Time- if only I had an endless amount of time. I wanted to make it out to this national park, because I have no idea if I would have another opportunity. I read so many positive comments about this place.
Plitvice Lakes deserves an informational post, especially in the winter, because it requires a lot of coordination. It was either pay $400 per person for a private day tour or $40 per person for total public transportation and entry.
In the winter, buses and working hours are shortened. This is true for the national park, although I didn’t see any gates to prevent entrance. More on that later.
First, it is very important to purchase bus tickets in advance, especially the return bus tickets. You don’t know how many people will be on the return bus, so of there aren’t enough seats, you will have to wait for the next one.
I used Get by Bus to purchase the tickets online from Zagreb to Plitvice Lakes. You want to buy the 10:30 AM, and you will arrive to the park around 1:00 PM. In the winter, you should use the first entrance (uzlaz 1). It’s better anyways, because you will immediately see the Veliki Slap, the main attraction.
On the return, I booked the 5:15 PM bus. Mr. Lumberjack and I ended way sooner than that, around 3:30 PM. However, we took many shortcuts in the park. If you hike all of Route B, you will have plenty of time.
We purchased the 12:00 PM to 1:00 PM window online. In the winter, there aren’t any tickets for after that time. You can purchase the ticket at the booth too, but there is no guarantee of entry. If there are zero availability left, you are out of luck. Therefore, regardless, it is better to purchase online.
After 1 PM, the employees leave their post. The park itself doesn’t close until 3 PM. Although, I wouldn’t be too concerned about the closing time. We didn’t see any employees, but there weren’t any gates. We weren’t locked inside the park.
You might be wondering about the ticket and the bus arrival time. It looks like there is no buffer and you won’t be admitted inside the park if you miss the window. Don’t worry. Mr. Lumberjack emailed the park about this potential late arrival and we would have been allowed inside with the purchase of a ticket anyways. Like I said, please purchase online in advance.
The park has three ferry docking stations. The closest one is P3 from Entrance #1. The info guide told us the last ferry stops operating at 3 PM.
We took the ferry at P3. The next stop was P2, but the ferry skipped that and docked at P1. Mr. Lumberjack and I ate a sandwich from the bus terminal, ending around 2:45 PM. We waited a bit at the dock before and employee told us, “No ferries.”
This left us the option to hike back. To continue onto Route B, you pass Entrance 2 (uzlaz 2). We got super lucky and there was a park shuttle about to leave. We hopped on and it took us to some Cafe. To get to Entrnace #1, we had to hike 1.2 KM.
Clothing and Food
Plitvice Lakes in inland Croatia, so it is a little chillier. Make sure to bring extra socks, gloves and a hat. Also, wear layers. When Mr. Lumberjack and I were stuck waiting for the bus, our toes started to freeze. When the sun goes down, you really need every piece of clothing to retain heat.
In addition, it is OK to bring food from outside the park. The park does have some cafes near the ferry docking station, but we bought a sandwich, snacks and water beforehand. It is more accessible as you’re hiking around the park.
Caution for Children and Elderly
The way the park is built is very interesting. It’s almost like you’re walking along the water. There isn’t handrailings on these leveled pathways at all times. If your children are rowdy, be careful. They could fall into the lake.
On top of that, there are some cobbled/rocky paths. Near entrance 1, there is a winding stone path down to the waterfall. It is very uneven and there is only a railing on one side. Furthermore, near the waterfalls during the winter, the ground becomes icy due to the midst.
Overall, I am grateful that I had the chance to visit this park. We actually made a couple of friends, while we waited for the bus. I send my greetings to our new Japanese and Russian friends. I love making unexpected friends.