Plitvice National Park: The Land Before Time

There are so many things I could say about Plitvice Lakes National Park, but none of them do it the justice that this pictures does:

Doesn’t it look like some sort of lost world? I half expected to see a dinosaur lumbering out of the bushes at any moment. In actuality, Plitvice is one of Croatia’s most popular tourist attractions. It’s a sort of wonderland of lakes and waterfalls, big and small.

The lakes are created by runoff from nearby mountains running through travertine rock, a kind of dissolvable limestone. There are 16 lakes total, although it’s difficult to tell where one ends and another begins. The water changes color from pool to pool and based on the sunlight, but all of it was eerily translucent the way only water that is completely untouched can be.

Pathways wind around, over and behind the waterfalls, allowing you to see the lakes from every possible angle. Water runs everywhere in an endless cascade. Even through the steps:

I visited Plitvice with some of my new Australian Party Cruise friends and we spent a full day wandering the trails, above water pathways and caves of the park. In mid-June the park was busy- mostly with local Croatian tourists and buses of Japanese  travelers, but not annoyingly so. There was plenty of space to walk peacefully and enjoy the beauty of the park.

It won’t surprise you to know that Plitvice is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Somehow, despite being incredibly popular within the Balkans, it’s mostly unknown outside of the region. It’s one of my favorite places I’ve visited and I really can’t recommend it any more highly.

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35 Responses to Plitvice National Park: The Land Before Time

  1. Miss G May 4, 2010 at 8:23 AM #

    Wow great pictures. I’ll definately add Plitvice into my Croatia trip this summer now! Thanks
    .-= Miss G´s last blog ..WAG#20 The first time =-.

    • Steph May 4, 2010 at 11:44 AM #

      It’s definitely a must see if you are in Croatia!

      • Ian [EagerExistence] July 23, 2012 at 2:30 AM #

        A great way to spend a day hiking in nature. Some of the most beautiful lakes I have ever seen. Getting the bus there and away was a right pain in the butt though!

  2. Lisa @ The World is Calling May 4, 2010 at 8:34 AM #

    Knew I wanted to go already. Your pictures make me really, REALLY want to go. It is a Land Before Time wonderland. Thanks for sharing!
    .-= Lisa @ The World is Calling´s last blog ..Travel Contest: The Blog Hop Is On! =-.

  3. Candice May 4, 2010 at 2:19 PM #

    I’m not sure what has gotten me more excited, the picture, or The Land Before Time Reference. Hahaha.
    .-= Candice´s last blog ..Guest Post: Don’t Eat the Spacecakes in Amsterdam =-.

    • Steph May 4, 2010 at 3:58 PM #

      but where’s littlefoot!?

  4. Eli May 4, 2010 at 3:18 PM #

    Steph, those pictures are CRAZY! Especially that first one. It definitely has a Jurassic Park look going on.
    .-= Eli´s last blog ..The Art of Constant Learning =-.

    • Steph May 5, 2010 at 11:55 AM #

      no dinosaurs spotted, but some frogs and a snake!

  5. Cornelius Aesop May 5, 2010 at 9:45 AM #

    Now this looks like a monkey’s paradise!
    .-= Cornelius Aesop´s last blog ..New Brew Tuesday: The Battle of the Modelos =-.

    • Steph May 5, 2010 at 11:56 AM #

      no swimming allowed though little guy.

  6. Emily May 5, 2010 at 10:14 AM #

    Wow — those pics are insanely beautiful! It really does have a Land Before Time Feel. I definitely want to make it to Croatia sooner rather than later!
    .-= Emily´s last blog ..Q&A With Irish Backpacker and Blogger Johnny Ward =-.

    • Steph May 5, 2010 at 11:56 AM #

      I want to go back- I feel like there is a lot I didn’t get to see!

  7. ehalvey May 5, 2010 at 2:19 PM #

    Can I just move to Croatia?? And is Slovenia just as pretty? Those shots are gorgeous.

    Sadly, that’s what the inside of Opryland Hotel looks like right now

    • Steph May 5, 2010 at 5:05 PM #

      Yup Slovenia is gorgeous too. I predict in a couple years the whole are will be a much bigger tourist draw.

      Hope you’re keeping dry!

      • ehalvey May 5, 2010 at 9:46 PM #

        I want to see the “homeland’ of Slovenia so badly. And Croatia after my friend’s postcard from Selce.

        Keeping dry here. But we’re on a tight water restriction so we’re all funky fresh. has some really good write ups about all the stuff going on.
        .-= ehalvey´s last blog ..More Flood Stuff =-.

  8. Hoo-whee, Steph! Your photos are just what I needed today as I plan my October trip to Slovenia, Montenegro…and Croatia! My husband and I saw an amazing PBS documentary on Plitvice last year, and it was a done deal. Thank you for stoking the travel fire. 🙂
    .-= [email protected]´s last blog ..Jamaica: A Little Eco-Love in Negril =-.

    • Steph May 5, 2010 at 5:07 PM #

      fabulous! the whole region is so great, you will love it I’m sure!

  9. Beautiful Places to Visit May 5, 2010 at 5:33 PM #

    The lakes are amazing! I recently did a feature post on Plitvice on my photo blog:

    Keep up the awesome posts 😀

    – Ariel V
    .-= Beautiful Places to Visit´s last blog ..Crane Beach, Barbados =-.

  10. Gray May 6, 2010 at 9:21 AM #

    Outstanding photos! You’re right, it does look like the Lost World. 🙂
    .-= Gray´s last blog ..A Solo Traveler Does Family Travel =-.

  11. Sheila May 6, 2010 at 1:54 PM #

    Gorgeous waterfalls and that clear blue water is calling my name.
    .-= Sheila´s last blog ..Hawaii Vacation Deals & News: May 5, 2010 =-.

    • Steph May 6, 2010 at 2:30 PM #

      beautiful but they don’t let you swim in it! probably how they keep it so clear.

  12. Verity May 9, 2010 at 4:43 PM #

    Wow… it looks absolutely amazing. I’ve never heard of it before and I am seriously wondering why. Talk about well-kept secret. I’m definitely adding it to my list of places I want to visit! I totally see what you mean about the dinosaurs. Jurassic Park eat your heart out 🙂

    • Steph May 9, 2010 at 5:10 PM #

      A lot of the Balkans is pretty unknown tourism wise. I suspect this won’t be the case for long…

  13. Michael Tyson July 4, 2010 at 1:51 PM #

    Plitvice Lakes National Park has been on my list of things to see and do for a long time – this was a great reminder of why!

    Thank you.


  14. Traci August 25, 2010 at 9:34 PM #

    Those photos bring back great memories! I was there just a couple of years ago. Croatia is a gorgeous country – we flew into Zagreb and drove down the coast, stopping where we wanted and each place was more beautiful than the next. I loved the smaller towns most. Trogir was great with a nice balance of small-town vibe while still having plenty to see and do.

    • Steph August 26, 2010 at 2:09 PM #

      Croatia is a very cool place. I haven’t been to Trogir, which I guess is a good excuse to go back!

  15. Shannon Elizabeth September 16, 2010 at 6:11 PM #

    Wow, wow, wow! Croatia is still on my list of places to see and this place looks absolutely incredible! The pictures are absolutely stunning!

    • Steph September 17, 2010 at 2:29 PM #

      It’s a really amazing place- Croatia is a must see!

  16. drew July 12, 2011 at 10:45 PM #

    How much would it cost to build a house there!? The place looks epic! I’ll have to look into it further!!!!

    • Steph July 12, 2011 at 11:25 PM #

      Well, it’s a National Park, so I don’t think they’ll let you build a house there 🙂

  17. Beautiful Croatia October 10, 2011 at 5:26 AM #

    @drew you wanna build a house there Steph wrote about thats a BIG NO NO.. 🙂 .. I’ve been there a couple of years ago..and I’m planning to visit next year again..if it weren’t for other stuff I’d probably have gone there more than once by now.. I mean if you don’t have the finance to travel there pics are great..but anyone that can afford this..should pack their bags and travel to Croatia..cause even though I would like to explain describe the’s a unique experience that just can’t be described..and if you’re in Croatia I would recommend visiting other National Parks as well…like Krka, Brijuni, Paklenica… I mean neither of them are too far away…considering the size of Croatia

  18. John January 4, 2012 at 10:04 PM #

    Excellent photos. Did you know that there is actually another (albeit smaller) version of these lakes in the United States? Hanging Lake in Colorado (wikipedia here: is formed by the same travertine rock and has similar scenery. Check it out!

    • Steph January 9, 2012 at 3:06 PM #

      Very cool!

    • Steph January 9, 2012 at 3:06 PM #

      Very cool! That does look similar.

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