Plitvice Lakes National Park is Croatia‘s most famous natural wonder. Clear turquoise water, countless waterfalls, and hordes of tourists characterize this gem. Locals say the best time to visit is in the off-season when there’s notably fewer people and the weather is cooler. It’s forbidden to swim in the park so I can only imagine how unpleasant it must be in the height of summer when it’s scorching hot, there are so many people you can barely walk, and you can’t jump into the inviting waters to cool off.
The most convenient way to visit the park is, of course, to go on an organized tour. But if you’re on a budget like me then take the public bus. For transport alone, some companies in Zagreb charge kn280. By taking the public bus you’ll save around kn80 or nearly 30%!
Heading South from Zagreb
Take the earliest bus (05:45, kn93 one way) to Plitvice (PLITVIČKA JEZERA). You should buy your ticket the day before you travel. Arrival time is around 08:10. It’s a short walk to the park entrance from the bus stop. The official Zagreb bus schedule can be found here: http://voznired.akz.hr/voznired.aspx?lang=en. Keep in mind that return tickets in Croatia only cost 50% more than one way tickets.
To go to points further south like Zadar, Split, or Dubrovnik simply head back to the bus station where you were dropped. I traveled onward to Zadar for kn100 in a share taxi with 7 other people waiting for the bus. A bus would’ve cost about the same amount.
Heading North from Zadar
While it’s possible to go to Plitvice from Split, Zadar is a few hours closer and in my opinion more convenient. Take the earliest bus at 07h, arriving at around 10:05 at the park. To continue onward to Zagreb, simply go back to where you were dropped and take a bus in the same direction. A bus schedule for the park can be found here: http://www.autobusni-kolodvor.com/en/terminal.aspx?k=356&d=191, but it’s best to inquire at the bus terminal for the latest schedule.
Regardless of which direction you’re heading in, Hotel Jezero will store your luggage for the day for kn20. Very useful if you’re travelling onward. The park entry fee is kn110 adult / kn80 student.
The park is definitely one of the highlights of the country and worth spending a day there. I don’t see a point in spending the night but there are several hotels catering to tour groups if you want to or have to stay the night there. The park’s official website is: http://en.np-plitvicka-jezera.hr/
Have you been to Plitvice Lakes National Park? What is your favourite time of year to visit?