Croatia UNESCO Sites – Part I

Waterfall Croatia UNESCO sites - AndAdventure

Hey everyone!

Our team at AndAdventure decided to do a series of articles to cover the list of Croatian UNESCO sites. In a regular weekly manner, we’ll update you with information ranging from beautiful natural phenomena to medieval tombstone graveyards. It’s a crazy ride through Croatian landscape, history and culture so hold tight. Here goes the first one!

Plitvice National Park in Croatia – you’ve all heard about it and if you haven’t, this is a good start.It is considered to be one of the most beautiful natural sights in Europe. Due to its natural beauty and significance, this system of 16 interlinked crystalline lakes and a large forest complex around it were set aside on 8 April 1949 as the first national park in Croatia. Plitvice Lakes were internationally recognized on 26 October 1979 with inscription on the UNESCO World Heritage List.

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The park covers an area just under 300 km2  (296.85 km2) and is heavily forested, mainly with beech, spruce, and fir trees. It has a wide variety of plants, due to large range of micro-climates, different soils and multiple levels of altitude. The area is also populated with many animal and bird species of whom brown bear, wolf, eagle, owl and lynx belong to rare ones. 126 bird species are recorded and 70 are breeding here. It is pretty clear that flora and fauna are special in this place, which itself is a good enough reason to visit.

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But the truly special feature of this place is in its lakes, which (oddly) cover only 1% of the total park area but have a set of unique features that leave the visitor breathless. The park has 16 named lakes and several smaller unnamed lakes. Due to the geological substrate and characteristic hydro-geological conditions, lakes are divided into 12 Upper Lakes and 4 Lower Lakes. Upper Lakes are: Proš´cansko jezero, Ciginovac, Okrugljak, Batinovac, Veliko jezero, Malo jezero, Vir, Galovac, Milino jezero, Gradinsko jezero, Burgeti and Kozjak. These lakes were formed on dolomite rock, and are larger, with more indented and gentler shores. The Lower Lakes, consisting of the lakes Milanovac, Gavanovac, Kaluderovac and Novakovi´ca Brod, were formed in limestone substrate, cut into a deep canyon with steep cliffs. The lakes end in the impressive waterfalls Sastavci, with the Korana River springing under the base of the falls. From an aerial perspective, significant differences between the terrain of the Upper and the Lower Plitvice Lakes can be observed. At the Upper Lakes several little lakes have formed parallel to each other and a rather shallow water flow can be observed. The Lower Lakes, however, are much larger and virtually drill their path through the rock.The process of tufa (tuff) formation, which results in the building of the tufa, or travertine, barriers and finally resulted in the creation of the lakes, is the outstanding universal value for which they were added to the UNESCO World Heritage List. Tufa sediments have been formed from the Pleistocene onward in sinkholes or depressed areas between the surrounding mountains.  This process is actually the reason why the lakes connect into cascading waterline that is simply amazing to witness.

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Administratively, the park falls within two counties: Lika-Senj (90.7%) and Karlovac (9.3%). The preservation of old customs and traditions is of high significance for the local population. The local culture has also been detected as an important factor for tourism. As regards architecture, the region of Lika is well known for its low wooden houses with roofs made of rye straw or shingles. Local cuisine consists of drinks, such as Slivovitz (Croatian šljivovica), wine and coffee or dishes, such as soft cheese (Croatian vrhnje), polenta, pršut (prosciutto), paprika sausage, roasted suckling pig (Croatian odojak) or lamb (Croatian janjetina).

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The Plitvice Lakes National Park offers visitors seven different routes to tour the lake system, and four hiking trails, which is perfect for activity holidays. A complete run through the park can be done on trail H in 4-5 hours (3.5 if you really hustle), but you’ll want to take your time and enjoy it. The views are simply spectacular. Some trails have boat transfers and bus transfers (free of charge) to save you walking time. The paths are very well maintained and consist of wooden planks, gravel, rocks, and steps. Many of the paths are wheelchair accessible, but there are sections with steps and inclines. Most of the people visit Plitvice for one day, but we would highly suggest to take your time and stay for two days. It is more comfortable and there is no rushing the sightseeing on tight schedule.

The park is open to visitors year round and all visitors are required to follow the instructions listed on the information panels, to keep on the marked trails, and to leave no traces of their visit, such as litter, markings or devastation of nature in any form.A ticket is required to enter the park (there are ticket offices on the paths as you enter the park). The tickets also entitle you to free travel on the boats which run on the lakes. Beware: In season the lines are long! You can check the price list right here.

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There are no words or photos that could properly explain the beauty of this place, and this is why this article is simply not enough. The only way to experience Plitvice is to visit, and we have no particular period which we prefer. Summer is the most popular one, but autumn shares the splendid forest colors with the world, winter is a real life frozen fairy tale and spring is when all the flora and fauna of the park bursts into life.Choose whichever suits you best and simply enjoy your time in this paradise on earth.

If you feel adventurous, we would be really glad if you’d join our Journey through the colors of Croatia, because we visit Plitvice among many other things.


Until next time, when we’ll be traveling to Split and historical complex of Diocletian’s Palace, stay safe and active.

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