The Breathtaking “Plitvice Lakes” National Park in Croatia
If the Dalmatian seaside is already famous for being one of the best tourist attractions for lots of Europeans that love traveling, Plitvicka Jezera is another Croatian jewel that is growing as one of the most beautiful natural sights in Europe, a great attraction in the Balkans. The spectacular wild scenery is the main argument.
Declared a national park in 1949, the Plitvice Lakes form the oldest natural reservation in South-East Europe, where more than 1 million tourists every year enjoy walking the paths to see the stunning waterfalls, the mixture of Alpine and Mediterranean vegetation and the breathtaking turquoise, azure, grey or blue waters.
The whole 8 km² area is heavily forested, mainly with beech, spruce, and fir trees, and is home for rare fauna such as the European brown bears, wolves, eagles, owls, lynx, wild cats and capercaillies. More than 120 bird species have been found here, with 70 or more breeding here.
Located near the border with Bosnia and Herzegovina between the mountains of Licka Plješevica, Mala Kapela and Medvedak, on the eponymous Plitvice plateau, the 16 interlinked lakes descend for more than 8 km from 636m to 503m and form splendid waterfalls that will keep you busy if you have your camera with you.
All the lakes – twelve Upper Lakes (Gornja jezera) and the four Lower Lakes (Donja jezera) – are naturally separated by travertine barriers that include encrusted plants and bacteria which grow about 1cm each year. The scenery is great when you get to climb and see everything from the top. It’s a really breathtaking experience and if you’re in Croatia you’d better do whatever possible to get here.
The paths, mostly made of wooden planks or gravel, will take you through the whole park so you don’t have to worry that you will miss anything. Just make sure you have at least 5 hours to take the long course, because it would be a shame to hurry and miss stunning unique views.
After paying the entrance fee (some 140 kunas) all the buses and boats (all electric) are free so you can take your time and plan for a longer trip. You can also find accommodation in the area because there are several large hotels at the entrance of the park (expensive though) and villas or local apartments (much more affordable).
Visiting Croatia? Don’t miss the Plitvice Lakes, it’s a great place to recharge your batteries. It could easily be called Paradise on Earth.