Exploring Croatia’s Best National Park – Plitvice Lakes
Plitvice Lakes was granted UNESCO World Heritage status in 1979 and is one of Croatia’s most popular tourist attractions. Pippa Silver recently visited Plitvice Lakes and in this guide she shares her advice for how to get there, the best place to stay, which trails to choose and also some top tips to make the experience more magical where to visit.
Top Reasons to Go
Plitvice Lakes had never really caught my attention until I saw a photograph on Instagram that was so beautiful I saved the photo and told myself – one day I shall visit this place! Little did I know at the beginning of that year that I would have achieved my wish by August! If you are unsure whether to make the long trip to Plitvice then don’t be. I can’t really say much more other than go and enjoy one of the most beautiful places in Croatia!
Where to Stay
The Lakes are located roughly half way between Zagreb and Zadar, for this reason the coastal city of Zadar is a good place to stay and is now reachable directly by air from London with Ryanair. There are also hotels located closer to Plitvice Lakes if you wish to fully explore every corner of the park and not spend time commuting.
Getting to Plitvice Lakes from Zadar
There is a bus from Zadar bus station that goes directly to Plitvice Lakes – in August there were two morning buses 08:30 and 09:00, both taking around 1.5 hours – but worth the trip, and for the price of around £18 return you cannot complain. However, beware the bus will be extremely busy in summer, so get there early to ensure you get a seat! There is a return bus at 17:00, and a couple either side of this time I believe.
Cost, Arrival & Choosing a Trail
There are two entrances when you arrive by bus and it will take you to both, entrance 1 is nearer the lower lakes but only has one ticket office so the queue could be massive in the summer. Entrance 2 is nearer the upper lakes and has two ticket offices, as well as the car park if you are driving there yourself.
When you have purchased your entrance ticket, 180Kuna, not bad at all for a National Park, you will have a choice of 8 trails which will take you different routes around the park, all of varying length from 2-3hrs to 6-8hrs and will differ depending on which entrance you start at. There are boats and little buses that are included in your ticket that can take you part way of your journey, or you can walk. Just make sure you pick a suitable timed trail if you are getting the bus back to Zadar, you will still see plenty even if you can’t see the whole park.
What to Expect
There are sixteen lakes that interconnect by a series of waterfalls creating an extensive maze of water, what makes this area more special is that it is set in deep woodland. Wooden pathways add to the magic of the place as you walk inches above the clearest and most emerald green water you will have ever seen.
- Spend as much of the day there as you can, overnight if you can, this place is huge and deserves your time spent here.
- Wear something a bit more substantial than flip flops, you need to walk uphill and there’s quite a bit of walking. No water shoes are needed though as no swimming in the lakes is permitted! Unlike the Krka National Park
- Take plenty of water for the day and food for lunch and snacks. There isn’t an abundance of food stalls dotted around the park – that would somewhat spoil the naturalness, no?
By Pippa Silver