Croatia is one of the most naturally beautiful places on earth, Plitvice Lakes National Park (Plitvička Jezera) is a place that definitely highlights Croatia’s nature side. After our stay in Split, we decided to spend a couple of nights in Rastovaca, and from here we would explore the Plitvice Lakes National Park.
Our Experience In The Plitvice Lakes National Park
We visited Plitvice Lakes National Park in the middle of September. We woke up at sunrise and headed to Entrance 1 and aimed to get there when the park opens at 07:00am. From all our research we found to get here as early as possible. We would have to agree. We slept in a little and ended up there 30 minutes after opening. It was still really quiet at this time which we loved. We even had to ask where to buy tickets as there was no line! From 8am it slowly got a little busier, but by 9am busses of visitors started to arrive.
We decided to do Trail C and started from Entrance 1. We loved this trail. It took about 4 hours for us with a few short stops along the way. This trail is said to take between 4-6 hours depending on your pace. It is an 8km trail.
The Lower Lakes
We started with the Lower Lakes, and must say if we had to pick between the Lower and Upper Lakes we would pick the lower. It was truly magical here with the crisp morning air and not many people around. We had quite a lot of time that it seemed like it was only us on the path. Such an amazing experience, that moment that your expectations (that have been built up each time you see a picture of Plitvice Lakes) are turned into a reality that is so much more incredible.
After exploring the balance of powerful waterfalls and calm colourful water that is the Lower lakes, we jumped on a boat to the Upper Lakes (included in your entrance ticket). Being on the water, even though only for 15 minutes, really adds to the experience of the day.
The Upper Lakes
The Upper Lakes offers a different feel again. Still some stunning pockets of bright, colourful water, but more of a jungle oasis feel. So pretty. The pathway itself is something special. As you probably noticed in some of those pictures of the Lower Lakes, that path of individually shaped branches continues, over water and through the National Park. You can see your entrance ticket funds being used well. We thought this throughout Croatia actually, the ‘attractions’ were really well maintained and always looked clean and pristine.
Each new waterfall different to the last. So much beauty to see. Bring some food and water and find a spot to sit, and soak it all in. There is a store and food served at the entrance if you do not bring any, or just built up a hunger after exploring the National Park.
After Both The Lower And Upper Lakes
So after exploring both the Lower and Upper Lakes, Trail C will bring you to Sightseeing Train Station 3. We jumped on an headed back to Sightseeing Train Station 1. From here it is only a short walk back to Entrance 1. Along this section of the walk you will also get great views of the lower lakes from the top. By now it was almost midday and was a lot busier than early morning. The ticket line said it all too, hard to miss now! We had a coffee and a snack at the cafe near Entrance 1 and headed back to our accommodation in Rastovaca, to to relax and enjoy the stunning, peaceful atmosphere some more.
How Much Time Do You Need…Day Trip or Stay a Night or Two?
If you can only fit a day trip into your itinerary then do it, it is amazing. By bus it is roughly 4.5 hours from Split and 2.5 hours from Zagreb, so it will be better to visit from Zagreb. If you are only spending time on the islands and Split, then maybe Krka National Park is better for you, we loved it here too!
If you can spend a night or two close-by, it will really add to your experience. Stay if you can. We stayed in Rastovaca, down the end of the only road in and out. It was about a 20-30 minute walk to the park as we did not have a car and there is not public transport here. We loved the experience of staying here. If you stay here and are not renting a car, make sure there is a restaurant close-by, and you can walk to an entrance to the park. Other than a very basic convenience store at Entrance 1, the nearest supermarket may be too far away without a car, so bring some supplies with you. You have a lot more options and can stay further away and park at the main entrance if you have a car.
6 Things To Remember When Visiting Plitvice Lakes National Park
- Stay in the area for a night at least if you can fit it into your itinerary. If you can’t, still do the day trip from Zagreb.
- Get to the National Park entry as early as you can, when it opens would be best.
- We did Trail C and loved it. It took us about 4 hours and was an 8km trail.
- Bring some food and water. There are no options on the trail, and it is nice to find a spot to relax and eat in this amazing place.
- Make sure your camera is pre-warned that it is going to be in for a big day ;)
- Check out the official website for Plitvička Jezera National Park (Plitvice Lakes National Park). It is the best place to check current times and entrance prices and anything you need to know before your visit. A great source.
The couple of nights we stayed in Rastovaca exploring Plitvice National Park and the area left such an impression on us. From here we went on to spend 6 weeks in Zagreb. When we were in Zagreb, and it got colder, we kept an eye out for any hint of snow. Plitvice Lakes combined with snow! Wow. It would be incredibly magical. It is a place that would be beautiful year round…perhaps a little cold in winter. When you are planning you trip to Croatia, find a night or two for this amazing part of the country.
If you are reading this to try and pick between Krka National Park or Plitvice National Park you should see our Krka article and video. We will also be doing a comparison soon.