Opal lakes of Plitvice, Croatia

In Croatia, En-Route, Europe, Our Journeys, Trip-Types, Unesco, World Travel by Janis2 Comments

It has its own little micro climate

And so, it begins… our first full day in Croatia and we have chosen to start at Plitvice Lakes, if this was a taster to the scenery for the rest of Croatia, this road trip was going to be amazing.

The upper lake at Plitvice, Croatia

We had been given some great tips and advice from Lily, our host at the Grand Lakes Rooms. Just a short drive to the main entrances of the National Park. These handy hints made our experience a lot smoother.

A helpful guide

If you've yet to discover the delights of Croatia you're in for a treat. While planning our road trip, I used the DK Eyewitness books.  I find them extremely informative, easy to follow and the pictures and maps tempt you into discovering more.

We used a previous version of this book to plan our north to south Croatian road trip, now you can grab the revised copy.

Now which entrance, One or Two?

We followed Lily’s advice and opted for entrance 2, and I think this is a wise choice if you want to discover the upper and lower lakes in the park.

Mist across the water, Plitvice Lakes, Croatia

Essentially once you have parked at entrance 2 and bought your ticket, head towards the National Park entrance at St2.

The wooden paths through the upper lakes, Plitvice Lakes, Croatia

Catch the shuttle bus to St3, hop off at the top and this is where the fun begins. By starting here, you are gradually walking down through the lakes and waterfalls, rather than making it harder for yourself and ascending through them.

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Just to let you know

We were visiting mid-September and a lot quieter than July & August. We were informed that there was also a ticket office by the bus pick up point at St2, so this is worth bearing in mind during the busier months.

First Impressions

We were at the upper Prošćansko lake at about 9am and although there was a very heavy mist and it was drizzly, the scenery was spectacular. We’d let the rest of the people on the bus walk on ahead, so we were on our own in the eerie serene atmosphere.

An eerie mist hand over the upper lake, Plitvice Lakes, Croatia

Although we were thankful we’d packed our waterproof coats and walking shoes, our enthusiasm certainly hadn’t diminished.

As you step onto your first wooden elevated walkway you are slightly sceptical that the surface will be slippery, it's not, but caution is needed. As given the beauty of the landscape, it's easy to be distracted.

In video mode, Plitvice Lakes, Croatia
A waterfall in Plitvice, Croatia

There's also fear from Gary that the camera may go into meltdown, as he goes into clicking overdrive.

Hovering above the lakes

The opal waters, Plitvice Lakes, Croatia

The stroll through the upper reaches is beautiful, as you would imagine. As you turn every bend through the woodland, there is another striking scene. Either meandering streams & rivers, expansive blue lakes or a towering waterfall pushing through crevices.

The many pools, Plitvice Lakes, CroatiaOpal pools, Plitvice Lakes, Croatia

You have a feeling the weather today has reduced the crowds, and on a warm day in the height of the season, progress could be much slower.

However, today it's not so challenging to pass the slower groups, but still, take time to marvel at the path the water takes to descend.

Up close to one of the many falls, Plitvice Lakes, Croatia
Well prepared, Plitvice Lakes, Croatia
Leading the way, Plitvice Lakes, Croatia

You also now appreciate the lack of handrails on the wooden walkways, as they allow you to become immersed in the environment without impacting it. It's easy to see why this site has maintained its UNESCO status since 1979.

Even a boat ride

The short boat journey, Plitvice Lakes, Croatia

As we have been gradually descending through the park passing the 12 upper lakes. Arriving at Kozjak Lake (P2), we jump on a boat to take us across the lake to (P3). The journey takes a little over 10 minutes, where we disembark and now continue to discover the lower lakes.

Boating across the lake, Plitvice Lakes, Croatia

The crowds were beginning to increase from the visitors that had started at St1. We were pleased we had started earlier and from the top.

Pit Stop info

Here’s the chance to get fed and watered, take a nature break or just gather yourself for the next hike. The amenities are few and far between.

Where it went a bit wrong…

Maeandering water, Plitvice Lakes, Croatia

By error, we failed to follow Lily's advice, and we headed along the trails towards St1 and the Big Waterfall.
Not that this route was entirely wrong, the scenery was once again spectacular, stunning expansive clear blue lakes, and mesmerising waterfalls, but not quite the path we had anticipated.

So many falls, Plitvice Lakes, Croatia
Floating across the water, Plitvice Lakes, Croatia

Bat Cave

Failing to follow Lily's advice leads to another error on our part. We should have ignored the signs to the bat caves, (it seemed intriguing at the time) but it's steep & slippery, and as it turns out unnecessary. It takes you to a high path that heads one way towards St1 or the other way to the Big Waterfall.

Inside the Bat Cave, Plitvice Lakes, Croatia

Little did we know we would be heading back along this path a little later, after visiting Veliki Slap, the Big Waterfall.

Veliki Slap, Plitvice Lakes, Croatia
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So, our advice

Is to stay low, until you have seen the Big Waterfall, and follow the easier (I said easier, not easy) meandering path that leads to the top before heading back to St1.

Looking Down

Upon high, Plitvice Lakes, Croatia

The views from high above are amazing, and you get a great shot of the snaking boardwalks crossing the opal lakes & how they intersperse with each other.

Looking down on the walkway, Plitvice Lakes, Croatia

Why not?

Start creating your own adventure and discover the delights of Croatia for yourself, Easyjet & British Airways are just a couple of options.

You may even want to combine it into a road trip like us, SIXT car hire cover all budgets and allow you to pick up and drop off at different destinations.

Suffering feet

Once we had got to St1 to catch the bus back to St2. We had covered about 8-9 miles of fantastic scenery across the mixed terrain, and our legs were feeling it. But who cares, at the end of the day we had experienced a natural wonder of the world.

Looking down the valley, Plitvice Lakes, CroatiaCalm waters, Plitvice Lakes, Croatia

Our little bit of practical advice, based on a September visit;

  • Parking facilities were good & charged by the hour
  • Take water
  • Refreshments only appear to be at 4 points across the park
  • Limited toilets
  • Weatherproof coat or poncho
  • Wear decent shoes - the surfaces range from wooden walkways to gravel trails, and sandy paths.
  • Bus & boat trips are included in the price.
  • Thinking of a tripod for your camera - don't. There's literally nowhere suitable to set it up.
  • Arrive at entrance 2, catch the bus to St3, then you’ll be descending most of the way, until the final climb back to St1.


A final piece of advice is, that if you have difficulties with long walks, then take a trip to Rastoke. It is about 20 miles (32km) from Plitvice Lakes and also has some stunning waterfalls.

The flowing falls of Rastoke, Croatia
A steady stream at Rastoke, Croatia

We met a British couple at Rastoke that couldn’t manage the hike through Plitvice, so were thrilled that there was a more accessible smaller option.

Where we stayed

Our accommodation for the two nights at Plitvice we were in Jezerce at the Grand Lakes Rooms. Its location for the park was fantastic, and so was the room & the parking.

Lily was there to greet us and tips she gave for visiting the park were invaluable. The Grand Lakes offered a traditional meal in the evening which was optional. However, we had it on both occasions and was extremely good.

Would you like a little more?

We have created a little YouTube video of our day

Why not subscribe to our channel and get the latest clips as we post them?

Have You?

Visited Plitvice National Park or Rastoke, do you have any useful tips you’d like to share?

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Inspired to visit Plitvice?

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Opal lakes of Plitvice, Croatia

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    1. Thanks Kyle, it’s an amazing place. There were very few people at the top of the lakes when we arrived, so we let them pass through, and for a short time we were there on our own, which made it even more serene.Thanks for the commentJanis & Gary

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