Whether you are taking coach or car, the view is simply picturesque!
I went early in the morning to Split main bus terminal, located right next to the harbor and train station. The bus schedules are pretty fixed, so it would be safer to reach early to purchase your ticket. Alternatively, you can purchase your ticket from www.buscroatia.com. The bus schedules can be found on the website as well. Also to take note is that the buses leave on time. I had an 8.30am ticket, and sure enough, the bus leaves the terminal on the dot. Also, there are different bus companies that run the same route, and different bus companies might charge for storing of baggage for about 10 kuna. Just simply check with the bus driver (the ticket I bought from the station does not charge additional for the baggage). Pack some snacks for the journey. You won’t have any chance to stop for a bite along the way.
And so, at 8.30am sharp, the bus steer slowly out of the terminal. And since it’s a long journey, I thought I will catch some sleep on the bus (ends up I didn’t, and below explains why). I don’t want to miss out on anything along the way since it’s my first time to Eastern Europe, everything seems fascinating to me. Slowly, the bus leaves the coastal area behind, and we are inching inland. The landscape changes from vast blue sea to acres and acres of rolling hills. Along the way, the bus stops at various stops for passengers to step out for a breather and to visit the toilets.
There is only one road to & from Plitvice Lake. There are 2 entrances to the park and the bus will stop at both entrances. I got off the bus at entrance 1, and make my way to my accommodation for the night. I stayed in a B&B (Danica) which is about 8min walk away from the park entrance and located away from the road (so it’s actually pretty peaceful and quiet).
And since its already early afternoon when I reach, it doesn’t make much sense for me to buy a ticket and enter the park for a few hours (the park closes at about 6pm). So I settled for a late lunch at the park’s only restaurant – Restoran Licka Kuca. It does not necessary serve the nicest food, but the food is still tasty and affordable (at least to me). Alternatively, there are hotels nearby where you can grab a quick lunch. Other than these restaurants, you can’t really find any other places to eat (unless you’ve a car, you can probably drive into town).
If you had notice the photos above, the whole area consisted only of trees and a long, long stretch of road, plus hills far out in the distance. Yes, there is absolutely nothing to do here except to enter the national park. So, after lunch, I simply took a stroll around, taking in the fresh air and enjoying the quietness in the area. (It’s actually quite intimidating for me, considering I can’t even find a place without people squeezing back home.) Have an early night, because tomorrow will be a long day!
Visiting the Park
Early the next morning, after having breakfast at the same restaurant, it’s time to start some sightseeing and walking. There are a few routes that you can choose to take to explore around the park. Since I only had a day ticket, and I don’t kno
w how difficult/easy the route is going to be, I chose the safe bet – route C - which brings me to both the upper and lower lakes and takes about 4-6hours. Tips: try to get there early (I was at the park at 9am, which is probably late) as there will be quite a huge crowd at the entrance, getting into the park. The crowd will thin as everyone starts taking the different routes.
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From the restaurant, cross to the other side of the road where the ticket counter and entrance is. Anyway, you won’t be lost. There will probably be a lot of people hanging around the entrance, waiting to purchase tickets. Once you’ve purchased your tickets, you are in! Welcome to Plitvice Lake National Park. Once you enter the park, you can already hear the waterfall on the right. Follow the crowd and continue straight down pathed slope, towards where you can hear the thunderous roar of the waterfall. After walking down for about 10mins or so, you’ll be greeted by The Great Waterfall, with a height of 78m. Lucky for me, the weather is cool and I even catch the rainbow spread across the waterfall.
Start of Exploration
Continue down-slope, and there’s where your day starts. There is literally no chance you’ll get lost as long as you follow the directional signs installed throughout the entire park, and don’t wander off the walking path. Like I mentioned above, I chose route C, which allows me to trek part of the way, with a combination of the boat ride across the lake and a ride on the panoramic train (but there really isn’t anything interesting to see along the train route). The whole route goes in a circular direction, and if you follow the signs, you will come back to where you started off in the morning.
Below is a small gallery of the beauty of the park during autumn.
It took about 5-6hours for me to complete the whole route. So by the time I end up back at the entrance, it’s only about 4pm. I contemplated taking another round with a shorter route, but decided against it. And so, the sounds of the splash from the great waterfall slowly fades from behind as I walk out of the park. Just right outside the park, there were some souvenir stores where you can buy some keepsakes and light snacks (pricing is slightly on the steep side, but this is a tourist attraction). To fully explore the park, I would suggest buying the 2-day tickets to allow you more time around the park. If you are short on time, you can simply do a day trip from Zagreb or Split (remember to start early).
Have a full breakfast, or prepare some light snacks to carry along. I did not buy any food in the park, but a lot of articles online mentioned that the food is close to inedible.
Time to say Good-Bye
Time to say goodbye to Plitvice Lake, and continue my journey onwards to Zagreb.
This is definitely one of the most beautiful park I’ve been to. Hope this article gives you some guidance in getting to this gorgeous park, and provides more information on navigating around the area.