visit two national parks in Croatia known for their seemingly endless waterfalls, Krka National Park and Plitvice Lakes National Park.
Of the two, Plitvice Lake National Park was my personal favorite.
Plitvice Lakes, pronounced Plit-vit-za, is the oldest and largest national park in Croatia.
The dazzling lakes take up less than 1% of the park’s land mass, yet with their tranquil melody and unique color, they are by far the top attraction in the park.
This series of spring-fed lakes is located down a long terraced landscape in mountainous central Croatia. Each lake cascades down over the green landscape to collect in the pools below.
What makes Plitvice Lakes National Park so unique in that the elevation changes are so drastic, and the water flow so great, it feels as if the land is weeping in every direction.
Waters from the depths of the earth are literally brimming up over the lush vegetation every where you look!
As you stroll the chestnut boardwalks, water bubbles underneath you, with dramatic falls raining down around every turn… For miles.
And let’s not forget the water’s extraordinary color!
The neon green, blue, and turquoise waters come from a unique blend of minerals and microorganisms. The colors change throughout the year, according to the amount of sunlight the water absorbs. Therefore, you’ll experience the most intense colors in the summer.
To protect the purity and color of the water, swimming is not permitted in Plitvice Lakes National Park. However, open-mouthed gawking is perfectly acceptable.
Planning a Trip to Plitvice Lakes National Park
Here’s what you need to know…
You can explore Plitvice Lakes National Parks in one single day. However, if you are serious about nature hiking or photography, you might consider staying at least two full days.
Park entrance ranges between $8-30 per person, depending on the time of year.
Pack sunscreen, a good pair of walking shoes, a camera, and a picnic lunch. There are restaurants inside the park if you’d rather not bring in food.
Much of the walking is done on boardwalks over water. Therefore I recommend keeping your camera on a neck-strap. I also suggest putting your phone in a waterproof case with a neck-strap just to be safe!
If your camera or phone drops, it will likely go down the falls.
Serious photographers, leave your tripods at home. Boardwalks crowd in popular photo-opt areas, and they also vibrate as people walk. If you hit the park at the right times for sunlight, you should be able to capture fabulous photos without a mount.
Parts of the park are wheel chair accessible, however Plitvice Lakes is best viewed on foot.
We walked over 10 miles one day, around each lake and up and down hiking trails. You will definitely earn your evening meal! Yet, there are many places to stop and relax.
There is also free shuttle transportation in some areas.
We stayed at a hotel in the national park! There are quite a few affordable hotels near the park, along with camp grounds and RV parks.
Most hotels in the area range between $50-100 per night.
One of the best meals of our trip was at The National Restaurant Licka Kuca, across from the park entrance.
We enjoyed traditional Croatian Peka, a roasted meat and vegetable feast cooked under an iron bell-shaped lid, along with buttermilk polenta and plum dumplings.
Definitely make this dining experience a part of your trip!
Can’t Get Enough Waterfalls?
If you have the time, head over to Krka National Park.
It’s just a two-hour drive from Plitvice Lakes National Park, with a unique waterfall landscape, different from Plitvice Lakes. There are walkways around the waterfalls, boat excursions to islands, lots of wildlife, and opportunities to swim in the waterfall pools!
Although, I focused on sharing photos from Plitvice Lakes National Park, Krka is beautiful and should not be missed!
Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Croatia Tourism. All opinions are my own.