Michael and I have previously been to Plitvice Lakes (the oldest and largest national park in Croatia) in the summer of 2013 and absolutely loved it. On the occasion, we spent the night at one of the nearby hotels which allowed us to explore the national park over 2 days. I unknowingly wore a swimsuit underneath my workout clothes with the intention of going for a swim until I realised that it is strictly forbidden to swim in the lakes. I think this is part of the reason why the water is so crystal clear today so I am happy to oblige by this rule.
Fast forward to a few months ago where we saw beautiful photos of Plitvice in the winter period and since then, this has been on our winter bucket-list. We wanted to experience it in it’s icy and snowy state.
It’s a little over an hours drive along an old and windy road from Karlovac. Along this road you can also find the beautiful waterfalls of Rastoke in Slunj which is also a place I would recommend to visit.
Entrance #1 of Plitvice Lakes is open during the winter season and parking is free so this was an added bonus. For only 55 kuna per person (~$11.30 AUD) you can access this magical place. We decided to follow Route A as it is the shortest route (2-3 hours/3500m) and we thought this would be sufficient for a -3 degree day. We were pleasantly surprised with how well kept the walkways were which led us down the mountain. We specifically wore our boots that had the most grip as we had experienced slippery icy pathways previously and we wanted to be as prepared as possible for whatever conditions we would face in the park. Every single step down the mountain was a perfect instagram photo! I just keep thinking to myself “What a magical place!”
At the end of our descent down the path, we reached the first wooden walkway which ever so slightly hovered above the lake We began to realise that it was slightly icy and slippery, however we managed to cross the lake and took the time to enjoy the beautiful views.
We then ventured to our left to visit the first of the waterfalls up close and personal. To head to these waterfalls, we had to go up a few wooden stairs. My confidence in my boots started to slowly diminish as this was extremely slippery. The walkway had no railings so we ensured we took it slowly, tried to find the non-icy parts of the walkway and made our way up the stairs. Icicles were forming right below our feet as the the rushing water was only centimetres away. I would be lying to you if I didn’t say that it was a tiny bit scary!
Once we made our way up the stairs, the sight and sound of the waterfalls so close to us was unbelievable. The icicles which formed on bits of the waterfall was so pretty and really magical. We decided not to venture too much further as the walkway started to look a bit more icier than we were comfortable with, so we decided to turn around and head to the “Great Waterfall” which is the largest fall of the Plitvice Lakes and in Croatia1.
As we were making our way back the way we came, we heard a bit of a scream ahead and realised that a woman had slipped on the same icy stairs we had a bit of trouble with. She managed to get up OK and was then assisted by their tour guide down the stairs and back to the clear path. There was a group of about 4-6 slightly concerned tourists all holding hands to make their way past this slippery set of stairs. To be honest, this started to frighten me and I started to hold on very tightly to Michael’s hand. With patience, a few squeals (on my part) and a few close call’s, we managed to make it past the tricky part and made our way to the big waterfall.
I remember this part of Plitvice from the last time we visited. It was definitely one of my favourite parts of the entire park! This part of the walkway was downhill and luckily had a wooden railing to hold onto. On the left side of the walkway is a cliff and on the right side is the immense waterfall and steep drop so I was definitely holding onto that railing! I managed to get down a few steps and took some wonderful photos.
I held onto Michael’s hand as we continued on this downward staircase and as when I started to slip more and more, I decided that enough was enough for me. The roaring sound of the waterfalls, the realisation that I was on the edge of a cliff and the fact that my shoes could not grip onto the wooden pathway due to the ice made me content with what I had seen so far and happy not to continue down the path. Michael continued on for a bit more and managed to get right underneath the big waterfall. You can watch his Facebook Live Video here and my Facebook Live Video here
I patiently waited for him at the top of the waterfall, took a few more photos and we headed back to the entrance of the park. I’m not going to lie, there may have been a few tears rolling down my cheeks as I found the last part of our adventure pretty scary.
We headed back up the mountain and decided to walk along the rim of the cliff to have an eagle eye’s view of the waterfalls and wooden walkways. Now, this is a beautiful way to see this gorgeous place. From the top of the mountain, we could see the waterfalls, snow-capped mountains and white trees.
Winter in Plitvice is absolutely stunning and somewhere I would recommend to anyone. I would highly recommend having proper winter shoes that have a lot of grip and can handle icy conditions. I would also recommend bringing along someone that you can hold onto tightly when those pathways get a bit slippery. It’s truly a magical place and I can’t wait to return in the spring! Plitvice Lakes is open all year round and has over 7 different routes + 4 hiking trails so it’s a perfect place to go when you want to be surrounded by beauty and nature. Also, be aware that the price of entry doubles in the shoulder season (110 kuna for adults) and more than triples in the peak summer season (180 kuna for adults). You can purchase a 2-day consecutive ticket which gives you a bit of a savings when you calculate it on a per day basis.
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Thanks for reading our story!
Michael & Meagan
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