This Big Year National park blog series features National Parks from around the world. The first park to make our list is Plitvice Jereza in Croatia (locally Plitvička Jereza). This park has stunning waterfalls that crawl along the landscape with stunning boardwalks that make for a very personal experience. Read on for an overview of the park and on the bottom of the page for the coffee situation.
Croatia is full of stunning national parks unlike anywhere else. Plitvice retains a beauty that has been preserved over time and the country has invested well into their park system. As Croatia enters the schengen region of Europe they have become extremely tourist friendly with affordable Airbnb’s and plenty of local transport.
Why we love this park
Plitvice is the National park gem of Croatia. Its beauty is unique safeguarded from overuse and pollution. The park's operations are also extremely sophisticated and the infrastructure is perfect for groups and travelers from any background. My favorite part of Plitvice was the most obvious, the extraordinary waterfalls! Croatian waterfalls are called "slap", and they certainly slapped me in the face the first time I witnessed them. I was mouth to the boardwalk when I walked around a bend and witnessed 4 cascading waterfalls into an endless emerald pool, I didn't want to leave, but as I kept going the waterfalls continually impressed me with there hidden qualities and secretive nature. The waterfalls here are unlike anywhere I have been, instead of following an obvious path, they leak through the woods and overflow their banks. The emerald waters are also mesmerizing. In some places, they were extremely deep and the boardwalk makes you feel like you are practically walking on water.
Where to go
We recommend starting from the top and working your way down to the bottoms. Other options include walking around the large lake, or working your way up the falls for a little more of a challenge. The H sequence for Plitvice starts at the top of the park (from entrance 2) and works its way down to the base of the river (boat ride included). The pre-drawn routes the park provides are useful and get any tourist to the best spots. The entirety of Plitvice's waterfalls can easily be walked in just a day. Overall the park is fairly concentrated in a few beautiful waterfall zones and the boardwalks are the most enticing sections along the river. If you want to witness more wildlife, check out some of the other hikes that get away from the crowds and up into the hills. By the end of a long day, you'll feel extremely satisfied with what you've seen. When we visited in mid-November the water volume was at it's peak volume which made for stunning views. Also, visiting outside the summer season means that the housing is cheaper and there is less crowding. We'd love to return a bit earlier to see more greenery or possible some dazzling flowers in the water. There is no swimming aloud so don't go if it's scorching hot, the water would be to much of a tease for any tourist to ignore.
The Coffee Situation - Plitvice has a small food shop at the B entrance that opens at 8:30. Coffee is served, but is a bit expensive for the area. They do offer it mixed with Baileys and other spirits for those that need an extra pick-me-up. We recommend making some big year coffee at home and taking it with you so you can make the first tram into the park.