A UNESCO World Heritage site, the Plitvice Lakes National Park in Croatia is the oldest national park in Southeast Europe and the largest national park in Croatia. Founded as a national park in 1949, it is situated in the mountainous Karst area of the country. The beautiful protected area extends over 73,350 acres and attracts over 1.2 million visitors a year.
The park is renowned throughout the world for its cascading lakes – 16 can be seen from the surface and are all interconnected and follow the water flow. They are separated by natural travertine dams and are famous for their distinctive colours, ranging from azure to green, grey or blue. The colors change constantly depending on the quantity of minerals or organisms in the water and the angle of sunlight.
The green traveller who also has a keen interest in natural history will find plenty to see and experience in and around the park – set in deep woodland populated by deer, bears, wolves, boars and rare bird species, you can really sink yourself into this beautiful offering of nature.
VisitCroatia.com gives the rundown on prices for entering the park. The Park is open daily all year round, with longer opening hours during summer (usually 7am to 8pm). There’s an entrance fee which acts as a contribution to the Park’s upkeep and protection: for adults it’s 80 Kunas (?9.50/EUR11/$15.50) in November – March; 110 Kunas (?13/EUR15/$21) during April to October. Children aged 7 to 18 have cheaper tickets, whilst children under the age of seven have free entrance.
The perfect way for the ecotourist to enjoy the lakes is to use the most environmentally friendly means of transport and hike your way around the park. Guided tours are available. Alternatively there is also an electric boat that takes you from one side of the largest lake to the other. This boat runs all year round, more frequently during summer.