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A Complete Guide to Plitvice Lake National Park, Croatia

Each site has breathtaking views and unique fauna and flora.
Plitvice is a UNESCO World Heritage Site is a group of 16 natural lakes.
Plitvice National Park has gorgeous waterfalls, lakes and boardwalk trails that makes its wonderful place to spend your spring/summer break.
The 16 lakes here are interconnected and the color of the water varies from hues of emerald green to deep shades of blue.
The color is owing to the mineral content and the lighting conditions.
At this time the weather is cool and the water levels in the lakes are high owing to the melting snow.
Though the park is open throughout the year, the best time to visit is during the spring.
Summer months are warm and it is the peak season. If you want to see the changing colors of the leaves, then visit in the Fall.
It snows in winter, the lakes freeze and the park is quiet. But the scenery is breathtaking.
You have to buy a ticket to enter the park. The price of the ticket includes a boat ride and  train ride to take you back to the Park entrance.
The shortest hiking route takes 3 hours while the longest may take you up to 8 hours. So put on a comfortable hiking shoes and carry plenty of water.
The park has two entrances and each entrance have 4 different hiking routes.
Trail Options from Entrance 1
Trail A (2-3 hours -3.5km) - This trail explores only the lower lakes and  takes you to the Great Waterfall and Kozjaka Bridge.
Trail B (3-4 hours -4km) - This trail is similar to Trail A but includes sailing on lake Kozjaka.
Trail C (4-6 hours -8km) - It is an extension of Trail B, then you can hike to the upper lakes.
Trail K (6-8 hours - 18.3km) - Explores the whole park. This trail can be slightly tedious.
Trail Routes from Entrance 2
To visit the upper lakes choose this entrance that is on the southern end.
Trail E (2-3 hours - 5 km) - Takes you to Proscansko Jezero starting with a short boat ride across the Kozjak Lake.
Trail F (3-4 hours - 4 km) - You hike to the upper lakes and sail across lake Kozjaka, then visit the lower lakes. From here take shuttle back
Trail H (4-6 hours - 9 km) -  Starts with a bus ride to your starting point, walk the upper lakes, then sail across lake Kozjaka, to the lower lakes  and take shuttle bus back.
Trail K-2 (6-8 hours - 18) - Similar to the Trail K-1. You explore the whole park in a day.
If you are at leisure and have ample time in hand, spend at least three days in this park. There are good bed and breakfast facilities in the proximity.
Book Your Tickets in Advance
During the peak season, you need to wait in a queue to buy your tickets to enter the Plitvice Lake Park.
Once you have you the tickets, all you have to do is arrive before 9 am to enter the park.
Have a plan in place or you can get the help of tour guides. The park is huge with lower and upper lakes. A hiking tour would be a great way to avoid getting lost.
Stroll along the boardwalks or hike up to paths adjacent to the cliff trails to catch the fantastic views of the park.
Spend your first day hiking along the Lower Lakes. Explore Veliki Slap, the largest waterfall in the park.
Some prefer visiting the Lower and Upper Lakes trails on the same day. This can be exhaustive and tiring.
Take your time to enjoy the surrounding including the color of the waters that change with the angle of the sun throughout the day.
Upper lakes are less crowded than the Lower Lakes during the peak season. You can take short hikes to Veliki and Mali Prstavac waterfalls.
Else hike the entire Upper lakes region. There is also ferry service from the Upper Lakes region that crosses Lake Kozjak. There are good picnic spots, a gift shop and restaurant here.
Though there are restaurants and bars inside the Park, it's wise to pack a picnic lunch and carry extra water bottles.
Swimming and boating are not allowed inside the park. However, if you a day to spare, enjoy the village of Rastoke.
In the village you can spend a day with water rafting or kayaking in Korana or Una rivers.
Cycle around the Plitvice Park area or go swimming in Mreznica River.
Explore the 18th century water mills or Barac Caves to enjoy the countryside of Croatia.
If you enjoy nature and love to hike and explore, Plitvice National Park  is a must visit.

 Maya Pillai

Credits
Thimo van Leeuwen, Barbara Šipek, Mark Boss, Roger Goh, Nauris Pūķis, Jasper Garratt, Mike Swigunski, Megan Johnston, Jun ZY, Benjamin Davies, Robert Thiemann