Plitvice Lakes National Park (Nacionalni park Plitvička jezera, map) is one of the most beautiful natural sights in Europe. Due to its beauty and significance, this system of 16 interlinked lakes and a large forest complex around it were set aside as a national park in 1949. In 1979 the park was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage Site List.
The national park is world-famous for its lakes arranged in cascades. Sixteen lakes can be seen from the surface. These lakes are a result of the confluence of several small rivers and subterranean karst rivers. The lakes are renowned for their distinctive colors, ranging from azure to green, grey or blue. The colors change constantly depending on the quantity of minerals or organisms in the water and the angle of sunlight.
+ More information > Wikipedia • Wikivoyage • UNESCO
The Plitvice Lakes have formed in a depression between the Mala Kapela mountain in the west and the Plješevica mountain in the east amidst the Dinaric Alps. The national park is located at the national route D1 Zagreb–Split between Slunj (map) and Korenica (map) in the vicinity of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Other larger municipalities within the surrounding area are Ogulin (map), Rakovica (map), Otočac (map), Gospić (map) and Bihać (map).
Special attractions at Plitvice include the Veliki Splat (map), a 30-m waterfall surrounded by nearby boulders to which tourists have access. There is also a large waterfall complex that can be access via a cave in the surrounding rock face.
Paths, mostly made of wooden planks or gravel, will take you through the whole park. In most places they are wide, but since the park is extremely well visited they can feel very crowded during the day. (> hiking)
The park have made some different routes through the park so it is easy to choose how much you want to or have time to see. A walk from one end of the park to the other normally takes around 4 hr, but due to the unique views the park offers it is a shame to be in a hurry. Take your time and enjoy it. The buses and boats are free so it is possible to plan a walk zig-zagging up or down the lakes and the many waterfalls, and then not have to walk back the same way.
The park offers few opportunities to buy food, with the exception of food stalls and restaurants around the entrances and ferry terminals. Visitors are advised to bring their own food into the park if possible (and of course, take the trash out as well!).
Due to high tourism and illegal construction around lakes, with faecal waste flowing down to surrounding woods and lakes without any treatment, the water in the lakes is polluted and no longer drinkable.
Private house and apartment owners in the nearby villages of Mukinje and Jezerce, both in walking distance from Entrance 2, offer rooms for better prices. In addition, visitors will have the chance to explore the lifestyle of rural Croatia and meet with local inhabitants.
Some buses from Zagreb and Zadar or Split take a route along the road which passes by the park entrances. Ask the driver beforehand to make a stop at the either park entrances.
BUS > Autobusni kolodvor Zagreb – Bus Terminal Zagreb. (CroatiaBus • Arriva Croatia • Autobusni promet Varaždin • Libertas Dubrovnik)
RAIL > The rail network passenger lines are operated by Hrvatske željeznice.
AIRPORTS > Croatia has international airports in Zagreb (zagreb-airport.hr), Osijek (osijek-airport.hr), Pula (airport-pula.hr), Rijeka (rijeka-airport.hr), Zadar (zadar-airport.hr), Split (split-airport.hr) and Dubrovnik (airport-dubrovnik.hr).
FERRY > Jadrolinija is the main Croatian passenger shipping line that maintains the largest number of regular international and domestic ferry and shipping lines.