1. Timing Is Everything
Plitvice National Park receives over 1 million visitors each year, and in peak season, you can easily find yourself stranded along the narrow walkways in between swarms of people who seem to be hardly moving. By 9am, the crowds start to come in and you can find yourself waiting over an hour at the entry gate and even the same time for internal transportation.
If you are like me and you just detest large groups of tourists sweating over each other like a bunch of dudes piling on top of a Sasha Grey doll, you want to get there EARLY. Now there are two ways to interpret this –
Reach there a little before the opening time of 7am so that you can be in line for the ticket (there are two entrances, I will talk about this later), or you can enter if you already have a ticket from the day before. At 7am, even in peak season, you won’t find yourself waiting for more than 15 minutes in the queue. Okay well make that 6.45.
Though the park technically opens at 7, a main trail in the park goes right by the road and it’s actually possible to just walk through the trees and Voila, you’re right there in the park. Without a ticket, it’s technically not allowed. Oh who am I kidding even with a ticket it’s not allowed as fuck. But if you’re there super early, you could do this. But take it at your own risk – I’m not sure what happens if any park employees find you there!
Once you’re inside it will take you at least 3-4 hours to explore the main parts of the park and walk along the main trails. The next bullet point talks about how to make sure you know where you’re going so you don’t end up stuck halfway through at 10am with a hoard of tourists breathing down your armpit.
2. Know The Route
Before you go to the park, it is super helpful to actually know the route. If you’re not a chiller like me and don’t have the luxury of spending a few days in the area, you want to maximize the little time that you have there.
So there are two main entrances to the park – E1 and E2. At E1 you will enter at the ‘lower lakes’ where there is a short walk to the largest waterfall Veliki Slap, and pleasant walkways through the bottom of the lakes. When you enter at the gate, if you go up towards the bus stop instead of going down towards the lakes you’ll also find some nice views from the top.
At E2 you will enter at the ‘upper lakes’ and this area contains the majority of the waterfalls. From the bus station 3, (looking towards the lower lakes) you can either go on the left side of the lakes, which the best way and all the waterfalls are there; or you can go from the right to reach boat station P2 (this route is a bit more boring)
Personally, I started really early at E1 because Veliki Slap starts to get insane crowd even by 8.30am so I whizzed past it and went straight for the upper lakes. It’s not such a long walk – and if you’re there early, you can walk to the bus station and get a direct internal bus to station 3 and walk back down. Or you can get a boat from boat deck P3 towards the upper lakes.
Everything is shown on the map below :