It’s easy to see why Plitvice Lakes National Park is World Heritage Listed.
The 16 terraced lakes, linked by waterfalls have the clearest, greenest, and most inviting water I’ve ever seen. And I come from Tasmania.
The lakes are located in central Croatia, a few hours bus ride from Zagreb and are accessible by wooden foot bridges and clifftop paths. The beauty of the area can be somewhat overwhelming, everywhere you look there’s a stunning view of water, trees or cliffs. Below are some photos from my day trip to the area, followed by some practical information about how to do the trip as an independent day tour.
You can do an organised tour from Zagreb (between 45-70€ excluding the entrance fee) or get there yourself for half the price. I opted to take an early local bus with a lovely Norwegian girl I met at my hostel and we had an amazing day exploring on our own. The benefit of getting the local bus is that you can arrive as soon as the park opens (8am) before it gets too busy, have the freedom to explore the park at your leisure and also save a chunk of money. By the time we were ready to head home in the afternoon the park was incredibly busy, so I can only imagine how packed the place is in summer. Definitely recommend visiting in shoulder/off season and going early in the morning!
We booked our bus through GetByBus which was 164Kn (22€) for return tickets. The first bus is at 5.45am (early but worth it!) and there are several options for returning in the afternoon/evening, with the trip in each direction 2.5 hours.
Entrance to the park is 100Kn (14€) if you book online (at least 2 days prior) and slightly more if you pay at the gate. Entrance includes a ride across the largest lake in an electric boat and a train ride. The ‘train’ is more of a bus with connected carriages but a welcome rest after a day of walking. At busier times you could be waiting awhile for the boat, so factor this into your day.
There are cafes at either end of the park with sandwiches, ice cream and drinks but definitely bring water and snacks as a lot of walking is involved.
I’d recommend spending a full day exploring, or stay in the nearby town so you can visit over several days. Unfortunately, swimming is not allowed in the lakes- but this is completely understandable when you think about the ecological impact of so many tourists (>1.5mil a day) swimming in the pristine water.