Plitvice Lakes National Park in Croatia is picture-perfect and undeniably beautiful. Word is starting to spread like wildfire about just how spectacular it is. Combined with Croatia’s new status as a trendy vacation spot, it’s a very popular place to visit.
Plitvice Lakes is Croatia’s largest national park and surrounds sixteen cascading lakes. Each lake is interconnected, separated by travertines and waterfalls, so no matter where you are in the park, you’ll hear the sounds of water and likely see it as well (or will see it just around a bend).
Any of these lakes in isolation would be beautiful, but the sheer number of them is what really makes Plitvice special. The park is well-deserving of a visit, but it’s easy to do it the wrong way.
If you’re already in Croatia, you might be fooled into thinking that Plitvice is just around the corner. It’s not, and I can say that with authority because it’s really in the middle of nowhere.
Many people visit Plitvice Lakes on a day trip from either Zagreb or Zadar. I decided against this. By staying in Plitvice you can get to lakes before the day trippers arrive ie. before the masses of humanity arrive. The park is roughly a 2.5 hour bus ride from Zagreb and even farther from other tourist bases in Split or Istria. If you decide to go visit Plitvice while you’re in Croatia — and I think you should — be aware that it’s a bit of a drive and bus schedules are infrequent.
Perhaps as a side effect of not realizing how far away it is, people seem to find themselves at the park on a day trip (or as a stop in transit from Zagreb to Split) with only two hours to spare. That’s not good enough. With the crowds, it can take a lot longer to get where you want to be and set up for a photograph on the relatively narrow boardwalks.
All of the lakes are an inviting shade of blue-green, with the hue depending on the angle and intensity of sunlight. These colors are a result of dissolved limestone and other rock being carried from the mountains and coating the lake floor in a white dust which then reflects the sunlight and sky.
To protect this natural setting and keep the lakes in their brilliant colors, swimming is strictly forbidden. By all means, enjoy the lake from the boardwalks, from an electric boat ride, or paddle yourself in a rental rowboat, but don’t swim.
There are a lot of AirBnB’s and regular BnBs around the park. Most of them do offer breakfast. Get it. I am not a breakfast guy myself, but, considering it’d be a long day with lot of walking, those extra proteins will keep you going.
Now, the pictures.
Up next, King’s landing – Dubrovnik!