Plitvice Lakes National Park – Croatia’s Crown Jewel

Plitvice Lakes National Park – Croatia’s Crown Jewel

Plitvice Lakes National Park is the oldest national park in Southeast Europe.


It is also the largest national park in Croatia.


The Park is a giant chain of sixteen lakes connected by cascading waterfalls.


Plitvice’s lakes are separated into an upper and lower cluster formed by runoff from the mountains.



The runoff descends from an altitude of 636 to 503 m over a distance of some eight km, aligned in a south-north direction.


It is impressive that 16 lakes can help to form hundreds of little waterfalls with a difference of only 150 meters between the highest and lowest lake.


The highest waterfall is the “Large Waterfall”, Veliki Slap (“Slap” means waterfall in Croatian) at the end of the Lower Lakes.


There are hundreds of waterfalls to get your pic with besides Veliki though.




My only knock on the Park is that at times it can feel a bit like “Disneyworld” with hundreds of people walking in front of and behind you.


Plitvice attracts over 1,000,000 visitors a year and the “Disneyworld” problem is exacerbated by the fact that all the visitors in the park must stay on the narrow plank walkways that lead through the Lake System.


Then you throw in the fact that everyone and their brother is stopping to take pictures and you have one giant cluster.  So at times it can feel a bit like you are cattle being herded into the Slaughterhouse.


But these moments are offset by the nice moments you have to yourself.


Plitvice has a series of “Routes” available to visitors.


Each route offers a different perspective of the many lakes and some take longer than others.


Many of the routes are connected or enabled by electric buses or boats to cross waterways.


We did the popular Route H, which takes 4-6 hours.


We had stayed in the nearby Hotel Plivitce and were able to get an early enough start to avoid most of the crowds but some backlog is simply inevitable.


The clarity of the lakes is stunning.  Fish would have a difficult time hiding from airborne predators here, if there were any.


Water-based life is abundant, from dragonflies to salamanders.


The views from the cliffs above the lakes made for some of the best pictures I took in Croatia.


On one of the days we spent in Plitvice we decided to hike the much-less-hiked Corcova Uvala trail, which is a nice hiking contrast compared to the Routes leading by the lakes.


The 21km Corcova Uvala trail leads though dense forests…


…. remote fields….


….and trickling streams.


The best part about the Corcova Uvala trail?


Hiking for six hours without seeing another soul, especially after we had spent the previous day engulfed by fellow visitors on the boardwalks that lead through the Lake systems.


I know that when most people think Croatia, they think of the incredible coastal cities, such as Dubrovnik, bordering the Adriatic.  But in this traveler’s opinion, even with the crowds, Plitvice is the true crown jewel of Croatia.


Rovinj – How to spend a perfect day in a Croatian harbor town

Rovinj – How to spend a perfect day in a Croatian harbor town

I did not enjoy Croatia as a country to backpack in except for two places, Plitvice Lakes National Park and Rovinj.  If you are staying in Pula and looking for a good day trip, Rovinj takes the cake.


It is a smaller, more charming coastal town than Pula and the fresh fish is legit.





After a tasty lunch fresh from the sea you can rent a bike a take a ride through Park šuma Zlatni.


Along the edge of the park there are rocky outcrops where you can take a nap or a dip, with or without clothing.


Before you get too excited about the romantic idea of a nude beach, let me pop that bubble right quick.

Most of the swimmers that elect to forego a swimsuit in favor of their birthday suit are well over the age of 50 and are no longer in top physical condition.

If you can ignore these occasional “mid-50s-flashes” the bike ride is well worth it.


Rovinj has a very artsy hill winding up its old town on the western peninsula.  The steep, diagonal streets act as a permanent art bazaar, with hundreds of local studios to choose from.


Its not my thing – I’m not an art guy, nor a souvenir guy – but it might be yours.  Plus, it would be mighty difficult to tote a painting around in a backpack for three months.  If I buy any gifts at all while abroad, it is usually in the city I fly home from.


At the end of the art hike and at the top of the hill in Rovinj’s old town is Saint Euphemia’s basilica, a baroque church, which you can see in the upper left in the above photo.

At the end of the day while waiting for the bus and watching old men play chess in the central square I realized I would have rather stayed in Rovinj than Pula.  If you’re thinking about making a trip to Croatia I would recommend you do the same.

Pula – A little bit o’ Rome in Croatia

Pula – A little bit o’ Rome in Croatia

Pula is a big town on Croatia’s northwestern coast with Roman architectural influence.


Pula’s coliseum, or “Arena” as it is called today, is modeled after the one in Rome and though it is not as impressive, it boasts a similar gladiatorial history.


Rome does not have a “China Town”, though admittedly (and oddly) Pula’s China Town is limited to one store.


But the white architecture in Pula is far more memorable than its China town.


The Temple of Augustus in Pula

And this is part of what makes Pula is a wonderful place to just sit and drink a glass of wine or an espresso.


Under Emperor Vespasian, Pula’s amphitheater (6th largest in the world) was built  to seat 23,000 spectators. Back then it was the site of gladiator fights and other brutal amusements for the masses. Nowadays it satisfies a far less bloody purpose, operating as a venue for summer film and opera festivals.


We stayed in a lovely hostel in Pula called Riva Hostel where we met two very cool French girls and the standard eclectic cast of “usual suspects” that you always seem to find in hostels.

Pula also has an industrious port.


And nearby a spot to park your yacht if you are that lucky.

My yacht is the one on the left

My yacht is the one on the left

Maybe someday…

Overall I enjoyed Pula but one of the day trips we took from Pula ended up being more enjoyable.  Stay tuned for the next post!