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Travel Blog

18 March 19

Your overnight trip to Plitvice Lakes National Park

Overlooking the lakes at Plitvice National Park in the morning

Team Horizon | Daytripping Dalmatia , Experience Croatia , Photography Hotspots

The perfect night away

If you’re looking for an overnight trip after disembarking from your eight-day Go North sail ending in Split with Horizon Sail, look no further than the stunning Plitvice Lakes National Park! This is Croatia’s number one visited National Park attracting over one million visitors a year and it’s not hard to see why! Plitvice is an awe-inspiring sight with 16 lakes interconnected by a series of waterfalls and cascades. The water is so clear that in some places you can actually see your reflection! It’s earned it’s spot on the international scene so much so that in 1979 UNESCO proclaimed it a World Heritage Site – so sorry, but you can’t swim here, as excruciatingly tempting as it might be!

Explore the labyrinth of lakes at Plitvice National Park

Explore the labyrinth of lakes at Plitvice Lakes National Park

How to get there and Where to Stay

Located in the Lika region, Plitvice is roughly a three-hour drive north of Split approaching Zagreb. Along the way you’ll pass close by the coastal town of Šibenik and city of Zadar which are great places to stop and take in your last views of the Adriatic and reflect on the week gone by of sun and sea before heading inland. The drive itself is quite stunning and you’ll notice the variation in terrain as you approach the Adriatic hinterland closer to the park entrance.

Whilst a day trip is possible, in all honesty it is a stretch. We’d say that you need at least six hours in the park to truly appreciate what it has on offer! There are a number of accommodation options listed year-round ranging from hostels, hotels (three of which are located very close to the park entrance) and Airbnb. Just stay close enough to the park entrance so you can get in there early and beat the crowds, especially in summer. This may take some forward planning, particularly in the months of June, July and August. Whilst the park is spectacularly stunning year-round, we would say that Spring and Autumn are the unique times to visit; in Spring the waterfalls are gushing with water and in Autumn the changing colours put on a magnificent show. Winter is a game changer though, where the lakes and falls freeze over in a display which emulates a scene out of Frozen! In saying this, there is no ‘best’ time to visit the Park. It depends on what you want to see!

The Plitvice Lakes have been voted some of the most beautiful in the world

The Plitvice Lakes have been voted some of the most beautiful in the world

What to see and How to get around

Plitvice Lakes is the largest of eight Croatian National Parks covering a total region of 300 square kilometres. To get around you follow a series of boardwalk paths which allow you to traverse this watery wonderland. Along the way you will stop to truly admire the scenery and travertine mounds covered by moss and plants which divide the lakes. Interestingly, the Park is also home to a number of animals including deer, wild boars, wildcats, wolves and even endangered European brown bears as well as over 160 different bird species. Park Rangers are on hand year-round however and human interaction with these large animals is rarely heard of!

The lakes themselves are divided in two, the Upper Lakes and Lower Lakes. If you’re short on time there is a bus service which runs from close to Entrance 2 and will take you to the Upper Lakes where you can then venture downwards towards the largest lake in the park, Kozjak. A ferry service will then take you across the lake where you can venture towards the largest waterfall, Veliki Slap (the Great Waterfall) which tumbles down a 78 metre rock to the lake below. You then continue on the path taking in the views before the same bus will take you back towards Entrance 2.

Each section of the lake dramatically cascades into another

Each section of the lake dramatically cascades into another

History of the Park

The park also has historical significance in Croatia’s recent declaration of independence and the war that was fought in the region to secure autonomy from what was the former Yugoslavia. Known as the ‘Bloody Easter’ incident, rebel Serbians took control of the park headquarters on 31 March 1991 and claimed the first victim of the war, Croatian police officer Josip Jović. Serbian forces held the park for the war’s duration until Croatian forces retook the park in August 1995. There is also an interesting story to each one of the Lakes and how they were named!

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