The National Park Plitvice Lakes. Is it worth a visit? Definitely yes. I have visited Plitvice twice already, about 6 years apart. For those of you who have never heard anything about this popular Croatian UNESCO World Heritage site, I will start with some basic facts. The Plitvice Lakes are Croatia’s biggest National Park, containing of 16 lakes, coloured in all shades from green to turquoise, arranged in cascading forms, connected through waterfalls. However, as I do not want to bother you with basic facts (I’m sure you can google that), but rather talk about insider tips, I have created a nice infographic you can look at for the basics 🙂 So, back to my awesome insights haha
First thing I noticed.
The amount of people and the ticket price almost doubled in the last 6 years. But, it’s still worth it. If you have chance, I would definitely recommend not to visit in the peak season of summer (July 15- August 15), because it’s really, really crowded.
But first things first. The park is located close to the Bosnian border, between Zagreb and Zadar. It is easily reachable from all directions. You can either book a tour (I’m sure you’ll find plenty of offers depending where you are located) or arrive by car. I noticed that more and more tourists travel around Croatia by (rental) car. Therefore, I will focus more on this way of traveling to Plitvice, as I feel it’s a little bit more complicated than with a guided tour. Nevertheless, I am showing some guided tours below, for everybody who is wondering where to best book one.
Once you arrive at the park you obviously need to find a parking spot. Not an easy mission, especially if you are not an early bird. With my three step approach however, you will be able to explore the park in no time!
First step – aka what many people don’t know.
When the official looking part of the parking lot is full, you can always extend it while parking between the trees that are part of the official parking lot. This is completely fine, it just feels weird if you are the first one to open a row of cars between trees haha.
Don’t forget at what tree you have parked your car! Depending on when you leave the park, the ‘parking lot’ can look significantly different if some visitors already left.
Once you managed the parking situation, you will need to buy an entrance ticket for the national park. You will find very long (not kidding, they are huge) cues in front of the ticket counters at the parking lots. This is because 99% of the people who are there, are visiting the park for the first time and don’t know better. After reading this you can just walk past those cues like a pro, towards the park entrance, which is – depending on your parking spot – about a 15min walk away. At the entrance, you can find a big ticket shop that is mostly empty because everybody is cueing at the parking spots 🙂 lucky you!
The ticket you will buy is valid for a day in the park and a ride with the electric boat that drives you across the big lake. Attention students! Bring your student ID with you and pay only half the ticket price.
Now that you have saved about an hour of your life, you get to choose how much of the park you want to see. There are different walking routes, most of them very easy to walk and just differentiating in length. I took the liberty to pick my favourites for you. If that is not satisfying enough, you can find all of them on the official park website.
Pick the long walk and maybe get lucky enough to see some of the brown bears in their natural environment. If you want to spend some time hiking and enjoying the park for longer, there are plenty of guest houses around where you can stay the night. In peak season make sure to book in advance tough.
Regardless of which route you pick, don’t forget to bring something to eat and some water. The park offers snacks and sandwiches at several ‘restaurants’, however I wouldn’t really recommend the food as it is very overpriced for what you get in return. You can go for ice cream though, normal prices and same offering as in the supermarkets.
If you want to learn more about the unique vegetation and geography of the park, you can either do your research and inform yourself in advance or book a private guided tour. They will guide you through the park or, if included in the price, even pick you up at your location, transporting you to the park.
Book your Plitvice Lakes guided tour here:
Now here comes my last recommendation or better said appeal to you guys.
Do not (NOT!!!) leave the path. I understand that we all want to have the perfect picture with the beautiful scenery and waterfalls that ideally doesn’t feature 1million other tourists but only yourself. However, this is really dangerous. I mean it. Unfortunately, there were already serious injuries and even some death cases over the last few years as people left the path and slipped down the edge, missing balance while trying to take the perfect selfie. Please don’t be one of them. In case I scared you now, note that as long as you stay on the marked path, you are good to go, nothing dangerous there.
Mandatory pictures to prove the parks’ beauty.
Still not enough? Check out the national park Mljet here!
Are you in it to pin it?