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No trip to Europe will be complete if you don’t visit Plitvice Lakes. Many travelers have never heard of them, yet they are one of the most beautiful places on Earth.
My own journey to Croatia started just to get out of the UK and Schengen zone for visa reasons. I had no idea how much I would fall in love with the country, nor the wonders it contained. The Plitvice Lakes are just one of the many attractions you can visit traveling through Croatia.
How to get to the Plitvice Lakes
If you are coming from out of the country, there are a number of cities you can fly into or take a train or bus to. The primary cities are Zagreb (the capital of Croatia), Split and Pula. I personally had a flight from London to Pula on Norwegian Air for under $50. There are also several ferries from Italy to Croatia, which you can book here.
Once you’re into Croatia, you’ll need to get to the lakes. There are tours from Split, but they aren’t worth it as you’ll be on the bus for half the day and will have less time in the park. Better is to go to Korenica and stay at the Falling Lakes hostel. If you are traveling from Pula, go via Karlovac rather than Zagreb. Korenica is only a few hours north of Split and Dubrovnik and can be reached in half a day after you’ve enjoyed those cities.
There are plenty of local apartments you can rent around the lakes. But the only real choice is the Falling Lakes Hostel. This is the best hostel I’ve ever stayed in, and you can see why by clicking on the link.
There is food throughout the park. It’s all the same sandwiches and drinks for the same prices, which isn’t bad. The sandwiches are under €2 each and drinks are under €1. Or you can bring your own food with you to the park. There are some fantastic spots to stop and enjoy a picnic or a snack.
There are tourist trails around and across the lakes, and ferries and buses to and from the further parts of the lakes. But if you want a real adventure, you can walk along the upper lakes, and then take a 9 km trail that loops around through amazing scenery to the bottom waterfall. This is a little known trail, so much so that my travel companions and I didn’t see anyone else on the trail. If you do take this trail, you’ll be walking about 20 km throughout the day, which is more than worth it.
There really isn’t one part of the park which is better than another. Everything should be seen when you go, or get a two-day pass to see it all. The upper lakes might be a little more colorful, but the lower lakes have the more impressive waterfalls. You’ll just have to see it all.
Do know that when you travel will determine how much they cost. Nov-Mar costs about €7 to enter the park. April-June and Sept-Oct cost about €14. July and August cost €24. You will get a small discount if you travel in a group or as a student. Under 18 is roughly half price, and kids under 7 are free. While there is a two-day pass available, the whole park can be enjoyed in a single day.
These lakes are definitely mandatory for any travel in Europe. Going when it’s sunny can make the water more colorful, but my trip there started out rainy, and it still turned out fantastic. Don’t let the weather deter you. If all of the above hasn’t convinced you to go, perhaps the photos below will.
I think these speak for themselves.Additional photos of Plitvice Lakes