Plitvice Lakes – the unearthly beauty of Croatia

Plitvice Lakes – a natural wonder in Croatia

Plitvice Lakes are in the list of the most beautiful places not only in Croatia but in the whole Europe. The untouched, majestic nature of the park causes sincere admiration of millions of tourists. According to many vacationers, the Plitvice Lakes in Croatia are a paradise with a unique atmosphere. In 1979 this part of the country was included in the UNESCO World Heritage List.

Plitvice Lakes

Photo: Plitvice Lakes.

General Information

Plitvice Lakes National Park

Plitvice Lakes is the first and largest national park on the territory of Croatia. It covers an area of 300 km².

The park is mostly covered with forest vegetation, with small areas under meadows. The most attractive part of the park – the lakes – occupy a little less than 1% of the total area.

The lake system consists of 16 reservoirs with names and several smaller unnamed lakes, passing one into another. Due to the geological substrate and characteristic hydrogeological conditions, the lake system has been divided into Upper (12 pieces) and Lower. The lakes end with spectacular waterfalls Sastavci, at the foot of which the Korana River flows.

Historical insight

The uniqueness of the lakes in the amazing history of appearance – without the participation of man. Nature itself worked on the park, creating a bizarre landscape.

Nature itself worked on the park

The first mention of the lakes is dated 1777. Until the middle of the last century everyone could not visit them, because there were no hiking trails.

After the war there were many mines and shells in this park in Croatia, but today the area is fully demined. The history of the origin of the park is shrouded in legends, here is the most interesting one.

Bear on the Plitvice Lakes

Once upon a time in Croatia there lived a Black Queen who begged the sky to shed rain and stop the drought, the heavens had mercy and the rainwater formed Plitvice Lakes. In addition, there is a belief that the lakes will remain as long as bears live in this area.

The highest point is 1280 meters, the lowest – 450 meters. Visitors arrive at the upper gate to the protected area and stroll down. Each step reveals amazing natural beauty.

Lakes

On the map of Plitvice Lakes in Croatia there are 16 large, as well as many small reservoirs. They are all arranged in a cascade, the distance between the highest and the lowest is 133 meters.

View of the lake Kozyak

Lake Kozyak

The largest lake is called Kozyak – it has an area of over 81 hectares, the deepest point is about 46 meters. Next come the lakes Proscansko and Galovac. They make up most of the water surface of the Plitvice lakes.

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The lakes originate from two rivers – Crna and Bela, also the reservoirs are filled with other rivers. Above the Korana River there is a spacious viewing platform.

Waterfalls

The number of waterfalls at Plitvice Lakes in Croatia is increasing every year. Today there are 140 of them, but the water gradually breaks the rocks, forming new paths. The main Plitvice waterfalls are Velike Cascade, Kozyacki, Milanovacki.

Plitvice Waterfalls

An interesting fact! The Sastavci waterfall with a height of more than 72 meters is recognized as the most beautiful one.

Caves

To date, about 100 caves have been explored in the national park. Some of them you can see while walking through the park, but most of them are hidden underground and are still untouched. The longest cave is Dove Cave (Korana Canyon), 165 m long, and the deepest cave is Chudinka, 203 m deep.

From the point of view of nature protection the caves are extremely important, because they are the habitat of many rare and protected animal species and are rich in cave decorations, which have been created for thousands of years.

Flora

Forests of Plitvice Lakes

A large area of the Plitvice lakes is covered by forests, mostly conifers, but also beech forests. Real thickets can be found in the small settlement of Chorkova Uval, located in the north-west of the park.

During the research up to now, more than 1400 plant taxa (species and subspecies) have been recorded in the Plitvice Lakes National Park, which is 30% of the total Croatian flora. 75 of them are unique and can be seen only here.

Such diversity can be explained by its special geographic location as well as by geomorphologic, climatologic and ecologic factors. No clearing of fallen trees is carried out here, they form natural fences.

Fauna

Plitvice Lakes in Croatia is a habitat for a large number of animals. Here you can meet brown bear, squirrels, martens, wolves, wild boars and badgers, deer, roe deer and otters. In total, 259 species of different animals and more than 150 species of birds are found in the protected area. There are trout in the lakes, but fishing is prohibited here, but you can feed the fish with bread. Great interest is a unique population of butterflies, of which there are more than 320 species.

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Fish in Plitvice Lakes

Good to know! In summer the air temperature ranges from +25 to +30 degrees and the water gets up to +24 degrees. In winter the lakes are completely frozen.

Hiking trails

Photo: Plitvice Lakes in Croatia.

View of Plitvice Lakes from above

Plitvice Lakes is the largest national park in Croatia. For tourists there are developed several hiking trails of varying length and degree of complexity. The paths are wooden planking that is comfortable for walking. In addition to walking in the park also travel by train, boats and ferries. Of course, it is more convenient to use transport, but in this case you can not get to the most hidden corners of Plitvice lakes.

It is important! The protected area is accessible only for gamekeepers, tourists are not allowed to walk there.

Hiking trail at Plitvice Lakes

Each route combines the possibility of walking and travel by transport. The ticket price includes a boat trip and a panoramic train ride. The average duration of each route is 3 hours.

The most interesting places are concentrated above and hidden from view, it is not easy to get to them. If you have time, allocate two days to explore the Plitvice Lakes, especially since there are comfortable hotels and inexpensive accommodation on their territory. Travellers with good physical condition choose longer routes with organized excursions.

Signpost of the route

Each route is marked with letters from A to K. The cost of the ticket does not depend on the chosen route. Signs are posted throughout the park indicating the route and the way to the exit.

Route map above

The park is conventionally divided into two parts – upper and lower. From the entrance, located at the top, follow the routes – A, B, C and K (has two entrances – at the top and bottom). From the entrance at the bottom of the park follow routes – K, E, F and H. The longest routes are K and H, it takes from 6 to 8 hours to see them.

Interesting fact! Most tourists come to this part of Croatia from June to August, much fewer visitors in spring and fall. Each route is equipped with comfortable benches and, of course, take a camera with you to take amazing pictures as a memento of the trip.

On a side note! On which beaches in Croatia it is better to rest, we describe here.

How to get to Plitvice Lakes from Zagreb

Bus station in Zagreb

The easiest way to get to the natural landmark is by bus. Transport leaves from the bus station, located 1.7 km from the central railway station and 17 km from the airport at Avenija Marina Držića, 4.

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If you can walk from the railway station, the best way to get to the airport is to take a bus, which leaves every 30 minutes.

Cash desk at the bus station

From the bus station there are buses every 1-2 hours daily. Tickets can be purchased at the ticket office, but in the summer, given the influx of tourists, to get to Plitvice quietly, it is better to buy a ticket on the official website of the bus station – https://www.akz.hr/.

The cost of the ticket depends on the company of the carrier and varies from 75 to 86 kuna.

All buses that go to Plitvice are passable, so the driver should be warned to stop at the main entrance or as close to the park as possible. The trip takes 2 to 2.5 hours. The cost of the return ticket is fixed at 90 kuna. You can buy it directly on the bus or at the ticket office at entrance 2.

By Car to Plitvice Lakes

From Zagreb to Plitvice Lakes can be reached by direct road 1. Many people confuse the tracks with the autobahn A1, but there is a toll on it. The right road 1 is narrow and free.

Useful to know! You can get to Karlovac on the toll autobahn and then follow road 1.

  • To get there by cab, the trip will cost about 170 euros.
  • To get from the capital Zagreb in the excursion tour, to get such a tour, it is enough to apply to any agency. The price is approximately 800 kuna. During the tour, you can explore the Plitvice Lakes and see the villages nearby.
Practical information

Plitvice Lakes are very popular among holidaymakers, so there are excellent conditions for travelers. You can rent a hotel room or stay in a campsite. By the way, camping is popular among Western tourists, there are quite comfortable accommodation, campers spend the night in tents, which are sometimes more spacious than a hotel room. In addition, campsites are located in picturesque areas of the park, their territory has showers, toilets, places where you can wash dishes and wash clothes, equipped with kitchens.

Camping in a picturesque place in the park

If you want to rent a car at the Korana camping site, for example, you’ll have to pay 95 kuna + 45 kuna per person. There are bungalows with sheets, tables with chairs and cupboards. Guests use the communal toilets. There is a store and restaurant on site.

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Hotel rates are, of course, higher. On average a double room with breakfast costs 550-700 kuna, there are also options for 300.

It is important! Tourists traveling by car, prefer to stop at a distance of 20-40 km from the Plitvice lakes, the rates are much lower, and the road to the entrance will take about 10-15 minutes.

Information about ticket prices is regularly updated on the official website of Plitvice Lakes. In addition, the site provides detailed information about each route.

The cost of tickets for one day (in Croatian kuna):

  • children under 7 years of age: admission is free;
  • children from 7 to 18 years old: from November to June – 35, from July to September – 70, in October – 50;
  • adult: from November to May – 80, June – 150, July and September – 200, August – 250, October – 180.

Ticket price for two days (in kuna):

  • children under 7 years of age: admission is free;
  • children from 7 to 18 years: from November to June – 60, from July to September – 100, in October – 80;
  • adults: from November to May – 120, in June – 230, in July, September and October – 300, in August – 350.

If you decide to drive to Plitvice Lakes by car, you can park it in a paid parking lot for 8 HRK/hr, in summer and September for 10 HRK/hr. For cars with trailers and buses, parking costs HRK 80-100 per day depending on the month. Motorcycles and scooters can be parked for free.

The national park is open 365 days a year, although park hours for the public vary depending on the season. During the cold season, most establishments are closed to visitors and lodging is only available at the Jezero Hotel.

  • All park entrances are open from 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.
  • Tickets are on sale until 5:00 p.m.
  • Parking lots are open from 7:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.
  • The schedule of panoramic trains depends on the route: St2 – St1 from 08:30 to 19:30, St1 – St2 from 09:00 to 19:45, St2 – St3 from 07:30 to 18:30, St3 – St2 from 08:00 to 19:00. They all run at intervals of 30 minutes.

The prices and schedules in the article are for August 2021. You can check the official website of the national park np-plitvicka-jezera.hr.

It is strictly forbidden in the National Park:

  1. collection of plant raw materials or purchase of any “souvenirs” of natural origin;
  2. feeding animals;
  3. making fires;
  4. bathing in lakes;
  5. leaving trash along the trails or in other places, except for trash cans set up throughout the park;
  6. stepping off marked trails.
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Helpful hints.

Blueberries

  1. The most interesting trails start at the second entrance.
  2. The park occupies a huge territory, the distance between the lakes and waterfalls is quite large, so it is better to think through the route in advance.
  3. At the entrance, tourists are given maps, by which you can navigate.
  4. In the park are employees who will always tell the way, do not hesitate to ask for help if necessary.
  5. Plitvice lakes in Croatia are beautiful at any time of year, in summer there is a huge influx of tourists, so it is better to visit the reserve in May or September.
  6. If you have rented an apartment in a private hotel near the entrance to the park, it is best to go for a walk early in the morning.
  7. Guests of hotels located on the territory of Plitvice Lakes receive certain benefits, for example, they can use an unlimited number of one-day tickets. You can buy tickets directly from the hotel. Blueberries
  8. Blueberries and blackberries ripen here in late summer, and you can buy delicious berries at the entrances.
  9. Traveling through the park in Croatia, you need to be careful, as in some places there are no fences.
  10. Be sure to wear comfortable clothing and shoes, preferably sportswear.
  11. In Plitvice Lakes has a special climate, it often rains, the weather changes frequently. In addition, the average temperature here is lower than in the rest of Croatia.
  12. The sightseeing train leaves every 30 minutes, you can wait in the cafe.

Croatia is a European country in which the life of ordinary citizens is a bit lazy and unhurried, but on weekends, many of them go to the park as a family. Plitvice Lakes is a huge area, where in addition to natural beauties work small private farms, here you can buy trout, honey, natural cosmetics.

Video: how the lakes look like through the eyes of tourists, a lot of useful information for potential visitors. Enjoy watching!

Author: Julia Matyukhina

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