HOW TO GET THERE:
National Park Address: 53231, Plitvicka Jezera, Josipa Jovica 19 HRVATSKA, CROATIA
Phone +385 (0) 53 751 014 email@example.com
- Closest airport: Zagreb and then bus to the national park
- By Bus: from Zagreb, from Split, from Zadar
- By Car ( from, Padua, Italy) – 280 miles
From Trieste the SS14 takes you to Basovizza/Slovenia, to the Border and then the E61 through Slovenia to Rijeka (Croatia); from here the motorway to Zagreb/ Split takes you to Karlovac (73 miles) where to exit, then drive the D1 to Grabovac and finally PLITVICKA JEZERA which is the National Park.
Both Slovenia and Croatia are roaming free so no problem to use your navigation system, just do not pay attention to any alternative route you might be suggested such as by Google maps.
OUR STAY, B&B
Zrinka House, Grabovac, 6 miles from the lakes.
Great and unforgettable hospitality from Zrinka who runs this B&B. This lady with her daughter make such a nice breakfast in the morning full of everything, doughnuts, bread, eggs, ham and cheese, jam, butter, cakes and you can also make your own packed lunch with sandwiches and fruits; these two ladies will help you slicing as much bread and cheese as you need: JUST ASK is their motto.
Zrinka is very supportive with local information as well: where to dine out and what to see around.
Highly recommended especially if you want to go for something nice as we did want for this weekend.
Our roomy bedroom with nice interiors and comfy beds was in a brand-new house in the green of hills all around with balcony and car park.
THE NATIONAL PARK:
This area was occupied during the last war in the Nineties and today this National Park is part of UNESCO World Heritage since 1979, it is quite easy to guess why: for its breath-taking beauty and its majestic nature.
The Park is a group of different level lakes where the water going down to the lower level makes big or small waterfalls. The Park is divided in two main areas: The Lower Lakes, (Entrance 1 the first one you find driving from Karlovac) and The Upper Lakes (Entrance 2 which is actually based in-between and much closer to The Upper Lakes).
Park Entry Fee: 20 euro during the off-peak season with access to the whole park. For us, it was even cheaper due to the reasons you will understand later on.
Car Park: we paid about 45 Kune ( 6 euro) for 5 hour parking and please remember to have some cash, local currency, with you or you can change some money at the park – cards are not accepted to pay the car park. In the car park you can find also the information office, toilets and a gift shop.
Please ask for information if you have any pram or wheelchair because we thought that the wooden walkways and stairs were not so friendly to this.
OUR SUGGESTIONS ON THE PARK
It does not really matter where you start from, either from entrance 1 or 2, this is a beautiful park and we really think all of it should be seen.
From Entrance 1 you walk up, while from Entrance 2 you walk down to the lakes and waterfalls.
Don’t you have too much time? Focus on the lower lakes where the amazing Big Waterfall is.
Because of the non-perfect conditions of the park and for the fact we decided to start from the Entrance 2 ‘by accident’, we can just tell that we were satisfied to do what we did: to walk down the lakes having so a crescendo of waterfalls to get to the big finish: The Big Waterfall.
OUR DAY AT THE PARK:
Depending on how long you can be here for, choose your trail; there are longer or shorter trails and all marked with letters.
We had to ask for the park/path conditions and park rangers were very helpful; we asked to see as much as possible and we could not go for our choice because of flooding from the snow melting.
The original plan we chose was K, a path that let you walk around the whole park, far from the crowd and from other much easier paths, where transport is not needed with the exception of a short boat transfer.
The only solution left to us was Letter H, which is a combination of walking, train and boat transfers.
Starting point: car park – Entrance 2
We had a short walk from the car park to Station 2 where a train took us up to the northernmost lake where we started walking down.
From here, the pathway is made of wooden walkways in the woods and lakes with a crescendo of waterfalls down to the biggest lake, which is half- way, where some boats go back and forth crossing the lake.
On the opposite shore you can find quite a big park with outdoor tables for picnics, toilets and a Café.
From here you can walk to the end, to the most amazing part, the Big Waterfall.
From this last waterfall you can exit the park walking up Station 1 looking down at the beautiful scenery you are due to leave.
From Station 1 the train again drives you to Station 2 and you do the walk-through.
We almost took 5 hours to do all this but this depends on your stops and on how packed the park is; the park says you take 5-6 hours to complete, and we think this must be in the peak season.
THE PARK IN APRIL
WHAT TO BEAR IN MIND:
- Possible flooding from snow melting so not to have all trails open, such as Trail K which we found closed.
- Greenery: not lush green trees and plants, brown instead. This does not help to take the pictures you get used to google even though it is still well balanced with the green colour of lakes.
- Visitors: the down side in July and August is the high number of visitors to the park, so we knew April could have less visitors, but our sunny day instead, let us think of how busy it must be in the peak season meaning: the scenery cannot be enjoyed at best, queuing to take pictures and watching your step on the walkways so not to fall off into the water.
BEYOND THE PARK….
We still had some time left to go around after visiting the park and there you go a couple of tips.
Once we left the park driving back to Grabovac we made two stops in-between: Korana first and Poljanak then.
- KORANA: a tiny village where is worth a stop since it seems to be from a fairy tale. It is very quiet, nice houses by the river with small waterfalls almost right in their garden, dreamy! Plenty of accommodation here.
- POLJANAK SELO PLITIVICA: this was our last stop where we found out that actually this is still National Park and up here there are even more accommodation if you feel like. You still need the National Park ticket to be up here and basically you are at the opposite side of the National Park Entrance 1, where you can see waterfalls and lakes from Vidikovac Sightseeing Point, from above, just follow the trail. This is one of the best views we had today.
BOSNIA – ERZEGOVINA
Just 13 miles away from Grabovac there is the border with BH and honestly, we were curious to go and see what it was like.
What we did was to cross the border, to drive past the first city we have found, Bihac and driving for 30 miles more along a green river exploring more waterfalls to Cazin.
From the mountains around us minarets showed up instead of those Croatian churches we had just left behind.
Brand-new houses are being built and a snow-capped peak went along us in our short trip to Bosnia. Mind the rail crossings because they are unguarded.
We drove up to KostelSki Buk De Luxe Hotel from where you can see rapids. Then we drove back then to Croatia.
We just stopped here for lunch by the port where warehouses are no longer used making all this very industrial. From the port some silhouettes of offshore hilly islands glimpse.
April 2018 – Plitvicka Jezera National Park Croatia
Ale & Gale