Plitvice lakes: from the eyes of an insider
The inevitable destination for every tourist in Croatia is famous Plitvice lakes National Park. I believe you have read many articles and stories about it, but how about finding more about it from an experienced local guide? In this article I will try to give you the answers to frequently asked questions about Plitvice lakes as well as tips on how and when to visit it.
Divided into Upper and Lower lakes, Plitvice lakes are Croatia’s biggest, oldest and most visited national park. Since 1979 it has been inscribed on UNESCO World heritage list as one of the first natural sites on the list and considered of the most beautiful national parks in the world. Due to its position right in the heart of Croatia, it is easily reachable on a day tour from both, Zagreb, Croatia’s capital and Split, country’s second largest city.
Many people ask “what is the best time to visit Plitvice lakes”? There is no complete answer to that question, but I would say – anytime! National park is open all year round and every season has it charms. Spring time offers you blooming vegetation and lush green colours, summer is when the nature is at its best, in autumn leaves change its colour to red and dark brown while in the winter time snow fall makes this place a white fairy tale. I already mentioned that Plitvice lakes are the most visited national park in Croatia and due to all hustle and bustle, driving there and back on your own is maybe not the best advice, especially when all the costs of car hire, fuel, parking and tickets are almost even to a price of a day tour with a local tour company and a licensed guide.
TIP: There is also a possibility to connect Zagreb and Split with Plitvice lakes tour (and vice versa) in one day with a very good service and for a reasonable price!
Crowds in the park during high season (July and August) are inevitable since everyone wants to see this piece of paradise, but booking a day tour from Split or Zagreb will save you money and time because your guide skips the line for purchasing the entrance tickets which sometimes can be really long (internet ticket purchase is not available). Local guides also know the best routes to guide you through the narrow park paths, which is another bonus.
Once in the park, you can enjoy walking on the wooden paths surrounded by the fizzing water, abundance of lush green vegetation, lime stone canyon and sprinkling waterfalls. On the visitor’s disposal are also electrical boat rides across the biggest of 16 lakes – Kozjak lake, and train ride through the park forests (both included in the entrance ticket). Normally, 3 to 5 hours is enough to visit the whole park, depending on your pace and the amount of photographs you take.
Unfortunately, swimming in Plitvice lakes is strictly prohibited by the park rules, but even without swimming you should be left breathless with this fairy tale like lakes. If you are really into swimming under the tumbling waterfalls, try visiting Croatia’s second most popular national park on a day tour from Split – Krka national park.