National parks in Croatia: Plitvice lakes

Hard to believe, but in Croatia, there are actually 8 national parks and 11 nature parks. And they are all breathtaking. To decide for one of them is of course incredibly difficult. After we already introduced you to the National Park Krka last week, today we will dedicate ourselves to the oldest national park in Europe and the largest in Croatia at the same time: The National Park Plitvice Lakes. The Plitvice Lakes are a natural spectacle par excellence, but also accordingly well visited. Why a visit is still worthwhile, we explain here:

1) WHY IT IS WORTH A VISIT

The Plitvice lakes are situated in the middle of the beautiful karst area of Central Croatia. It was also one of the first natural wonders ever to be included in the UNESCO World Natural Heritage List in 1979. One of the reasons for this is the 16 lakes, which are connected by a network of natural waterways (rivers) and waterfalls. But the almost 300,000 square kilometres large national park is also home to many otters, lynxes, wild cats, brown bears and wolves – although you rarely see them. But you can see the many different fish swimming around in the crystal clear water.

Due to the differences in altitude in the park, many of the waterfalls are arranged in steps and shine turquoise blue due to the minerals in the water. The karst landscape consists mainly of limestone or calcareous deposits known as travertine or calcareous tuff. In order to admire this natural spectacle, there are several viewpoints along the way that cannot be missed. The many wooden footbridges that lead across the blue-green lakes and along the waterfalls make the whole scenery more than impressive – you are right in the middle of it instead of just being there!

2) The most beautiful highlights

The whole national park itself is one big sight full of water and cascades! Nevertheless, there are some highlights that we would like to emphasize, as they surpass the natural spectacle once again:

  • Veliki Slap – The big waterfall
    The Veliki Slap or big waterfall is located at the lower lakes and is probably the place most guests of the national park visit on their hikes. Here the Plitvice stream plunges over a 78 m high rock into the depths. Veliki Slap is also the largest waterfall in Croatia.
  • Galovacki Buk – The Galovac waterfall
    At the waterfall Galovac (Galovacki Buk) the waterfalls to a depth of about 25m into the lake of the same name. The waterfall is located above the Kozjak Lake and belongs to the upper lakes.
  • Supljara Cave
    Between the lakes “Jezero Gavanora” and “Jezero Kaluderovac” is the Supljara cave. And many western fans may even be familiar with this cave: Among other things, it served as the location for the famous Winnetou film “A Treasure in the Silver Lake”.

3) Hiking is a must

You will probably not find the famous treasure in the Silver Lake mentioned earlier in the National Park. But you can expect numerous hiking and trekking routes on which you can hike to the surrounding valleys and hills, such as Turcic and Tupi Madvjedak. Of course, you can also visit the national park on your own, but: once you take a wrong turn, the hiking tour can be extended enormously, so it is advisable to inquire about the trails beforehand. In the information office of the national park or at both entrances, there are countless maps and information material with which you should not get lost. Of course, it is also recommended to always carry enough drinking water and food with you on all hikes and to wear appropriate hiking clothes.

For those who prefer to rely on the local staff who know the area, the park management offers various designated sightseeing tours through the national park. These tours are mostly a mixture of hiking, boat and panoramic train rides to the most beautiful places of the Plitvice Lakes. An electric boat trip and a panoramic train trip are included in the entrance fee.

4) Opening hours and prices

Ticket prices for the Plitvice Lakes National Park are seasonal and depend on the time of the visit. In the early and late season, the ticket prices are cheaper, as well as for visits in the afternoon (3 / 4 p.m. – depending on the season). Tickets can be purchased either in advance on the National Park website or on-site.

Due to the great popularity of the park, the number of visitors has been strictly limited in the current period. It is therefore advisable to plan your visit in advance. As soon as you agree on the day you want to visit the park, you can book your tickets online:

Day tickets cost between 80.00 kuna (11.00 euros) in low season and 300.00 kuna (40.00 euros) in high season, depending on the season.

So if you are in Croatia, be sure to plan a day trip to this natural spectacle – it is definitely worth it. From our Falkensteiner Hotel Park Punat on the island of Krk, you can get there in about 2.5 hours by car.

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