20 Jun Croatia Part 2 – Plitvice Lakes
I love going to a place and knowing enough about it to have a basic itinerary, a must-see list, and perhaps even some reservations but not knowing exactly what to expect. This leaves plenty of room for the most magical of all travel experiences – that rare instance of pure delight at getting a true, beautiful surprise. One of the most magical surprises of all of my travel experiences was Plitvice Lake in Croatia. A colleague had visited Croatia and told me not to miss the lakes (which we otherwise would have skipped since we excited to make it to the islands further south), he described them as “Middle Earth” and I was intrigued.
Plitviče Lakes National Park is a large Croatian national park which has terraced lakes – lakes that are formed by various rivers and natural travertine dams. There are a chain of 16 terraced lakes, joined by waterfalls, that extend into a limestone canyon. To see the lakes, there are easy wooden planked trails – some of which are suspended over the water below – all around the 1-mile or so large lake area as well as a tourist boat that links a few of the lakes (and which you should definitely take). But, as interesting as this may sound, this description doesn’t do it justice. Due to algae, each of the lakes is a color of water you have never seen before – from the bluest topaz to the greenest emerald green. The lakes fall into each other with at least 90 waterfalls and amazing natural water formations – including two waterfalls that are over 200 feet tall. It is truly like another world and you will certainly be amazed by all of it.
The lakes are about 3 hours from Zagreb and you can take a bus or drive yourself. You should probably just go for the day and stay in Zadar or Zagreb since otherwise there are limited lodging options.