Plitvice Lakes is famous for its sixteen turquoise blue lakes linked together by waterfalls. Visitors walk wooden paths elevated above waters pouring out from everywhere. Hiking trails, charming cottages and incredible views next to, or above the lakes are all part of Croatia’s most visited national park.
In 1979 the Plitvice region was honored as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. This amazing biodiverse paradise has hours of walking trails inside the 295-sq-km park, 80% of the national park is forest. Visitors can walk trails on one of the eight circular routs available, either along the lakes, or above in the hills where guests can see different angles of the many incredible waterfalls flowing into bright blue lakes and streams.
As soon as we exited the park’s boat onto the P2 slip we walked up a dock which seems to go on forever. While walking above the wooden trails the water is pouring down from waterfalls under the naturally treated wooden trails; continuing on we found large waterfalls pouring down and out of limestone hills.
Picture description: The walkway on the P2 dock which leads visitors above the waterfalls and streams.
I stayed in the Etno Garden Plitvice Lakes hotel located in Plitvice Selo, the hotel is next to forests and only 300 meters from the unofficial entrance number 3 and about a mile from entrance 1, my friend and I had tickets for entrance 1, but they were honored at 3 with no problems. The hotel is a little tourist village with charming mountain villas and a whole adventure course next to it. The restaurant onsite has delicious local food with fresh ingredients and huge portions. Onawa my dog had a lot of fun running around the property.
Only a short walk down the hill and through the Plitvice park entrance is the P3 boating dock which will slowly travel across the largest lake to the P2.
Outside of the hotel is the remote Plitvica Selo neighborhood with more hotels and little restaurants to try out. Plitvica Selo is above the park and offers amazing views of the waterfalls from many viewpoints accessible by trails near the main road.
The boat ride from the P3 site takes about twenty minutes, or a lovely walk along the shore on either side takes about an hour. I prefer the left side of the lake because the trails are cleaner and less rustic. The right has a lot of fallen trees. The P1 boat ramp can be accessed by taking a smaller boat from P2 across the lake, it’s very close.
Once entering the P2 station we walked about an hour and a half along the wooden trails above the waterways. Once finished circling the wooden paths we took a bus to the P1 area where we enjoyed a coffee in a charming wooden café. We had a plain coffee, there aren’t any other options. After our coffee break, we rented a row boat for an hour, it was perfect for seeing more along the islands and the P2 area.
We walked from P1 to P3, then followed the signs to the largest waterfall where we walked up the hill to another charming wooden café bar. The second café has really cool log flooring and a spectacular view of the lake. The trails then go down again for another area where there is a cave. We went in and explored, but then it occurred to us that exploring a cave was not a good idea during virus time. The trails continued on to largest falls the Veliki Slap.
Picture description: Walking around the park and a brief visit in the cave.
On our third day we took the bus to the Station 3. The walk down to P1 from there took about two and a half hours. The left side of the lake is nicer for this walk, but then cross over to the P2 station for walking along P1 side because it’s an easier and nicer walk.
On my fourth and fifth day I explored the wooded trails above the lakes. The views are amazing and the dense forest was lovely for trail running. The whole park can be seen in two days, but I think four, or five is better. It’s too much running around if done in only two and there is so much more to see than just the areas where tourists gather for copious pictures.
Picture description: Some hiking trails and a view above the lakes.
Come during the middle of the week, the weekends are way too busy and it’s hectic inside the park.
Bring a water bottle, there is delicious spring on the road off P2 toward P1, it’s not a far walk, go off the wooded trail where there is a bus stop looking building and walk down that street just two, or three minutes and a spring is pouring out delicious water. There are shops selling water and coffee, but they are only in P4, P1 and Station 3, there is nothing in P2 other than that spring.
Stay in a hotel, or apartment inside the park for the best experience.
Bring hiking shoes and explore some of the trails.
Dogs are welcome in the national park, but they need to be on a leash.
Bring bug spray there are some mean bee looking bugs that bite hard.
It’s best to drive, but if you take the bus, or trail there are taxi services. Taxi Filip comes with the best ratings. His number is +385 9843 2566