You have decided to visit Croatia and you are looking for places to visit or things to do. Everywhere you will look the wonderful Plitvice Lakes National Park will be recommended to see, and this is why.
Whenever we go on a trip we do our best to find places no-one, or at least not a lot, of people go to. We enjoy exploring the unknown. However, for Plitvice Lakes National Park we don’t mind making an exception. It is a park with more than 1 million visitors each year and it’s one of the oldest national parks in Southeastern Europe, founded in 1949. Since 1979, it is added to the UNESCO World Heritage register. Plitvice Lakes National Park is actually a very large nature reserve with an area covering nearly 74.000 acres. It is well protected and taken care of by professionals.
Because of the popularity of the park you can easily imagine that it’s hard to walk around alone. To make things easier for people that visit the park they have created several entrance points. All entrance points have sufficient parking possibilities for a fair price. If possible, try to book an entrance ticket to the park in advance to avoid potential waiting in long lines. Luck was on our side when we were there because it only took us a few minutes to buy a ticket and get inside. Once inside we noticed a lot of large groups of tourists accompanied by a guide. Glad we just missed those when entering. It was almost 1pm and waiting in the heat would have been terrible. Bring a hat, if you can!
We have entered through entrance #2 and the route starts with a view on top of the valley. The first panorama view you have is breathtaking. After waiting in line to take a photo we folded out our tripods (yes, you can take this inside!) and positioned ourselves to take the photo we had in mind. We used a Lee Big Stopper to take the shot with an extended shutter speed to create the smooth look of the water. Even though the light wasn’t great at that time of the day, we are happy with the result.
After this awesome view, we continued the road downwards, towards the lower part of the park. The camera remained on the tripod, just in case. Since the Benro A2691T is so small when completely folded in it’s easy to hold in your hand and take photos. That way you won’t be bothering other visitors either. It’s almost 3pm now and it’s becoming a lot busier in the park. Beside the fact that the temperature is slowly dropping the roads that you are supposed to walk on are getting smaller. Roads are also turning into (foot)bridges. It’s a big plus that they are here since you are able to see some of the most beautiful parts of the park because of them.
The photo on the left is taken from one of the footbridges. It was quite challenging to take the shot because the footbridge was moving all the time since people were passing by behind us. We have waited for the right time and took the shot.
Once arrived at the high and very large waterfall that you can also see in the first picture of the post, we wanted to try and shoot this as well, even though the road was just as busy as the shot we were taking before. Waited for the right time again and made the photo. Quite challenging considering the conditions we were shooting in with all the people on the road and the bright and hard light. Returning home empty handed wasn’t an option though so we did the best we could.
It would be great if it was possible to shoot the park during sunrise or sunset. Unfortunately, the park opening times are from 8am till 7pm. During summer those times make it impossible to shoot a decent sunrise or sunset.
When you stay on the designated road from start to finish we will assure you that you will see a lot of beautiful scenes. During our walk, we even noticed a beautiful blue salamander sitting on the road. Before we had the opportunity to take a photo it decided to trade the road for a more safer spot in the grass. That was too bad, but right next to us there were swimming a lot of fish that we could see through the crystal-clear water. Lovely.
Funny thing is that when you’re almost at the exit of the designated road you can’t continue by foot and you have to use a boat, or walk the same road back. We did the latter. In the end, that wasn’t too bad. Scenes that we missed at first now opened up to us. It was like a whole new experience.
Visiting Plitvice Lakes National Park is definitely a highlight in Croatia. The country is very proud of the park and that shows. Quality of the food and public restrooms for example is good. It’s a busy park, but they try their best to make it a great experience for every visitor. This does mean that you are not allowed to walk away from the designated roads, which for a photographer is challenging. However, this helps with preserving the beautiful park.
There are a lot of different designated roads, long and short ones. Therefore, you can visit the park at any time of the day within the opening times but we would recommend going as early as possible. Make sure you visit the park. You won’t regret it.