The first time I saw photos of Plitvice Lakes National Park – gorgeous turquoise lakes and waterfalls tucked away in fairytale-esque forests – Croatia jumped to the top of my European travel bucket list. Stunned by its natural and majestic beauty, it became the first stop during my week-long adventure throughout Croatia. As an extremely popular tourist destination – photos will reveal why that’s a no brainer – it is actually extremely easy to plan your trip to Plitvice Lakes Croatia.
Plitvice Lakes National Park can easily be accessed by Zadar or Zagreb. From both cities travelers can drive or book a bus for a half- or full-day trip. I highly recommend a full-day trip to Plitvice Lakes Croatia since there’s a lot of ground to cover and it’s too beautiful to rush getting through! I booked my transportation through Bus Croatia. Ticket prices and operating hours for the park vary depending on the time of year so check here for the most up to date info.
From Zadar I booked an 8:30 a.m. bus that arrived at Plitvice Lakes National Park around 10:15 a.m. The bus first drops passengers off at Entrance 1 and then proceeds to Entrance 2. The national park is divided into the upper and lower lake and in total there are 16 lakes that can be explored by walking along the park’s 18km wooden pathway. When planning your trip to Plitvice Lakes Croatia, keep in mind it takes roughly 6 hours or so to explore the majority of the grounds by foot.
The best advice I got for my trip to Plitvice Lakes Croatia was to start my tour at Entrance 2. Here I purchased my entrance ticket and then took a shuttle bus to the northern part of the upper lakes. From there I made my way south to the bottom of the upper lakes and boarded a boat to the lower lakes. I then walked back to Entrance 1 where I picked up my return bus to Zadar. The advantage of exploring north to south is our path was on a steady decline instead of an incline for a majority of the time. It also allows you to front-load the transportation all at the beginning instead of at the end. It’s really unnecessary to book or take an organized tour. The grounds are easy to navigate so save some money and just do it yourself. And now, join me on my Plitvice Lakes Croatia adventure.
I’m a sucker for “old towns” when I travel. For my entire stay in Croatia I stayed in or as close as possible to the old towns of each city. In Zadar I called the Boutique Hostel Forum home and loved it. It is by far the most trendy, hip and modern hostel I’ve ever stayed in. It is located in the heart of Zadar’s old town, extremely clean and the staff was very helpful in offering travel tips.