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A Complete Guide to Plitvice Lakes National Park

Plitvice Lakes National Park

One of the most distinctive tourist destinations in Croatia is Plitvice Lakes National Park. This is the kind of location that is ideal for tourists of all ages thanks to its simple walking routes, boardwalks suspended so over turquoise water, breathtaking overlooks, and photogenic waterfalls.

It can be difficult to decide how to spend your time here because there are several lake levels, 4 distinct hiking trails, seven ways through the park, & two separate entrances. We will describe our Plitvice Lakes walking path in this piece. Learn how to reach the most breathtaking waterfalls, how to see the park from above, and how to reach the Veliki Slap overlook for a picture-perfect perspective of the Plitvice Lakes.

Because of its extensive array of inspiring locations, Croatia has never been more popular as a tourist destination. Although many of Croatia’s top tourist destinations are located along the stunning Adriatic coast, a select few offer a whole different perspective on the country.

Plitvice Lakes National Park

The most notable of these is Croatia’s dramatic and stunning Plitvice Lakes National Park, which is located in one of the country’s more mountainous interior districts.

You must be completely prepared to confront this UNESCO world heritage site in order to really appreciate the majesty of Plitvice’s stunning collection of lakes and waterfalls. You’ll quickly become aware of how big Plitvice Lakes National Park is if you begin arranging a trip there.

How varying the experience might be throughout the year. Fortunately, this Plitvice Lakes National Park guide will provide all the information you need and may even make you aware of things you hadn’t even considered.

A brief History of the Plitvice Lakes

It can be helpful to start with some basic information about Plitvice Lakes National Park so that you are better prepared to utilise this guide. The national park is located in one of Croatia’s mountainous districts close to the Dinaric Alps, especially in central Lika-Senj County.

There are 16 individual lakes that make up the Plitvice Lakes. Each terrace descended into the one below it. The lakes have an elevation difference of 133 metres from top to bottom. Between the lakes, waterfalls cascade over moss-covered limestone, giving the falls their distinctive appearance. The Korana River, which empties into northern Croatia, is formed by the water from the Plitvice Lakes.

Plitvice Lake National Park
Image by M. M. from Pixabay

Since it is Croatia’s principal inland road and goes from north to south, many people who want to avoid the coast take this route. The biggest and one of oldest national parks throughout Croatia is Plitvice. The park is well-known for its tufa lakes, natural caverns, and sixteen breathtaking cascading lakes that are linked by lovely waterfalls. The area was a part of Croatia’s military boundary during the Ottoman Wars and was directly governed by the Habsburg War Council.

1. When to Visit Plitvice Lakes

The national park, which experiences four seasons, has a markedly diverse appearance throughout the year. As a result, the optimum time to explore Plitvice Lakes National Park may depend on your preferences for how you want to experience this stunning location.

Plitvice experiences its busiest season in the summer because of the pleasant weather, like most of Croatia. The park may get very crowded in the summer due to the possibility of daily visits from the popular shore. This is not to argue that you should avoid the summer, but that you should be prepared for crowds.

Alternatively, visiting in the late spring or fall would be a better strategy. Not only will there be fewer people there and generally beautiful weather, but you’ll also be able to see the park in its most vibrant. Plitvice enhances any colour scheme, whether it is vivid green or flecked with yellows, reds, & oranges.

Things can get challenging when visiting Plitvice Lakes in the winter. The national park may get fairly cold in winter because of its height, and it’s not uncommon for the waterfalls to ice over. Although seeing the lakes frozen & surrounded by snow can be magnificent, these weather conditions also restrict access to the area.

2. How long should you Stay at Plitvice Lakes National Park?

It can be difficult to estimate how long it takes to plan a visit to a place like Plitvice Lakes if you are unfamiliar with it. It’s difficult to estimate how big the park will be & how much time you’ll need to explore it completely.

The majority of individuals concur that you can view a significant portion of the Plitvice Lakes in a single day. You can expect to view the main attractions in the Lower Lakes on a full day, then cruise to the Upper Lakes & begin exploring them as well. You’ll take quite a few walks along the way, but seeing all 16 of them will actually be quite a rush.

Two days would be excellent to fully view more from the Plitvice Lakes & explore a variety of hiking paths along the way if you don’t want to feel rushed. While the park’s opening times for each season are listed here, its winter hours are 8 am to 4 pm.

3. Entrance Fee for Plitvice Lakes National Park

Plitvice Lakes is a national park. Therefore you’ll need to purchase a ticket to access it. One-day and two-day tickets are offered, with various ticket rates based on the season and length of your visit. Visitors can find the most affordable tickets from November through March. The full cost of tickets is listed below, but they may only be bought in person.

4. Accessing Plitvice Lakes

The Plitvice Lakes are situated in central Croatia near the Bosnia and Herzegovina border, tucked away among the Dinaric Alps. They are not the simplest to include in a Croatia itinerary due to their distance from the country’s well-known coastline attractions.

The capital of Croatia, Zagreb, as well as the city of Zadar, are the two closest large cities to Plitvice Lakes. Given that Split is one of the most popular vacation spots in Croatia, travellers frequently travel between Plitvice & Split. You have a few alternatives for all three cities.

A guided tour is the best option if you want a worry-free experience in which everything is taken good care of for you. By doing this, you won’t have to worry about getting lost and will have a guide telling you all about the park as you walk.

Taking one of the public buses that connect each city with the Plitvice Lakes is a significantly more affordable choice. The most independence may obviously be had by renting a car & driving yourself, and parking is simple enough at any of the park’s main entrances.

5. Ways to Navigate Plitvice Lakes

There are some inherent restrictions to how you can move around because the Plitvice Lakes are situated inside a national park across a canyon. Three main modes of transportation are available within the park: strolling, boating, and the “Panoramic Train.”

1. By foot

You’ll be moving around mostly on foot during your visit. You will need to descend the switchback route that leads into the canyon from Entrance 1 first.

Additionally, there are walking paths that follow the canyon’s edge, offering stunning vistas of the lakes below.

The canyon has four distinct, defined pathways that can be travelled along by adhering to the seven suggested visitor programmes. Depending on the entrance you start at, Program C & Program H are the best options. The simplest loops take about 2-3 hours to complete, whilst the longest ones might take up to 8 hours.

Beyond the lakes, there are adjacent summits like Medveak Peak that can be reached by hiking along forest trails. There are a total of 36 km of hiking routes and 22 km of lake pathways in the national park.

2. Via boat

There should be at least one boat ride because there are so many lakes. You can take a leisurely sail around Lake Kozjak, the biggest & deepest of the lakes, from one end to the other. On timetables and maps, this journey from P3 to P1 using an electric boat is designated as P3.

Although there are technically two boat trips, P1 to P2 is a quick shuttle that actually transports you from the shore out into the midst of the waterfalls & onto the other Upper Lakes. Your park admission ticket includes transportation from P3 to P1 & P2 to P2.

3. “Panoramic Train”

For those looking for a convenient way to navigate the Upper Lakes of Plitvice, there is the “Panoramic Train”. You love this shuttle service. The “Panoramic Train,” an electric shuttle bus service, which also comes with your ticket and stops at three locations, travels the route.

The first, ST1, is located at the top of the eastern side of Lake Kozjak. It then turns south toward ST2, which is halfway between P1 (the ferry terminal) and a number of park hotels. The last rest stop at ST3 is convenient to the three highest lakes, making it a great place to return to after ascending.

6. Accommodations in Plitvice Lakes

Choosing a place to stay when visiting Plitvice Lakes is one aspect of vacation preparation that might be confusing. If you want to take a day excursion from Zagreb or Split to Plitvice Lakes National Park, However if you want to stay close to the Plitvice Lakes, you must make a choice. Do you choose to stay inside the National Park itself, or do you look for accommodations nearby?

The lodging at Plitvika Jezera & Plitvica Selo is what you want to look for if you want to have the shortest distance to walk to the park from your front door. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that in the summer, the excellent location tends to command a high price and fierce competition.

The rustic B&B Plitvica Lodge is an excellent choice if you need some rest and leisure after a day of seeing the park because it combines location and comfort. The waterfall in Veliki Slap is reachable on foot. The Hotel Jezero has long been a haven for weary hikers who are near Entrance 2 of the park. The 3-star hotel features two restaurants, a gym, and a spa in addition to serving delicious breakfast to visitors.

Plitvica Selo doesn’t really provide inexpensive lodging, but B&B Villa Plitvica is one of the most suitable locations you can stay near the park.

7. Staying outside of the Plitvice Lakes National Park

Whether you just want a few amenities like supermarkets or more reasonably priced options, It is better to search outside of the national park’s boundaries. The nearby settlements of Jezerce, Rastovaa, Korana, and Grabovac are worth taking into account.

Without a car, it can be difficult to get to the park from these communities because they can still be 5 or 10 kilometres away from the entrances. Even though it is further away, the town of Slunj is a great option because it has a legitimate bus stop on the Zagreb to Plitvice route.

Plitvice Lake National Park
Image by Elina from Pixabay

The Plitvice Ethno House is the ideal location to visit after exploring Plitvice’s lakes. In addition to offering conveniences like a sauna & swimming pool, this guesthouse would give your stay a local flavour thanks to its four historic houses.

Guest House Ljubo & Ana in Rastovaa is another inn that places you close to the park. This is an excellent option because it offers a variety of rooms, studios, & apartments, as well as amenities like laundry and barbecues and nice owners.

Look no further than Apartment Tomaevi in Slunj for outstanding service and affordability. This charming apartment can accommodate up to 5 people & offers all the amenities you could possibly need, including a kitchen and common room as well as a garden terrace to enjoy in fine weather.

8. Tips for Visiting the National Park of the Plitvice Lakes

There are still a few more visitor-related suggestions, even after reading all of this information.

1. Be on time

If you go to the national park on one of those, It pays to arrive early to avoid the crowds during one of its peak times. You could have to wait a little while just to get in during peak season when the park temporarily restricts entry to reduce crowding. You won’t experience this issue throughout the winter, though.

2. Observe the park’s rules

All park visitors are required to abide by certain park laws in order to protect the park and keep visitors safe. This includes staying on the trails, respecting wildlife and the environment, and properly disposing of all trash or taking it with you. The fact that swimming is not permitted in the national park’s lakes is one particularly significant issue.

3. What to Pack

Packing is crucial if you intend to spend a full day or more touring Plitvice Lakes. The neighbouring village of Jezerce has just one grocery store, which is scarcely practical if you’re in the middle of a national park. As a result, you’ll need to pack supplies like lots of water and trekking snacks. It is possible to purchase lunch at one of the park hotels, but doing so will be extremely expensive. Instead, consider packing a meal in advance.

Additionally, since you’ll be spending the entire day outside, it’s essential to pack sunscreen, a hat, an umbrella, or a rain jacket, as well as sturdy walking shoes.

9. The Best Activities in Plitvice Lakes

Here is the plan for your trip to Plitvice Lakes now that you have all the information you need. The fact that the majority of the things to do in Plitvice Lakes feature lakes, waterfalls, and trekking shouldn’t come as a surprise. However, we’ll walk you through all of them in a way that is appropriate for both a day trip and a longer stay.

1. Waterfall at Veliki Slap

You won’t have to wait long after entering Entrance 1 to see your first noteworthy sight: the Veliki Slap waterfall. This waterfall, which translates to “Great Waterfall,” is the tallest in the park at 78 metres and is located at the base of the Lower Lakes.

It’s amazing to see the streams flow into the Korana River as they descend. Instead of any of the lakes, this waterfall is the first thing you see from the first terrace lookout. You may get to another great photo location, this time with a view up the canyon, by climbing the steps near the fountain up out of the gorge.

2. Boardwalks in Lower Lakes

Follow the route as it begins to descend a bit from the first viewpoint, and you’ll see that it begins to switch back into the canyon. You won’t have to wait long to arrive at Novakovia broad, the lowest of the four Lower Lakes. The boardwalks begin here, leading you first over the lake and then allowing you to descend to the Veliki Slap’s base before beginning your ascent and traverse of the Lower Lakes. Aquamarine water and gentle waterfalls that trickle through rich vegetation will already greet you.

3. Wooded trails

You can start deviating onto the routes that follow its canyon crest at these Lower Lakes if you so want. You must ascend a staircase through a cave to get to the upper path without turning around. This entails using easy trails through the forests around the eastern crest at the Lower Lakes. You can occasionally see through the trees to look up all along the lakes and down to the boardwalks and waterfalls below.

Plitvice Lake National Park
Image by Andreas H. from Pixabay

Your possibilities for woodland routes increase as you approach Lake Kozjak, the largest and lowest of the Upper Lakes. While the majority of routes require you to travel by boat, if you have the time, head along Program K all along the western ridge of lakes.

4. Boat Ride and Lake Kozjak

When you arrive at Lake Kozjak, proceed along its northern edge until you come to the boat dock. Once you’ve boarded the subsequent electric boat, it’s time to unwind while you’re transported softly to the other side.

From this new vantage point, there is a lot to see, from the cliff-like canyon walls to the waterfall beauty given by Lake Buk above you.

5. Greater Lakes

It’s time to start walking up the Upper Lakes of Plitvice again after a brief shuttle ride to the base of the waterfalls. Once more, you’ll be walking along boardwalks that are just over the lake’s surface, and you’ll witness miniature waterfalls running beneath the stairs you climb. You won’t grow tired of this breathtaking beauty, despite the fact that it may not seem very different from the Lower Lakes. Each lake is slightly different.

6. Location of Plitvice Lakes

Croatia’s mountainous region is home to the national park. Bosnia and Herzegovina’s national highway D-1 Zagreb-Split passes through the area between Slunj and Korenica. Rakovica, Otoac, Ogulin, Gospi, and Biha are some of the main municipalities in the Plitvice region of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Two Croatian counties are traversed by the Plitvice region. Lika-Senj County hosts a larger portion of the national park, whereas Karlovac County is home to a lesser portion of the Plitvice Lakes.

Nineteen tiny towns can be found in the national park’s territory. Together, they make up the Plitvice Lakes municipality, whose administrative centre is in Korenica.

7. Plitvice Lakes Cultural and Historical Heritage

Plitvice is obviously of enormous cultural & historical significance because it is a location rich in forest, freshwater, vegetation, and animals. People have been able to establish themselves in the area thanks to the natural shelters & varied topography.

You were not shocked that there have been people living around Plitvice Lakes since the Stone Age. The settlement of the Plitvice region has also benefited from the presence of significant roadways connecting the continent as well as the coast.

Lapodian people lived in this area in prehistoric times, between the 12th and the 1st century BC. In order to better control traffic and fortify their settlements, the Japods erected them atop hills. They were also involved in the breeding of cattle.

When the Romans arrived, they established new settlements and brought with them new inhabitants to the Plitvice region. The Japods participated in urban centre politics and commerce.

During the Middle Ages, Romanised Japods, as well as other populations, interacted with settled Croats. Most often, prehistoric forts were demolished to make way for mediaeval forts.

10. Habsburg Monarchy and the Ottoman Empire

Near the Plitvice Lakes, near the end of the 15th century, the Austrian & Ottoman Empires fought one of the most important battles in Croatian history. Croatia and Hungary were well within the Ottoman sphere of influence when they reached the western nations. In an effort to hold back the Ottoman Empire’s progress, the Croatian Parliament chose the Austrian Archduke Ferdinand to lead the country as its new king at the start of the 16th century.

The Plitvice Lakes region was captured by the Ottoman Empire in 1528, as well as the Habsburg Empire only reclaimed it 150 years later. The Croatian military boundary was established in 1538 by King Ferdinand I.

The Ottoman Empire’s military frontier was along Austria’s, the Habsburg Empire’s, border. The local populace was touched by the rules that controlled this region for centuries under a specific authority. As a result of the establishment of this particular system, a large number of individuals relocated to the west from these regions.

Lika was freed from Turkish dominion toward the end of the 17th century. In Sremski Karlovci, the peace agreement was signed in 1699. At the start of the 18th century, the region came under the administration of the Military Border.

Before the Syst Treaty of 1791 established the boundaries of the two empires, the Ottoman Empire, as well as the Habsburg Monarchy, engaged in numerous conflicts, the aforementioned agreement was crucial because it included information on Croatia’s boundary in this area.

So the monarchy controlled Drenik Grad, Cetingrad, the region of Plitvice Lakes, as well as the remainder of Lika. A new era of life in the region began with the demilitarisation of the 19th century. It signalled the start of a time without armed conflicts and the long-established military way of life.

11. Should you plan a trip to the Plitvice Lakes?

One thing you should do if you’re visiting or passing through Croatia is taking The Plitvice Lakes Tour. Every day of the year, as well as from essentially everywhere in Croatia, tours of this amazing natural wonder are accessible. Therefore, don’t worry if your accommodations are not close to the national park.

From every significant Croatian city, including Zagreb, Dubrovnik, Zadar, Omi, Split, and Trogir, there are planned tours to the Plitvice Lakes. Simply choose a date that works for you and reserve your national park tour from the city where you are staying.

Plitvice Lake National Park
Image by Andreas H. from Pixabay

It is absolutely worth your time to visit the Plitvice Lakes National Park, which is a true oasis of beautiful and unspoiled environment. Reserve your guided trip in advance, and don’t forget to visit the country’s first national park. We strongly urge you to reserve your desired tour.

Online and beforehand. And you may unwind and enjoy a fun journey in one of Croatia’s most stunning sights.

12. Visit Croatia’s oldest National Park

This natural wonder is accessible from much of Croatia and its neighbouring nations. It’s hardly surprising that the park is one of the most well-known and often visited places in the nation. You’ll be in awe of its magnificence and likely wish to come back to see the lakes in various seasons.

Check out our comprehensive guide to all you need to know before visiting the captivating Plitvice Lakes so that you are best prepared for your trip.

On April 8th, 1949, Plitvice Lakes was designated as Croatia’s first national park. This park is a location of remarkable natural beauty that draws tourists and wildlife enthusiasts from all over the world. The lakes & tufa barriers that form naturally have tremendous universal importance. It led to UNESCO giving the Plitvice Lakes recognition on a global scale.

The 18th century is when the current National Park was first referenced. The priest of Otoac wrote the first documented mention of Plitvice in a document from 1777. Due to the natural event that produced the lakes, the lake creation was given this name.

In Croatian, the word for naturally occurring shallow basins that are filled with water is plain, whereas plitko denotes shallowness. Did you know that the Plitvice dams are continually getting taller as a result of the natural water movement that altered the limestone to produce the scenery we know today?

Throughout time, the park has always been subject to human involvement and influence. The populated regions are not that far from the Plitvice Lakes. The national park is unquestionably not an isolated or deserted natural area. Along the important transportation route, 16 lakes have formed, as well as it has always served as a meeting point for influences from the west and the east.

Final Note

Once you reach the lovely national park, there are many things to discover, see, and do, like the upper and lower lakes, natural dams, Plitvice lakes area, and many more it is because the park is well-loved and frequented by both Croatians & tourists. The entire location is beautiful enough to spend hours simply admiring the nearby lakes, waterfalls, and forest. There is a lot to discover, including caves, hiking routes, and numerous waterfalls.

You can go kayaking or ride a quad near the park if you want to spice up your stay a little. Rest a short while before continuing your Plitvice exploration. Something is certain. At the National Park of the Plitvice Lakes, you will have a great day.



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