Plitvice Lakes, or Plitvička jezera, is a UNESCO recognized Croatian National Park located in the center of the country. Although the park is environmentally recognized by its namesake “lakes” the main touristic draw are its stunning series of waterfalls.
Under a ‘false’ impression that our visit to the park was going to be a quick drive-up, American-style tourist stop for a photo op (based on our online research) we quickly realized 2-hours into our extensive hike that this National Park had a lot more to offer than just “that one waterfall”. (And because of that miscalculation we wish we had had more time! Plan accordingly!)
I could look at photos all day of this incredible place but for now, let’s keep it to five:
1. Plitvice Lakes, the lakes!
It is called Plitvice LAKES not Plitvice Waterfalls. While there are STUNNING waterfalls all around the park, if you’re visiting, have the mindset that you are headed to an enormous national park, not just the one series of waterfalls you see in most pictures. Tim and I hiked the park for about 5 hours and still didn’t “do” everything.
Look closely at the light-colored shallow water above… see how clear it is??
2. Clear, beautiful water
Ok. Now you’re aware there’s more than just that one series of waterfalls you’ve seen in photos. BUT LOOK AT THIS WATER. What color is this? All of the blues and greens of the world combined?! Photography was too easy here as snapping a photo like this on just your phone yields the same results. When you look at the fish in the deeper water in the photo above, your eyes are able to “understand” what an entire lake of crystal clear water might look like in person. Just. Beautiful.
3. Plitvice Lakes Park Hiking Trails
Lace up your hiking shoes! As one might imagine, if you are planning on seeing a series of lakes you’ll probably be moving around quite a bit. We didn’t anticipate so much walking but were very lucky to have been wearing our “athletic gear”. We were clearly not the only ones misinformed. Girls in dresses and sparkly sandals adorned rock-laden paths and skirmished around muddy puddles seeking the perfect selfie spot.
While the parks offered extensive hiking trails as away to explore, there were also busses provided along various routes as well as ferry transportation between certain points. We actually ended up using both the bus – to save us some time and walking – and the ferry – to get a bit of a different perspective.
4. The Cave
An unexpected treat on our hike – this naturally-formed cave was a fun highlight right off one of the main hiking paths.
5. Cascading Beauty
I chose the word “cascade” very carefully. While many describe the park’s beauty in waterfalls, my interpretation was a bit different from how I would typically describe the word.
There was cascading water EVERYWHERE. There were beautiful waterfalls in the distance, there were rivers running along side you and cascading water everywhere you looked. Several times the natural hiking trail turned into man-created wooden pathways that lead you over moss-covered rocks separating babbling streams. The setting was both a Disney movie set and a lush extraterrestrial forest. Each turn of the path lead to more jaw dropping natural beauty that even the “non-highlight” parts of the walk were more stunning than many things I had ever seen.
Have you been here? Are you planning to? We’d love to hear from you!
If you want more, check out our Plitvice Lakes Vlog here.