Wandering through the fairytale Plitvice Lakes National Park
Coming from Krka National Park, we get to the Plitvice Lakes National Park entrance around 9 a.m. After parking the car in the huge entrance 1 parking lot, we are ready to explore this Croatian wonder.
Starting from entrance 1, there is a choice of 5 sightseeing programs named A-B-C-E-K touching the Lower and Upper Lakes. Basically, entrance 1 is to visit the Lower Lakes and entrance 2 is for the Upper Lakes. After seeing the map of the trails, as we have one day an half to spend in the park, we decide to split the tour and take it easy without rushing.
Today, our tour will start along Trail B, whereas tomorrow, we’ll hike through Trail E from entrance 2.
Trail B includes the visit of the lower lakes and a boat ride crossing lake Kozjak. We start our trip descending into the canyon from the top of the mountain where entrance 1 is located, and the view is already breathtaking.
In front of us, the fantastic view of the Veliki Slap, known as the big waterfall, and some other falls at the edge of the lake Novakovica (pic below), the lowest and latest of the park, located at an altitude of 503 meters above the sea level.
It’s the right time to take pictures, but step by step, going on along the path, we’ll realize that all the moments are good to get a shot as the landscape is terrific. Following the trail and crossing a boardwalk lining the Kaluderovac and Novakovica lakes, we get to the bottom of the Big Waterfall.
This part is fascinating because the boardwalk passes by and over the left side of a series of waterfalls at the edge of lake Novakovica. Turning back on the path, the boardwalk lines the upper part of the Kaluderovac lake and, after passing an incredible series of small waterfalls at the end of the lake, we reach the lake Gavanovac.
Now and then, we rest to stare at the beautiful landscape surrounding the lakes area and obviously, the camera is always at work!
The trail goes on lining the lake Milanovac, where the giant wall of the mountain on the opposite side mirrors its shape in the clear and green water of the lake.
After 1 hour and a half, still thinking of being in a fairy tale, we reach the small bridge leading to the Kozjak lake and the docking area named P3. Here at P3, there are 2 small restaurants, a bar, the toilets and a big meadow where you can take your rest and take the sun on the grass.
Since it’s almost noon and we are already hungry, we buy a burger with fries and, with a full stomach, we lie on the grass resting. Around 1 p.m., we decide to follow a path out of the park to see the lower lakes from the top of the mountains until the fantastic viewpoint on the “Big waterfall” and another one facing the series of waterfalls (pic nr.1) at the edge of Novakovica lake, the lake itself and the lake Kaluderovac.
The woman at the ticket office showed us the picture on the map taken from that viewpoint (pic nr. 8), suggesting going. Of course, it’s stunning!!! From the P3 area, we go back for a few meters until we reach the tarred road; here, turning left and following the ascent for 20 minutes, we get to a small secondary exit of the park with a small house and a metal bar.
Overstepping the metal bar, we are now out of the park (don’t forget your ticket), then we continue to follow the tarred road on the right side until (after only 300 meters) we notice a dirt path on our right in the middle of the forest (it’s not marked). We immediately find a junction, but we first follow the right one that leads in just a minute to a beautiful viewpoint on the lake Milanovac (pic above).
After taking some pics, we turn back, following the other part of the path that lines the tarred road in the middle of the forest. Stopping now and then at the different viewpoints on the lower lakes, in 20 minutes, we get to the Big waterfall viewpoint.
Our hike does not end here. We walk on for a few minutes until we reach the tarred road, then we proceed on the right until we get to a small wooden bridge.
Right after the bridge, on the right side, there is a short dirt path that leads to one of the most beautiful sights of the park: the view of the series of cascades at the edge of the Novakovica lake, the lake itself and the lake Kaluderovac.
We are delighted because the view was worth the effort! Going back on the tarred road (the whole visit takes around 1 hour and 30 minutes at an average pace), in almost 30 minutes, we get again to the secondary exit where the ranger check our ticket, then we go straight to the P3 dock for the boat ride on Kozjak Lake.
The ride lasts 30 minutes, and it is very relaxing and peaceful. Kozjak Lake is vast and surrounded by green hills, and in the middle, there is an Island called Štefanijin.
Disembarked at the dock P1 (15 min walk from entrance 2), we are not tired yet to jump out of the park, then we decide to walk from the dock P1 to the Kozjak small bridge following a path that lies on the lower shore of the Kozjak lake (it takes 30 minutes).
Before reaching the small bridge, there are the signs of the last part of trail A, a path that first climb up the mountain until it becomes flat and arrives at entrance 1.
We hike along this uphill path, and once we get to the top of the mountain (close to the shuttle bus stop ST1), the trail become flat. Going on through it, we can admire some very stunning viewpoints on the lower lakes (pic below).
After a long and wonderful day, we finally reach entrance 1. It’s almost 6.30 p.m. and we are tired. It’s time to get to our accommodation in Grabovac. Once we get to the B&B, the owner suggests having dinner in Slunj, a small town with a charming and peaceful historic centre named Rastoke, where we can find some restaurants along the Korana river. It was a great tip because Rastoke was lovely and the restaurant “Petro” was very cool.
We reach entrance 2 at 8.30 a.m., and after having breakfast at the bar, we go straight to the dock P1. In 5 minutes, we get the dock P2 by boat where trail E starts.
The path is lovely and lines all the Upper Lakes Burgeti, Gradinsko, Galovac and others smaller lakes, passing by a series of incredible waterfalls that link the lakes themselves.
The big waterfall next to lake Gradinsko is wonderful, and it is so powerful that we get a bit wet. After more than 2 hours, we get to the right edge of Proscansko lake, where we find a bar, toilets and the shuttle bus stop named ST3.
We could walk from here to the P2 dock following the path on the opposite side of the Upper Lakes, but it is enough. The tour was beautiful, and we decide to take the shuttle bus towards entrance 2.
It’s almost noon, so we take our lunch next to the entrance, then, back to the car, we go on with our trip around Croatia, proceeding to Zagreb.
In the end, it was once of the most beautiful National Park we have seen around Europe for its landscapes and its relaxing and fairy atmosphere. Without a doubt, a day in the future, we’ll be here again to enjoy this wonder of nature.
See you Plitvice!
Need to Know
Next to the ticket office at entrance 1 and next to entrance 2 there is an information centre where you can buy the map and get all the information you need to enjoy the park and get the most out of it. There is also a currency exchange shop, a mini-market and a souvenir shop.
Ticket fares and opening time
Click here to know the opening times and fares.
Facilities in the park
You’ll find restaurants next to the main entrances and at the P3 docking area—bar and toilets at the main entrances, P3 docking area and ST3.
Once in the park, you can organize many amazing activities/tours such as scenic boat rides, bike tours, kayak safari, walking or guided tours and many other options. Have a look and book your activities/tour on Viator.com or GetYourGuide.com.
Where to sleep and eat outside the park
The park’s surrounding offers a wide range of accommodations; above all, in the town, find it in one of the towns of Bellevue, Jezero, Plitvice and Grabovac. We slept in Grabovac at B&B Helena.
About eating, you’ll find restaurants in these towns as well or along the road. If you are not tired, we suggest having your dinner in Slunj. Here the excellent tiny historic city centre (called Rastoke) is a very peaceful and relaxing area, where you’ll find restaurants and accommodations along the Korana river. We had a great dinner at Petro Restaurant.
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