My boyfriend and I were in the middle of a three day trip in Croatia. As we were staying in Zadar, we decided to go on a day trip to the Plitvice Lakes National Park.
It’s the most popular tourist attraction in Croatia, receiving over a million visitors each year.
We wanted to see what all the fuss was about.
Nothing could have prepared me for what I was about to experience.
How to get to Plitvice
There are regular buses between Plitvice and both Zadar and Zagreb.
From either destination, you can do Plitvice in a day.
We got the bus from the main train station in Zadar at 8.00am.
But, if you prefer to do an organised tour, there are plenty of these advertised in Zadar at pretty reasonable prices.
The bus was electric, which I found unusual, but apparently only electric buses can go inside the national park area. Helps keep the air as clean as possible.
You can take your hire car as well as there is plenty of car parking, but you do have to pay a bit extra for it and to be honest, the bus is extremely comfortable.
The bus journey took about an hour and 45 minutes with a pit-stop after 40 min to get some drinks and snacks.
Entrance fees to the park for adults in the summer is 24 euros. It’s reasonable for what you get to experience.
Obviously, it’s cheaper off peak season, and less than half price for children.
Just bare in mind if you visit the park between October and April the higher lakes section is usually closed to the public.
So if you want to see the beauty of the place in its entirety, summer is the time to visit. It does get super busy during the summer though, so I recommend you get there as early as possible to avoid the entrance queues.
The gloriousness of Plitvice National Park
What I found inside the park will stay with me for the rest of my life. It is honestly one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen, which is probably why it’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The park is a natural phenomenon, formed in a valley between two mountains in the Dinaric Alps, millions of years ago.
Apparently, if you know where to find them, there are dinosaur footprints there and some of the life forms living at the lakesides have existed there since prehistoric times.
The park contains 16 lakes interconnected by streams and waterfalls, surrounded by beautiful forestry, plants and caves. The largest waterfall, Veliki Slap, is around 78 metres tall, and is a breathtaking sight.
We made our way around the park using the wooden boardwalks that allow you to get up close to many of the lakes and waterfalls, and down through the caves with their fascinating rock formations.
The paths have wooden or metal handrails, and are perfectly safe, but I would still advise care while walking, and please be vigilant if you have children.
I should also warn you that there are 18 kilometres of footpath, which will take you about six hours to walk.
Sometimes they led us higher up through the forestry at the top of the white cliff faces, allowing us to look down into the beautiful blue-green water. The lakes change colour according to the angle of the sunlight and the quantities of minerals they contain at any given time, sometimes looking more blue, green or even grey.
If you want to experience the beauty of one of the lakes close up, you can take a boat across Lake Kozjak, the largest lake in the park. We also went on the boat to go across the lakes (you can walk, but it will take another hours or so).
If you prefer a rowing boat, these are available to hire at the lakeside. Swimming in the lakes is completely prohibited to avoid pollution. It must be one of the purest places left on earth.
The park is home to a huge variety of animal and plant life. Wolves, bears and eagle owls are known to live there, but most of the animals are protected from humans as much as possible. People have encountered deer, lizards and even snakes! There are also huge varieties of species of birds, butterflies and flowers.
Food at Plitvice lakes
There are a few bars and restaurants within the national park, and we had lunch at one of the bars.
Food was great and it would’ve been perfect except for the fact that there were bees everywhere.
It didn’t ruin what was an incredible day. We walked for about six hours, and I for one was a little reluctant to board the bus back to Zadar.
Plitvice is such a tranquil place; all you can hear in parts is the sound of birds and trickling water.
You get so used to the beautiful waterfalls while you’re there, that you start to take them for granted.
It’s only in hindsight you can appreciate how amazing Plitvice actually is. I believe it’s somewhere everyone should try and see if they get the chance.