If you didn’t already know, I love waterfalls. I always want to see more waterfalls. I have been known to plan a trip or three just to go Chasing Waterfalls. When I found out I was moving to northeastern Italy, I knew Plitvice Lakes National Park would be in my future.
You can take a tour bus from Split, Zadar, Trieste (if you’re on a cruise), Zagreb, Ljubljana, Dubrovnik and many more, so if you want to avoid the crowds, get there when the park opens, summer hours are 0700-2000. Most buses arrive after 1000.
If you want to go early check the forecast, we had a lot of early fog that didn’t burn off until after 1000. I was hoping for some misty, foggy waterfall shots but it was just too thick early on so I only got a few including this one.
If at all possible spend at least two days there. You will repeat certain sections of the trails but maybe the lighting will be different or better (it was better day 2 for us) or maybe there will be fewer people at a waterfall or cascade. [I didn’t know the difference between a waterfall and a cascade until this trip!]
A waterfall is water falling from a height, formed when a river or stream flows over a precipice or steep incline.
A cascade is a waterfall or series of waterfalls over rocks or vegetation.
Prepare for a lot of walking.
Day 1 we hit 21000+ steps (16km, 9.9 miles). Good shoes are critical. Either good hiking sandals, trail running shoes, sneakers/trainers. In summer you do not need hiking boots! I’m definitely going back in winter to see the falls frozen and will let you know if boots are needed then. The trails and bridges are well maintained, but you need to watch your footing because there are lots and lots of small step ups or step downs and falling would not be fun.
I keep a day hike med kit in my pack and the Band-Aids saved my aunt from a broken, bloody blister. I did learn (or re-learn 😉 that I should have cut the Moleskin into small sizes, because it just would not rip. [I now have several sizes in my kit. 🙂 ]
Bring your patience.
Plitvice Lakes is the largest National Park in Croatia and spectacular scenery abounds. That’s why over a million people visit each year and a generous supply of patience will help. No matter what time you get to the park there will be some crowds that take up the whole path or walkway. Don’t be that group! I caught photos of a bumblebee and a dragonfly that everyone else missed because they were rushing from one must-see photo op to the next. Let ’em! You’re on vacation, take your time and enjoy it. There are 16 lakes and over 80 waterfalls and cascades to explore and enjoy. On our second day we took an easy and flat path from boat dock at P1, bus stop 2 along the Jezero Kozjak. It was a calm and almost empty path and a nice change of pace from the crowds. Perfect for a picnic or chilling by the lake.
Until you can go yourself please enjoy my virtual tour on YouTube.
- The existing maps could be better marked. [Yes I will create one! Eventually, probably before my autumn trip.]
- The map on the ticket is horizontal but the park is oriented north-south with Proscansko Jezero south.
- Proscansko Jezero is south but is the upper lake [It took some time to orient to south, upper and left, is it just me?]
- You can mix and match the designated paths to create a custom plan.
- Bring snacks, water, sunblock, rainjacket, camera/phone!
- The further away from the park you stay, the cheaper it is, many affordable options exist within 15km.
Tips & Recommendations:
- Food outside the park is better and cheaper. Check out Restoran Degenija
- Use the in park buses and boats. They’re included in the park fees.
- Keep your ticket with you, you may be asked to produce it at a checkpoint.
- Thank you is Hvala vam in Croatian, no is Ne. Learn two words
- On the drive in our out stop at Marche Movenpick. It has FANTASTIC, STUPENDOUS, AMAZING cherry strudel!! I’ll definitely be stopping there again on future trips!