The place we were looking forward to the most in Croatia was Plitviče National Park. Why you ask? Take a look at these pictures we shot, and you’ll get an idea why.
The lakes in Plitviče have been formed at different heights as a series of cascades. You can also spot many waterfalls and rapids as the water flows down from the upper lakes to the lower lakes. But what is most stunning in this UNESCO World Heritage Site is the colour of the water! The distinctive colours of the lakes is due to moss, algae and minerals which are deposited on the limestone topography. There are wooden pathways and bridges criss-crossing the park which give you the chance to experience nature’s beauty at its best! Now that we’ve resolved the why, here’s how you can make the most of your day at Plitviče.
Reach the park early in the morning
This advice holds true for many tourist attractions as you get to see the place in all its glory without tourists. I cannot emphasize how true this is for Plitviče (we got a glimpse of the crowded version as we left). We started our day at 7:30 am from our beautiful cottage in Rastovača (check out our tips on places to stay here) and we were at the ticket counter in Entrance 1 at 7:45 am. We didn’t have to face a queue and were one of the first people to enter. If you go during the peak season (July-August), you might have to wait a while in the queue, and you may even get a later slot – so make sure you book in advance if you visit in these months (we visited in June). The entrance fees also goes up in the peak season. You can check out the latest fees on their website.
Select the best routes
There are around 8 different routes (4 from each entrance of the park) you can choose to take on your tour depending on how much you are willing to walk and how much time you’d like to spend at the park.
We selected Route C – a 4-6 hours long trail which would span 8 km across the upper and lower lakes. This is one of the best routes to get a complete experience of Plitviče – there is one stretch on the route which is via boat too. We also took a deviation towards the end of the trail and walked through a stretch of route H to get a view of the upper-most lakes of the park.
Once you reach the end of the trail, you can take a shuttle bus back to your entrance or walk along a shortcut trail.
Alternatively, if you are entering the park from Entrance 2, select Route H (which covers the same route in the opposite direction).
If you are crunched for time, go for Route A or B which will take you through the best parts of the lower lakes. If you want to spend the entire day, go for Route K – the longest trail available.
Best spots in the Park
Most of the wallpaper worthy spots can be found along the lower lakes. The closest one to Entrance 1 is the Veliki Slap or Big Waterfall (you can find signboards which will guide you).
You can find plenty of amazing spots along the boardwalks. Take your time and enjoy the views as you make your way along the trail.
Cascade viewpoint – you can get this view when you walk back to Entrance 1 from the bus stop.
Additional spot: on the way to Veliki Slap, you will find a path going upwards – walk up and continue along the path towards the right and you will reach the viewpoint in about 200 metres.
Best time to visit
You can visit Plitviče anytime between April to October to enjoy the colours of the lakes. July-August is the peak season which you can skip if you want to avoid crowds. We visited in June and really enjoyed it. There were many parts of the park where we had the place entirely to ourselves. The weather was warm and comfortable – perfect for the long walk!
Getting to Plitviče
Plitviče is located 130 km south of Zagreb and 250 km north of Split which makes it a great place for a day trip. You can find several buses on this route which makes it very accessible. For all your local travel in Croatia, check out our guide here. We arrived in Plitviče a day before our planned visit to the park. This gives you the freedom to rest well and start early to beat the crowds.
Where to Stay
We recommend staying close to Entrance 1 – this will enable you to enjoy the beauty of the lower lakes before the crowds start hitting. We picked an Airbnb in the village of Rastovača. Check out our blog on places to stay.
We spent about 6 hours in the park and loved every second of it. Afterwards, we went back to our stay, picked up our bags, walked back to Entrance 1 and boarded our bus to Split at 3:15 pm. The story of Split and the journey beyond is chronicled here.
For all the water lovers, entering the water is not allowed in Plitviče. However, if you want to swim in such waters, head to Krka National Park and enjoy!
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