I can walk, but can't really "hike" any distances. Is it possible to see much of the Plitnice National Park under these circumstances? Is it best to just forget seeing it?
In original question, I meant "if", not "is", of course. Sorry.
I assume that you mean Plitvice National Park. In that case if you are limited in walking ability your experience to see much of the park will be also limited. The walk is relatively easy, most of it level, toward the end short steep walk up. It is several hours walk and one boat ride.
You would probably get more replies if you put your question under Croatia. Croatia Reviews is for writing about your experiences in Croatia.
I think I've probably been to Plitvice more often than 99% of the folks on the forum, but I don't feel confident in answering your question. Let me give you some general information, based on my imperfect recollection.
The park is extraordinarily popular these days. I suppose on a miserable day in the winter it doesn't get much visitor traffic, but who wants to be outdoors then? The only way for anyone, including those with no mobility issues, to really enjoy the park during the busier times (and I don't know how far they extend into spring and fall) is to spend the night before the visit in or near the park and get into the park early in the morning. Day-trippers swarm the place by mid-morning, and the walkways get absolutely packed. So the timing in the first hurdle, and it applies to all visitors not planning a seriously off-season visit.
I found the time estimate for the walk I chose in July 2015 (the second longest one) was very conservative. I doubt that even the longest marked trail would qualify as a "hike". I finished quite early, and I wasn't moving very rapidly because of the crowds. I didn't stop often to take photos, however. I recall walking uphill or downhill occasionally, and there were sometimes level-changes (the occasional step) on the walkways. Sometimes the transition from paths along the ground to an over-water walkway was a set of multiple steps.
I think most of the walking I did was on wooden walkways over (shallow) water. It is very, very uncommon for those walkway to have railings, which is one reason you don't want to be there during crowded periods. The rest of the time, I was on paths in wooded areas along the lakes. I don't remember significant rocks, but the paths were not necessarily smooth and level. I think there were a few areas of paving, but that was uncommon. There were sometimes leaves, and it would be slippery after a rainfall. There aren't a lot of benches scattered around when you're out on the trails. I remember eating my yogurt, perched on a large fallen tree.
There's a little tram that moves you from one part of the park to another. I don't know whether you can use it as often as you want, and it is not set up to be a hop-on/hop-off circuit. There's a boat at some point, too, but I think that is intended for just one trip. I think it's fair to say that the transportation tends to be either somewhat above (the tram) or below (the boat) the level of the walking paths themselves.
On a more encouraging note, my mother accompanied me on one of my park visits. She was in her 60s at the time and had definite breathing problems; she was diagnosed with emphysema later. We always walked slowly, even on city streets, but she enjoyed the park very much.
I didn't want to head out into the park with just the tiny map printed on my entrance ticket. It turned out that there were lots of signposts, pointing the way for the various lettered itineraries, but I still felt better with a comprehensive map, since I knew I needed to catch a bus at the end of my visit. The map cost the equivalent of about $3 in 2015; I bought it at the little shop visible near the ticket booth at the entrance I used. For some reason it was not sold at the ticket booth.
You'd definitely want to take at least water and a snack with you so you don't have to do extra walking to find food when you get hungry. I don't think there are many food options once you get out on the paths. A few basics were available at the little shop where I purchased my map.
When we were there several years ago a member of our group had a pedometer that registered 16 or 17,000 Steps if that is any help to you. It’s not difficult but if mobility is an issue it is a lot of walking. There are steps that are made out of split logs and the spacing was uneven.
I like to get this sort of information directly from the source.
This is from the park website (https://np-plitvicka-jezera.hr/en/plan-your-visit/activities/):
The existing trails through the lake zone are not fully adapted for the disabled (in wheelchairs, motorised vehicles and other equipment), and children’s trolleys are also not recommended. For additional information and instructions, please contact our staff in the park information centre.
This doesn't directly answer your question, but calling the park information centre and asking them might be the best idea.
Kristin, it makes a difference whether your problems are (just to pick some examples) stamina, stability, vertigo, strength, assistive tools, or what. And I'm not urging you to post more, because we're not, say, Physical Therapists. You might watch some videos and look at some online photos to get an idea of what the park consists of.
Lots of elderly folks visit the park, ride the flatboats, and eat at the snack bars. But presumably they don't all climb the ascending, dirt paths (much more than trails, but much less than concrete staircases) the take you all around the ponds and waterfalls. There are lots of flat areas, wading ponds, and picnic areas that you could certainly enjoy. The only thing I worry about is that because of crowding, many of the tougher paths are one-way (AFAIR). That means you'll have real difficulty giving up halfway and going back. However, I remember that most of the tougher walks were easily "surveyable" from a distance. But you'll have to study the paper trail maps to make sure you're not committing to a longer walk than you can finish, or that there's an escape route.
Thank you for all the thoughtful answers to my question. It gives me lots to think about.
Dear Kristin, If you are asking does park has electrical cars etc. Not have. It is fully natural with simple walking paths. There are mini busses to help move you from one entry to another but that not helps you. I suggest taxi drive to Plitvice Selo Entrance from where you can directly start using boats or walk without going down or up hills. But please check with a taxi driver. The later in afternoon is less crowded.
If not then just use entrance 1 and see more of the right shorter side.