Day 6 – Plitvice National Parks to Zagreb
Where to stay
We arrived in the Plitvice area early the day before visiting the lakes so we could relax and have a break from driving. We stayed in an amazing B&B with beautiful views over the mounts which you could enjoy from a hot tub no less. We also had a little sheltered balcony which we sat on that evening to watch a dramatic thunder storm over the hills.
I wholeheartedly recommend Guest House Plitvice Hills if you want to stay in the Plitvice area (which is wise, it gives you a jump start on the tour buses in the morning)- it’s about a 30 minute drive from entrances to the park, beautifully tidy and clean with great hosts and a hot tub outside!
When is it open and how much does it cost?
Prices change throughout the year, so it’s best to check the website which also contains information on parking charges and the hours of operation for the boats and trains that ferry tourists around certain stretches of the route: http://www.np-plitvicka-jezera.hr/en/plan-your-visit/explore-the-park/visiting-programmes/
We went at the beginning of June and paid 110 kuna for a one day ticket. The park also offers guided tours, but I’m not sure what that would add to the experience.
Which route to take
I was very excited about visiting Plitvice, having seen how stunning Krka was. Plitvice is far larger than Krka and contains a series of 16 lakes spread across the upper and lower lakes interspersed with waterfalls of all sizes. There are a number of different walking routes which you’ll see on boards when you enter the park.
Generally speaking there are signs at each junction showing you where each route goes, although there was the odd place where we got confused as they don’t like to tell you where on the map you are at any point! I also found it difficult to find the right information ahead of time to help us make a decision about the route, but I have dug out this information for you here: http://www.np-plitvicka-jezera.hr/en/plan-your-visit/explore-the-park/visiting-programmes/
We entered through Entrance 1, which gives you the option of doing routes A, B or C. We chose route C which takes you through both the upper and lower lakes. Route C is a 4 – 6 hour route, although we comfortably did it in 4 hours even with stopping every 5 minutes to take photos. I recommend it if you want to see the most of the park in a reasonable amount of time- I think it’s a shame to go and restrict yourself to either the upper or lower lakes, which some of the routes do.
Route C involves a long crossing of the large lake, Kozjak and a smaller crossing. The boats go every 10 or 15 minutes or so, so you never need to wait long.
Plitvice has some unbelievable scenery, not least the amazing emerald covered water which is almost too spectacular to believe and is not done justice by any means in my photos.
The water is also beautifully clear, letting you see fish and even huge, submerged objects as though you were looking straight through glass.
After you’ve walked across kilometre after kilometre of boardwalks past lakes and waterfalls you finally come to the ‘train’ (more of a bus with trailers) which takes you back to the two entrances.
Plitvice is certainly not something to miss in Croatia and can easily be done as a day trip from Zagreb or Zadar, even if your itinerary won’t allow you a night there.
Day 7 – 18 hours in Zagreb
After a pretty tiring week of walking and driving, it was time to take it a bit easy. We only had 18 hours in Zagreb, arriving at 5pm after our trip around Plitvice lakes and having to leave shortly before 11am the next day for our flight home.
Rather than try to cram in loads of sights and museums (my usual MO!) we opted for a leisurely walk around in the evening with a long dinner and early night, followed by a bit more wandering around the next morning.
If you’ve got more time there then it seems to be a great place for shopping, sightseeing and dining and drinking.
We limited our adventures to parts of the medieval town, including the Cathedral, Stone Gate, and St Mark’s Church. I had a lovely truffle pasta dish (truffles are everywhere in Croatia) in Agava on Ul. Ivana Tkalčića, which appeared to be the main dining street in Zagreb.
It was a shame not to do more in Zagreb, but I don’t at all regret the itinerary I followed which allowed to me to see so much of the country in one week.