Walking on Waterfalls – Plitvice Lakes, Croatia

When is the last time you walked on a waterfall? This beautiful Croatian national park is known for having the most waterfalls per square foot anywhere in the world. 

The Experience

Envision walking over crystal clear turquoise water that changes its hue as you encounter each new lake. The water is so clear that you can see large schools of fish that line the wooden walkway below your feet. You can hear the roar of the waterfall up ahead before you see it. As you walk around the bend, the volume of the plunging water gets increasingly louder and you start to feel misty water on your face. At last, you see the majestic falls. You snap a couple pictures and continue down the wooden path walking over the waterfall. Then, you hear it again. The crash of the next waterfall. Repeat over and over as each new cascade is more sensational than the last. That’s Plitvice Lakes National Park.

Plitvice Lakes

Plitvice Lakes National Park is approximately 73,000 acres and contains 16 total lakes that are connected by waterfalls of all shapes and sizes. The scenery is spectacular and the park is considered a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This is Croatia’s largest tourist attraction boasting well more than one million visitors per year.

The History

The park was officially founded in 1949, but this land has been inhabited for centuries. For example, Julius Cesar declared that Plitvice Lakes was part of the Roman Empire. In more recent history, Plitvice Lakes was actually home to the first fatalities in the Croatian War for Independence on Easter morning 1991. When the war concluded in 1995, the restoration of the park ensued kick-starting this area’s transformation into the more tourist-friendly experience that it is today. 

Plitvice Lakes National Park

Top 3 Travel Tips

1. Arrive to the park early. The tour buses arrive around 10am after making the trip from Zagreb (Croatia’s capital and approximately 2 hours away). The entry fee is about 24 Croatian Kuna (approximately $3.50 USD total) and you don’t want to wait in line for tickets behind a whole bus of people. Also, there are two entrances to the park. Always use Entrance #2 as it is a bit smaller and provides quicker entry into the park. Park opens at 7am.

2. Where to Stay. There are a lot of different hotel options that are walking distance to the park. However, if you have a car I would recommend looking into a soba, which is essentially a Croatian bed and breakfast. These tend to be a little cheaper and you get a little more of a unique experience staying at someone’s house or apartment. We stayed at House Sara and had a very good experience for $45 USD, but there are tons of options.

3. Getting Around. There are 8 different hikes you can do and the paths are relatively well-marked. There is also bus transportation at designated points that can move you around the park as well as a boat ride. Bring comfortable walking shoes though and look out for park benches in the shade. Be prepared for lots of walking/hiking but don’t forget to relax on a bench and take in your surroundings. 

Plitvice Lakes National Park

One of the best websites I’ve seen for additional information about Plitvice Lakes National Park is Explore Croatia with Frank. He lays out each hiking trail, gives specific information about accommodations near the park, etc.

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