Plitvice Lakes National Park is set around a collection of 16 lakes which are all interconnected and cascade into each other, from the highest point at 636 m to 503 m. They are grouped together in two sets, 12 Upper Lakes and 4 Lower Lakes. There are also 2 waterfalls, the Big Falls or Veliki Slap at 78 m in the Lower Lakes, and Galovački buk at 25 m in the Upper Lakes. The lakes act as one big water reservoir surrounded by Mt Velebit in the west which divides the coastal area from Plitvice Plateu. To the east the Plitvice Lakes are protected by Mt Pljesevica which marks the border with Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The name Plitvice means shallow basin as the waters create these hollows in the limestone, although the depth varies from 1 to 47 m. Plitvice Lakes National Park became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979.
The Lakes are famed for their water – very clear azure with shadows of green and blue, changing according to the weather and the sunlight, as well as the quantity of micro-organisms, moss and algae in the water. The best time to admire the lakes is at sunrise which means before 7 am (during the summer months) so if you can stay at one of the hotels or guest houses within the park itself, you can simply wander out before breakfast and enjoy the magnificent scenery before the crowds arrive.
The Plitvice National Park offers eight different hiking routes, marked by letters. A, B and C start from Entrance 1 while routes E, F and H start from entrance 2 and K route can be started from either. The shortest is a route A and it takes you in a 2-3 hour circle from Entrance 1 and back, passing the Big Waterfall, Supljara cave and magnificent viewpoints of the Lower Lakes. If you are fit and have lots of time then you should go for K route which is the longest at 6-8 hours. Each route is supplemented with environmentally-friendly electric buses and boats. The boat runs across Kozjak Lake which is the largest one, one way and it takes 20 minutes, and there’s also a little shuttle bus called the Panoramic Train that runs every 20 minutes or so. At each of the stops are refreshments, toilets and information points.
The resulting seclusion of the lake and large altitude difference in such a small area contributed to a very diverse flora and fauna. One of the most representative animals of this area is the brown bear. I am sure you won’t encounter them on your walk through the Lakes as they come close to humans only when they are really, really hungry. But if you would like to meet a Brown Bear why not visit the sanctuary for orphaned young bears in Kutarevo which is only 75 km from Plitvice Lakes en-route to the coastal area. The park is also populated by boars, wolves, deer and rare birds.
If you are on a cruise along the coast of Croatia you will probably call at the ports of Split or Zadar and either of these are good starting points for a shore excursion to the magnificent Plitvice Lakes in the heart of Croatia, and one of its must-see sights. ReadyClickAndGo can arrange a private day trip from Zadar or Split to Plitvice with your own car and driver-guide.
- Try and go early so you can beat the crowds – stay overnight in the park if possible. There are several modest hotels and guest houses within the precincts.
- Wear comfortable shoes.
- Bring waterproof jacket for walking close to the waterfalls.
- The park has two different types of entrance tickets: one-day and two-day tickets.
- The entrance fee varies according to the season, one-day tickets are 80kuna between November and March, and 110kuna between April and October, and 2-day tickets 130kuna and 180kuna.
- Credit cards are accepted (MasterCard, Visa, American Express, Maestro and Diners).
- Guests from the park hotels in the have one-day tickets for the duration of their stay.
- Opening hours during summer time are 0700-2000, winter 0800 -1600, spring and autumn 0800-1800.
Croatia has invested a huge amount of money into the infrastructure of the National Park and the roads there are excellent, so Plitvice Lake is easily accessible on a day tour from most of the major towns on the Adriatic coast except maybe from Dubrovnik when you would need to either have an overnight stay or come back to Dubrovnik very late. APlitvice Lakes tour from Split takes around 3 hours each way, a day tour from Zadar to Plitvice Lakes takes around 2 hours, and a day tour from Zagreb the same.
To arrange a private day tour to Plitvice from Split, Zadar or Zagreb email Tara@ReadyClickAndGo.com