Ok, Plitvice isn’t exactly a hidden gem. It pops up on those travelly Instagram accounts all the time. It’s got lush green forests, bright turquoise lakes, deep gorges and plunging waterfalls. It is staggeringly beautiful. My powers of description fail me, so just look at the pictures.
A few pointers:
1) We drove from Labin and the sat-nav took us on a ludicrous route on the most twisty roads imaginable. If you are coming from the north, if you can, avoid the Route 42 way and go the slightly longer but a hundred times easier Route 1 – it might be a few km out of your way but you are more likely to arrive alive and not utterly exhausted from the sheer relentlessness of the corners.
2) There are two entrances, and it doesn’t matter which one you use so don’t panic when you inevitably drive past one of them.
3) Take a student card if you have one, it saves you 30 Kuna. In fact, even if you don’t have one, say you left it in the car – they might give you discount anyway. Always worth chancing your arm at someone who just wants to deal with the massive queue behind you (see next point).
4) It is BUSY. We had a long way to drive to get there and arrived about lunchtime, and it was packed. The car parks were pretty chaotic and there were crowds of people everywhere. My advice would be to arrive as early as you physically can do. Not only do you avoid the crowds then but you also dodge the heat. That said, I utterly despise crowds but it didn’t spoil our day, the size and beauty of the park saw to that. Just be prepared to get stuck behind people taking selfies, especially in the lower reaches of the walks where the less fit can congregate.
5) Take water. It’s a National Park, so you can do a lot of walking before you find anywhere to buy an overpriced drink.
6) You can’t swim in the Park, anywhere. I was a bit gutted, but it is to preserve the natural beauty from being contaminated. If you want to swim in something similar, go to Krka National Park a bit further south.
7) It is surprisingly disabled friendly. There are pre-designated routes all around the National Park, nearly all of which can be accessed by the network of buses that run through it. There are also ferries for those not in a rush.
I can appreciate I seem like a bit of a moaner in this bit. Let me repeat, it is absolutely, unbelievably beautiful. In places it actually looks fake, like a really elaborate Disney theme park. Despite the mad crowds, you have to go – you will not regret it for a second.