Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia

Waterfalls at Plitvice Lakes, Croatia

Waterfalls at Plitvice Lakes, Croatia

One place that you must try to visit whilst in Croatia is the Plitvice Lakes National Park.  In 1979 it was added to the UNESCO World Heritage register.  We hired a car, which was really cheap, to visit the lakes this year which was 1.5 hours drive from where we were staying at Zaton Holiday Resort.

The series of lakes and waterfalls going through a spectacular gorge are absolutely breath-taking and it is probably the most magical place we have ever visited.  The colour intensity was insane from the green of the trees to the crystal clear blue/turquoise of the water. The photos just don’t do it justice.  You get everything here, mountains, waterfalls, forests, gorge, lakes and lush greenery.

The lake is so clean and crystal clear that you can see to the bottom of it and see the shoals of fish swimming around. In fact, one of the reasons it is so clean is that people are not allowed to swim in the lakes at Plitvice, unlike Krka National Park.

I would recommend that you think carefully about your footwear before coming to the lakes. I was so pleased that I had put on a comfortable pair of shoes because there were some steep inclines and less than sturdy wooden plank bridges across the lake which could be a bit uneven with hidden drops.  I noticed a group of girls with flip flops on and they were struggling with the terrain a bit.

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Walking on the narrow wooden boardwalks across the lakes got a bit scary for me at times when we had people walking towards us especially the tour groups as there are no barriers either side just the water. There are, however, solid paths around the lake

There are around 7 miles of walkways around the lakes which require a certain amount of agility and fitness although you don’t have to go round the whole area.  They offer several different walking trails that you can choose from.  You can choose the length and difficulty that suits you best.  The trails are well-signposted routes which are colour coded and all include the beautiful waterfalls, so whichever one you choose you won’t miss out.

We chose the shortest tour 3-4 hours and found that we saw plenty of beautiful sights in that time. The lower lakes are easy and mostly flat walking. The upper lakes can be a bit trickier to navigate and there are some muddy and rocky parts along the path.  There are maps available with suggested times when you buy your tickets.

There are 2 entrances, one for the lower lakes (ST1) and one for the upper lakes (ST2).  Both with car parks. We found it easier starting at the upper lakes and walking down then picking up the coach again at the lower lakes entrance.

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We paid 150 kunas each and that included the boats that take you across the lakes and the shuttle buses that take you to the upper and lower lakes.  Just don’t lose your entry ticket as you will need to show these to get on the boats and buses.

May/June or September are the best months to visit as it would be quite crowded in the summer and you would be competing for the prime photo shots with the other visitors. The other advantage of going out of season is that it is not too hot to walk around as there isn’t much shelter in some parts.

More pictures below…

Tips

If you arrive at the same time as a big tour group, walk one of the very well established routes in reverse.  You’ll probably be walking uphill for most of the trek, but you’ll probably not see another person for a while.

Avoid most of the tourists by going early or late. Between 8-10, and 3-6 is ideal.

Try to go on a weekday as it is less crowded.

There are restaurants on site but they are far apart so I suggest you carry water and maybe some food. Also keep in mind that toilet facilities are limited to the entrance, the boat port/cafe and near the end by the train.

As inviting as a swim on the lakes may seem on a hot day I’m afraid it’s not allowed as they like to keep the lakes as clean as possible.

Be aware that there are steps which can be slippery when wet so be careful and wear comfortable walking shoes.

Avoid buggy’s and use a baby carrier instead. I’m afraid it’s not really buggy or wheelchair friendly.  Also if you have small kids you would need to keep an eye on them as some of the paths could be slippery and dangerous.  More than two small children and I could I could imagine it would be stressful to manage them.

Euros are accepted and there is an exchange centre behind the ticketing office. However, it is better to exchange at the bus station for a better rate.

How to get there

Unless you stay at one of the hotels really close by or the camping ground there isn’t much more around.  You could hire a car to get here as car hire is really cheap and there is plenty of parking at the park if you arrive early in the morning. Parking is not expensive.

As mentioned earlier in 2013 we stayed in the area but this year we were settled and so comfortable on Zaton Holiday Resort that we instead hired a car and drove up.

Recommended hotels in the area 

Miric Inn, Jezera – about 10 minutes away.  Lovely hotel, well located, great staff, good food, parking on site.

Pansion House Prijeboj
4.1 miles from Plitvice Lakes
Good Parking, Breakfast included.  Evening meal available. Good food, Friendly staff, New and clean building,

Villa Knezevic
1 mile from Plitvice Lakes
Quaint alpine resort vibe. Located close to the park entrance. Clean and friendly staff.  If you arrive by bus from Zagreb it’s only a couple of minutes walk from the bus stop.   Restaurant nearby. Free Parking. Free wifi.

Hotel Degenija
4.4 miles from Plitvice Lakes
Pool, 2 restaurants, Clean, comfortable beds, Free wifi, free parking, Friendly staff.

Plitvica Lodge
1.1 miles from Plitvice Lakes
Clean comfortable rooms. Rustic wooden cabins, 10-minute walk to the park entrance. Laid back feel. Free wifi, Free parking.

More hotels here…

Car journey times  from other parts of Croatia

Split – 2-3 hours
Zadar – 1.5 hours
Zagreb –  2-3 hours
Rovinj  3.5 – 4-hour drive along the pretty coast road or 45 mins less if driving on the toll roads.

Check out Flights here Cheapflights UK

We always use Rentalcars.com or Zest Car Hire if we need to rent while we are away and after researching always find them the cheapest and fairest.  We combine this with Insurance4carhire
to cover us for the bits the car hire company doesn’t cover.

If you don’t want to hire a car you can take a day tour through TripAdvisor from either Split, Zadar or Zagreb.

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