If you have ever been on instagram and searched #wanderlust or #travelpics, you will have come across pictures of the stunning Plitvice National Park. With it’s stunning clear falls, and terrace lakes, it is a place that should be on everyone’s bucket list. We visited back in May and we can’t recommend it enough. Here are our top 10 tips for making the most of your time there.
1. Purchase a 2 day ticket
Plitvice Lakes National Park is huge! The longest route on the map can take over 8 hours, and that doesn’t cover all of the lakes and falls. We racked up an incredible 29 miles of walking during our time there which gives you some idea of the size of the place. If you have the time and the money, we highly recommend that you buy a 2 day ticket. It’s slightly cheaper than purchasing 2 single day tickets and will ensure that you get to see as much of the lakes and waterfalls as possible. We divided the park in half and explored the lower half on the first day and the upper half on the second.
2. Wear suitable footwear
While you don’t have to walk the entirety of the park as boats and buses are available inside the park and usage is included in the entry price, you are still likely to be doing a fair amount of walking. Make sure you wear comfortable shoes as sore feet will definitely detract from the enjoyment.
3. Start at Entrance 1
There are 2 entrances to the Park, but we recommend starting at entrance 1 as it is definitely the more grand of the 2. Entrance 1 opens out on to the most amazing of views, looking out over the lower level of the lake and Viliki Slap. Entrance 2 is just as accessible as 1, but in order to get to the main waterfalls you need to take a boat from Port 1 to Port 2 and at peak times, there can be quite a wait.
4. Invest in a full sized map
While the ticket to the park contains a small map on the back, and there are a small number of maps dotted around the lakes, it is definitely worth purchasing a larger map from the information point. We relied quite heavily on our map to navigate the lakes as the route markers are not always clear.
5. Be prepared to queue
From the majority of pictures on the internet, you could be forgiven for thinking that very few people visit but during peak times, the park gets extremely busy. Due to the narrow walk ways, which are just wide enough for 2 people, queues form for the more photo worthy spots. This is especially true of Veliki Slap, the largest waterfall at the park and located close to entrance 1 .
6. Leave the prams at home
I cannot stress this enough, this is not a pram friendly park. As described above, the walkways are very narrow, but not only that, the park has literally hundreds of steps making it near impossible to navigate with a pram. During our visit, we saw a number of families with prams struggling to make their way around (we even saw one abandoned at the side of the walkway, wheels submerged in the shallow water), and causing long delays for other visitors. Baby carriers are a great alternative to prams, that will allow you to enjoy the beauty of the park with the whole family with far less hassle.
7. Choose your route wisely
While most of the park has well maintained, wooden path ways, the hiking paths and paths closest to the lower lake do not. We walked the lakeside paths on both sides of the lower lake and ended up very wet and muddy. We quite enjoyed wading through the water and picking our way through the swamp like sections but if that’s not your thing, avoid these paths.
8. Go on a wildlife hunt
The lakes and waterfalls aren’t the only attractions at the park, it is also teeming with a variety of interesting wildlife. During our visit we encountered 5 snakes and 7 lizards, as well plenty of birds and numerous schools of fish. We spotted most of wildlife on the lakeside paths, where there is less foot traffic and easy access to the water. If you’re lucky (unlucky?) you may even spot one of the famed brown bears that call Plitvice Lakes National Park home.
9. Take plenty of food and water
Although there are food stalls and restaurants around the entrances and boat/bus stops inside the park, we recommend taking a packed lunch as there are so many beautiful areas within the park where you can stop to eat and enjoy the surroundings. It’s also a good way to keep costs down.
10. Plan your departure
The queues can be just as long on the way out of the Park as they are on the way in. It is definitely worth planning your departure well, especially if you have a return bus to catch, being sure to leave extra time for navigating the queues.