About Plitvice Lakes National Park
The Plitvice National Park is located approximately halfway between Zagreb and Zadar on the coast. The park is one of Croatia’s most scenic areas and gained Unesco world heritage status in 1979. The National park consists of 16 lakes linked by a series of spectacular waterfalls and surrounded with beautiful woodland. Plitvice National Park is also home to a wide variety of woodland animals and rare bird species.
There are a number of wooden walkways which run alongside the lakes and waterfalls as well as a variety of hiking trails through the woodlands. Other activities are also available in the Plitvice area including canoeing, cycling and fishing. The Park is open daily all year round, with longer opening hours during summer. There is an entrance fee, which acts as a contribution to the Park's upkeep and protection. In the summer the park is green and full of lush vegetation while in the winter the lakes and waterfalls freeze leaving spectacular ice sculptures.
Each year, more than one million visitors come here to rusticate, relax and simply to witness the area’s unique beauty. At Plitvice the main attraction is 16 lakes, oriented roughly on a North-South axis. These lakes are better thought of as a comprehensive system, rather than as separate entities. Through an elegant and rather complex process involving the dissolution of dolomite and limestone rock by the water, and the subsequent sedimentation of these particles onto naturally occurring vegetation, the erosion process which would typically have cut a continuous river system has been somewhat suspended and has resulted in this unique and picturesque system of lakes.
Plitvice Lakes are known just as much for their crystal clear water as for the scenic waterfalls between them. The combination of such purity with such dramatic natural energy is guaranteed to evoke awe and wonderment from even the most seasoned or cynical visitor. This place has long been considered special. Ever since the first people saw Plitvice there have been stories and myths popping up about her origins and purpose. Although millions of people enjoy Plitvice every year, the delicately balanced environment is kept as pristine as humanly possible… this is accomplished via exceptionally strict regulations from park rangers.
Croatia’s first National park established in 1949 covers 296.85 km2 of breathtaking natural splendour, the largest among the eight national parks of the country. Ranging in altitude from 367 m (Koranski most) to 1279 m (Seliški vrh) above sea level. The park was inscribed on the UNESCO’s World Heritage List in 1979, in recognition of its "outstanding natural beauty and undisturbed production of travertine (tufa) through chemical and biological action". The park represents the phenomenon of karst hydrography and harbours a grand collection of waterfalls, a gallery of lakes, forests and a great diversity of animal life. The lakes are renowned for their distinctive colours, ranging from azure to green, grey or blue. The colours change constantly depending on the quantity of minerals or organisms in the water and the angle of sunlight. The sixteen lakes which are formed by natural dams of travertine are separated into upper and lower lakes. About eight km of pathways and wooden walking trails around lakes are accessible to visitors. Trails are descending from an altitude of 636m to 503m above sea level.
In the past the dwellers of this area were mostly cattle-breeders, farmers, millers, lumberjacks and woodworkers. Their way of life greatly determined their diet and cooking. The food was kept on the earth, in "rukace" (earthenware); bread, the basic food, was made mostly of corn, and baked covered by ash and live coals in the hearth. Later "peke" or "pekve" (earthenware) were used, made by the local potters. Hard-boiled corn mush was also often prepared which were cooked from the cereals (oats, barley and millet), and seasoned with butter.
Since the woods were the part of the dweller's lives it was used as the source of food. People went game hunting often (dormice were a delicacy) and they gathered wild berries. Mushrooms were collected in the woods, too: morels, beech - sticks, field mushrooms. It is quite surprising that, even though the lakes were nearby, the dwellers rarely went fishing. they mostly caught trout in the brooks of Plitvica, Sartuk and Jasenica. Milk, which was plentiful in this cattle breeding parts, was prepared in various ways: sour or sweet. "Kiselina" (sour milk) as well as cheese, butter, "basa" (soft cheese made of "skorupa") and cream were made on daily basis. In cheese making, rennet was used and butter was prepared in "stap", the special container. The dairy products were mostly used during summer, with fresh or cooked vegetables, and dry - cured meet (smoked ham, bacon, sausages). One of the main delicacies was roasted lamb.
Even today, a part of that old feeling is at the disposal of visitors through the rich gastronomical offering of Plitvice Lakes National Park. Visitors can acquire some of the more traditional food of the area and be indulged by specialties and the ambiance of the Licka house restaurant. Within the complex of the Park there are two more restaurants - Borje and Poljana, accompanied by many smaller establishments offering refreshments to weary travellers.
Restaurant "Lička kuća" was built in 1972 in a traditional style typical for the Lika county and with the idea of offering exclusively traditional regional dishes. The restaurant underwent a complete refurbishment in 2003 and now consists of two floors with a total capacity of 270 seats in the main hall and 32 seats on the terrace. The first floor is divided into different sections, each representing different villages from Lika region, filled with the typical folk items that belonged to our ancestors. In the centre of the ground floor there is an open wood-burning stove for spit-roasted lamb and different authentic dishes such as veal and potatoes baked under a clay bell.
Guests are offered outstanding local dishes, made with exclusively homemade products and following traditional recipes. "Pršut" (smoked ham), "basa" (a dip like dish, made of fermented milk), "lička juha" (lamb soup with vegetables), different kinds of meat and potatoes baked under a clay bell, grilled meats, "police" (baked potato halves) trout from the local rivers, and deserts such as doughnuts, apple, plum or cheese strudel are just some of the delicacies offered at this excellent restaurant. Location: opposite Entrance 1.
Where to stay
The Hotel Jezero is situated in the very heart of the Plitvice Lakes National Park, only 300m from the largest lake, Kozjak.
Degenija Hotel and Restaurant are located in Selište Drežničko village, just 4 kms from the entrance to National Park. The Degenija is a new 3* hotel situated in the midst of idyllic scenery.
Located in the picturesque village of Jezerce, the Plitvice Miric Inn is only a mile away from an entrance to the Plitvice Lakes National Park.
"predictably busy but excellent all round. Very well located for park, excellent kayak excursion organised and highly recommended - the day with the lads from the kayak centre probably the highlight of the week for us."
A Freeman, August, 2015
"Easily the best hotel we stayed in on the whole trip. Very welcoming, excellent room and good location for the national park. Internal restaurant was also excellent but the one alongside very crowded with average food. The only negative comment on this hotel was the car parking. If you are not there early you cannot park anywhere nearby as the diners next door just fill all spaces and all the roads around. We took the hotel’s advice and did the lower lakes in the afternoon of our arrival and the upper lakes the following morning. Sadly the weather was awful and we toured the upper lakes in a serious thunderstorm but we still loved the place and are so glad we went there. Because of the weather there were not so many people there and we understand that from next year all visitors will need to pre-book to eliminate the excessive numbers and long queues."
C Sillett, October 2017
"By the way, we hold Concordia and Degenija in equally high esteem. The former gave us a room with a lounge area and bedroom which was so characterful and in the heart of old town and the latter had superb rooms of 4 star quality and to top it off our room had a patio which made our stay there extra special. Both had great service too. A joy to stay in."
Paul C, May, 2015
"Just a quick note to say what a fabulous time we had in Croatia. The hotels chosen where fabulous particularly Hotel Lero in Dubrovnik, Hotel Korsal in Korcula, Hotel Mediterran in Zadar and Hotel Degenya in Plitvice (the pool had only been opened 10 days). The days we were driving where really easy and the best route form Korcula to Split is definately better by ferry. I understand that the border crossings with Bosnia can be a pain and lengthy at times. Got to see all my Games of Thrones sites apart from the Aborteum just outside Dubrovnik - think we missed the signs. There was only one error and that was the Hotel Edens fault - they did not have a twin room for the kids - they were fully booked, so could not change. But other than that no problems. "
S Syder, June, 2017
"We've done road trips round other countries before but this one seemed just a little bit more luxurious. We very much appreciated the taxi transfers from the airport being organised for us already. Likewise, it was fantastic to have the hire care delivered to us and picked up afterwards. These two manoeuvres have caused a lot of hassle in the past. This kind of holiday can be exhausting enough as it is. I also liked that the rooms had been so carefully chosen. It seemed like you'd had a look round the hotels already and requested specific rooms. Obviously, these rooms weren't the cheapest the hotels had to offer, and that's not what we normally book. The hotels were all really easy to find and had good locations, except one we had trouble with. The Korkyra Apartments on Korcula took us till midnight to reach, after catching the last ferry. If we'd come from the short ferry from Orebic, round the corner, it would have been brilliant. But we were coming from Vela Luka and our satnat took us down a pedestrianised road in Korcula town. Otherwise, everything was brilliant and the whole itinerary went according to plan 99% of the time. Even the plans I made for day trips went smoothly. We felt very lucky the whole time. I think Croatia is a country that is really geared up to tourism. They do everything full on, one hundred percent, so everything is as easy as possible for visitors. We hardly had to queue for anything in Plitvice Lakes even though they have 1.3 million visitors per year there."
J Carpreau, August 2016
"Plitvice Degenija - everything about this hotel was excellent - staff, grounds , food, etc"
D Smith, June, 2015
"Well arranged by Rediscover the World, with useful input and advice. We should have asked about currency, but we were told by previous visitors to Croatia that Euros were widely accepted - except they are not! Take Kunas. Accessibility and safety risk assessments are not as developed as they are in the UK. Plitvice National Park is not accessible by anyone using a wheelchair and is unsafe for people using walking aids - I fell into the lakes as my walking stick went through a gap between the wooden walkway and there were no hand rails for support. There were no staff present to assist, and no incident book when we got to an information point. Croatia is beautiful, the people we met were pleasant and helpful, and the food & wine excellent. Overall, a great holiday and we would consider going back to visit Zagreb."
B Van Haeften, August 2016
"We have had a lovely holiday, thank you. We had 3 lots of 2 nights in Roving, Plitvic and Zadar, and then a week in Primosten. This is the first time we had toured around with our children (aged 5 and 7). When we asked which bit they preferred, they said the 'road trip' - we much thought they would have preferred the beach/Primosten stay. So much to see and do in Croatia, limited only really by the heat. But that made it possible to enjoy swimming in the sea. Your hotel recommendations were all different, and difficult to compare, but all good. The boys voted the breakfast in Hotel Mediteran their favourite, and this is also by far the friendliest hotel we have ever stayed in - they even printed off some running routes for us without us asking. A great break, thank you."
C Dawson, August 2016
"The highlight of our trip was our visit to Plitvice National Park - it was truly stunning. We were so very glad we saw it in the non-peak period. "
A James, Sept 2016
"The visit to Plitvisc lakes and falls were absolutely spectacular. Driving on the open roads is simple and easy. Through the towns can a little more nerve raking. Having a couple of nights in each place helped keep the pace realistic. Be prepared for limited ability for laundry other than the hotel services. Having 3 nights in Trogir was a little more than needed and would have been better 3 nights based in or nearer to Split as this was where most sights were. Overall it was a very interesting experience and well worth it. Croatia is a beautiful country with plenty of natural sights. Being just before the tourist season had its benefits with things being less busy. Just a few times things were not yet open. Some wonderful memories, I would not hesitate to recommend it to a friend."
G Emblen, April, 2015