If you've decided to take a break on Croatia's sun-splashed shores, the chances are you're looking forward to lazing on a beach and topping up your tan. However, there's much more to this fabulous county than powder-soft sands and sapphire seas: if you're a fan of the great outdoors, make sure you pay a visit to the Plitvice Lakes, Croatia's best kept secret. One of the country's finest natural wonders, it's an easy way to spend a day and ideal for families and couples alike.
The legend of the Plitvice LakesLegend has it that the Black Queen came down from her mountain dwelling during a period of drought. Seeing the land parched and brown, she used her magical powers to conjure a mighty storm, which flooded the thirsty countryside. Once the storm was over and the waters had been soaked up, among the newly-green forests, 16 beautiful lakes had formed. Feeling rather pleased with herself, the Black Queen declared that visitors from across the world would come to see the Plitvice Lakes Croatia and the surrounding scenery. However they were actually created, the final part of the story is true, as over 1.5million visitors come to admire this breathtaking part of the country.
A UNESCO World Heritage SiteLocated in the centre of the country and around 130km from the capital Zagreb, the Plitvice Lakes region has been awarded UNESCO World Heritage Site status, in recognition of its stunning views and the abundance of flowers and creatures that call it home. In the height of summer, entrance to the park costs 180Kn, giving you access to over 300 square kilometres of glorious greenery, glittering waterfalls and the stars of the show, the lakes. Connected by the waterfalls, the lakes stretch over about 8km. While each has its own distinct character, they are equally astonishing and an ideal place for a picnic or to sit and enjoy the serenity of the surrounding backdrop. While there, you might notice the colour of the waters: the lakes' vivid blue colouring is the result of years of calcium deposits, making the water almost glow.
Pack a camera!If you've got a camera, pack it for your visit to the Plitvice Lakes Croatia. If you haven't; buy one! In addition to the thick vegetation, rolling hills and dense, fragrant forests, the Plitvice Lakes Croatia are populated by some outstanding wildlife including boar, deer, wolves, bears and some rare species of bird. There are wooden walkways for those who'd rather walk on something even and dependable; during the winter, the woodland paths can be a little unpredictable, especially after heavy snow!
Getting Around the National ParkBecause the Plitvice Lakes Croatia National Park is so vast, you won't be able to see it all in one go. However, to make sure that you see as much as you want, there are trains to take you through the undergrowth and ferries to transport you across the lakes, allowing you to see the park from a different viewpoint. The trains and ferries run frequently, so you won't have to worry about wasting time standing in a queue. While there are plenty of things to see and do in Croatia, your trip won't be complete without a visit to this world-class attraction.