The Plitvice Lakes National Park landed on my radar after searching, none other than – Pinterest, for national parks in Europe. What was life before Pinterest? I don’t even want to remember, but I digress. When planning our honeymoon we both agreed that we wanted a solid mix of both city and nature, and boy did Plitvička bring it home with the nature. The second I saw photos of this place I almost didn’t believe it was real. The water is this insane turquoise color, the waterfalls are endless and it’s surrounded by lush greenery in every direction. I had to see it for myself.
We boarded our flight in Venice, Italy and landed in Split, Croatia. We were greeted with the most incredible moist air and overwhelming smell of GREEN. It felt like home. After gathering our baggage and acquiring our rental car we headed north. It’s about a 2.5 hour drive from the airport to the lakes and after waking up at 3 am to catch our flight out of Venice we were both so sleep deprived we ended up driving for no more than an hour before we had to pull over at a gas station to catch some Z’s. Yes, we literally parked at a gas station on the side of the high way and caught up on our beauty rest because A. sleep = happy people and B. Kyle’s been know to fall asleep at the wheel before, but that’s a story for another time.
Where to stay:
After a solid nap and another 1.5 hours of driving we arrived at our AirBnB. Airbnb is just about the only way Kyle and I travel these days. We love the comfort of staying in homes and the bonus of asking the locals for recommendations. If you’ve never done it before I highly recommend traveling this way. It can be substantially cheaper and, if you desire, extraordinarily more expensive if you’re into staying in mansions or insane luxury spaces. There’s a place on there for everyone. Plus, it’s made our travel experiences that much more exciting. Being able to pick out our space instead of opting for a traditional hotel room is something we look forward to when planning a trip. This is the Airbnbwe staying at in Plitvice and it was minutes from the lakes. The host was wonderful and the shared home had a serious bed and breakfast vibe, we loved it. If you're new to Airbnb sign up using my codeand get $40 in travel credit when you book your first stay! I'm not an affliate of there's I just happen to get $20 travel credit for new customers who use my link for their first stay, plus I like helping people save money on travel whenever possible!
Sunrise view from our Airbnb. How charming are these houses?
Where to eat:
I couldn’t even tell you what the town is called that the lakes are in. It’s adorable and quaint and finally provided us with the central European countryside we were anxious for. On the down side it had very few options as far as restaurants were concerned and by very few I mean none, literally. We had to drive 20 min to the next town to eat and even then there’s no more than 4 places to grab a bite. Luckily the drive was beautiful and the restaurant we choose, Karlovacko, was super tasty. After grabbing dinner we walked next door to Plum, one of 3 other restaurants, to grab a drink and dessert.
The view from our patio spot at Karlovacko. We were loving every second of this small town, Rastovača.
Doing the lakes:
GO EARLY. This isn’t a recommendation you should take lightly, it’s a matter of enjoying the lakes or not. The lakes get ridiculously packed, especially in the summer months, and the walk ways are small in most areas of the park so make sure to be there right when they open to ensure the most enjoyment out of your time.
We packed a picnic lunch, made up of food we found at a convenient store on our way home from dinner the night before. Luckily in Europe even these small town stores offer some pretty dang good snack selections. We had all the staples- salami, cheese, crackers and of course stone ground mustard, everything is better with stone ground mustard. Although we both agreed that our picnic lunch was the better choice, there is a food court type area accessible half way through the trail, right before you hop on the boat that takes you to the other side of the lakes.
There are multiple trails you can choose to follow ranging from 2.5 miles up to 5.5 miles. No matter which trail you choose to walk it’s best done in comfortable walking shoes.
Lastly, don’t forget to grab breakfast back at Karlovacko before you hit the road! Honestly, is there anything better than a cafe latte and croissant for breaks is Europe? Just looking at this photo makes my mouth water.