Wooden walkways wind directly over rushing water next to cascading waterfalls as you descend from the Upper Lakes to Lower Lakes at Croatia’s Plitvice National Park. Once you’ve walked the miles of delightful wooden walkways and paths in this UNESCO World Heritage site, you’ll see why this National Park is world famous.
Late in the afternoon we checked in to our beautiful suite at Hotel Plitvice and were off to the Park Entrance #2 a short stroll away, where we bought One Day tickets for our 2 night stay, a sweet deal when you stay at Hotel Plitvice, but more about this and our suite later, first a little bit about getting around Plitvice National Park.
Plitvice National Park Map
Plitvice Lakes has 2 sections with the water flowing down the elevation from the Upper Lakes to the Lower Lakes. Hotel Plitvice is at Entrance #2, in the middle of the the park. Entrance Number #1 is at the lowest part of the Lower Lakes, with a huge parking lot for tour bus parking. You get around the park by walking, shuttle buses and ferries.
Tip: Take a pic of the map at the entrance – although your entrance ticket has a map on the back, it’s convenient to have it on your phone.
The Upper Lakes of Plitvice Lakes National Park
With such a late afternoon start, we asked at the info desk for recommendations on a route. The helpful agent suggested taking the shuttle to the top of the lakes, doing a short loop and returning to the top to take the shuttle back. This may be a good late day plan for most people, but for us? With the late start and on again off again rain we had the place practically to ourselves and were so enchanted with the unique landscape of lake after lake, waterfall after waterfall, and rushing water over fabulous wooden walkways, we simply walked the entire Upper Lakes from top to bottom, hustling at the end to get the ferry shuttle back to entrance #2 before they closed at 8pm.
The route from Shuttle Stop 3 on the top of the Upper Lakes starts on a wooden walkway over the end of Prošćansko Jezero (jezero means lake in Croatian).
We took a little detour on the wooden walkway across the end of Veliko Jezero, if you kept going it would take you to the other side of the Upper Lakes, where you can walk uphill to get back to Shuttle Stop 3.
The paths and wooden walkways are fantastic, then you get sight of the first WOW waterfall – the long view of the water spilling into Galovac Jezero.
The path along Galovac Jezero hugs the mountainside as you descend to the level of the lake.
You can take the wooden walkway across the end of Galovac Jezero which will take you a long way uphill to get to Shuttle Stop 3 back at the top of the Upper Lakes or down to Ferry Stop P2. Or just keep going!
The lower we went, the wooden walkways and the waterfalls just got better and better. My favorite is the fantastic loop around the many falls that spill from Galovac Jezero into Gradinsko Jezero. The biggest waterfall here is Veliki Prštavac at 28 meters, then Mali Prštavac at 18 meters, and Galovacki Buk at 16 meters.
The landscape and waterfalls are simply beautiful, but the wonderful wooden walkways that were built so we could see this unique landscape makes Plitvice an amazing experience.
The Lower Lakes of Plitvice Lakes National Park
Our info center consultant had told us that all paths on the Lower Lakes were closed due to flooding and repair except for the panoramic trail high above the canyon. This gave us plenty of time to go back to the Upper Lakes section we’d rushed through the previous day in order to make the ferry, and then take the Ferry across big Kozjak Jezero to get to the panoramic trail from there. By the time we got to the 11:00 ferry we’d found the crowds.
Waves of tour groups coming from Entrance #1 went by as we made our way the opposite direction to the biggest waterfall in the park, Veliki Slap – literally Large Waterfall.
We walked the panoramic path back to Shuttle Stop 1, and took a break from the crowds and the on again rain back in our suite at Hotel Plitvice. Was that the end of our Plitvice walks? No! We did the whole Upper Lakes route again at 4:30. Spectacular.
I was expecting beautiful waterfalls but the entire park is one of those places that lives up to its reputation. The experience of walking miles on wooden walkways on top of the rushing water, right next to waterfalls cascading over the natural moss covered travertine dams was just… magical.
When To Go
Spring is a great time of year to go, not only does the rainfall make for a terrific amount of water in the park, the number of visitors are significantly less than in the summer. In the second week of May when we were there, the visitor count was 3,000 per day. In the summer, the number of visitors swells to 13,000! Imagine being shoulder to shoulder with all those people on those beautiful narrow wooden walkways and paths. If that’s when you must go, get out as soon as the park opens, take a break back in your hotel in the busy part of the day, and go out again in the evening when the day trippers have left.
To get the most out of your visit to this beautiful National Park, stay at least one night. We stayed 2 nights which worked perfectly – arriving late afternoon gives you a terrific chance to explore when the crowds have subsided and get out early again the next day, plus the next afternoon and evening for a wonderful experience without all the people who visit as a day trip.
When you stay at Hotel Plitvice the hotel will validate your Single Day Plitvice entry ticket to allow you entry the day you arrive, PLUS entry for the next day, a terrific savings!
I’d booked a Superior Double room for 2 nights well in advance and from the pics I’d seen, I wasn’t expecting a lot. Then I entered room 201 and just said WOW! The room had been redone in terrific neutral greys and browns, with plenty of seating in the large sitting area facing the nice size LCDTV.
Arriving in Plitvice
We left the coast after our week long stay in Rovinj and in an easy 4 hour drive we were checking in to Hotel Plitvice.
Next stop: Zadar for 5 nights, an easy drive from Plitvice that takes about 2 hours.
Have you been to Plitvice Lakes National Park? Were you enchanted by these watery walks too?