Plitvice Lakes National Park in Croatia should serve us as a reminder that our planet is beautiful and truly magical.
If Plitvice isn’t in your bucket list, you need to add it right now! This Croatian national park (pronounced Plit-Vee-Se) is one of the top tourist destinations in the country, and when you go you’ll easily see why.
You don’t need to book a tour to go to the park or break your head trying to plan this trip. It’s actually quite easy, if done the right way.
Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to get to Plitvice Lakes National Park and how to enjoy it in the best possible way.
- Getting there — There are several ways to get to Plitvice Lakes. If you have a car, just drive there and keep reading this post. If you don’t have car, then you want to take the public bus. Book your bus at least a week in advance. Plitvice is quite a popular destination, so the buses do get sold out. You can take a bus from all over Croatia to Plitvice, but the most common places are either Zagreb or Split. For this post, I’ll focus on Zagreb, but the same rules apply for Split. If in Zagreb, book your ticket online at AUTOTRANS. There are several buses per day to the park, but if you’re planning on doing a day trip, I recommend you get an early bus so you can truly enjoy the park. The main station in Zagreb is located about 12 minutes from the city center. You can find it by typing on Google Maps “Autobusni kolodvor Zagreb.” You can take an Uber there for around $3, or take the tram, which takes a bit more time. BE CAREFUL IN THE TRAM, THEY CHECK FOR TRAM TICKETS SO MAKE SURE YOU HAVE ONE!
- Decide if you want to make it a day trip or want to stay overnight — When I went to Plitvice, I stayed overnight because the next destination was Split and it made no sense to go back to Zagreb. I am glad I stayed overnight, but Plitvice can easily be turned into a day trip.
- Entrances — The bus will drop you off at either entrance 1 or 2 of the park. You start different routes from different entrances, but don’t worry too much because there’s a free shuttle that takes you between entrances. Routes H and K, the ones I recommend, are in the second entrance.
- Pick a route — There are several routes and ways to go through the park. Letters A – K represent how long and rigorous these routes are, with A being the shortest one and K being the longest and most rigorous one. We did route H and I thought it was perfect. These routes are really not rigorous and the path isn’t steep or difficult, they’re just long. Route H is recommended if you want to see most of the park, and can take from 4-6 hours. We finished it in a bit over 4 hrs, and that was stopping for water, pictures, and bathroom breaks. Route H also includes a ferry ride (transfer) between two parts of the park.
- Accommodation — If you want to stay overnight, you can also do it. There’s a hotel right outside the park, but I recommend staying at Bed&Breakfasts or hostels. There are many B&Bs about 25 minutes walking from the second entrance, in a small town named Jezerce. You can book these B&Bs on HostelWorld or can actually walk up to them and ask to stay the night there and save some of the HostelWorld fees. Of course, these places don’t accept cards so be ready to have some cash. The nearest ATM is in the hotel that’s in front of the park by Entrance 2. We stayed at Villa Jezerka, about 25 minutes walking to the park, and it was around $30 for a private room. It was two of us, so $15/night was quite the good deal. The owner will also drive you to the bus stop and to the park whenever you need to, for free.
- Bring comfortable clothes and shoes — The amount of people I saw at Plitvice looking like they were about to go out to the club was a bit embarrassing. You’re going to sweat. If coming in the summer, wear shorts and a comfortable pair of sneakers. Bring sunscreen in case it gets sunny.
More Ways to Save Money
- Bring lots of water — Bring enough water to last you a couple of hours and refill at the rest stop.
- Bring your own food
- Have your student ID so you can get a student discount
- Buy groceries — If staying overnight, go to the town of Jezerce that’s close to the park and buy groceries. The supermarket is called Robni Center, so you can ask locals.
PS: You can pay with cash or cards, right in front of the entrances to the routes.
Have you been to Plitvice Lakes National Park? What’s your favorite national park? Let me know in the comments!