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Is it Worth Visiting Plitvice Lakes National Park

Is it Worth Visiting Plitvice Lakes National Park?

Get ready to embark on an unforgettable adventure at Plitvice Lakes National Park in Croatia. This hidden gem is a nature lover’s paradise and a photographer’s dream come true. With its breathtaking turquoise lakes and cascading waterfalls, this park is a feast for the eyes and a sanctuary for the soul. As one of Croatia’s top attractions, Plitvice Lakes offers a unique blend of natural beauty and tranquility. Explore its well-maintained walking trails, immerse yourself in the vibrant colors of the lakes, and let the sound of rushing waterfalls transport you to a state of pure bliss. Whether you’re a thrill-seeker, a nature enthusiast, or simply seeking an escape from the everyday hustle, Plitvice Lakes National Park is the perfect destination to reconnect with the wonders of the natural world. Pack your sense of wonder and get ready for an experience you’ll cherish forever.

A Journey Through Time: Tracing the Origins of Plitvice Lakes

Welcome to the captivating origins of Plitvice Lakes National Park, where nature’s imagination ran wild and left us with a jaw-dropping masterpiece.Millions of years ago, when dinosaurs roamed the land, Plitvice was submerged beneath a shallow sea. As the sea retreated, it left behind a treasure trove of limestone and dolomite deposits. These rocky foundations became the canvas upon which nature would paint her most extraordinary work of art.

But nature wasn’t satisfied with a mere canvas; she needed brushes too. Enter the rivers and streams that danced across the landscape, chiseling away at the limestone and creating a network of valleys and canyons. Their tireless efforts birthed the interconnected lakes that make Plitvice a true wonder.

Fast forward to today, and Plitvice Lakes has rightfully claimed its spot as a UNESCO World Heritage site, drawing in curious travelers from across the globe. Visitors embark on their own epic adventure, wandering along the trails, standing besides the cascading waterfalls, and breathing in the pure, untamed air.

Is Plitvice Lakes Right for You? Weighing the Pros and Cons of Visiting

Breathtaking Natural BeautyUnpredictable Weather
UNESCO World Heritage SiteCrowded during Peak Seasons
Well-Maintained TrailsLimited Accessibility
Photography ParadiseLimited or no internet connectivity in remote areas

These pros highlight the stunning natural beauty, the prestigious UNESCO recognition, the well-maintained trails, and the opportunity for photography enthusiasts at Plitvice Lakes. However, the cons include the unpredictable weather, crowded periods, limited accessibility in some areas, and the potential lack of internet connectivity in remote parts of the park.

Getting to Plitvice Lakes: Different Ways to Get There

Traveling to Plitvice Lakes National Park is an essential consideration for anyone planning a visit. Fortunately, there are multiple transportation options available, each with its own advantages and disadvantages. In this section, we will explore and compare these options to assist you in choosing the most suitable method of reaching Plitvice LAkes. Whether you prefer the convenience of driving, the affordability of public transportation, or the guided experience of a tour, we’ve got you covered. 

  • By Car: Getting to Plitvice Lakes National Park by car offers convenience and flexibility, allowing you to explore at your own pace. Here’s what you need to know about reaching this breathtaking destination by car:
    • Plan your Route: Before setting off, plan your route using a reliable navigation system or map. Plitvice Lakes is easily accessible from major cities like Zagreb, Zadar, and Split. The park is situated near the E71 highway, which makes it convenient to reach by road.Here are driving distances and times from popular spots in Croatia:
      • Zagreb: 130 km, 2 hours
      • Zadar: 120 km, 1 hour 30 minutes
      • Split: 250 km, 2 hours 45 minutes 
      • Dubrovnik: 435 km, 5 hours
      • Pula: 260 km, 3 hours 30 minutes
    • Parking Facilities: Plitvice Lakes has designated parking areas near the park entrances. Follow the signs and park your car in the designated parking lots. Keep in mind that parking spaces may fill up quickly during peak tourist seasons, so arriving early is recommended.
    • Road Conditions: Croatia’s road network is generally well-maintained, making the journey to Plitvice Lakes smooth and enjoyable. However, be prepared for some winding and narrow roads, particularly in the surrounding areas. Exercise caution while driving and follow the local traffic regulations.
    • Rental Cars: If you don’t have access to a car, renting one is a convenient option. Major cities and airports in Croatia offer various car rental services, allowing you to explore Plitvice Lakes and its surrounding areas independently.
  • By Train: Getting to Plitvice Lakes National Park by train is an option that offers a scenic and comfortable journey. While there is no direct train station at the park, you can reach Plitvice Lakes using the following steps:
    • Choose your Arrival Station: The nearest train stations to Plitvice Lakes are in the towns of Karlovac and Ogulin. You can check the train schedules and availability from your departure location to these stations. Popular cities like Zagreb, Zadar, and Split offer train connections to these stations.
    • Transfer to Plitvice Lakes: From Karlovac or Ogulin, you can continue your journey to Plitvice Lakes by bus or taxi. Local bus services operate from these stations to the park. Taxis are also available for a more direct transfer. It’s advisable to check the bus schedules in advance and plan your connections accordingly.
    • Enjoy the Scenic Journey: Train travel in Croatia offers picturesque views of the countryside, making your journey to Plitvice Lakes a delightful experience. Sit back, relax, and soak in the beauty of the landscape as you approach your destination.
    • It’s recommended to check the train schedules and availability in advance, as they may vary depending on the season. Additionally, consider the transfer options and timings from the train stations to Plitvice Lakes to plan your trip efficiently.
  • By Bus: Getting to Plitvice Lakes National Park by bus is a convenient and affordable option. Here’s how you can reach the park using bus transportation:
    • Departure Points: Major cities in Croatia, such as Zagreb, Zadar, Split, and even some coastal towns, have regular bus services to Plitvice Lakes. Check the bus schedules and availability from your departure location to plan your trip accordingly.
    • Bus Companies: Several bus companies operate routes to Plitvice Lakes. Some of the well-known companies include Autotrans, FlixBus, and Croatia Bus. Visit their websites or check with local travel agencies for the most up-to-date schedules and ticket prices.
    • Ticket Purchase: Depending on the bus company, you can purchase tickets online in advance or directly at the bus station. It’s advisable to book your tickets in advance, especially during peak tourist seasons, to secure your seat.
    • Bus Stations: Plitvice Lakes has two main entrances: Entrance 1 (near the Lower Lakes) and Entrance 2 (near the Upper Lakes). Buses typically stop at both entrances, allowing you to choose the most convenient one for your visit. The bus stations are equipped with amenities like restrooms, cafes, and ticket counters.

Ultimately, the best option for you depends on factors such as your budget, travel preferences, and availability. Our personal preference is taking a bus to Plitvice Lakes.Consider factors like convenience, cost, and the experience you desire when deciding on the best way to reach Plitvice Lakes. 

Quick Tip: The park’s operational timings vary depending on the season. We would recommend checking the hours on the official website.

Hotel Suggestions

Hotels & Campsites in the park

To fully immerse yourself in the beauty of Plitvice Lakes National Park, consider staying overnight at one of the park’s hotels or campsites. This not only allows you to extend your visit beyond a day but also offers unique advantages that enhance your experience. Let’s explore the accommodation options within the park:

  1. Hotel Plitvice: Immerse yourself in comfort and convenience at Hotel Plitvice, located within the park premises. Wake up to breathtaking views, beat the crowds by exploring early in the morning, and enjoy the added perk of extending your 1-day entry ticket to a second day at no additional cost.
  2. Hotel Bellevue: Nestled amidst stunning natural surroundings, Hotel Bellevue offers a tranquil retreat for nature enthusiasts. Experience warm hospitality, modern amenities, and easy access to the park’s wonders.
  3. Hotel Jezero: Situated near the largest lake in the park, Hotel Jezero offers a serene setting for a relaxing stay. Unwind in comfortable accommodations and take advantage of the proximity to the park’s stunning landscapes.

For those seeking a more adventurous experience, camping is an excellent option. Plitvice Lakes National Park provides the following campsites:

  1. Campsite Borje: Set amidst lush greenery, Campsite Borje offers a peaceful atmosphere for campers. Enjoy the rustic charm and proximity to the park’s natural wonders.
  2. Campsite Korana: Located near the Korana River, Campsite Korana provides an idyllic camping experience with its picturesque surroundings and easy access to the park’s trails.

Whether you choose a hotel or a campsite, staying within Plitvice Lakes National Park allows you to make the most of your visit. Wake up to the tranquility of the park, beat the crowds, and embrace the natural wonders surrounding you.

Hotels & Hostels in nearby towns

If you prefer a more authentic and local experience, consider staying in one of the charming villages near Plitvice Lakes National Park. These villages offer a range of cozy hostels and inviting bed and breakfasts, providing a delightful retreat after a day of exploration. Here’s a glimpse of what you can expect:

  1. Rastoke: Located just a short drive away from the park, the picturesque village of Rastoke is a hidden gem. Known as the “Small Lakes of Plitvice,” Rastoke showcases enchanting waterfalls and cascades, offering a preview of the natural beauty that awaits you in the park. Find accommodation here and immerse yourself in the tranquil ambiance.
  2. Other Nearby Villages: Beyond Rastoke, you’ll discover several other charming villages within a 15 to 30-minute drive from the park. These villages provide a peaceful escape and a chance to experience the local way of life. Enjoy comfortable accommodations in well-maintained hostels or cozy bed and breakfasts, adding a touch of authenticity to your Plitvice Lakes adventure.

By opting to stay in these villages, you not only get a taste of the local culture but also enjoy a convenient proximity to the park.

Quick Tip: You can either purchase one-day or two-day tickets. Plitvice Lakes National Park entrance fee range between $12 -$ 45, depending on the season and entrance timings. We would recommend checking the latest prices on the official website.

What to eat and where to eat whilst at the park

1) Pack a picnic

One of your best options for a good meal would be to pack a little picnic and find a quiet corner overlooking a little slice of paradise and enjoy. There are a lot of quiet corners throughout the park where you can enjoy your meal.

2) The Park stations

There are stations throughout the park, which are the endpoints of many of the trails from where you can catch a boat or a bus back to the main entrances. All of these stations have restaurants and cafes from where you can grab a sandwich or a drink and the best way to deal with the Croatian summer heat, ice creams.

3) The Park restaurants

There are a few restaurants near the park’s entrance which offer you meals and drinks, which are surprisingly very affordable and sometimes cheaper than the city prices. These restaurants are a lovely way to end your day and enjoy the sunset over the forests and see the stars.

What to do at the park

Plitvice Lakes is one of those places that no matter how much time you spend, it can never be enough. During my time there, we got pretty much all the weather from rain to peak summer- heat to cold chilling nights, which were stark contrasts from the daytime. There are many trails which you can take. Some are boarded paths along the lakes and waterfalls and the others are hiking trails that are more forested where you can hear the gushing waterfalls in the distance along with only the sounds of birds and bees.

The two main trails are the ones that either take you to the upper or the lower lakes. Both paths are just as stunning and offer you similar, yet different views. The longest trail in the entire park is Trail K, which we would recommend if you do have an entire day. It covers the whole park, including the upper and lower lakes plus a few kilometers of hiking trails. The complete trail is around 18 km long. Carry plenty of water and eatables as you will end up going kilometers without any stations along the way.

All in all, Plitvice Lakes National Park is one of those places which one has to visit when in Croatia. It’s a park that shows you what Paradise would look like.

Do you think we missed anything? Got any questions? Let us know in the comments below …

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