This article is written by Sarah-Jane of Chasing the Donkey
Croatia is known worldwide for it’s stunning beaches and 1.000 islands, but what you may not know is that Croatia also has 8 stunning national parks. The most famous, Plitvice Lakes National Park a UNESCO protected World Heritage Site,is a stunning place to visit all year round.
When I first visited Plitvice Lakes National Park known as Nacionalni Plitvička Jezera in Croatian, my eyes sprung open like a kid on Christmas morning. I could immediately see this was a magical place! The lakes are situated in central Croatia & became a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1979, and ever since have been drawing in the crowds from all over the world. The park is made up of sixteen tiered lakes, interconnected by a series of waterfalls. The lakes are famous for their ever-changing colours, changing from shades of teal, turquoise and deep blues to greys. The changing of the colours with the lakes is due to the quantity of minerals and organisms in the water at the varioustimes of year.
I visited the lakes in Autumn when the leaves had already changed colour and the lakes were full from the recent rains. As I stood there, listening to the sound of the humming waterfalls on a wooden track surrounded by fir, beech and spruce trees I felt like I had died and gone to heaven.
If you only ever get to see one place in Croatia, I’d recommend you visit Plitvice Lakes National Park. If you’re short on time, it is possible to see the majority of Plitvice in around 3 hours, which leaves time to see the big waterfall of 78 metres, and take photographs you’ll cherish for a lifetime. Plitvice Lakes National Park has a few hotels within close proximity or it’s very easily accessible as a day trip from many cities in Croatia. The closest being Zagreb at just 130 kilometers and the farthest being 470 kilometers from Dubrovnik.
To appreciate the National Park is its full glory, I would recommend you allow a full day to soak up the magic of Plitvice like we did. With 9 trail choices, each taking between three and twelve hours to complete, there is a trail suited to everyone, from those who just want to wander along in flip flops through to those wishing to experience a more adventurous hike.
Everyone can enjoy this park in Croatia, even the less able bodied thanks to boats and a small train. The feeling you get while strolling wooden bridges and navigating the rocky paths that weave in and out of the forest over the lakes along side the the waterfalls is something that is hard to put into words .
At least, any words that do Plitvice any real justice. During the winter, the waterfalls turn to ice, making it a winter wonderland. In the spring, everything is lush and with the forest all coming back to life. July and August are the busiest months at the lakes. If you intend to visit the park during this time, avoid the crowds by visiting first thing in the morning before the tour buses arrive, or in late afternoon after the tour buses have left for the day.
No matter when you visit Plitvice Lakes it’s beautiful year round and my guess is that you will be amazed by this wonder of nature.
Sarah-Jane is a mum, wife and Australian expat. She packed up her very typical life in 2013 and shifted it along with my Croatian husband and son to rebuild the old house they inherited in Croatia and make it their home. On Chasing the Donkey she tells you all about life and traveling in Croatia. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter and Google+.
The Park Post is a recurrent series on we12travel. Other parks that have been highlighted are Torres del Paine in Chile, Tongariro in New Zealand and Yellowstone in the USA, just to name a few. Click here to read the whole series. Want to contribute to the Park Post? Just drop us a line on info at we12travel.com.
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