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A – Z Guidebook – Croatia, Plitvice Lakes

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Croatia, Plitvice Lakes

Croatia is one of my all time favourite holiday destinations. I have many fond memories of the month we camped there in the summer of 2010. It was scorchingly hot, part of the same heat wave that had engulfed us in France and Italy in the preceding weeks. We spent a good deal of our time parking precariously on the rocky cliffs, inching out way carefully down to the cool blue waters of the Adriatic, far, far below. When people ask me ‘What is Croatia like?’, I always answer ‘It’s one long, skinny coastline with the whole of the country parked at crazy angles, doing their best to scramble down into the water to swim.’ And though Croatia is almost all coastline, the interior also has some secrets.

Plitvice Lakes National Park is a spectacular site that’s listed on the UNESCO World Heritage Register. It encompasses a series of lakes, caves and small waterfalls that have formed because of the karst (limestone) topography and subterranean rivers emerging to the surface. Naturally occurring dams as a result of mineral deposits have shaped the shallow lakes, creating stunning azure pools and cascades within a steep wooded gorge. The park was the site of one of the very early battles in the Balkan conflict of the early 1990’s. Despite Croatia’s recent history of civil unrest, it recognised the need to protect and maintain this unique natural feature.

Around each bend is a postcard view, with waterfalls tumbling over mossy rocks and emerald tinted pools filled with carp, lazily swimming against the currents. A series of boardwalks takes you alongside and across the lakes as you slowly ascend to the head of the gorge. On the day we visited, the mercury nudged the high 30’s. Beautiful as it was, there was little respite from the sun and the desire to dive into the cool pools was maddening. It must have been unbearable for those water loving Croatians. Combined with huge crowds of holidaymakers, crossing those boardwalks was a form of exquisite torture. A few degrees cooler or a midweek visit would have made such a difference and yet, here I am writing about it. Once seen, it can never be forgotten.

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20 comments… add one
  • Mandy August 15, 2015, 1:15 am

    One day, when I am big, I will visit Croatia!
    Have a beautiful weekend!
    🙂 Mandy xo

    • Fiona Ryan August 16, 2015, 10:45 am

      It was such a great holiday Monday and definitley worth visiting when you can. Thanks for stopping by and being a regular reader. Why don’t you join in? – you must have plenty of travel stories!

  • Joanne T Ferguson August 15, 2015, 4:13 pm

    What a great post Fiona and glad I got to experience Croatia through your eyes!
    Enjoy the weekend and look forward to contributing for C!

    • Fiona Ryan August 16, 2015, 10:44 am

      Croatia is on the top 5 of favourites places we visited. Looking forward to seeing what ‘C’ has on offer from you!

  • Stuart August 15, 2015, 7:57 pm

    Croatia is on my list of places to visit. Your post makes it much more appealing. Great photo.

    • Fiona Ryan August 16, 2015, 10:46 am

      Thanks Stuart – that water looks so inviting all these years later. What a searing day it was! You definitely need to have it high on your list.

  • leanne August 17, 2015, 2:39 pm

    Plitvice Lakes sounds amazing, although I’m not to keen on crowds it would be worth it though!

    • Fiona Ryan August 17, 2015, 6:25 pm

      It was ridiculously crowded but I suppose that’s what happens when the whole of Europe goes on holidays at the same time. Definitley worth a visit.

  • Surely Sarah August 17, 2015, 5:13 pm

    Wow, what a beautiful spot! It’s clear there’s more to Croatia than Dubrovnik and Split 🙂

    • Fiona Ryan August 17, 2015, 6:04 pm

      It was soooo hot in Dubrovnik. We stayed a week in an apartment outside the walls. We would catch a bus in and finish the day by 11am with an ice cream and then back to the apartment. All that sun bouncing off limestone. Loved it though!

  • Tandy | Lavender and Lime August 17, 2015, 5:28 pm

    Croatia has to go onto our list of places to visit for sure!

    • Fiona Ryan August 17, 2015, 6:05 pm

      Yes, yes, yes Tandy. It’s a must! Cheap flights from Europe so plan it into one of your itineraries.

  • Emily (Cooking for Kishore) August 18, 2015, 4:47 am

    Wow, Fiona love the vivid blue gray and greens of the shot. Croatia is definitely on the travel list, thanks for sharing! 🙂

    • Fiona Ryan August 21, 2015, 4:45 pm

      The interior was a revelation. I’d go back in a heartbeat.

  • Jan Rhoades August 20, 2015, 8:15 am

    I loved Croatia too Fiona. We visited last year in late September early October and the weather was perfect. The heat of summer had passed and the days were mellow and warm. I would love to return one day.
    One of my favourite ‘C” places is Cesky Krumlov , in the Czech Republic. We visited on a day trip whilst on the river cruise from Amsterdam to Budapest. It was a wonderful experience.
    It is a small city in the South Bohemian Region of the Czech Republic where Český Krumlov Castle is located. Old Český Krumlov is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
    Certainly worth a visit if the opportunity arises.

    • Fiona Ryan August 21, 2015, 4:46 pm

      I think you just like saying it as you always say it with an accent ; )

  • Annette August 20, 2015, 8:42 am

    Croatia looks and sounds like a wonderful place to holiday, another one for my list!

  • sherry from sherrys pickings August 20, 2015, 8:50 am

    oh yes we loved croatia and slovenia, and serbia! i will never forget catching a train to Ljubjlana (spelling?) from Zagreb, and watching the blossom wafting across in great sun-splashed clouds…ooo getting lyrical there:) Great photo you have there.
    thanks for hosting.

    • Fiona Ryan August 21, 2015, 4:47 pm

      Slovenia was perfect – an empty little country with brand new freeways because it had joined the EU. We did not get to Serbia as we would not take the car because of insurance. You are one up on me Sherry!

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