From Iguazu Falls in Brazil to Vatnajökull Glacier in Iceland, I chose to see a natural wonder over a man-made attraction any time I go on holidays. And Plitvice Lakes certainly deserve a place in a front row of natural wonders! I know it sounds like a strong statement, but if I could only see one thing in Croatia, that would be it!
Split – Zadar – Plitvice Lakes
We rented a car in Split, drove to Zadar for the Sunset and then to Plitvice Lakes. Croatian drivers are skilled and roads are in good condition, so you don’t have to have any concerns about driving there. You will be on the right side of the road, but even if you normally drive on the left, it will not be difficult to switch, trust me! Depending on traffic, total journey time will be 3 and a half to 4 hours.
The whole area surrounding the lakes is full of all types of accommodation, so you should have no problem finding something suitable. For best rates do some research and book in advance. We compare prices using Tivago, KAYAK and Booking.com. Saving can be as much as £10 per night. You may get even better deals if you create an account (especially with Booking.com).
We stayed at House Dado, a lovely little guest house, just a short drive from the first entrance to lakes area of the park. As it was only 1 night, we didn’t have time to enjoy its garden, patio and barbeque area. We arrived really late and left early the next day, but from little interaction we had with one of the owners, they are very pleasant and speak good English. I can recommend staying there without hesitation. 1 night at House Dado was €60 (via Booking.com).
The entire area of the park (297 square kilometres) is huge in comparison with tiny fraction, which forms the “lakes part”. This small section is divided into two walking “lops” and each of them has its own parking lot. There is one entry ticket, which covers both of these paths, but you cannot access one from the other on foot. None of them is worth seeing more than the other and you should make sure you have enough time to cover both! Having said that, if you’re not planning to explore the park in depth, one day is enough to see everything that’s considered a “must do” – the lakes part! Make sure you follow the weather reports, dress appropriately and pack plenty of water, especially if you plan to hike in other sections of the national park.
We visited in July, but judging from pictures available online, the park is just as beautiful in spring and summer as it is in autumn and winter. Depending on time of the year, not only the beauty of the park will change, but entry prices will be significantly different too! In July and August tickets are the most expensive throughout the year (slightly cheaper for entry after 4pm). We had no choice, but to be there as early as possible, so we paid the higher price, but if you have time, it may be a great idea to visit the park in late afternoon and take advantage of cheaper entry fee. If you plan to visit the park on 2 consecutive days, you’ll save some money buying a 2 days ticket. Refer to the official website for up to date prices and types of entry: https://np-plitvicka-jezera.hr/en/. Expect crowds at all times! We paid 250 KUNA per person visiting in July and before 4pm.
No, unfortunately parking isn’t free neither. If you visit during the summer, try to arrive early and find a spot in a shade, otherwise your car may feel like a sauna after you back from exploring the park. 1 hour of parking was 7 KUNA.
Food and drink
There are few restaurants and cafes with good selection of snacks and drinks. Just as one may expect in any prime location, prices are inflated accordingly. Weather permits, my advice is to take a blanket and prepare a picnic basket for your visit; have your meal outside, taking advantage of beautiful surroundings.
Whenever anyone brings up “The bluest water, I’ve ever seen…” conversation, Plitvice Lakes always pops up in the discussion and there is a very valid reason for that: it’s the bluest water I’ve ever seen – for real!!!
There are 16 lakes and you’ll get to see all of them just by having walked through the two “lops”. Be aware that one of them includes a short (5-10 minutes) boat ride. If you are not up for that, you’ll need to walk back, as the ride is part of that lop. Have in mind that the water on the lake is the calmest you could imagine, making it one of the safest rides you could ever have.
That’s it for now and I hope you enjoyed it! Come back soon to read about the boat trip we took from Split.