Plitvice Lakes is located about two hours outside of Zagreb. When we spoke to anyone in Croatia they asked us if we had visited Plitvice Lakes. When we said we had not they told us we couldn’t leave without seeing it. Then a friend texted me and told me we really needed to see Plitvice Lakes. So, on our way to Bosnia we decided to take two days to stop at the National Park.
I had no idea the astounding beauty we were about to experience as we drove from Zagreb to Grabovac to check into our hotel. As with all of Croatia the scenery was beautiful. We passed quaint little towns, and gorgeous hills as we made our way along the windy road. The towns began to fade away and soon it was just beautiful rolling hills with tiny hamlets scattered around. The sun was shining, welcoming us to the countryside of Croatia.
Grabovac is about twenty minutes drive from Plitvice Lakes. The perfect location to unwind in the peaceful countryside before starting our visit to Plitvice Lakes the next morning. We sat outside on the balcony and took in the gorgeous scenery planning our trip before heading out to enjoy some delicious pizza at a local restaurant.
The next morning we were up early to get a head start as recommended. The goal was to beat the tourist buses which generally arrive around 9:30 or 10:00. We were staying at the Zrinka house. This wonderful B&B offered us a nice breakfast to start our day. When the owner and her daughter heard we were going to Plitvice they insisted we pack a lunch and waters. It would prove to be a very good decision.
We arrived at Plitvice just before the buses. Along the way we had spotted a few beautiful waterfalls but had no idea they were not the highlight of the area. In fact, the 90 waterfalls of Plitvice Lake would steal the show of anything we had seen in Croatia so far. There are 16 lakes in the National Park and tons of walking trails. As we headed out we decided to take the path recommended which started at the lowest point of the park.
Before descending down to the first of the lakes and waterfalls there is a lookout point where one of the biggest series of five waterfalls flow into a smaller series. As luck would have it we were welcomed with rainbows reflecting through the gorgeous falls. It was surely a sign of the amazing experience we were about to have.
Making our way down the path the walkways across the lakes become visible, they appear to float over the turquoise waters. These walkways are pretty narrow and can be quite crowded so it is important to be patient and cautious. After we round our way around we ended up in the spray of waterfalls while looking over the cliff at others. It was incredible to stand in-between the massive waterfalls, feeling the spray on my face and hearing the beautiful sounds the water make as it cascades over the cliffs.
From here we trekked on making our way up. We passed more lakes, small creeks passing rapidly over mossy rocks. and more waterfalls. Green leaves were beginning to blossom on the trees, filling in the stark winter landscape.
Eventually the pathway leads to the ferry boat area. We stopped here to eat our packed lunch before we hopped on the boat across the largest lake. The line can get pretty long luckily for us there was a group in front of playing music to help us all pass the time. The ride across the lake was beautiful, although the boat was packed with people.
As we reached the destination an amazing group of waterfalls appeared. While they were not the biggest the turquoise flowing waters were absolutely breathtaking. This was our favorite part of the park. There was a quiet here that didn’t exist in the rest of the park. The area was so perfect with the moss covered rocks and bridges, the fallen branches which laid perfectly across the water, and the small streams which gently flowed from the falls into the lakes. We waited out the boat crowds in order to have the space almost completely to ourselves.
While many people just make the short trek around these waterfalls and get back on the boat to head back to the exit we decided to continue the trek. Along the quiet lake paths we found beautiful trees, flowers and rock formations. Then, more incredible waterfalls, and views. Plitvice Lakes just gives and gives and gives. Seriously, just when you think you have seen something more beautiful than you thought possible, there are more beautiful gifts from nature.
When we were done trekking the higher part of the park we hopped on a boat and then on a bus to get back to the exit. As tired as we were it was hard to leave this beautiful place so perfectly cared for by the Croats.
Definitely go early in the morning to avoid the tour buses if you can.
The upper area of the park is usually not visited by the tour buses so while it is still busy it is much more relaxed than the lower part. So many people start at the top and then work their way down. The timing seems to work with the tour buses leaving to get back to whatever city they came from.
Wear comfy shoes, get ready to take pictures (I took over 200!), and be patient. There are places where you have to wait and it can be crowded but stay relaxed and it will be worth it.
The park is definitely kid friendly.
There are a few restaurants scattered around in case you don’t bring your own food or water.
Where To Stay:
We stayed at the Zrinka house. I am serious when I tell you that they are some of the kindest hosts we have ever had. They are gracious, thoughtful and accommodating. The house is lovely and the rooms are fantastic with beautiful bathrooms. We wanted to extend our trip a few days just so we could stay longer at Zrinka house.