The Adriatic Coast to Plitvice Lakes – A Croatian Rail Discovery

Despite its enviable location, Split is one of the farthest Croatian cities from Plitvice Lakes National Park. While it’s possible to visit on a day trip, doing so requires a good amount of time.

Combine cultural exploration with stunning natural beauty on this 8-day tour. Indulge in the open markets and medieval ruins of Zagreb, tour Lake Bled’s castle, and discover ethereal waterfalls at Plitvice Lakes National Park.

Arrive in Zagreb

A visit to Plitvice Lakes is a must-do for anyone planning a trip to Croatia. This stunning national park, with its 16 interconnected lakes and cascading waterfalls that look like something straight out of Fern Gully, is one of the country’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites. To make the most of your time here, consider packing a picnic to save on food prices in the park.

Getting to the park from Split is easy with direct bus connections. However, it’s worth noting that these buses are typically quite crowded in the summer, and that you may find yourself waiting in lines at some of the more popular sights within the park. To avoid the crowds and maximize your enjoyment, we recommend taking a private transfer instead, which will provide you with more flexibility in terms of departure times.

Once you’re in the region, you can explore on your own by rental car or with a group tour. Choosing the latter will allow you to take advantage of some of our favorite things to do in Plitvice Lakes, including the famous funicular that takes visitors up to the highest point of the park – and happens to be the shortest funicular in the world, with just a track of 66 meters.

Another way to see the best of the area is with Explorer Club’s “Plitvice Lakes Escape.” This trip has you staying in a beautiful eco-village in the mountains above Plitvicka Jezera, where the accommodations are made from local wood and stone. This is the perfect base for exploring the park during peak season, colorful autumn, or snowy winter; and Explorer Club can also arrange additional activities and excursions for you in the Lika region.

If you do decide to go it alone, we recommend heading to the lake region early in the day to beat the crowds. The entrance to the park opens at 8 am and closes at 4 pm, so arriving before that will give you the chance to enjoy the beauty of the lakes without being rushed through. And remember that while dogs are allowed in the park, it is important to keep them leashed and pick up after them as there aren’t many trashcans around.

Explore Plitvice Lakes National Park

One of Croatia’s most popular attractions, Plitvice Lakes National Park is a photographer’s paradise. With turquoise lakes and cascading waterfalls, the stunning beauty of this karst landscape is enough to take your breath away. The 16 interconnecting lakes vary in color from emerald green to deep blue depending on mineral content and lighting conditions, and the sound of rushing waterfalls will carry you into a state of peace. With a variety of scenic wooden paths and hiking trails, there’s plenty to see and do at this unique destination.

Although a day trip from Zagreb, Split or Zadar is possible, it’s recommended to spend at least 2 days here to fully appreciate this natural wonder. If you are on a tight schedule, it’s still possible to explore some of the main trails in just a half-day. However, you’ll have to skip some of the more obscure attractions and trails.

You’ll want to start your day early in order to make the most of this beautiful destination. The best way to do this is by booking a Plitvice Lakes guided tour. Not only will this save you time, but it will also give you special access to the most popular attractions and the Great Waterfall. Plus, your guide will be able to tell you more about the rich history of this national park.

There are a few options for lodging near Plitvice Lakes. The most popular is a large hotel located by the entrance to the park, which caters to older European tourists. However, there are also several small hostels and private apartments in the surrounding area that offer affordable accommodations for backpackers and solo travelers.

If you want to be close to the park, you’ll want to stay in a place that’s within walking distance of the main entrance to Plitvice Lakes National Park. This will save you the hassle of navigating public transportation and ensure that you’re first in line when the park opens.

Plitvice Lakes is a national park that’s home to a wide variety of wildlife. The lakes themselves are home to fish, birds and reptiles, and the surrounding forests are home to wild boars, wolves and bears.

Visit Opatija

The jaw-dropping Plitvice Lakes National Park is a must-see Croatian attraction with 16 turquoise lakes tumbling into each other via countless waterfalls. It’s an easy two-hour drive from Zagreb, and you can make it a day trip by hopping off in Karlovac for a stroll through baroque squares and a pit stop at one of the tree-shaded cafes. Or, opt for a private transfer or rental car to give you ultimate freedom over your own schedule, as you can leave when you like and stay as long as you want.

Plitvice is open year-round, though spring and autumn are the best times for weather and less crowds. It’s also possible to visit during the winter, but you’ll need to bring warm clothes and a full waterproof hiking jacket as it can get quite cold in this area of the country.

If you’re eager to avoid the crowds, try to visit Plitvice early in the day before all the tour buses and day-trip private tours from Zagreb arrive. You can still see plenty, but it won’t feel as crowded. Plus, the upper lakes are a bit more serene than the lower ones and there’s lots of gorgeous scenery to take in.

While the lakes are the main attraction at Plitvice, the tufa formations that create them are just as incredible. It’s believed that plants release oxygen in the water during photosynthesis, causing hydrogen carbonate to form on the bottom of the lakes and creating these stunning barriers. In the past, farmers occupied the region around Plitvice and were unable to understand its natural value, often making changes to the environment that are still visible today.

A unique feature of this national park is the Lika Retreat eco-village which has lodges (ranging from 2-8 people) that are tucked away in the wooded hills above the lakes, providing the perfect base for your stay. The Retreat has a restaurant, onsite activities and is the ideal place to stay for exploring the lakes as well as enjoying the surrounding forests and wildlife. It’s not the cheapest option, but it provides the ultimate escape from the crowds and makes for an ideal base to explore Plitvice and the surrounding natural wonders.

Explore Dubrovnik

When you arrive at Plitvice Lakes, prepare to be blown away by the jaw-dropping beauty of this national park. The 16 turquoise lakes tumbling into one another through countless waterfalls and streams are a sight to behold. The lakes are surrounded by lush forests of beech, spruce, and fir and home to an impressive array of plants, thanks to the area’s various microclimates and differing soil types.

Located close to the border with Bosnia and Herzegovina, Plitvice Lakes is an important meeting point of occidental and oriental cultural influences. Its unique natural beauty has also made the region a destination of great attraction throughout the centuries, with different cultures leaving their mark here.

The lakes are fed by the Korana River, which flows from the peaks of the Velebit mountains and passes through the lakes. The water masses interacting with the tufa and other sediments cause constant changes to the appearance of the lakes, making them even more spectacular. These natural phenomena are why the lakes were declared a National Park in 1949, with rigorous nature protection measures established.

The best way to explore Plitvice Lakes is to take advantage of the easy bus connections that link the park to nearby towns and cities, like Zagreb, Karlovac, and Split. Traveling by bus from Dubrovnik to Plitvice Lakes should take about 9.5 hours. Private transfers are another option, but they’ll add an extra hour to the trip.

Dubrovnik’s Old Town is a fascinating piece of living history, with its magnificent architecture and windows into the past. Wandering its cobblestone streets and passing historic landmarks is a truly enchanting experience. There are many things to do in Dubrovnik, from exploring the city walls to visiting the botanical garden and monastery. If you have a day to spare, then you can also make the journey to Lokrum, the small wooded island where, according to legend, Richard the Lionheart was cast ashore after being shipwrecked in 1192. With its captivating beauty and rich culture, Dubrovnik is the perfect jumping-off point for multiple day trips to Croatia’s most stunning landscapes.

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