One of my favorite days of our whole trip was the one we spent hiking at Plitvice National Park! On our last full day in Croatia, we rented a car to drive from Split, a city on the coast, back to Zagreb the capital city, stopping on our way at Plitvice. Total drive time was about 5 and a half hours, 3 hours from Split to Plitvice and then another 2 and half hours to Zagreb.
We left our hotel right after breakfast so we’d arrive at the park around noon and have the whole afternoon to hike! Plitvice is divided into the Upper Lakes and the Lower Lakes; we parked at Entrance 2 to the park at the base of the Upper Lakes. Then we took the bus up to the top of the Upper Lakes and began our hike down – you can hike it the other way around, but we opted for a downhill hike!
The lakes (there are 16 total!) are naturally formed in the mountains with waterfalls from one lake into the next. The trail wound us across the first lake, then through the woods beside it until we came to the top of a waterfall. Then it continued on down to the next lake. It was so neat because we’d be at the top of a waterfall, right next to it, and then the trail would wrap around and down until we walked across the next lake and could turn around to see that same waterfall from below!
The trail continued the same way – across one lake to the trail alongside it and down to the next lake, continuing pass right next to the waterfalls! The park was incredible – the water was a beautiful turquoise color and so clear! And there were waterfalls everywhere you turned, even little ones in the woods along the lakes.
The trail across the lakes was made of wooden walkways, sitting right on top of the water – there were even a few places were the water was higher than the trail so narrow boards were laid on top for us to walk across.
When we got to the base of the Upper Lakes, we hopped on the ferry that took us across one of the bigger lakes to the section of the park where the lower lakes begin.
After taking a quick break to eat a snack and refill our water bottles, we kept going on our hike. Because it was early in the season (we were there at the beginning of April), not all of the trails along the lower lakes were open so we hiked along the higher trails. Even though we weren’t right on the water, these were awesome too because we were able to see the lakes and waterfalls from above!
We continued hiking before getting to the finale, the big falls!
Then we hiked the short way back to the Entrance 1, where we caught the bus back to Entrance 2 where we had parked. Hungry from our hike, we grabbed a late lunch quickly before getting on the road again.
After our hike, we have a few tips to keep in mind for any future visits:
- Make sure to eat beforehand! Our hike took about 4 hours total, and once we got started there wasn’t anywhere to stop and grab something until after we took the ferry across to the lower lakes. Luckily we had packed some granola bars to snack on and plenty of water!
- Bathrooms! After a 3-hour drive, we were all ready to use the bathroom when we arrived, so we went to the first ones we saw right at the parking lot…and found they were stalls with just holes in the ground that you have to squat over! But we realized later, if we had just waited, about a 10 minute walk away, near the bus stop, there were bathrooms with regular toilets.
- Keep your camera on a wrist strap – the trail goes right on the lake and in most places there’s not a railing, so it wouldn’t be hard to accidentally drop your phone or camera as you’re trying to snap photos!
Our day at Plitvice Lakes National Park was amazing – it is definitely up there on my list of most incredible places I’ve ever been! If you’re visiting Croatia, I would highly recommend a day trip to this beautiful park!