Travel Guide with beautiful photos and exciting descriptions of the most amazing and unique places in Baltic states and Europe.
Plitvice lakes seen from above

If there are places in Europe which could be called as "the paradise" then one of those places definitely is Plitvice lakes (Pļitvička jezera) National park in Croatia. Here a nature lover can find almost anything in one site - countless picturesque waterfalls, lakes with beautiful, turqouise colored water, impressive cliffs and hills, lush green trees and forests and many great viewpoints to all this beauty. There is only one shortcoming of the place - as in a paradise (and a well known one), so many people wants to get there... thus turning the enjoyment of nature into more like a crowd in the train station during a rush hour (at least if you happen to be there in the middle of a day in the high season).
LOCATION Croatia, Karlovac county
AREA 296 sq km
COORDINATES 44°52′50″N 15°36′58″E
TOURISTS 1,4 MIO (2015)
RATING (9,3/10)

Symphony of water, rock, vegetation and atmosphere

There are many factors which makes Plitvice lakes a unique nature location. One is the fact that the 16 interconnected lakes here are situated on a several terrains in different height levels - thus creating a lake cascade. The borderlines between these lake terraces are travertine (tufa) formations, made by the chalk-rich flowing waters from mountains. Water breaks through these travertine cliffs by forming numerous waterfalls (in total - 90 of them). They're diverse - from 78 metres high Big Waterfall (Veliki slap) to less than metre high but wider cascades. Travertine dams are being washed away and grown at the same time, so the whole system is in the constant motion and development. Also vegetation makes natural barriers which contains the lakes. The lakes' water is not only colored in turqouise, it can be also blue, green or even
grey - it depends on mineral composition of the water which is also changing, the season, the angle of sunlight and other factors.

The Plitvice lakes area can be separated in two parts - Upper Lakes and Lower Lakes. The former are mostly based on dolomite cliffs but the later - on limestone cliffs. As Wikipedia informs, "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. Furthermore, there are only a few lakes at the Lower Lakes. They have formed a canyon, which continues as river Korana."

Another set of wonders is hidden from the observer, happening underground - exactly there the initial phase of Plitvice lakes wonder is to be found. In the below-the-surface theater, countless streams of water flows through the mountains and
karst processes are on-going. There the water washes out the chalk which later settles as a sediment on the lakes "borderlines" and also everywhere else (the chalk sedimentation happens all around not only in specific places).

As it would not been enough, the place is unusual also from the meteorological point of view. The unique local climate is made by the surrounding Velebit mountain range - it's more moderate than near-by areas which are located closer to sea and has more Mediterranean-type of weather. Thanks to this special climate as well as the height differences of mountain walls which encloses Plitvice lakes, the nature park area has a great biodiversity.

Made popular by Hollywood

Although Plitvice lakes were tourism object already in the 19th Century and the National park was founded here in 1949, several more decades had to pass before Plitvice lakes was discovered by masses. It became popular after several Hollywood westerns were filmed here back in 1960ies and 70ies. Nowadays Plitvice lakes is one of the most visited nature parks in Europe with around 1,5 million visitors per year.

Cliffs reflecting in one of Plitvice Lower lakes

Plitvice lakes seen from above

Plitvice lakes seen from above

Plitvice lakes seen from above, Big waterfall to the right

Plitvice lakes - tourist trail between the cliff and lake

Plitvice lakes - the Big Waterfall

Plitvice lakes seen from above

Plitvice lakes impressive waterfall from high cliff

Plitvice lakes Korana river canyon between mountains

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Travel Guide with beautiful photos and exciting descriptions of the most amazing and unique places in Baltic states and Europe.
Vilnius modern skyline from afar

From Putin's and Trump's kiss to wide sceneries of foresty hills and green colored lakes - Vilnius, the capital city of Lithuania in it's 400 square kilometres hides much more than it usually promotes to tourists. Vilnius is built in a very beautiful natural setting - between mighty hills and valleys which offers unexpected observation points and nature wonders. In this article - about ten exciting places in Lithuania's capital city, some of which are known only to locals, thus free from tourist hordes.

View from Tauras hill. Tauras hill is a popular place to spend free time for Vilnians (especially young people) and it's easy to understand why. There is not only wide and green grass lawn for picnics or physical activities but it opens also quite impressive view to Vilnius highrise district (New city centre or Šnipiškes). Tauras hill is located in the center, not far from the glamourish Gedimino street, Vilnius shopping citadel.

view from Tauras hill with Vilnius skyline

Bernardine garden. The historical Bernardine garden which has roots back in 15th Century when Lithuanian king Kazimir invited bernardian monks to settle in Vilnius, has been completely reconstructed in last years and turned into one of the most beautiful parks in Baltic states with numerous pathways, ponds, bridges, squares, flowers and trees plantations. But the most surprising feature of this park is the musical fountain which is located on the central alley. It's water flows are harmonized with the music which sounds from speakers installed on lantern pillars around the fountain square. Bernardine Garden is wonderful oasis of relaation in the very centre of Vilnius, right next to Old Town, Užupis district and Ģediminas hill. 

musical fountain in Bernardine garden, Vilnius

Putin and Trump mural. Close to Vilnius central railway station, in a mostly run-down area at the outskirts of city centre there is a bohemian-looking corner which has attracted even some international media attention with a graffitti where Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump were initially visible kissing each other, resembling a scene once depicted on the Berlin wall with kiss of Erick Honecker and Leonid Breznev. After some vandal spoiled the first graffitti, it's authors renewed it but now Putin and Trump is not kissing anymore but sharing a common "peacepipe". 

mural graffitti of Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin on the wall in Vilnius

New Town. Basically all tourism flow in Vilnius focuses on it's Old Town (Senamiestis) but also 19th/20th Century quarters or New Town (Naujamiestis) is a place well worth to see. In this spacious area one can find valuable examples of hundred years old architecture, between them also several Art Nouveau pearls (like the one in the photo), as well as later built masterpieces. New Town is charming also because of it's hilly relief which in some places offers nice views over Old Town rooftops. 

Art Nouveau building in Vilnius New Town

View from Laimis hill. Laimis or Liepkalnis is the highest hill in Vilnius (235 metres over sea level) and it's located about 3 kilometres to southern direction from the centre of the city. In winter there is a skiing track but in summer the hilltop which is completely free of vegetation, offers wide panoramic view to all sides of the sky. In forefront mostly private housing suburbs are visible while on the background much more urban commieblock districts. In other directions, Mother Nature dominates - completely green areas of forests marked by hilltops. As a bonus, here you can observe also low-flying passenger airplanes because Vilnius airport is near-by. 

panorama view over Vilnius from Laimis hill with green forests and private housing suburbs

View from hill at Subačiaus street. In Vilnius tourism materials, a panoramic observation point is noted on the Subačiaus street (in the photo it's on the left lower corner) but actually one should just take a climb up to the small hill next to the street to see much more impressive scenery. Old Town seems so close as it could be reached by hand, right next to it also modern downtown highrises shows off themselves but the very essence of Vilnius cosy topography and planning is revealed by apartment districts built on the hills at the horizon - shouldn't it be nice to live there, in one of higher floors with a view to all the historical beauty in the valley? Empty bottles of beer indicates that also locals likes to hang out in this place.

view over Vilnius Old Town and modern skyline

View from Three Crosses hill. This observation place can't be named as "less known" or "alternative" anymore because it has became a tourist magnet, especially since the most popular observation point of Vilnius -Gediminas tower - is closed for reconstruction. The popularity of Three Crosses hill is completely justified because it offers probably the most impressive Vilnius panorama from a natural point of view. The red sea of Old Town rooftops with a sprouts of church towers is just one of photogenic urban compositions visible from this place. In sunset, "blue hour" or at night when the city lights are on, the view should be no less magnificent. 

Two girls looks over Vilnius city from the Hill of Three Crosses

View from Karoliniškes outcrop. Another great observation place, another perspective to Vilnius silhouette. In opposition to Three Crosses hill, this one is completely free from tourists although favored by the locals. By being here and listening of how grannies from near-by commieblocks complains to each other about noisy neighbours or other troubles (you can recognize these intonations even if you don't know Lithuanian language), one can feel like a real Vilnian for a moment. Karoliniškes outcrop panorama point is located not far from the apartment district of the same name, just a couple of hundred metres through the pine forest and a tempting vastness shows up between the tree trunks. When taking a look down below, Vingis park with the Song and Dance festival stage is visible. But further to the east, the vertical accents of the city centre are deployed like in a parade - almost all of Vilnius modern highrises built in last 10+ years is visible in one skyline here. Impressive! 

View from Karoliniškes outcrop over Vingis park to Vilnius central highrise district

View from Pūčkoriu outcrop. Another well kept secret of Vilnius which can surprise it's visitor. Vilnius inhabitants can enjoy these cool views to river bends surrounded by steep, foresty hills just by driving 5 kilometres to the east from city centre. There are several observation places, the main one (visible in the photo) is well developed with wooden floor, benches, places for picnic. 

Panoramic view from Pūčkoriu outcrop in Vilnius

The Green lakes. Vilnius doesn't have a seaside but it has these beautiful lakes with a water shining in a turqouise color tones like in some exotic tropical country. Also the Green lakes (Žaliasis ezerai), although some 15 kilometres from Vilnius centre, are still in it's administrative borders. The water here is really green and the explanation, as always, is simple - it's due to dissolved minerals (they are healthy for skin so people gladly swim here). The place is quite popular between locals but not overcrowded - the space is enough both for people and also ducks. 

green color lake surrounded by forests in Vilnius
Travel Guide with beautiful photos and exciting descriptions of the most amazing and unique places in Baltic states and Europe.
Art Nouveau building on Alberta street 4, Riga

Riga has more than 800 Art Nouveau buildings - most of them is located in the city centre. This photo gallery is a collection of ~100 most beautiful Riga's Art Nouveau buildings - and it will be supplemented with new images time by time.

SEE ALSO: 20 Most Beautiful Art Nouveau Buildings In Riga