Split to Plitvice Lakes: a self-drive road trip

The famous view

Plitvice National Park is without a doubt the most famous landmark in Croatia. Consisting of 16 stunning lakes connected by a series of beyond-this-world waterfalls, it’s on the bucket list of every visitor who enters Croatia. We are not exempt from the allure of the beautiful photos and the infamy of this national park, and after taking a dip at the Krka National Park, we moved on from the lovely Split to Zadar so we have a shorter drive to Plitvice.

A road trip to Plitvice National Park

Split to Plitvice Lake

The reason why we decided to move onto Zadar was that the drive from Spilt to Plitvice would take an extra hour: 1.5 vs 2.5

further waterfall plitvice national park croatia
Travel to paradise!

Despite being a famous spot, it wasn’t immediately clear how to reach the national parks or where its entrances are at. There are two entrances to the park and both are situated almost slam middle on the road running between Zagred and Zadar. Entrance 1 is the northern entrance and the two are only a few minutes’ drive away.

Need to rent a car? Check car rental 8 for the best price. We rented ours at Split and kept it until Zadar.

Parking is available near the entrance and costs kn 7 per hour. We missed the entrance 2 as we came up from Zadar, so we pulled into Entrance 1’s parking lot. The actual entrance is across the road which is reachable via a bridge over the flyover where there is also a restaurant and souvenir shop. There is also a currency exchange there for some reason, and the ticket office is just behind it.

Plitvice Lake Tickets

plitvice national park ticket croatia
Tickets can be purchased right by the entrance, which is not to be confused with the information center. The price of the tickets fluctuates greatly depending on the season and be sure to bring your student ID for a discount. For the list of prices click here.

Inside Plitvice – choosing a routeplitvice national park route choices croatiaThe park can be separated into two parts, the Upper and Lower Lakes. The Lower Lakes consist of two lakes that usually grace the top search you see on the internet, with a meandering wooden walkway leading you through the cascading sheets of water over green mounds.

The rest of the 14 lakes belong to the Upper Lakes – and there are simple little signs along the wooden path that show you the stats of each one as you walk along.

lake information plitvice national park croatiaThere are several trails that you can take around the park, and included in the ticket and incorporated into each routes are one boat ride and one train ride. You can choose from three hours to six hours routes and under the recommendation of a park ranger, who can give you the best advice based on weather, time and physical grading.

back of ticket plitvice national park croatia
There is a small map at the back of the ticket too

You can get a simplified map from the rangers, which would be more than sufficient for your need. However, if you want a detailed map you can purchase one from them as well.

There really is no reason to pre-plan your trip or worry over your itinerary, because the entire park is very well planned for visitors.

lower lake plitvice national park croatia
The famous view

We decided to take route C which starts from Entrance 1. Unfortunately for us the Lower Lakes were closed during our visit due to the large influx of rainwater from the previous day, so we could only glimpse at it from above and head off to the temporary re-route. It was a little depressing but we didn’t let it dampened our mood.

me on a path next to waterfall plitvice national park croatiaDespite the walk not being particularly strenuous or demanding in the footwear department, it would be best to wear covered shoes, or at least comfortable flat shoes that you don’t mind getting wet or dirty. There are areas of the path where it’s flooded and some trails would include a dirt trail. There are also scores of people who wants to walk around the park as well and more often than not you are hard-pressed to find an opportunity for photos during peak season.

photo next to clear lake plitvice national park croatia(cheeky photo bomb)

We were practically chased and engulf periodically by an elderly tour group and they were very amused at our selfies taking and attempt at group photos.best group shot plitvice national park croatia

I actually got asked if this shot was too far away – it was, in fact, perfect 😀grou photo on the wooden path plitvice national park crotaia

We actually blocked off an entire group of people for this shot – precious commodity right here.

on tourist boat across lake plitvice national park croatiaThe ferry ride was surprisingly lovely, although you need to be lucky enough to snag a seat by the side to be able to take some good photos. I wasn’t able to so I made my friend who was at the end take photos for me.

waterfall plitvice national park croatia 4Our hike started with intermittent sunny weather, which quickly became cloudy and eventually it began to rain. Let’s get this straight: the park is beautiful even in the rain, which gives it a serenity that you won’t see otherwise.

big lake in plitvice national park croatia waterfalls in plitvice national park croatia 2 waterfalls in plitvice national park croatia 1 waterfall in pltivce national park croatia 3

However, only one of us brought an umbrella and it was increasingly cold. So we hastily rushed towards the panoramic train pick up point, which although resembled trains are actually buses. Since it was raining outside, the vehicle was crowded with tourists avoiding the weather and the windows were speckled with rain and fogging up with the cold. So there really wasn’t much to be seen, and honestly, the train goes through a proper road so all you see are forests.

 

Plitvice or Krka

How is it compared to Krka? Some of you might ask. To be honest, the sceneries between the two are fairly similar, though of course, Plitvice has more lakes and more comprehensive routes mapped out for visitors. There is also the famous photo of small waterfall crusading down rounded, green mounts with the wooden plank path meandering through it that gets every tourist’s phone out in a frantic.

me in front of skardinski most krka national park croatia
Personally, I enjoyed my time at Krka more because we got to swim in the waterfall. However, the weather also played a big factor in my preference. But in truth, if you are in a hurry and passing through Croatia, I most certainly wouldn’t beat myself up if I couldn’t go to Plitvice. Go and enjoy Krka, and make Plitvice an excuse to come back to Croatia.

Plitvice National Park is the most famous gem in Croatia and a must visit! Here is how you can drive there to visit on a day from Split to Plitvice Lakes #plitvicelakes #croatia #split
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Written by Nam Cheah

Hi, my name is Nam. I am 24 and spent half my life in Hong Kong and the other half in UK. I believe there's endless experience and beauty in the world and this is me chronicling how to experience the best at the best price.

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