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Enchanting Watery Walks in Magical Plitvice Lakes

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Aug 7th, 2016, 07:24 AM
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Enchanting Watery Walks in Magical Plitvice Lakes

Hello everyone,

We spent a couple of months in the spring this year, flying in to Vienna, then we flew to Ljubljana and spent 13 nights in Slovenia, then went to Croatia for a total of 24 nights...and more. But this trip report is about our 2 nights at Plitivice Lakes National Park which we found simply enchanting. It was one of those places that really lived up to the hype.

First, the TR is on my website if you want to see the pictures that go along with it: http://rebeccasnyder.com/travel/ench...litvice-lakes/

We drove to Plitvice from Rovinj, an easy 4 hour drive (despite the rain!), and after our 2 night stay, drove to Zadar, another easy drive of 2 hours 15 minutes.

For anyone planning a visit to this unique National Park, I highly recommend a 2 night stay. I've talked to people who've done it as a day trip in the summer and they did not have the same experience...at all!
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Aug 7th, 2016, 07:30 AM
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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 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.
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Aug 7th, 2016, 07:41 AM
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The Lower Lakes of Plitvice Lakes National Park

Our info center consultant had told us that all paths on the Lower Lakes were closed for 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.

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.

Practicalities

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.

Hotel Plitvice
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. But when I entered room 201, I just said WOW! It was beautiful, but I have to say I just got lucky, not all of the suites had been updated with this beautiful look and this was one of the two (yep, only 2) that had balconies.

Summary - Magical Plitvice

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.
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Aug 7th, 2016, 09:55 AM
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RebeccahS,

Thank you!

Your pictures are incredible, the best I have ever seen of these beautiful waterfalls, and your writing about them is superb! Nothing I have seen before even comes close to showing their magic like you did. You really should publish a book with your photos and captions. I would be first in line to buy it.

Plus your advice about hotel, times, etc. is very useful.
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Aug 7th, 2016, 10:51 AM
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Nice report - great pictures!

I've been to Plitvice twice, in May and in early October. It's true that the waterfalls are more active after the spring rains, but in October I also saw pretty fall colors in the park, which you can partly see reflected in the lakes. There's probably never a bad time to go except maybe summer when it's so busy.

Although it's too bad the trails by the lower lakes were closed during your visit, I think you saw the best views at the upper lakes, anyway.

I stayed at the Hotel Plitvice too on my first visit. This gave me the ability to see the park on the first afternoon and then early the next morning, before the park got crowded, and I was able to get my ticket stamped at the front desk the second morning to use the previous day's ticket. Very handy! The hotel itself is nothing special (at least it wasn't in 2009), and it's certainly overpriced, but for the prime location and multiple-day park ticket option, it may be worth it.

Although I think it's great to stay at night if you can instead of just a day visit, two nights at Plitvice is probably too much for the average Croatia traveler, just because most people have such limited time on a vacation. Plus, there's just nothing to do at night near Plitvice - there's no real town or anything nearby.
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Aug 7th, 2016, 01:15 PM
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@Sassafrass - Thanks so much for your lovely comments, you must have also had a wonder-filled time there to understand so well what I was trying to convey! Thanks for reading, I'm so glad and grateful that you enjoyed my report and took the time to comment.
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Aug 7th, 2016, 01:37 PM
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@Andrew - Thank you Andrew! I've read so many of your trip reports, they've been very helpful to me while I was putting my trip and my route together - thanks for that!

True enough, I had more time than most people would be willing to spend and 1 night is probably enough for most people. But for those who like to travel a little slower, 2 nights was terrific. As far as things to do at night go, we were in the park almost to closing at 8pm on both nights, then dinner, then streaming Netflix, so 2 nights was easy enough.

Thanks so much for reading my (long!) report and commenting, I really appreciate it!
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Aug 7th, 2016, 03:00 PM
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RebeccahS,
I have not been there. I wanted to, and had plans once that got cancelled. Now I have illness that may preclude it. All the pictures I saw made it seem lovely, but your photos made me feel as if I was actually there. To show a picture of something is one thing. To somehow bring the viewer into the experience is an artistic achievement on a whole other level. That is a gift and that is what you did for me.
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Aug 7th, 2016, 05:06 PM
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@Sassafrass I'm so sorry to hear that you may not make it here yourself, but touched and happy that my story gave you an insight that you perhaps didn't have before to this place that I found so enchanting. Thank you!
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Aug 8th, 2016, 04:24 AM
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Definitely on my bucket list, lovely photos and helpful commentary, thank you.
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Aug 8th, 2016, 07:02 AM
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@Adelaidean Thank you so much for reading and the comment! I was so enchanted by the park
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Dec 13th, 2016, 11:59 AM
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Thank you for a very detailed trip report.
It is very useful for planning my upcoming travel plan to Croatia in 2017.
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Dec 16th, 2016, 07:38 PM
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Thank you Rebecca for your detailed report. We will be visiting next June and I am trying to decide where to stay and for how long.
I'm now going to look at your photos they sound wonderful!
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Dec 16th, 2016, 09:53 PM
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Fabulous photos and info. Your web site is now saved in my favourites, thanks.
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Dec 17th, 2016, 01:14 PM
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Great report and photos. Plitvice remains one of the biggest highlights of all our trips.

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Jan 7th, 2017, 11:29 AM
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Thanks everyone for your nice comments! @kaysavla and @aussie_10 - it's always hard to figure out how many nights in each place, but if you can manage to squeeze it in, I highly recommend 2 nights at Plitvice. The lakes and waterfalls in May with the amount of water from all the spring rain really made this NP magical.
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