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do or dont do Plitvice ?

Hi !
We (2 adults and 2 kids of 7 and 11) will be in Croatis in july. We are really thorn between going or not to Plitvice. iT seems nice but from waht we read it can be hellish in july.

We will come from Istria (Pazin) so more or less 3 hours road and after Plitvice we are heading to Zagreb. We have 2 plans (well 3 if we add not going !)

1) Leave Pazin, stop for lunch in route and arrive for 4 pm. Visit Plitvice until 8 pm (closing time), sleep somewhere not too far and head for Zagreb next morning.

  • : Less expensive from 4 pm, Would alows us to have a day and a half in Zagreb (we stay 2 nights there)
  • : Only 4 hours in plitvice (maybe it's enough)

2) Leave pazin, take the whole day to travel To plitvice, go to our lodgieng and get to bes early. Wake up early and head to the park before 8 am. After the park go to Zagreb for 2 nights.

  • : give us the whole day to visit the park -: More expensive, have to be there early, lot of people, less time for Zagreb

What would you do ?

Thanks !

Posted by
4706 posts

It's impossible to advise you about what YOU will enjoy more. It would be VERY helpful to know where you are from, and how "outdoorsy" you are. For example, if you are from Colorado or Utah, and you go to National Parks all the time, you would not want to miss Plitvice. If you are from New York City (like me ... ) and don't care that much for hiking and really love cities, maybe you could skip Plitvice.

How much do you love being in the car? What is your time limit for level walking or (strolling) up hillside paths? (Plitvice's paths are crowded enough that no one will be rushing you along the uphill paths!)

Edit: "Why did I ask about the car?" Because you wrote one option was: "Leave pazin, take the whole day to travel"

Posted by
282 posts

Hi !
we are from Montreal. We do love cities AND outdoor sights. We love a mix of them. We are not big hikers and our daughters tends to hate walking too much but can manage to do it.

car is not a problem, but why ask about it ?

Posted by
971 posts

I visited on a day trip on High season and it was a bit hellish. Big crowds and not a lot of room to maneuvere, since most of the walls are single track on planks Through the different waterfalls. Based on my experience I would advise to spend the night and get there early in the morning. The parks is beautifull and the walls are not very difficult.

Posted by
17140 posts

I don't know how much cheaper the park is for a late-afternoon entry, and I cannot judge how important that difference (times 4) might be to your trip budget, so I'll offer other options that assure that you will have enough time in the park; I cannot guarantee that it will be uncrowded.

  • Arrive by 2:30 or 3 PM. That will probably give you enough time to take the longest mapped-out walk through the park. To tell you the truth, I don't know that they're actually going to throw you out of the park at 8 PM.

  • Arrive somewhat later and plan to return to the park for 1 or 2 hours the next morning before you head to Zagreb. Unless you're staying at one of the park hotels, I believe this requires purchase of 2-day tickets, which will definitely be more expensive.

Four hours may be enough time for you. I opted for the second-longest marked-out path, and I finished it much faster than the signage told me to expect, despite massive mid-day crowds that slowed me down. On the other hand, I didn't stop to take a lot of pictures, and I carried some yogurt in with me and ate it very quickly rather than taking a real lunch break.

Anything that gives you a decent amount of time in the park either late in the day or first thing in the morning is very much worth doing. And Zagreb is also nice, so you cannot go wrong here as long as you avoid the park at midday as much as you can.

Edited to add: You have the flexibility to see Plitvice during its less crowded hours. I would definitely not skip it. It is a wonderful place.

Posted by
1326 posts

I would not recommend skipping Plitvice, and I advise option 2. If you get there early, the crowds will be smaller. You won't need the entire day to visit the park, so you might be on the road to Zagreb by lunchtime or early afternoon and be there by mid or late afternoon.

Posted by
1860 posts

I'm adding my encouragement along with the above posters; arrive early (this would be my preference) or later in the day to avoid the crowds. The walking is easy, mostly boardwalks and you won't need the whole day. I like the idea of taking a snack along with you although there is a toilet and lunch possibilities at the lake. It's a breathtakingly beautiful place; I wouldn't miss it, either!

Posted by
80 posts

We visited Plitvice this past September (late in the month). I had read that arriving at 4 pm, most of the tour groups would be gone. However, we did not find this to be true. Even in the (somewhat) off season, the park was mobbed with tour groups, all jockeying for the perfect selfie. The next morning, we got to the park so that we were at the gates when they opened, and it was a much better experience. We were ahead of people for most of our visit. We were very glad we visited. Plitvice is beautiful.

Posted by
282 posts

Thanks everyone, 

We will take a night from Istria (will be there 4 nights instead of 5), and will put it for Plitvice. We will sleep there the night before and get up early to avoid a part of the crowd. We will see.

Our vacation will be in july-August for the next 25 years, so we have no choice there ! 

Posted by
17140 posts

Digbydog, thanks so much for posting about your recent experience. Plitvice is one of the places in Europe where visitor counts have swelled and apparently are still doing so. It's hard to know how to advise people if you haven't been there recently, and my most recent trip was in 2015. Utterly mobbed during day-tripping hours even then.

Posted by
57 posts

We were there in late August. We did a late afternoon tour and were frustrated by the crowds because the boardwalks are pretty narrow.

We went again the next morning around 8:30: it was already semi-crowded but much better.

It's definitely worth seeing; just be prepared for the crowds!

Posted by
614 posts

We are not big hikers and our daughters tends to hate walking too much but can manage to do it.

Plitvice is beautiful and all walking. You may want to reconsider.