Our summer vacation is coming slowly but surely to the end but we did not want to drive home directly so after checking out from our seaside hotel in Croatia, we decided to stop at the Plitvice national park. We wanted to visit the park a few days ago but there was a thunderstorm on that day so we postponed it instead to today which was much better anyway because it was on the way home.
It was a 2-hour drive and we arrived around noon. Actually, we planned to leave earlier and get there sooner but things didn’t go according to plan so we arrived exactly at the wrong time when so many other people also got there so it was very crowded to say the least.
Tip: I recommend getting there at opening time of the ticket office, at 7:30 am, or later in the afternoon. There was no waiting time at 15 o’clock. The ticket office is open until 18 o’clock.
We chose to stop at parking lot #2 because people on the web wrote that it’s not as full (which I cannot confirm) where we had to do a couple of rounds until we found a place to park the car. Yes, it was that full.
Tip: Many people were searching for their car after visiting the park because parking lot #2 is so confusing so I recommend marking where you parked on the map on your smartphone.
We had to wait another 30 minutes to buy the tickets for the park. Unfortunately there is no possibility to buy the ticket online but you can plan your visit upfront using their website.
Tip: there are two lines for the tickets, one towards the parking lot where everybody queues in because they don’t see the second line and the second line at the restaurant which is much shorter. But a very little-known fact is that you can just walk to the park entrance and there is a third ticket office just across the entry where there is absolutely no line.
There are 8 walking routes in the park ranging from 4 to 18 km. The recommended route is H because it goes through the entire park, 9 km long in 6-8 hours. We chose the route E to the lower lakes because it is shorter and we didn’t have all day, 5 km long in 2-3 hours.
We took the boat to cross to the other side of the lake where the route started. We climbed many hills, walked across many lakes, went on very narrow and abrupt paths to reach the end of the lower lakes where we caught the bus right on time to take us back to where we started.
The lakes are so beautiful. This has definitely been one of the most beautiful places that I have ever been to. It is not allowed to swim in the lakes and surprisingly the people didn’t break the rule which I was glad about because the nature was undisturbed. The water is so crystal clear with so many fish swimming in the lakes, both big and small. The path goes sometimes directly above the water across the lakes on bridges made out of wood. There are so many waterfalls that I lost count.
The only downside was the big crowd of very loud people. There are long lines everywhere: from waiting at the ticket office to the bathrooms, to waiting for the boats to cross the lake, to walking on the paths, to waterfalls. Many just stop the line to take pictures or some even take a rest on these narrow paths so it’s very difficult to cross. Some are downright dangerous, climbing on the ledge just to get a good photo. Many are wearing flip-flops which I highly advise against because some paths are difficult to walk without shoes. We had to watch out for the kids as well, running around and bumping into people.
Warning: the walking path goes way up high with sometimes very narrow and abrupt paths to walk on. I couldn’t go near the edge, I got so dizzy.
Afterwards we drove to parking lot #1 to have lunch at the restaurant Lička kuća. Many recommend this place for the meat in the iron cast, which we tried and liked. We had a small furry visitor who liked it too. 🙂
Tip: I recommend parking lot #1 instead of 2, it’s much easier to park the car because there is an actual parking lot instead of having to drive around and park in the woods.