One day in Plitvice is not enough – it is merely a taste!
I had read that it was worthwhile to overnight in Plitvice as the National Park was something to see. Listed as a World Heritage Site, the National Park boasts stunning waterfalls and loads of wooden walkways to lead you through the turquoise lakes, past waterfalls and through the forest. Now that I have been, I can say with certainty, that overnighting is the way to go! I spent close to 5 hours roaming the upper lakes the first day. Hundreds of photographs later, I didn’t think it could be any better. I was wrong! My second day was spent in the lower lakes, and I am thrilled that I did. It was nothing short of stunning! A one day outing would have only been a taste. (For more photos from Plitvice visit: Croatia photo of the day: Plitvice Lakes)
So – where does one stay should they want to overnight at Plitvice Lakes National Park? Let me share some lessons with you to help make your stay wonderful!
Tip #1 – if you stay in one of the hotels within the park (i.e.: Hotel Bellevue or Hotel Plitvice), your second day entry to the park is covered by your overnight stay. Just have the hotel validate your ticket. These hotels are literally at the gateway to the park. I had read a few negative reviews for Hotel Bellevue on Trip Advisor and decided against staying there. In retrospect, I was there for the park and not the hotel – so what if the rooms were a little dated and tired, reminiscent of Yugo days – you can stumble out of bed and wander into the park, it is that close!
Tip #2 – The town of Jezero, where most of the B&Bs and hostels are found, is approximately a 1.5km walk to the park. No big deal except that the road to the park, which is considerably busier that I would have imagined - had a constant stream of buses and cars with nary a footpath in sight! In other words, it was not a nice walk. The buses come awfully close. Even worse after dark as you walk home from the restaurant – no street lights!
Tip #3 – There does not appear to be a lot of restaurant options outside of the park. To my knowledge, there was one restaurant and demand was pretty high! My first night, I wandered down for dinner only to hear that there was over an hours wait for pizza – and that was for the people who had a table. Many had to walk away. There is a supermarket where you can buy food, but I received conflicting reports as to hours of operation. This leads me to Tip #4
Tip #4 – If you are staying in one of the many guest houses, try to select one that has a restaurant. My understanding is that the restaurant is only for the guests of the house, not for people from other houses.
Tip #5 – It would appear that a car would make an overnight to Plitvice Lakes National Park infinitely easier to access. I took the bus from Zadar to Plitvice, which was quite easy, but am unsure about the next leg – a bus to Spilt. I have heard different stories from different sources and only hope that the bus actually does come for me! Fingers crossed for in the morning!
I thoroughly enjoyed my time in Plitvice Lakes National Park and found the 2 nights to be the perfect way to fully experience the park. With so many bus options from Zadar, I could have easily done the trip with only one night’s stay – but the leg to Split seems to have added an element of difficulty. The park is so big – it would be incredibly tough to see it all on a day tour from Zadar or Zagreb.
The Lonely Planet recommends Pansion Eco-House, which was right across the street from where I stayed at Javorina House. My room and en-suite were clean and bright, although the towels were a little stiff. Breakfast was included with the stay – a traditional European breakfast with a hard boiled egg, slices of cheese, salami and ham, fresh bread and jam, all served with coffee and tea. They also had nice fresh oranges which were a treat.