Visit Plitvice Lakes National Park this autumn and enjoy the stunning display of red and golden leaves against the breath-taking backdrop of the park’s many waterfalls. Understandably, the park has become very popular but visit soon and you’ll find fewer crowds to share it with compared to the summer months.
Situated between Zadar and Zagreb, this World Heritage site is made up of 16 turquoise lakes connected by a series of waterfalls and cascades. Visitors can explore the park on 18km of wooden footbridges bringing you close to the rumbling waters. The waters can change colour depending on the mineral composition creating an array of stunning colours in the lakes, from teal and azure to emerald green. Split into upper and lower lakes, visitors can choose from seven different trails and four hiking routes to explore the different areas of the park.
Flights operate from the UK to Zadar from April to October. They are twice weekly from Manchester and three times a week from London Stansted. Alternatively, you could base yourself in Zagreb and flights operate daily from London Heathrow. Both cities offer plenty of day trips to the park and unless you are planning to stay over, this is the best option to maximise your day and learn about this natural wonder. Frequent bus services also operate if you prefer to do your own thing.
Often overlooked in favour of other better-known cities including Dubrovnik and Split, Zadar is an interesting city to spend a few days and it is only around one and half hours drive to Plitvice Lakes National Park so it makes the perfect base. Explore the quiet streets of the Old Town with Roman, Byzantine and Venetian architecture. In contrast, head down the harbourfront for a display of ultra-modern creations. The Sun Salutation, a 22-metre diameter solar operated circle created by architect Nikola Bašić displays an impressive show of light working in rhythm with the Sea Organ, a system of pipes which create harmonic sounds from the waves. With temperatures around 20 ˚C in October, you can also enjoy a day on the beach or a sundowner watching the ‘most beautiful sunset in the world’ as described by Alfred Hitchcock.
Zagreb, Croatia’s capital city is just over two hours drive from Plitvice Lakes National Park so this also works well for a short break. This vibrant city has a buzzing café culture and combines the Austro-Hungarian architecture and red roofs and church spires with an urban, arty vibe with street art and murals transforming dull concrete walls and a never-ending list of music concerts and markets.