I stayed at this remarkable location for only 24 hours, but it was one of the most enchanting places I have visited till date. I stayed at the Plitvice hotel, which is inside the national park itself. The hotel was reasonable and location perfect to explore the park and lakes of Plitvice national park. The room I stayed in was comfortable, and large in size. The breakfast was decent with all the basics that you get in Europe. The biggest negative point for the hotel was there is No Air Conditioning which can be a major problem in the summer. I went in May, and it was warm-ish, but not unbearable and was only there for one night, so I managed perfectly fine as the evening was cool. There are not many places to eat in the surrounding of the park, as everything is spread out. Although I found canteen-like restaurant in the hotel next door, which had decent solid food and very reasonable prices. The reason I say canteen-like is that you have to get a tray and go through the area where the food is and some of it is already ready and other things are prepared for you then and there (a bit like school). The food quality is decent and everything is very fresh. Don’t expect any fine dining or something mind blowing, but simple comfort food that will fill you up. I had the soup, spaghetti and some simple chocolate pastry with a drink all for around 8 euros. I ate there twice as it made sense proximity wise and quality of food and price wise as well.
The national park in itself is a very large area. Once you buy a ticket (either a one day ticket or a 2 day ticket), you are assigned a trail to follow, which goes all around the primary areas of the lakes and park. There are small buses that can take you from one point to another or obviously you can follow the trails which is what most people do. There are 16 lakes in the national park divided into 2 categories. The upper lakes and the lower lakes. There are buses that are travelling to each of these points quite regularly in the park, so if from the starting point you take the trail to the upper lakes and let’s say it takes you a couple of hours to get to the upper lakes trail end point, then instead of coming back on foot, you can get back to the starting point in these mini buses and make your way to the lower lakes area. There is also a couple of boat rides included in the ticket you purchase. The water when you first see it is something you will only believe when seen with your own eyes. Its stunning turquoise blue amongst other shades as well and its clear, and when I say clear, near the banks of the lakes, you can see fishes in the water and logs of wood and other bits and bobs on the lake floor. It’s a photographer’s paradise, although I would have loved to have had more time there and lot less people and also my tripod. Despite this, I was in a trigger happy mood and got some great shots. The park has a very calm and serene aura to it. Walking through the trails hearing the noise of the falls all around you is amazing. And they are literally all around you, even going underneath the wooden track that you are walking on. The lower lakes for me had all the big boys. The main big waterfall. There was also a cave with a quite vertical path which took you to another part of the trail. The location of the park is away from the other main attractions of Croatia, but I would recommend you make time for this place. It is absolutely worth it. You can even do a day trip if you come early in the morning from nearby Zagreb or any other town or city close by and leave late evening, although I would definitely suggest staying one night, maybe even 2 nights if you have the time to spare.
A lot of people have said you cannot go to Plitvice lakes if you don’t have your own vehicle, but I went there by public transport and although it was quite long, it is perfectly doable. A lot of people don’t end up going to the lakes because of its location being away from Dubrovnik and even Split, but if you have a week in Croatia, this location is definitely not to be missed.