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.
Photo: Plitvice Lakes.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
An interesting fact! The Sastavci waterfall with a height of more than 72 meters is recognized as the most beautiful one.
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 (Koran 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.
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.
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.
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.
Photo: Plitvice Lakes in Croatia.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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/hour, in summer and September for 10 HRK/hour. 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:
- collection of plant raw materials or purchase of any “souvenirs” of natural origin;
- feeding animals;
- making fires;
- bathing in lakes;
- leaving trash along trails or in other places, except for trash cans installed throughout the park;
- stepping off marked trails.
- The most interesting trails start at the second entrance.
- 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.
- At the entrance, tourists are given maps, by which you can navigate.
- In the park are employees who will always tell the way, do not hesitate to ask for help if necessary.
- 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.
- 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.
- Guests of hotels located on the territory of Plitvice Lakes receive certain benefits, for example, they can use an unlimited number of day tickets. You can buy tickets directly from the hotel. Blueberries
- Blueberries and blackberries ripen here in late summer, and you can buy delicious berries at the entrances.
- Traveling through the park in Croatia, you need to be careful, as in some places there are no fences.
- Be sure to wear comfortable clothing and shoes, preferably sportswear.
- 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.
- 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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Plitvice Lakes in Croatia
Plitvice Lakes (Plitvička Jezera) is the oldest, largest and most visited national park in Croatia. The lakes lie a hundred kilometers south of Zagreb, between two mountain ranges. Most of the park is covered by forests and small meadows, where deer, bears, wolves, wild boars and rare birds live. At the same time, the lakes themselves occupy a little less than 1% of the total area.
The exceptional beauty of this area has always attracted nature lovers, so in April 8, 1949 the Plitvice lakes were declared the first national park in Croatia. Soon the park became world famous.
In 1979 the park became part of the world heritage of UNESCO.
The Plitvice Lakes in Croatia are an area of exceptional biological and geological diversity and are visited by over a million people annually.
The incredibly beautiful lakes are interconnected by numerous cascades and waterfalls, and the surrounding picturesque mountain slopes are covered with dense forests. The national park covers about 300 square kilometers.
Lakes and Waterfalls
The cascade of lakes includes sixteen large reservoirs and a huge number of smaller ones. The lakes themselves are divided into two categories, “Upper” and “Lower. The difference in elevation between the lowest and the highest lake is 133 meters. The whole system is fed by five rivers: Crna, Bijela, Rijecica, Korana, Plitvica.
Especially impressive is the color palette of the lakes. The color of the water constantly changes from azure to green, depending on the light, the presence of microorganisms and the concentration of minerals.
Over the centuries, the waters of the Corana River brought deposits of lime tuff into the lakes, which resulted in natural dams, from the tops of which the local waterfalls now fall. In total, there are about 140 waterfalls in the park and their number is constantly changing. The biggest of them has a height of 78 meters and is called “Veliki Slap”.
Flora and fauna
The Plitvice Lakes National Park is richly covered with forests, mostly beech and spruce. A total of 1267 different types of plants belonging to 109 species grow here. The park area is home to an extremely wide variety of animals and birds: bears, wolves, eagles, owls, grouse. In all, there are about 50 species of mammals. Today the park is the last place in Europe where you can still find wild brown bears and wolves in large numbers.
The weather in the Croatian mountains is variable, and rainfall is frequent and sudden. The average annual rainfall is 1,500 millimeters. The greatest amount of rain falls in the spring and autumn.
The average relative humidity is 81.8%. The average temperature in January is 2.2 °C, rising to 17.4 °C during the summer months. The average annual temperature is 7.9 °C. The first snow falls in November. In December and January, the lakes are completely frozen. In summer, the water warms up to 20 ° C.
Routes to Plitvice Lakes
There are 8 different walking routes (four for each of the two main entrances). The shortest route takes 2 to 3 hours and includes a boat ride and a panoramic train. The longest route has a length of 18,300 meters and lasts 8 hours. In order not to confuse tourists, there are signs all over the park.
We recommend to buy the guidebook for Plitvice lakes.
Note: It is forbidden to swim in the park, build fires, to catch fish, to spoil plants and to feed animals.
The cost of holidays in Plitvice Lakes in 2022
Admission tickets come in one-day or two-day packages. The cost of visiting the park varies at different times of the year.
The price of a one-day ticket:
- For children and teens 7 to 18 years old – 35 to 70 HRK,
- for adults – from 80 to 250 HRK,
- for students – from 50 to 125 HRK.
Group ticket price:
- For children and teenagers from 7 to 18 years old – 30 to 60 HRK,
- For adults – from 75 to 220 HRK,
- For students – from 45 to 110 HRK.
The ticket price includes insurance, panoramic train and boat trip. The ticket office is located at entrances I and II.
Admission is free for children (under seven years) and disabled persons.
The national park is open 365 days a year, but operating hours may vary depending on the season.
All entrances are open from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. Ticket sales are until 5:00 p.m. (at all entrances).
Parking at entrances I and II is open from 07:00 to 21:00.
How to get to Plitvice Lakes in Croatia
The most comfortable way to visit the Plitvice Lakes is as part of a tour . You can book a trip in hotels and travel agencies in any of the surrounding cities. From Zagreb you can also take a bus, after checking the timetable on the official website of the bus station. The price of the ticket depends on the entrance to the reserve.
If you want to travel on your own, you should take a cab (Uber, Kiwitaxi) or rent a car. The nearest cities to the park are Zagreb (134 kilometers by highway D1), Rijeka (164 kilometers) and Zadar (132 kilometers). If you go by car, the road will take 2-2.5 hours.
The main entrances to the park are only two. The northern, known as “Entrance I”, is just above the Lower Lakes. The south entrance, aka “Entrance II,” is near the Upper Lakes. There is parking at each of the entrances (for a fee). There is also an additional entrance, “Flora,” rumor has it that it has the least queues.
The route from Zagreb to Plitvice Lakes by car – Google map
Route from Rijeka to Plitvice Lakes by car – Google map
Route from Zadar to Plitvice Lakes by car – Google map