Visit This European National Park For Beautiful Lakeside Views

Packing your bags and traveling to Europe puts you in the perfect place to explore stunning landscapes of all kinds. From the Alps that tower over south-central Europe to the impressive Atlantic Highlands that run through Scandinavia, the continent is rich in diverse landforms to experience. Preserving important environments and their essential ecosystems has become a priority for many European countries. Today, there are over 500 national parks across Europe designed to protect nature and it natural heritage.

Travelers looking to explore a destination that comes with breathtaking lakeside views will find it waiting for them at Croatia's Plitvice Lakes National Park. This country on the Balkan Peninsula is smaller than the state of West Virginia, and according to Worldometer, it hosts a population of just over 4 million people. Still, Croatia's striking natural beauty and rich history call travelers in droves, with Sail Croatia reporting over 15 million visitors to the country in 2022.

Plitvice Lakes National Park has earned the title of the largest national park in Croatia. It was officially deemed the country's first national park back in 1949 and today welcomes over 1 million visitors annually. It's a destination that has thrilled travelers for decades, thanks to an ever-evolving lake system offering up new surprises and discoveries with every visit.

Savor spectacularly colorful scenery

A trip to Plitvice Lakes National Park is an opportunity to explore an intricate collection of lakes and waterfalls. That park is divided into lower and upper lakes for guests to admire. Lush forests and limestone canyons also dot the landscape. Experts believe the lake system took millennia to develop into the spectacular scene it is today. What visitors witness now is the result of natural dams called tufa barriers formed by flowing waters leaving calcium carbonate deposits behind year after year. At Plitvice Lakes National Park, tufa barriers interact with bacteria, algae, and moss, providing on-lookers with an ever-changing kaleidoscope of aquatic colors to admire.

The park offers visitors many options for observing the lake from varying vantage points. There are limestone cliffs to climb around and boardwalks to explore that wind over the water . In total, Plitvice Lakes National Park hosts 16 large lakes and seven smaller lakes, but amazingly, they only make up about 1% of this sprawling destination, which includes around 73,000 acres. Savoring the colorful lake views is an activity that's inevitably interwoven with time spent admiring the 90 waterfalls on-site, the tallest of which are found by the lower lakes. They're typically accompanied by intriguing caves and caverns.

Lakeside activities to enjoy

In 1979, the importance of the lake system within Plitvice Lakes National Park was recognized on a global level, and it was placed on the UNESCO World Heritage List. This title offers the site further valuable protections. It's estimated that Plitvice Lakes National Park hosts around 30% of the flora known to exist across the entirety of Croatia. The plants and flowers that surround the lakes draw in over 300 species of butterflies. These ecosystems also provide prime habitats for over 160 species of birds. An amazing way to view as many as possible is to head out on one of the park's eight lakeside hiking trails, with binoculars in hand. 

Plitvice Lakes National Park is a place where guests can enjoy boating when the weather is warm. There are also opportunities to hop on bikes and tour the lakeside trails on two wheels. Caving is another popular activity, and with 114 caves to choose from, it's an easy task to customize your adventures. The lakes provide essential resources and habitats for larger creatures, giving wildlife enthusiasts plenty to be excited about when they visit. Plitvice Lakes National Park is home to wild boar, bears, wolves, and the critically endangered lynx. If you're planning a winter trip to Europe, you can pair your frosty lakeside viewings with time on the ski slopes at the park's Mukinje Ski Resort.