Don’t Go To Croatia… Without Visiting Plitvice National Park

I’m still not totally sure how to pronounce it, but Plitvice National Park feels like an exquisite area of South America has been dug up and placed elegantly in southern Europe. If you hate beautiful scenery, detest picturesque waterfall formations and crystal clear lakes filled with interesting plants and shoals of fish, and abhor the idea of walking in the fresh outdoors across a bridge network that spans an entire national park, then you probably shouldn’t really bother with Plitvice. It’s even home to rare endemic species like lizards, snakes, bears and wolves, though don’t get your hopes up too high about seeing any. I did, however, spot a colourful salamander and a pond filled with some crazy-loud frogs.

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I’ve done my share of outdoor activities in Europe, but really there is nothing else like Plitvice in the entire continent. The whole time I was there I was thinking how glad I was to have taken the effort to research the best places in Croatia. I was very lucky with the weather – despite being the summer, for the two days prior to visiting Plitvice it had been raining constantly (it was around this time there had been some severe flooding in the Balkans). Karma it seems finally caught up with me that day though, and the sunny weather made the experience something I will remember for a long time. Whilst a lot of people go to Croatia to lay on the beach, visit Dubrovnik and perhaps do some sailing, Plitvice is hands down an unmissable part of the country. Indeed Croatia should be on any itinerary of central, southern or eastern Europe, – it has some astonishingly appealing preserved towns, which I will discuss in a future post.

Watery Walk

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The most impressive aspect of Plitvice is the way the lakes cascade one over the other – there are a total of 16 lakes, many of which are separated with interesting natural dams of moss, algae, plants and bacteria. The flora and rock minerals result in the lakes having elegant colours of green and blue shades. They appear fantastic when the sun is shining, and you can clearly see the fish beneath. I also saw several trees which had collapsed into the lakes and had become unique parts of the scenery encrusted with moss and algae.

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So how do you get to this fantastic place?

Plitvice is located in central Croatia, quite a distance from Dubrovnik, Croatia’s most popular and well-known attraction.

The park itself is pretty easy to get to, I simply took a very early coach from Zadar to Plitvice (it drops you at both entrances), and once I had walked through the entire park (it should take around 3-5 hours) I took a minicab from Plitvice to Zagreb (though you can take a coach and it was what I was planning to do until a minicab driver offered to do it faster and cheaper). The minicab drivers will pick up stragglers until they have a bus full (around 6 people) and then drive all the way to Zagreb. Both journeys take around 2.5 hours so it really isn’t that long.

Plitvice Map

The park is split into two sections and there are a couple of entrances – I highly recommend ‘Entrance Number 1’, since you can walk though the entire first half of the park, then take a boat across one of the largest lakes (the fee is included in the admission cost), see the second half of the park, and then take the minibus at the end back to the entrance again (again, the fee is included in the admission cost).

Waterfalls

I don’t normally do ‘entire photo album posts’, but I thought I would make an exception for Plitvice, since it is difficult to choose between any of these photos, and there isn’t much else to say. So I hope you enjoy the rest – please leave a comment to let me know your travel experiences about Plitvice or anywhere else!

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Waterfall

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