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- 05 Mar 2021, 3 nights
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UNESCO-registered Plitvice Lakes National Park is a photographers' dream. Croatia's most-visited destination has 16 jewel-green, terraced lakes that look as though they've come straight from a postcard. Along with the lakes – whose otherworldly colours are the result of contact with limestone rocks, moss and algae as the water works its way down the mountains – there are over 90 waterfalls to gaze at, including the 78m-high Veliki Slap.
Hostels in Plitvice Lakes National Park include relaxed places with gardens backing onto forests, eco-friendly hostels with solar-heated water and LED lights, and alpine-style lodges. Look out for big buffet breakfasts using all-Croatian ingredients to keep your energy up for touring the park, as well as free maps for information on exploring the area. In more rural parts of the region, choose a Plitvice Lakes hostel with a kitchen where you can cook your own meals.
Plitvice Lakes National Park is the main place to check out in the region, but there are small Croatian towns dotted around its boundary. Korenica is the nearest to the park's southern entrance, with amenities like shops, bakeries and cafés within walking distance. For a low-key village vibe, try Jezerce. It has a traditional feel and it's only a 10-minute drive from the park.
Swimming in the lakes isn't permitted to help keep the ecosystem pristine – but you can kayak down rapids about half an hour away. Activities like zip-lining and quad biking are also available. In the park, it's all about wandering across wooden walkways while taking in the lush views of the turquoise water, framed by abundant greenery. Outside the park you'll find some other cool hikes, including to Plješevica Mountain's former Yugoslavian military base on the Bosnian border. For views across Korenica and the surrounding area, try a sunset trek to Mrsinj Town.
You can easily get to Plitvice on a bus from Zagreb in around 2 hours, but you can also rent a car if you want to explore the area in more depth. Organised day tours are available from Zagreb and other large Croatian destinations, but if you want to really get to know Plitvice it's worth staying a couple of days or more. Inside the national park, your entry fee covers a boat and train between the upper and lower lakes.