Aside from being one of Croatia's most famous national parks, Plitvice Lakes National Park is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The entry fee is 13 euros and there are discounts for students and small groups. We got there thinking we'd spend a few hours at most, but we enjoyed it so much that we spent all day there. Once inside, you walk from lake to lake on elevated wooden bridges...even the trails through the woods are elevated. In effort to minimize man's impact on this natural place, most visitors never actually touch the grounds. The lakes all flow into one another before finishing in a river. There are various routes and there are signs giving you estimates of length (around 2hrs for the shortest and 8 for the whole tour). Sometimes, it's better to cross a lake on a boat to go quicker, the price of which is included in the ticket.
There are a total of 16 lakes then descend a total of 140 meters during their 8 kilometer run. It's an incredible place but it does make you want to dive in, something that is seriously prohibited.
We began the journey of the four lower lakes (Milanovac, Gavanovac, Kaluđerovac and Novakovic Brod), noting that in this area the great waterfall of Veliki Slap, the largest in Croatia at 78m high, is the only one that is not fed from the lakes but a stream. There are also some very pleasant caves in this area. We came up between four lakes until reaching Lake Kozjak, the largest of the 16 lakes, which is crossed by boat.
Milanovac Lake is one of 16 natural lakes of the Plitvice Lakes. The area is a UNESCO World Heritage site and is regarded as one of the most beautiful parks in Europe. Milanovac Lake is one of the most famous because it is located centrally within the area. It is 524 meters deep and has a total area of 3 hectares. To preserve the fragile ecosystem of the lake, you have to walk on elevated wooden bridges rather than on the ground. This lake is part of the lower lakes which merge into a river and then into the sea. When the sun shines, the lakes turns a beautiful turquoise colour that makes you want to jump off the bridge and into the water. You can walk the short path that passes next to the lake in a few hours. If you go in the morning there are lots of tour groups but if you do the grand tour you can see the lake when there are fewer people.
This boat passes through some of the lakes of Plitvice Natural Park. The Natural Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is very extensive, and to move from lake to lake, it's sometimes more convenient to go by boat. There are a half dozen ships that sail the 16 lakes, making round trips to cut down your voyage. You also get another perspective, from the water, of this incredible natural location. When it's sunny, it's even more incredible, the water turns many different colours because it's so pure and transparent that it lets light through, allowing you to see all the way to the bottom. The price of the boat is included in your entrance ticket to the park, which is 13 euros, and you can get on and off as much as you want all day. On each side of the departure and arrival, there is a seating area with tables where you can buy souvenirs, food and picnic. In the rest of the park, you can't always picnic because the trails are protected.
This is largest of the lakes at Plitvice National Park, and the only one you can navigate. With a length of nearly 3 km, it is the last of the upper lakes. The lake has a small island where there is a restaurant. This lake is also famous for the spectacular color changes of its water, which can be seen from the hotel Plitvice. Additionally, the west shore of the lake, where boats are docked, it a lovely spot to have a picnic and admire the landscape
It's the first thing we see when we enter the Plitvice National Park by the northern entrance, and a sign of things to come, with an abundance of clear lakes at different heights connected by waterfalls. I would be lying if I said that is the most spectacular waterfall in the park because truthfully it shares the title with Veliki Slap along with the honour of being the best known.
The upper lakes are Prošćansko, Ciginovac, Okrugljak, Batinovac, Large Lake, Small Lake, Vir, Galovac, Milino, Gradinsko, Burgeti and Kozjak, and The Boat. The names are in order from south to north. Once the final lake is reached, Prošćansko begins again. To return, continue walking east until you reach a bus with train wheels that will take you back to the entrance, however, if you miss the last bus you will have to return by foot.
A regular boat crossing of the largest of the 16 lakes is available for the price of a ticket. It runs regularly from the P3 and P2 crossings to the Burgeti lakeside. There is a picnic area, toilets and a small restaurant nearby before boarding the boat. We took the boat and headed to the other upper lakes.