Considered one of the most beautiful natural sights in Europe, this park plays host to more than 1 million visitors each year. The park is divided into 2 broad areas: Upper Lakes which is easily accessible from Entrance 2, and Lower Lakes area, for which you go to Entrance 1. Both the entrances have ample parking, ticket store, souvenir shop. We got a 25% discount on buying tickets for consecutive days.
How to reach
Most people visit the park as a day trip from Zagreb or Split, so beware of crowds especially in summer months between 10 am and 5 pm. Taking a bus group tour is the most popular option. There is no train service in the area, but several public buses ply from Zagreb and Split to the park. It is however, a tad more difficult to figure the exact bus stops and timings from Plitvice to either Zagreb or Split. If you want to avoid taking a bus group tour to Plitvice, it is best to rent a car to reach the park and stay the night.
Take a tranquil walk around Upper Lakes
From Entrance 2, take the overhead bridge to cross the road, and you are instantly transported in a forest that only gets lusher as you walk ahead.
All the paths are well marked. We took the Route E to explore the Upper lakes, this is 5.2 km long and takes about 2-3 hours. There is a bus to take you back to Entrance 2.
The path along Route E is a beautiful walk, feels very intimate, and meanders around lakes, forests, and short waterfalls. If you go in the evening, like we did, you may find few people on this trail.
You walk close to the lakes and enjoy beautiful cascades of waterfalls
Marvellous views over the Lower lakes area
You would find the Lower lakes area, very crowded relative to the Upper lakes. Staying in a hotel within the park, or even within a 5-km radius, would make it easier to come early in the morning to beat the crowds.
Most people take the Route A or B from Entrance 1. We ended up doing a combination of several routes. The cheerful manager at our B&B, had marked out the area map for us, indicating how to take the trails high above the lakes and to reach panoramic (secret!) spots where few people are to be found. Armed with this information, we first headed to Veliki Slap, the tallest waterfall in Croatia (78 m). To get to a private spot to view the Veliki Slap in shade and without having to jostle with other people for space, climb the steep, uneven steps, located on one side of the waterfall.
Veliki Slap – the number of tourists increased dramatically as the day progressed, so go early.
To get to another private spot where the entire lower lakes and its cascading waterfalls lay beneath you, follow these steps –
– first, take the steps that are located on the side of the big waterfall,
– reach the asphalt road, turn right and walk straight for few minutes until you pass a wooden bridge,
– then turn right again after the bridge into a narrow lane
– follow this lane, and when there is a split, stick to the lane to the right.
– Keep listening to the sound of the falls to your right and you would reach the viewpoint
A panoramic view of the lower lakes and waterfalls cascades.
You can opt to hike towards Upper lakes. This is part of Route K1, culminating in Lake Kozjak, where a long boat ride is available (this is included in your ticket and can be taken only once). If you are up for a moderate hike meandering around the forest, with opportunities for stunning vistas, away from the maddening crowds, this route is for you.
Some breath-taking stops for birds’ eye view of the lakes / waterfalls on this route.
A last glimpse
Luck, happenstance, and the information from our B&B manager, got us to explore this park in a different manner. The tranquil walk in the Upper Lakes along Route E, and the trail with gazebos high above – in the Lower Lakes area – would be my recommendation to experience the park’s beauty, away from the crowds.
For recommendations on stay and food in Plitvice, do read the full blog post here: https://zestinatote.com/2017/07/10/the-road-less-traveled-within-plitvice-national-park/
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Author: Shweta Singhal
Shweta, our guest travel blogger, runs her own travelogue on https://zestinatote.com. She, like most women, plays several roles – corporate executive, parent to a 6-year old, adventure enthusiast, travel blogger, generally open to trying out new things in life. Besides travel, she love books and theatre and art. She would like to believe that she is NOT an adventure junkie, but has tried sky diving, rappelling, glacier climbing, trekking, para gliding, mountain biking, scuba diving and skiing.