When you hear the country Croatia, what do you think of? My mental image has always been of bright aquamarine lakes with hundreds of waterfalls flowing effortlessly into them- each one more stunning than the last. This daydream isn’t actually a dream, it’s a reality that is easily accessible at Plitvice National Park. The park is located in the Northeastern portion of Croatia very near to the Bosnia and Herzegovina border.
Plitvice is truly magical and not to be missed. The best time to go is in August thanks to the lovely weather and bright blue skies. The only downfall is that there are TONS of tourists there and will be long wait times to get onto the boat, purchase tickets, and walk past some of the waterfalls. Follow these tips to get the most out of your time in Plitvice!
- Wear comfortable shoes with a very good grip- Without fail, I always see people abroad with the worst possible footwear. In Plitvice the worst possible type of shoe to wear would be anything with a heel. Log boardwalks with tons of holes make shoes with heels impossible to walk in… somehow a little Asian woman managed to do it. These boards cover waterfalls and become slick- making it very easy to fall into the water.
- Use the restrooms when you see them – bathrooms are few and far between at Plitvice… and the ones by Car Park 2 *ARE SQUAT BATHROOMS*. I had never seen one before and was a bit bewildered that it existed there. Luckily, not all of the bathrooms are like that. That being said, the bathrooms are disgusting in certain areas and clean in others. Bring extra TP just in case the one you go to is out. Bring hand sanitizer and use it. One of the bathrooms (the one after the long boat ride) smelled like people pooped on the floors for the past 28 years and was out of soap. The bathrooms by the ticket office were much cleaner and fully stocked. There wasn’t even a line! Those were the only three bathrooms we saw the whole time there (we may have missed the others) but that could cause quite a bit of stress.
- Stay on the F*****g Path – You will see other people off the trail where they aren’t supposed to be. Don’t be that jerk that tramples the flora and fauna just to get a cool photo. We made the mistake of thinking that areas that had gravel meant you could get off the path there… that caused an embarrassing incident where a tour guide literally yelled at us when we were on a spot that we legitimately thought was a picnic area (there were benches and everything!!!). Although it was super embarrassing, it made us double check which areas we could and couldn’t go. You’ll see lots of people ignoring very visible signs and climbing on waterfalls. It’s really hard to not get upset at them blatantly saying ‘F*** the rules, I’m selfish and do what I want’. Don’t be one of those people.
- Bring a Backpack full of snacks and drinks- You’re going to be a Plitvice for a VERY long time (they say to give it 5 hours, but we were there for about 8+ and walked pretty quickly). There aren’t many places to get food along the path so it’s smart to bring your own food to the Plitvice party. We made the mistake of not bringing food and were pretty hungry for most of the day. Luckily after the big boat ride there is a site with a few restaurants that serve burgers and chicken. It’s a huge plus that all these restaurants take cards.
- Bring Extra Layers + Triple check the weather – Even in August, Plitvice gets chilly in the shade! I didn’t think it’d be that cold since it was about 95 F by the coast so it would have ended up being a pretty uncomfortable day if I hadn’t been so distracted by the extreme beauty of the place. The large cliffs and looming trees cast quite a bit of shade which could change the temperature even more, so be sure to bring a light jacket in the summer heat.
- Midday is the prettiest – this is just my opinion, of course, but when the sun is shining from directly overhead the waters are the most vibrant hues of blue. It’s hard to believe that it’s real life that you’re experiencing and not a fairy tale.
- Bring your photo gear; but leave your drone at home. Sadly drones aren’t allowed in Plitvice but it’s for good reason. It would have been very difficult to find somewhere to take off and land from with the hordes of tourists lining the walkway, and even more difficult to find somewhere with a clear path to the skies. You’ll want to take tons and tons of photos and videos, so make sure your batteries are fully charged and you have room on your memory card. If you ran out of memory or battery it would be a modern day tragedy. Each new waterfall you venture to is more beautiful than the last.
- Take the bus from Entrance 2 to St4 and walk back towards P2 (where the boat will take you back to the entrance or across the lake via boat to P3. This will ensure that you’re walking downhill the whole time (highly suggested if you’re lazy like I am!) and you’ll get to a good food area at a good stopping point. It also allows you to see all of the park and not have to backtrack at any point.
Phew, those are my awesome tips for all of you curious about the insane gorgeousness that is Plitvice! Have you been to Plitvice? If so, how hard did you fall in love with it? Leave comments below!