On my road trip through Croatia I was torn between going to Dubrovnik or Plitvice Lakes National Park.
I hold a pretty firm 3-night minimum for any stop on a trip. I don't like to move more often than that so I was forced to decided between the two.
The decision landed on Dubrovnik with a compensating plan for a day trip to the Plitvice Lakes from Split.
Was Dubrovnik the right choice? I think so for me but maybe not for others. Soon I'll share with you my time in Dubrovnik should you face this dilemma in the future. Today I want to tell you about the Plitvice Lakes.
Located about half way between Zagreb, Croatia’s capital, and Zadar on the coast is this wondrous park that was granted UNESCO World Heritage in the 70's. To drive there myself would have involved at least five hours round trip. Add to that the hiking and I thought it not a great idea. Instead, I took a small-group, day tour for about US$100. There were 12 people on the tour including two other solo travelers.
Taking the tour made everything easy. But, naturally, I looked at it from the perspective of going there solo and independently. Below are my tips for doing so.
Tips for Going to Plitvice Lakes Independently
- How to get to the Plitvice Lakes – You can only get to the lakes by road which means car or bus. The bus was about 3 1/2 hours. By car it's 2 1/2 hours of solid driving. Here's a map.
- Cost to enter the park. First, you'll pay for parking but it's not a lot, 7 kuna/hour. A one-day ticket to the park is 55 Kuna in low season and 110 in high season. One kuna is about 15 US cents. You can buy multiple-day tickets. Tickets are only sold until 6pm though the park is open from 7am to 8pm. Your ticket includes trolley and ferry transportation in the park.
- What you can do in a day. It's easy to walk the upper and lower lakes in one direction in one day. To go round trip on foot is a too full a day if this is a day trip from Split.
- The footpaths. To visit the lakes, sprinklers and waterfalls is not a hiking trip. It's a pleasant walk in the woods. There's a lot of uphill if you start at Entrance 1 or mostly downhill if you start at Entrance 2. You must stay on the path which is easy because you can't miss it. The paths are wide and clearly marked.
- Going alone. Slow it down. On a tour I could not stop and explore at will yet there are many occasions where I would have wanted to do so like the Šupljara Cave.
- Which entrance to start from. From Entrance 1 you'll be walking mostly uphill and facing the falls. From Entrance 2 you'll be walking mostly downhill. There are still plenty of waterfalls in front of you but you will spend a bit more time looking around.
- Take the trolley and walk. From Entrance 2 take the trolley to the starting point. Follow the path along the upper lakes, take a boat across to the beginning of the path for the lower lakes.