Both, Marlena and me went to Plitvice Lakes in Croatia. We both did in different ways and in a different seasons. Spring vs. Summer, public transport vs. own car. Here we are going to provide you the ultimative guide you always needed for planning a trip to Plitvice!
Where are the Plitvice Lakes?
The Plitvice Lakes are located near the Bosnian boarder in Croatia. Plitvice is the oldest National Park in Southern Europe, and also the biggest in Croatia. And just so you know – it’s UNESCO World Heritage! Oh, and before I forget – for German ones: we know this one because they filmed the Karl May movies there!
How to get there:
Of course there are plenty of options how to get there. Depending on what you do in Croatia and where you stay. I found it easier to chose Zagreb as my base for exploring parts of Croatia. Zagreb is connected to plenty of other cities by busses. It is also a pretty cheap stay.
From Zagreb there are plenty busses each day which go to Plitvice. I chose AutoTrans as it was the cheapest option for me. You can check out on busliniensuche.de if there’s another possible option for you. I booked directly on Autotrans, which was a good idea because I got a discount for buying a return ticket. The bus ride to Plitvice takes around 2hours, the roads are bumpy and the drivers drive like maniacs. Hey, I survived! The bus stops directly at the entry of Plitvice, so there’s no hassle to find it!
If you decide to go by car (because roadtrips are always cooler) you can choose if you want to go by free country road (no.1) or if you want to go by motorway (E65, then E71 and finally country road no.52) and pay toll therefore. We decided for the first as it was A) the more logical route coming from Slovenia B) we wanted to save the toll and C) we always enjoy country roads cause there’s so much to see! If you arrive in Plitvice, there are plenty of car parks in the National Park, so don’t worry.
How much does it cost:
This one can be tricky. First of all, it depends on the season. It’s cheaper in low season and more expensive in high season and if you go in winter, it’s completely free. But (yeah there’s always a but, isn’t it?) depending on the season the transport within the National Park is also limited: if you decide for the standard walk along the lakes, there is one ferry ride that connects on part of the path with the next one and if you’ve finished the walk there’s a bus that brings you back to your starting point where either your car is or your bus is waiting for you. If you go in summer, ferries and busses go more frequently than in spring and if you go in winter there’s no service at all! If you’re a student, bring your ID and you’ll get a discount which is really good!
How’s the weather?
Well both Marlena and I got a bit surprised by the weather in Plitvice: ‚It’s Croatia, it’s gonna be warm‘ was what we both thought and we both learned that Plitvice has its own weather.
I went to Plitvice in late August – I’ve been on a two weeks trip through several countries including Croatia. All of them were hot and sunny, but Croatia wasn’t. Maybe it was bad luck, however at Plitvice it was extremely cold in the morning. We both were wearing summer cloths (short pants and top), and yes we were stupid and didn’t bother to bring something warmer with us. So we frooze our ass off and actually made a move and bought these ridiculous overprized sweaters. Yeah, I know. BUT IT WAS SO COLD. And it didn’t get that much warmer the whole day. So, please bring a warm jacket with you when you go. No matter which time of the year it is!
Similar things happened to me, Marlena. Plitvice was my birthday adventure on April 6. I just came back from my trip to Australia and of course had only summer clothes in my backpack. No worries, I thought (still in the Australian mood), it’s Croatia, it’s gonna be warm! It’s. Not. Gonna. Be. Warm. In. Plitvice. I ended up wearing ALL of my long clothes plus my boyfriend’s clothes: a top, a t-shirt, a shirt, a thin pullover, two sweatshirts and my jogging-pants over my jeans – I looked like the Michellin figure! Actually, it even started snowing in Plitvice in April!!! So please, learn from my mistakes!
Oh and if we’re talking about weather: as I visited in spring some parts of the park were flooded due to the snow melt. This way I couldn’t walk all of the park and at some point it was a real adventure climbing somewhere I’m sure you shouldn’t go just to get along. So if you love adventures then don’t worry, if that’s not your idea of fun, better go in summer.
How much time should I spent?
The National Park is huge but if you plan to walk the standard path that goes along the lakes and the waterfalls, then half a day should be fine to complete it. However, there are many many more paths waiting to be conquered. As we both only did the lakes and waterfalls path, we can’t give you information on other paths, but the tourism office is always a good idea to get inspired.
Where should I stay?
As I was on a round trip through some countries in Europe, I choose Zagreb as the best option for my stay in Croatia. It’s pretty easy to reach Plitvice from there. Also Zagreb is a rather cheap stay. Our hostel was a bit outside of Zagreb, but it was super duper nice and clean. It was called Hostel Zagreb. Besides this, Zagreb itself does also have a cute Old Town which you can explore and a museum about relationships. I didn’t knew that before I went there, if I had I would’ve visited it.
But if you go by car (and here we have another plus of going by car) you can freely choose in which city you want to crash down. My boyfriend and I decided for a small town at the foot of the national park (I’m sorry I can’t remember the name). We searched for accomodation in ‚Plitvice National Park‘ on booking.com and airbnb and finally found our accomodation: a cute homestay with super friendly locals who rented their free room and gave us some of their selfmade rum. We felt absolutely welcome!
What’s the best season to visit?
To find out what the ‚best‘ season is I’d consider four things: the price, transport within the park, the crowds that get less in low season and how it looks in which season. Therefore just sit down, enjoy our pictures and decide for yourself.
Waterfall in August and April
Janna and Marlena