Plitvice Lakes National Park- Croatia’s must visits

This summer (2016), I managed to cross Plitvice Lakes National park in Croatia off my bucket list but I have been procrastinating about writing a post as the photographs I took there buy for only 5% of its beauty. This is ,mostly, because I am not a pro and, partly, because my camera fails me on days when the sun decides to play hide and seek. But that should not be an excuse, of course.

Anyhow, at some point, I had to chronicle my whole experience here on the blog because this is what I love doing the most. So here comes the final push.

To get started, I had to look hard and dig out some decent pictures to go with my story and I hope I have managed to capture a least a fragment of what Plitvice Lakes National Park actually looks like. But ask me about my whole experience and I would say I was a bit disappointed. Disappointed not because the park wasn’t worth all the travel and preparations but because a lot of things at the park were way below our expectations.

So here is a list of 10 observations, regrets, and warnings I want to write down as I didn’t find them on the internet while doing my research.

  1. It was too crowded (beyond imagination). If you want to take my advice- never ever visit Croatia in Summers. I believe,  it is high time they limited the number of tourists allowed to enter the park. I heard, fall is the best season to avoid the crowd and the icy cold winters. We did a road trip from Split covering Krka National Park, Sibenik, Plitvice Lakes and Zadar (read all about it here ). But If Plitvice is your highlight then you can easily avoid Krka as it is not as interesting as Plitvice.

  2. We reached there in the second half of the day. By that time, the park was cold and shadowy and I had somehow lost all my enthusiasm. So, make some notes- reach the park as early as possible. The park officially opens at 8 AM during the summer months but try to enter before noon if you are expecting to take some nice shots. The emerald colour of the lakes looks spectacular only when there is enough sun. Click here for information on the opening hours and prices.

  3. If you are visiting in the summertime, do not expect to score any place at the parking lot. The parking attendant was not friendly either. We were left with no option but to park our car quite a few kilometers away from the entrance on the busy road as there was absolutely no space available. We did this while risking damage and theft of the car! So this was a big turn off.

  4. Although the general temperature of the area reaches about 27 degrees in summers, it can get quite chilly inside the park, thanks to the thick forests and the water bodies. But the humidity and all the hiking can make you super dehydrated. It would have been a wise move to carry some warm clothes and plenty of water. But we didn’t.

  5. On top of every unexpected hassle, we chose one of the toughest hiking trails and were severely dehydrated by the end of it. We had mentioned to the lady at the information counter that we had 5-6 hours in hand and she sent us on trail H which was, indeed, a 6 hours hike. So there was no time to sit and rest on the way. It’s not that I don’t like hiking but with such big crowd, people were literally stepping on your shoes and there was no way you could sprint without shoving off people into the lakes. And not to mention, those annoying selfie-loving tourists block your passage and make you actually want to push them into the lakes. Find out more about the hiking trails here.

  6. I wish I had some moment of quiet to just sit somewhere and admire the emerald lakes surrounded by the amazing web of waterfalls without tiring my legs. But that is not possible if you are visiting the park in high season. On our way back, we saw the biggest waterfall just near the first entrance (Entrance 1). So if you are not much of a hiker, take trail A or C from entrance 1). This way you don’t miss the big waterfall and get glimpses of the lower lakes as well. Besides, pictures of the upper lakes looked better to me. Unless you are a sucker for nature, choosing the shortest trail and occasionally stopping on the way to enjoy some snacks is the ideal way to admire its beauty.

  7. One thing we did right was to stuff ourselves at the entrance with burgers and fries before stepping into the forest. Else, there was no way we could have survived those 7 hours of what seemed like a web of never ending trails.

  8. We sort of panicked towards the end of the hike as it was already getting dark inside the park and we were nowhere near the exit. We argued about which exit to take and ended up getting lost. This meant, another hour of roaming here and there. By the time, we got back to our cars, it was already dark and ours was the only car parked on the highway. The best way to avoid such situation is to plan your route ahead and ask for exit details at the information desk. In my opinion, using entrance number 1 is far less confusing since entrance number 2 is quite away from the actual park.

  9. The boat ride was a total disappointment. It is basically a way to get from one side to the other so that you don’t have to take the same route on your way back which was actually a relief but I was expecting a boat trip to the places you can’t see on foot. When you are taking the shorter trails I don’t think this ride is necessary. Anyhow, the ride is included in the entrance price.

  10. After all the whining, it may sound like I am a complaining nut and I have nothing nice to say about the park but that is not the case. I loved the emerald waters which was absolutely magical and I wish my camera could capture the actual colour. My trip to Plitvice was special because I had never seen anything of that sort before. Moreover, how well maintained all those walking trails were! It was like getting lost in a wonderland with waterfalls and exotic fishes. Honestly speaking, I have never seen so many waterfalls together in my life. And this is something I am going to cherish for the rest of my life.

I am glad that we drove those extra miles to cover Plitvice Lakes National Park because our Croatian Road trip would have been incomplete without it. After all, we were making memories of things that dreams are made of. Given a chance, I might or might not go back there in the future but this was totally an experience worth planning for.

Photo gallery:

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The magical lakes

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Deep inside the park

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Those walking tails <3

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The summer foliage

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Another little fall dancing down to the lakes

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fairy tale vibes

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when the sun decides to play hide & seek

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The boat ride

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View from the boat

One of many baby falls

Liked this article? Also read about Zlatni Rat, Brač

4 Comments

  • Sangita October 12, 2016 at 10:35 pm

    Hello Jutismita, You have beautifully captured the place, park looks amazing..great insights for those planning to visit in future 🙂

    Reply
    • Jutismita Hazarika October 13, 2016 at 9:39 am

      Thanks a lot Sangita. The park was amazing but I wish we visited in Spring or Autumn.

      Reply
  • anna October 12, 2016 at 3:38 pm

    Your photos are amazing!! We went on a cold rainy day, I wish we had sun!

    Reply
    • Jutismita Hazarika October 12, 2016 at 10:26 pm

      Thanks Anna. I can imagine the rain dampening your enthusiasm. We were a bit lucky to have the sun peeping out for a while. Otherwise, it was a cloudy day.

      Reply

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