Classified as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, the stunning Plitvice Lakes National Park was the absolute highlight of my visit to Croatia last May.
From Zagreb, it took me 2,5 hours by bus to reach the Plitvice Lakes, located right on the heart of continental Croatia, next to the border with Bosnia & Herzegovina, but it was definitely worth the time.
And although the day started gray and rainy, I decided to stick with my plan of exploring this unique natural site, and was not disappointed. Whit the right equipment – as in, a last minute-bought bright yellow raincoat that made me look like a canary! – it was possible to contemplate all the extraordinary beauty of the lakes and surrounding forest.
I spent around 3 hours exploring the Plitvice Lakes National Park. Croatia’s largest national park is divided into Lower and Upper Lakes and offers 8 different options in terms of sightseeing programs. However due to the weather conditions, some sectors of the park were closed on the day of my visit, so I ended up doing a mix of programs B and C.
I started at the north entrance (entrance 1) and walked along the top of the east side of the Lower Lakes’ canyon. Usually it’s possible to go down and walk through the limestone canyon to the other side, but it was closed that day, so I had to admire the impressive Great Waterfall only from afar.
I continued walking along the stunning dark blue lakes of Novakovica Brod, Kaluderovac, Gavanovac and Milanovac, until reaching the Kozjak Bridge, which leads to the west side of the canyon. Here I had a pause and something to eat at one of the park’s restaurants, before taking the electric-boat across the largest of the Plitvice lakes – Lake Kozjak.
This dramatic boat ride connecting the Lower and the Upper Lakes sections was one of the most memorable experiences of the day.
I delved only into a small area of the Upper Lakes, but what I saw was enough to make me marvel at the bursting waterfalls, turquoise lakes and lush green scenery.
Finally, I took a shorter boat ride back to the east side, and from there a panoramic train ride up the east canyon back to my starting point on entrance 1.
At the end of the day, my feet were a bit cold and wet, but my heart was warmed by the gorgeousness of Croatia.
Best time to visit
Spring and autumn are the best times to visit. Avoid the peak months of July and August, when crowds of tourists inundate the park, and the falls are reduced to a small flow.
How to get there
You can easily take a bus to the Plitvice Lakes National Park from Zagreb main bus station. The journey takes around 2,5 hours each way and costs about 100 Croatian Kuna (13.5 Euros) for one way ticket.
A one day ticket for an adult costs between 55 Kuna (7.5 Euros) on the low season and 180 Kuna (24.30 Euros) on the peak season. Booking is recommended for groups of 15 persons or more.
How to explore
The Plitivice Lakes National Park offers 8 different options in terms of sightseeing programs, from shorter walking tours of 2-3 hours, exploring either the Lower Lakes or the Upper Lakes, to longer walking tours of up to 6-8 hours, including the whole lakes section of the park.
Guided tours are also available for groups.
Where to stay
I stayed at the Hotel International, located in Zagreb business district, and a 10 minute tram ride from the city center.
I really recommend staying here, if you’re looking for good value for your money, meaning spacious, modern and comfortable rooms, good breakfast and restaurant service, and friendly and helpful staff.
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