Experience Dubrovnik 4 ways

Experience Dubrovnik 4 ways

“If you want to see Heaven on Earth come to Dubrovnik.”

George Bernard Shaw 

 

As a full-time travellers since March 2016, I’ve learnt many things from my Travel teacher. One big lesson is being honest about what we experience on the road; for better or for worse. We are privileged to be able to explore the world so intimately and we have come to appreciate all faces that Travel reveals. So let me say it out loud; we are not great city fans. As introverts we find their size overwhelming, their structure claustrophobic and their presence often intimidating. We though, at the same time, accept that city life draws its own unique perspective. And this, in its own right needs to be relished alongside the things that we love most about our explorations.

 

So when the prospect of a visit to Croatia’s southern city Dubrovnik teetered on the horizon, we faced it with inevitability. Of course we would go, it is iconic and it is one of those places that needs to be ticked off the list, given its reputation for being one of the finest cities in the world. It certainly wasn’t though on my Bucket List, like our visit to Mostar in Bosnia and Herzegovina had been. Yet I have learnt to face all my adventures with a sense of curiosity with which comes a humility for all things. And that is how I embrace cityscape visits these days. 

With a little research it became clear that there were a number of ways to experience Dubrovnik. I wanted to be sure that if this was a ‘one and only’ visit, to make it as 3D as possible. I realised that it would be an investment as, with most cities, a trip to their inner sanctums brings with it a price tag. We are tourists after all. There was though something about Dubrovnik that subtly gave me permission to make that investment, given all that the country and her neighbours have endured over the last thirty years. Of all places in which I am happy to spend my hard-earned cash, it would be in these western Balkan lands. 

I googled Dubrovnik’s highlights, being cautious not to feed my FOMO – Fear of Missing Out. Yet I soon concluded that it would be far richer an experience if we just trusted our instincts once we arrived. From a practical point of view though, we did make some conscious choices about how best to experience the city. My sense was that seeing it on arrival from the sea was going to be one special aspect that we couldn’t miss. Especially given I am a water baby. Then wandering within its city walls another. And surely a bird’s eye view was on the cards? 

View of Dubrovnik

 

Before we launch into how best to experience Dubrovnik, let me reveal a little secret; I completely fell in love with this southern belle. Of all the major cities and capitals we have visited, it will feature in my Wall of Fame alongside Ljubljana, Bratislava, Zagreb and Seville. It can proudly sit shoulder to shoulder with these other compact and characterful cities that haven’t lost their souls to commercialism.

From the minute we approached this iconic Games of Throne film set, I fell in love. There was something embracing, warm and homely about this walled settlement that subtly drew me in. After five hours exploring, I can honestly say that Dubrovnik has a place in my soul and I felt her heart-beat in every alleyway and around every corner, despite clusters of tourists compliantly following those Holiday Rep flags. With this affirmation I find it easy to now write practically about how to make the most of your visit here and share my passion for this resilient and courageous city. 

 

A historical context

Let me offer a brief backdrop to Dubrovnik’s canvas, by sharing a little of her historical landscape.  After all, it is not on UNESCO’s list without good reason.

Dubrovnik was founded as Rugasa in 600 AD by a group of refugees from Cavtat, just 40 minutes away by boat. From that point it grew in importance thanks to its oceanic position. It was its sea-faring trade that put the city on the map. As a medieval settlement Dubrovnik has grown from strength to strength. Despite a fire that burnt it to the ground in 1296 and the 1667 earthquake that destroyed most of its important buildings, its resilience has surged. Add to that the tragedy of the seven month Dubrovnik Siege that attacked the very heart of the old town from October 1991 until the end of June 1992. Knowing just a little of its backstory you can begin to feel the soul of the city beyond the facade that awards its oohs and ahh from its visitors. 

Now we can begin to focus on how best to introduce yourself to Dubrovnik and get the best experience from your visit here. 

 

1. A watery perspective

Armed with a rough plan, my camera and a steadfast protection for my introverted personality, we put Phase One of our Dubrovnik Sightseeing Strategy into action. Based at Camping Kate in Mlini, we decided, with the weather pretty calm, to head by water taxi. Our dues paid, a mere £6.80 (€7.95 or $8.37) – we excitedly boarded our vessel. 

There’s a certain thrill for me about being on the water, whether pootling on my paddleboard or speeding towards some exciting destination. The views of a place from the water are always so different from a land-based perspective. So like an eager child I sat up at the front of the taxi watching intensely, as this stunning Riviera coastline passed before my eyes. First was the haunting view of Kupari’s Ghost Town, bombed and left to rot after the Homeland War in 1991. Next the captivating azure bays, lined with pine trees and their craggy bedrock beaches still attracting sun worshipers even in October.

Within 30 minutes, the horizon offered my first glimpse of Dubrovnik’s old town, a scene I am sure must have featured in Games of Thrones more than once. As we inched ever closer towards the harbour, the city walls enveloped us. Surrounded by boats of every shape and size buzzing around the nearby islands, this city loomed large. It was fantastic to see it from the sea and imagine what it must have been like for historical sea-farers entering the city in their galleons.

Click on our Gallery below.

 

2. Walking through the city’s soul

Having witnessed our first glimpse of Dubrovnik intimately from the sea with no more than 20 people, we were suddenly thrown into the masses.  Like ants, suddenly there were people everywhere. Yet we had primed ourselves for it, so courageously set off. Most unlike me, without a route map, we just wandered, finding as many back streets as we could, to feel the city’s soul. 

Ladies sat with their lace and crochet, children played football like the genius that was, Pele and, being a Monday, washing hung out between the alleyways. We caught a side of Dubrovnik that is not on most people’s itineraries; watching cats lazing, dogs guarding and through the open windows, dinners simmering. What a privilege it was to see the city this way. Private, personal and every day life being played out in front of us. Behind the security of the towering walls around us, we strolled up and down the steep and shiny limestone staircases that have been climbed by hundreds of generations before us. This was a fabulous way to experience a tourist destination and, once again felt like a private tour, removed from the route of the cruise-liner visitors. Although it would be inevitable at some point that our route would bring us into the main hub of the city.

The cultural epicentre of Dubrovnik offers you some iconic views; Sponza Palace, the Cathedral, Onofrio’s Fountain and the devastated and iconic Stradun Street. It was here we were greeted with throngs of visitors and it was a matter of skilfully dodging the crowds in order to maintain our soulful edge. Which was I can tell you a bit of a challenge. Yet you cannot miss this part of the city as it holds so many memories, tells so many tales and, reborn from the embers of war, is as much a fibre of the city as its back streets. 

Click below for our Street Gallery.

 

3. A bird’s-eye view

There are two arial perspectives on offer in Dubrovnik. 

The first is to encircle the Dubrovnik hub by buying a £28, (€35, $35) ticket to walk the magnificent city-walls. An intrepid tootle of around 1.2 miles, which is just short of 2km, rewards you with a priceless Dubrovnik experience like no other. Whilst it is without doubt expensive, we saw it as an investment; both in ourselves as explorers and to the Croatian community. We have a philosophy that if the price we pay for something is good value and reaps a special or unique bounty, then it is not an ‘expense’. This is how we felt about touring Dubrovnik’s walls. It is such a different way to see and feel this incredible city and we loved it. Even Myles enjoyed it, despite nurturing his vertigo in some places where the tumbling cliff falls away seemingly beneath your feet. 

Being able to scan your eyes across the rooftops of this historic city, the first thing you notice is the contrast between the old and new. Destroyed buildings that have yet to be rebuilt, are clearly evidenced by their darker orange roof tiles and pallid facias. Whilst the newly loved properties and historic real estate have a vibrant makeover in both the clean, cream brickwork and the iconic orange roofs. This is a stark reminder that whilst the battle is won and independence secured, the war still leaves scars for all to see.

Your 360º experience of Dubrovnik old town, the coastline and the islands will leave an indelible mark on your heart with complementary colours of rich golden hews, sparking blue seas and a mountain backdrop that holds it all together in a seamless canvas of delight. Looking down at the city you can see figures scurrying along the cobbled streets like something out of a Lowry painting. The enormity of Dubrovnik’s scaling steps hits you as you see them from a whole new aspect where puffing people steadily climb their unforgiving ascension. Then in the blink of an eye the chimney pots shape the horizon as a replica Schooner sails into the iconic port.

Life above Dubrovnik’s beating heart, is truly a magical and addictive experience and well worth the entrance fee. 

Click on our Gallery below.

 

4. The view from heaven

The second arial view-point you can take is in the Cable Car. You can find this just five minutes walk outside the main Ploče Gate on the main road. The pods run regularly, taking you up 778m up to the gods for what must be a stunning view on a good weather day. There is a restaurant up at the top, which on good authority is meant to be excellent. We decided not to take the Cable Car as with the investment of Water Taxis, buses, the walls and lunch, we thought that the cost was one step too far. After a good four hours in the city, to adding this to our one day visit would have been been too overwhelming. If you are in the city for longer than a day, then you could add it to your second day itinerary for sure. 

 

The Motoroamers’ Top tips for Dubrovnik

  • Plan your visit in one of three time periods; 1. Go early whilst the cruise-liners are eating breakfast. 2. Go around lunchtime as most cruise goers want to return to the ship for their all-inclusive lunch. Or 3. Go after 3pm when many of the cruise boats will be planning to set sail for their next destination.
  • If you have budget constraints, choose either the Cable Car or the Walls. They are both the same price and will give you an arial view. We would recommend the walls over the Cable Car, if only because the weather can turn quickly and your view could be hampered by clouds or even worse cancelled because of an incoming Bora Bora wind (depending on the season). Of the two we chose to do the walls which gave us a great perspective. I know the views are incredible from the Cable Car, although if you had to choose, then the walls would win every time for me. It has an intimacy that just let me feeling so connected to the city. 
  • If you have mobility issues then Dubrovnik is not very user-friendly given all the steps. And the walls are also not great if you suffer from vertigo or need a walking aid, as you have to climb steps to reach the wall walk. The Red Cross do offer some support if you need a walking aid and access to their details can be found here.
  • Dogs in Dubrovnik. We did see pets both on the Water Taxi and in the city. Our only thoughts would be to watch the crowds and your low-to-the-ground pooch and of course, keep a watchful eye over their deposits.
  • Eating in Dubrovnik. Like any city, there are plenty of eating options with an extensive option of styles catered for. You are though, a captive market, so the prices are not cheap. We spent £34 (€40) on a pizza, beer, water and a salad. So not out of the question budget-wise, depending on your constraints, you just need to shop around. Restaurants will be vying for your business so don’t feel obliged to eat if you are only looking at the menu.
  • There are lots of accommodation options. If like us you are with your camper, then there are a few options. You can stay at Camping Bambo in Slano which is 21 miles (36km) north of Dubrovnik to which you could catch the bus. Alternatively Camping Kate at Milni, which is where we stayed, open from April to the end of October allows easy access to the city. You have the water taxi and the number 10 bus or both if you fancy taking the route we did. Otherwise there are plenty of hotels, AirB&B’s and guest houses in the area so you really are spoilt for choice.
  • If you  are staying around Dubrovnik for a couple of days, then it is worth considering the investment in the Dubrovnik PassIt entitles you to up to 50% discounts on many Dubrovnik attractions and public transport. You can buy either a one, three or seven day pass which is an investment of between €35 and €55 depending on the duration. With the discounts you receive, the card will have paid for itself. We found out about this too late, although it is worthy of passing on to you. 

 

Check out our YouTube video where we capture the best bits from our short visit to this remarkable city.  Click on the image below. 

 

 

Whichever of the four perspectives you choose to take of Dubrovnik, you will be spoilt with its quiet charm, its low-key vibe and its deeply entrenched history. This is so much more than a city Tick List. This is a full on adventure that takes you into the past whilst leaving your present changed by the soul of this beautiful, resurgent city.

 

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Visiting Plitvice Lakes in your Motorhome

Visiting Plitvice Lakes in your Motorhome

Your Guide to Visiting Plitvice Lakes, Croatia

Waking up on the day of our visit to Croatia’s iconic Plitvice Lakes, filled me with tingles. That excitement that flows through your veins when you’re about to embark something new. At last it was our turn to explore this magnificent gallery presented by Mother Nature. 

Whilst I could just regale you of tales from our sensory exploration, I thought it might also be helpful to explain how to make the most of your visit here.  I reflect back at my pre-visit research and the whole mind-blowing options available to us and this drives me to do a more practical blog. So that is our plan with this little ditty. We will entice you, of course with our autumnal tour, although more importantly we will share how to best navigate this Croatia National Park.

1. What is Plitvice?

Plitvice is a natural masterpiece that has required no intervention from man for its evolving landscape. Its name derives from the phenomenon created by nature’s formation of shallow basins – those pools are called plitvak in Croatian. 

Founded as a National Park in 1949, the world-famous Plitvice Lakes is the largest and one of the oldest in the country. It was awarded with the UNESCO accolade in 1979. The Park is an open air natural history museum, that tells you a story about yesterday and tomorrow with each passing season. The water course that runs through the Park trickles, gushes and cascades over 30,000 hectares until it reaches the river Korana, and eventually into the Black Sea. 

Plitvice, like much of Croatia is formed as part of a Karst system of lakes, waterfalls and caves that are all interconnected. The interaction between the air, water and plants constantly reshapes this environment. New layers of tufa sediment build up that alters water’s flow. With its 16 lakes and around 90 waterfalls, this iconic destination is so much more than a park. It is a sensory experience that transports you away from the world’s craziness.

For the eyes you have a spectrum of blues to dazzle you. There is azure, topaz, emerald and mint-tea green to name just a few. And it is thanks to the algae that thrive in this protected habitat, that we have such a kaleidoscope of colour. 

To the ears, an orchestral movement that sometimes hums, sometimes gushes and other times it simply bellows like a baritone.  The water’s course sings in chords that provide a constant background percussion. And then there’s the silence, which amidst the water’s sonnet, is immense, punctured only by the merest whispering of the reeds. In autumn, beneath your feet, the crunch of russet beech leaves bring out the child in you as you kick your way through the orange carpet. 

It is though the unspoken magic that makes Plitvice so intoxicating. The essence of water’s time-honoured tradition that somehow touches your soul. Walking through this fairyland moves you as nature permits you to share an intimacy with its lakes. Each corner gives you a new vista. Each lake a different personality. So you are never bored, just infatuated with the soul of this enchanting piece of natural beauty. 

 

 

 

2. How to best experience Plitvice Lakes

 

Now this is where you might be bamboozled by a ton of information as you trawl through the internet. So I am going to share our on-the-ground experiences, that I hope might help make your visit easier.

 

2.1 There are Two Entrances

Entrance 1 is the furthest north and gives you access to the four Lower Lakes.

Entrance 2 is the southern entrance and gives you access to the Upper Lakes. Do not worry about which you will choose right now as that will be driven by a number of factors, which I will discuss shortly.

 

The image below is a summary of the walks available at each of the entrances which should set the scene for the walk descriptions below. 

 

 

2.2 Eight Walking Routes

There are plenty of walking options that will suit your time and fitness.  I will describe each one in a bit more detail, each with their own map to show you how it looks in reality. Click the galley to the right for a map of each individual walk. 

Entrance 1 – is located at the northern end of the Park and all routes from here are signposted in Green. Your routes will take you up hill with all the waterfalls in front of you, which makes for a more pleasant experience.

Route A – this is the shortest route that takes in just the Veliki Slap waterfall – the largest in Croatia. Then it routes back on the upper path to the car park at Entrance 1. Around 2 miles in length (3.5km).

Route B – This is the next shortest option. It takes you to Veliki Slap and then onto the long boat across the river. Then you hop on the short boat which takes you back to the main route back to the Car Park at Entrance 1. Here you can take the Panorama Train or walk as you wish. This is 2.5 miles long (4km).

Route C – This is a long walk that encompasses both the Lower and Upper Lakes. It accesses both the long boat trip and the Panorama train. This is around 4.8 miles in duration (8km).

Route K1 – This route takes in both the Lower and Upper Lakes although doesn’t take any of the free transportation. So you walk around the lake that the free boat crosses. This is a long one at around 10 miles (18.3km)

 

Entrance 2 – is located at the southern end of the park and you walk downhill with the waterfalls behind you. The routes from this entrance are colour coded in Orange. All the routes accessed from this entrance are slightly longer than from Entrance 1. Click the galley to the right for a map of each individual walk. 

Route E – Takes you from Entrance 2 to the Upper Lakes with the short boat trip and the Panorama train – 3 miles long (5.1km)

Route F – The shortest of the Entrance 2 routes. You head north towards Entrance 1 where you then walk down to Veilki Slap and back uphill to the long boat trip, pick up the short boat trip and then returning to your Entrance 2 parking.  2.8 miles long, (4.6km)

Route H is the same route as Route C, you just head downhill towards Entrance 1 and then work your way around to the boat, the Upper Lakes and then the Panorama train back to Entrance 2.  This route is 5.4 miles duration (8.9km).

Route K2 – This is identical to Route K1, you are just starting from Entrance 2 and heading your way downhill towards Entrance 1 and following the route from there. This is around 6.5 miles (18.3km).

 

3. Walking Route Pointers

Things worthy of note with these Routes:

 

  • The long boat trip across the Kozjak Lake will take 30 minutes, so you get a good rest. They run every 10-15 minutes. If you miss one boat, the next will be along very quickly. There are refreshment huts and toilets at the waiting area. This crossing is a one way trip. So you will only ever cross it having completed the Lower Lake walks.
  • The Panorama Train runs frequently from each of the 3 Stations (ST1, 2 and 3) available to you. So you are never waiting long. If you need to conserve energy we do suggest that you take the trains to save energy. Bear in mind that the final Station closest to Entrance 1 (ST1) still requires a half a mile walk back to the car park. The boat and train are all included in the price.
  • Irrespective of which Entrance you choose, you will still need to pay for your parking. If you are arriving in your motorhome then it is 100 Kuna for the day.  A scooter is free of charge and by car is 8-10 Kuna per hour depending on the season.
  • During winter, Entrance 2 is shut, so from November- March you will only be able to park at Entrance 1.
  • There is a bird’s-eye view of the lakes from what they call The Cliff.  Although the path up to it from the Veliki Slap waterfall is currently closed (@November 2022). So you would need to take your vehicle to it. We decided after our Panorama Walk (or the train if you catch it) we had a sufficient fill of views. Plus in autumn the sun’s position makes for tricky photography. 

 

 

4. What will it cost?

Here are the all important fees that you need to know before making your trip.

 

4.1 The Entrance cost 

This will depend on the month you travel. This is what you can expect to pay, although please check with the official Park site to get up to date information at the time of your trip. Click here to buy your tickets online. OR you can purchase at the Ticket Kiosk at Entrance 1 and 2 (and the auxiliary entrance Flora close to Entrance 2).

Nov-March – the LOW SEASON option 80 Kuna per person (don’t forget that during the winter season the Upper Lake section is shut as is Entrance 2)

April/May and Oct – the SHOULDER SEASON price option 180 Kuna per person

June, July, August and September – the HIGH SEASON price 300 Kuna per person. You can pay a reduced rate of 200 Kuna per person if you arrive at 4.00pm during June/July/August or 3.00pm September.

For conversion rates for your currency, you might want to use XE.com 

Please remember that our entrance fees help with the Park’s maintenance. The price includes the boat and train ride although excludes refreshments and the Car Park which are all additional charges. 

 

4.2 Parking Charges

These also vary depending upon the type of vehicle you bring. 

  • If you travel by Shuttle Bus offered by your campsite, please check with them for their current prices.
  • If you decide to cycle in, there are limited option for securely locking your bikes, we found, although you are not charged.
  • If you travel in by Scooter there is no charge for parking.
  • A car is charged an hour rate that varies from 8-10 Kuna per hour depending on the time of the year.
  • If you visit in your motorhome you pay between 80-100 Kuna for the whole day irrespective of the number of hours you stay. 

 

For up to date pricing information for your visit we suggest you go to the Plitvice Park website which you can find here. 

 

 

 

5. Our Top Tips and Recommendations


1. Start at Entrance 1 and go up hill to get the best waterfall views.

As a photographer, light and easy access to my subject is really important. So when I came across§ advice about taking Route C so that all the waterfalls in front of me, it made total sense. Go uphill for the best view.

2. Go for the earliest time slot available.

In high season the Park opens at 7.00am. Whilst that sounds ridiculously early, to avoid the crowds and to have the boardwalks to yourself, it makes good sense. In the low season from November to May the Park is open from 8am and our advice is the same. Choose the first slot. 

3. Take Route C if you only have one day.

If you are only visiting for the day, we recommend doing Route C.  Make the most of the rest areas, the 30 minute boat ride and the full length Panorama Train to manage your energy. This makes the trip much more doable and accessible over 4-5 hours.

 

4. Visit in May/early June or mid October/November.

You may not have the luxury of specifying when you visit although if you do, then we would recommend avoiding summertime. The crowds will be intense with many coaches arriving from 10.30am onwards. The Park gets around 1 million visitors during the high season so this could impact on your enjoyment, particularly if you have a dog. So a springtime or autumn visit will award you with less crowds and a more self-paced experience. This was certainly how we felt at Krka National Park when we visited in mid-September. Of course we are not ruling out winter as an option; the Park can be affected by bad weather given its mountain location. Only the Lower Lakes are open during the winter. The Upper Lakes reopen when the weather conditions are safe enough to do so. We had 23º on our visit on 1 November although this is generally seen as being unusual for the time of year.

5. Check weather apps before booking.

The here and now is the only real accurate weather prediction. Although we recommend checking a weather apps like ventusky.com, to get a flavour of the conditions for your visit. Whilst people have told us that their visit in inclement weather was actually beautiful, clear and sunny must be a preference. So if you have the flexibility, then check the forecast before booking your on-line tickets. Of course you could also leave purchasing tickets until the day, if you have that level of flexibility.

6. Bringing children and pets

As non parents nor currently dog owners, we tread carefully with this topic. Yet having experienced the Park for ourselves, our observations may help.

We saw a number of parents with babies and younger children, some of which started out the same time of day as us. The children were initially excited, although that was soon replaced by grumpy tiredness. Given that the boardwalks are right on the edge of the lakes, constant supervision is required unless they are significantly older. We also saw a family with a buggy although with the rough boardwalks having steps and oftentimes rocky pathways through the forests, it is not an ideal place for pushchairs of any description. They were even struggling to get the pram off the Panorama Train.

In terms of dogs, the Park is definitely dog friendly as long as they are permanently on a lead. Dogs are permitted on both the boat and the train and there seems to be no additional cost for dog entry.

 

7. What to do if you have mobility issues or are concerned about your fitness.

If you think that Route C is too much in one day, then we would recommend booking a Two Day Pass. Not only do you get a discounted Day 2 pass, you are also able to do both lakes justice without tiring yourself out.

We recommend doing Entrance 1 – Route B on Day 1. Have the afternoon to rest at your hotel or campsite. Then on Day 2 park at Entrance 2 and do Route E, again with the afternoon to rest. Then you see all the aspects of the Park at a leisurely pace without pushing your body to its limits.

If you have mobility issues then your options are, sadly, limited. The Park is not geared up to wheelchairs, walking aids or mobility scooters. There are though two ways of getting a glimpse of the Park. Firstly you could drive around to ‘The Cliff’ and the Postcard Viewing point. You can drive up here and whilst Google Maps doesn’t show much parking, it could be an option. Alternatively you could park opposite Entrance 1 and get a wheelchair to the Veliki Slap waterfall viewing point. That is pretty much all that is on offer. Neither the train nor the boats are really geared up for any disability. This is something that the Park need to address at some point. On presentation of a valid Disability Card, you will pay 50% of the entrance ticket.

Our recommendation is rather than come all the way to Plitvice, instead visit Krka National Park, which is much more oriented for disabled or low mobility visitors. 

8. Download the Plitvice App and buy tickets on-line

Whilst the App does need some further development, it gives you a basic summary of the walks and a route maps. So it did serve a purpose and it is free to download. You cannot, at the moment, order you tickets through the App nor does it have a comprehensive or complete list of accommodation or campsites. 

To save queuing up at the Ticket Office, we suggest that you book using the Park’s official website.  It is easy to co-ordinate and you get an email, which has your tickets attached. The Park wardens then scan your ticket at whichever entrance you choose to start from.

9. Be prepared; food, water and layers

We recommend taking your own packed lunch and refreshments with you. There are four ‘stations’ where you can get refreshments, although they may not suit your needs, timeframes or budget.  Plus in high season the food sellers will be busy. So a packed lunch is so much easier. We also recommend dressing appropriately. Whilst it may seem an obvious comment, we say it compassionately. In November despite a forecast of 23º, getting there at 8.00am meant that the sun was very low until 9.30am, so we were walking in shade for a while. Layers were needed until the air warmed up with the sun’s eventual presence. Sturdy shoes are also recommended as the boardwalks are not flat nor even. The paths up through the wooded section of the park are also rocky so sturdy foot-wear is essential, especially for the longer walks.

10. At the Upper Lakes’ station take the Panorama Train

After walking for four hours, our Route C took us to the Upper Lakes’ Station where there were toilets and refreshments. This is where the Panorama Train takes you down to Entrance 2 or within 1/2 mile walking distance of Entrance 1. We decided to walk rather than take the train and whilst it was pretty, it added another 2 miles to our journey. We did eventually pick up the Train at the ST2 by Entrance 2 although hadn’t realised that we still had the 1/2 mile walk back to the car park. So we would definitely recommend the train so save your energy and blisters. 

 

 

6. Where best to travel from

You have a number of options for arriving at Plitvice depending upon the trip you are taking:

 

  • Split is the furthest destination to Plitvice at 150 miles (240km) and will take 2 days, if travelling by motorhome. We had an overnight stop at historic Knin en route. 
  • From Croatia’s capital Zagreb, Plitvice is around 80miles (130km). 
  • From Bihać in Bosnia is just 6 miles (10km) from the Border. (If you would like to explore more of Bosnia and Herzegovina then check this out our free to download eBook here).
  • From Zadar 70 miles (120km)
  • And the shortest route from within Croatia at 37miles (62km) is from the gorgeous Roman town of Senj, which could potentially be a day trip.

 

 

7. Where to stay

Whether travelling by motorhome, by car or public transport, there are plenty of accommodation options within and on the outside of the National Park. The Park, over the years, has brought wealth to the region and so there are plenty of options to satisfy all our needs. For a list of Hotels, B&B and apartments, I found this blog, which might be a helpful reference point. 

For camping options there are a number of varied sizes of Park run sites, smaller and independent sites and Autocamps. Please note, this is a National Park, so no wild camping is tolerated at any time of the year and you are not permitted to stay in the car parks. So you must find a campsite option. 

We stayed at Camping Plitvice, which is the nearest and most convenient campsite with mobile homes and plenty of pitches. Whilst it is just 3miles (5km) away from Entrance 1 if you are thinking of cycling, it is an uphill trek all the way, so don’t tire yourself out before you’ve even started on your walking route. During the season most larger campsites run a Shuttle Bus which is an additional cost on top of the pitch. On request we found that our campsite’s Shuttle ended up being more expensive than parking the motorhome for the day. So we paid the 100 Kuna for parking and thought that this was reasonable for the whole day.

Campsite prices will vary depending upon the time of year, of course. From September to July the ACSI discount card should be in operation in a number of campsites. We paid €20 per night. Although please bear in mind that from end of October most campsites shut for the winter. Camping Plitvice says on the Search for Sites portal that it is open all year yet it was due to shut on 1 November. We managed to negotiate them staying open to accommodate our 2 night stay and because of the warm weather they agreed. 

Plitvice Holiday Resort, when I spoke to them said that they would stay open until the weather hit 0º. So camping in the late autumn early winter is a bit of a hit and miss affair. There is a free Camping Aire at Slunj which is just 30 minutes up the road. So if your budget is tight, then this is a good option that just requires you getting up a bit earlier to do the drive into the Park. 

 

 

8. Closing thoughts

Plitvice is a magnificent destination for your Croatian Road-Trip and is well worth the journey to reach it. The magnetism of the water’s movement through the lakes is mesmerising and irrespective of the time of year, your senses will be utterly bombarded. Out of season is a must if you want to really appreciate the soul of the Park rather than being trampled by other people’s soles. Although we accept that that might not be an option for you. 

And if you do go, don’t miss a near-by unique site at Rastoke. A 17th century and delightful folk village, known as Little Plitvice because of its harnessing of the river’s waterfall power, Rastoke is definitely worthy of a stop for the night. We stayed at an official aire that was free of charge to stop at. You can find the details here.

We adored our time in Plitvice and I would love, in truth to see it in winter and spring. Perhaps even slightly early in autumn to get a true sense of the forest colours. The Park is iconic, our visit was epic and our memories deeply embedded into our veins. This is one visit that we will not forget in a hurry. We hope you enjoy your visit as much and feel free to ask any questions in the comments below. 

 

Check out our video tour of Plitvice by clicking the image below.

 

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