Croatia’s Plitvice Lakes: Mother Nature’s aquatic theme park

Croatia is rapidly becoming a popular destination thanks to its stunning beauty. The Plitivice Lakes are a prime example. Photo: Plitvice pools of delight Photo: Croatia Tourism

CROATIAJune 22, 2013 ― Eden has been rediscovered among the lush, verdant forests of Croatia.

What happens when 16 inter-connected lakes are formed by the confluence of multiple rivers and natural dams into irregular tiers of breathtaking aquatic artistry? The answer: you get the Plitvice Lakes, the oldest national park in Southeastern Europe and the largest in Croatia.

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Cascading waters of Plitvice Lakes

With more than a million visitors each year, Plitvice Lakes may be the most famous unknown attraction in the world for most American travelers. Situated at the borders of Bosnia and Herzegovina, one reason for the disconnect might be due to the war that raged in the region between 1992 and 1995.

All of that is changing now, and Croatia is rapidly becoming a popular destination thanks to its old world ambience and spectacular scenery.


Plitvice is one of those delicious places that must be experienced to be fully appreciated. It is impossible to describe because every turn of the head offers a different panoramic vista that is a visual feast. This is Mother Nature at the peak of her creativity, where water cascades from every direction into a kaleidoscope of ever-changing colors and liquid mosaics.

Starting with a basic palette of azure, green, gray and blue, colors are constantly changing according to the time of day, the angle of the sunlight, cloud cover and the amount of minerals flowing in the water at any given time. No two lakes are ever the same color, making the natural phenomenon of this aquatic wonderland seem like a perpetual stained glass window in water.

Tiers of beauty

Divided into an upper level of 12 lakes and four more in the lower cluster, the lakes are formed by runoff from several small surface and subterranean rivers. The name Plitvice Lakes is a little misleading, because the seemingly endless array of cascading waterfalls add another dramatic dimension.

Situated within dense woodlands populated by deer, bears, wolves, rare birds and an abundant variety of unique vegetation, Plitvice has a primeval quality that creates sensations of being at the birthplace of nature.

Each of the 16 lakes has its own legends and folklore, most of which are based upon actual events. Among the traditions is an annual gathering when thousands of simultaneous weddings are conducted near a series of majestic waterfalls.

Tunnel to paradise

The park was added to the UNESCO World Heritage register in 1979, making it one of the first natural UNESCO sites in the world. It is open daily throughout the year, with longer hours during summer. Entrance fees are used for the upkeep of the park and the protection of wildlife. Ticket prices are seasonal with adult tickets averaging approximately $18. Children ages seven to 18 receive a discount, while children under seven are admitted at no charge. Group rates are available for a minimum of 15 people. Two day tickets can also be purchased.

There are 19 small villages within the region of the park, and there are also excellent accommodations available inside the part itself.

Hotel Plitvice interior

Hotel Bellevue and Hotel Plitvice are two star properties inside the park. Don’t be misled by the stars; the accommodations are clean, comfortable and reasonable ranging from about $100 to $125 a night.

Hotel Jezero is the only three star property at Plitvice, but most visitors prefer Hotel Plitvice if given a choice.

Just outside the park in Rakovica, which is two miles from the entrance, you will find rooms at the three star Hotel Degenija. Slightly further down the road, six miles away, is Hotel Mazola, another three star property located in Korenika.

There are also 86 acres of camp grounds four miles away in Korana.

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About the Author: Peabod is Bob Taylor a veteran travel writer for more than three decades. His goal is to visit 100 countries or more during his lifetime.

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Bob Taylor

Bob Taylor has been travel writer for more than three decades. Following a career as an award winning sports producer/anchor, Taylor’s media production business produced marketing presentations for Switzerland Tourism, Rail Europe, the Finnish Tourist Board, Japan Railways Group, the Swedish Travel & Tourism Council and the Swiss Travel System among others. He is founder of The Magellan Travel Club ( and his goal is to visit 100 countries or more during his lifetime.


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