Croatia – Plitvice Lakes, Zagreb and Dubrovnik

Plitvice Lakes national park is absolutely stunning and a true natural wonder.

Live your life by a compass, not a clock

Stephen Covey

Plitvice Lakes National Park

The colours of the water are gorgeous and such vibrant blues and greens. The waterfalls are stunning and it makes you appreciate how powerful nature is. It’s the largest and oldest national park in Croatia. It was granted UNESCO national heritage status in 1979 and its easy to see why. There are 16 lakes with the amazing shades of blue, interconnected by the waterfalls. The highest point is 1280m. If you’re unsure about whether it’s worth a visit, simply look at some of the images available online and it should sway you! I’ll add some of mine to this post too, not that I think they do it justice!

Veliki Slap the highest waterfall is 78m tall. You can wander round the lower pools following the well organised pathways, seeing some falls and lakes along the way. It was originally set out that way and declared a national park in 1949. Impressive organisation back in the day.

Carry on the pathways and you come to a cafe area, the food isn’t great – mainly burgers and chips; I’d brought sandwiches from the bakery in Zagreb. There is a water fountain though they encourage you to buy bottled water. I used the fountain, even though it didn’t look great, it’s safe to drink and lovely fresh water. From here you can get a boat across the lake to the upper pools. They’re less people up there so it feels a bit calmer. As you wander through the woods there is a chance of seeing deers, bears and wolves, though you’re more likely to see a bird or a butterfly!

The entrance cost varies depending on the time of year, during summer it’s between 150-250 Kuna per adult. There are a few hotels right next to the park so it is possible to stay overnight near the falls. I stopped in one of them for a drink after walking and it was lovely.

It really is a beautiful place to walk around and take in with gorgeous sights at every turn.

Zagreb

Zagreb Cathedral

The capital city of Croatia, an interesting city with plenty to see. There’s lots of history and winding alleys to wander round with some beautiful architecture. The Cathedral is stunning. The highlight for me was the roof of St Marks Church. The Church originates from the 13th century, though the roof was redone more recently after an earthquake.

St Marks Church

Around the corner of St Marks is a great viewpoint that provides brilliant views of the city including the cathedral.

View of the city

The old town as in most cities is much prettier than the newer area. I really like the way they’ve tried to keep tradition, in one area a man comes every evening to manually light the gas street lamps.

Stopping for a coffee is very popular in Zagreb. There are coffee bars everywhere. There’s also a street over 1km long that’s lined all the way with cafes and restaurants. Apparently on a Saturday evening it can be hard to find a table despite the volume. There are also a number of lovely bakeries with delicious fresh sandwiches and pastries.

Food and Drink

My favourite white wine in Croatia was Grasevina. Sipun was also good, the Croatian version of Sipon that I had in Slovenia – mentioned in my previous blog.

Museums

Another point of interest – for some – is the Museum of Broken Relationships! It’s the most popular and visited of all the museums in Zagreb! Apparently the exhibits get changed regularly, some examples being things people have given back once a relationship ends. Due to such success a few additional museums have opened in other countries. Entrance at time of writing is 40 Kuna.

Dubrovnik

For me having watched Game of Thrones this was all about walking the wall. The cost is 200 Kuna and you can pay by cash or card. It’s worth it as the views are exceptional. Each corner you turn offering a view better than the last. You’ll end up with so many photos! Save the best until last, the view from the top is amazing looking down over all the red rooftops into the Adriatic Sea. For Game of Thrones fans it really does feel like you’re in Kings Landing! For those who aren’t, it’s beautiful, pretty and still worth a visit.

View from the wall

The narrow streets of Dubrovnik, originally designed for horses, are busy and it’s also relatively expensive. It’s had a massive increase in demand since Game of Thrones, though of course was already a UNESCO site. I only stopped for a couple of hours in the afternoon to walk the wall, which for me was the highlight of Dubrovnik. The wall was actually quieter than wandering the streets. There were still a lot of people but generally you’re able to get all the photos you want and take in the impressive views.

I stopped on the way to Montenegro for a couple of hours coming from Slovenia, via Bosnia then down the Dalmatian Coast. Bosnia and Montenegro will be in posts to follow shortly!

View looking down on Dubrovnik

There were 3 cruise ships pulled in at the time so a lot of people in a small place. I guess the evenings and early mornings must be much quieter if you want to avoid the crowds. For me a couple of hours was enough time to see Dubrovnik but there is plenty to offer if you want to stay for longer.

Of course a Game of Thrones tour if that’s your thing. There’s the Franciscan Church and one of the oldest pharmacies in the world, which is now a museum. The Rectors Palace is good too, and there are a number of other museums and sites. The funicular railway to get great views over the city. The sea of course is lovely, though the Adriatic has a high salt content. And there’s kayaks and boats for hire too.

Historically with the coastline Dubrovnik has always had a strong trading income as well as salt mining.

The Practical Stuff

The currency is Kuna, even though Croatia is part of the EU. The exchange rate at time of writing is just over 8 Kuna to the Pound. A number of places take cards and it’s easy to find ATM’s and exchange offices. As usual I recommend a Starling bank card for the great rates at the cash point with no fees. You also get 0.5% interest for any positive balance up to £2000.

https://www.starlingbank.com/

Tap water is safe to drink. There are plenty of fountains around town where you can fill up your water bottle with fresh water. The Croatian’s encourage it now to be environmentally friendly and are also keen to share that they have such great natural water and springs in Croatia.

For comparison, a sandwich in a bakery in Zagreb costs around 15 Kuna, the same sandwich in Dubrovnik is around 35 Kuna.

Thank you is Hvala Vam, very similar to Slovenia, it means thank you to you. Molim is you’re welcome.

Next country – Bosnia!

2 thoughts on “Croatia – Plitvice Lakes, Zagreb and Dubrovnik

  1. It was nice reading your post . Looking at those stunning photos ,it felt as if I was actually there . – Sameer from India

    Like

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