A road trip through Croatia lives up to one of the greatest clichés about road-trips; here the thrill is indeed in the journey, not the destination. We flew into the capital of Croatia, Zagreb, and drove down to the southern tip of the country. The route? A 700 km drive from Zagreb to the city often referred to as the jewel of the Adriatic, Dubrovnik via Plitvice Lakes National Park, Zadar, and Split. In less than a fortnight, we drove through natural wonders, wide expanses of agricultural hinterland, fairy-tale villages, and medieval cities.
We spent the night in Zagreb, and left for the Plitvice (pronounced “pliht vitch uh”) Lakes National Park early next morning.The park had been on our travel wish-list forever. In fact, it prompted our road-trip to Croatia in the first place. Naturally this was our first stop in the country. It is only a two-hour drive from Zagreb.
We got our first glimpse of the unspoiled Croatian countryside almost as soon as we left Zagreb. The drive took us through stretches of agricultural land and small villages, which would not be out of place in a fairy tale. The highlight, for us, were the innumerable slanting rooftops sending billows of smoke through their rustic clay chimneys.
Breakfast in Zagreb
Driving through the Croatian hinterland- love the chimneys!
Pit-stop in Slunj en-route to Plitvice
One of the many surprises Slunj had to offer
On reaching Plitvice, we checked into our cozy B&B tucked in a village near the National Park. Early next day, we left for the Park, ready to be amazed by the flora and fauna. But nothing could’ve prepared us for the beauty that confronted us.
The park is frequently touted as one of Europe’s most beautiful nature reserves and boasts of some spectacular walks with fabulous views. A UNESCO Heritage Site, it consists of sixteen emerald lakes, connected by cascading waterfalls. Photographs are unable to do justice to the real thing; the flora and fauna surrounding it amplify the rare natural beauty of the lakes. We spent the whole day observing the changing colours of the lakes. They changed from emerald to turquoise to navy depending on the intensity of sunlight. We’ll let the pictures do the talking:
Turquoise lakes at Plitvice Lakes National Park
Glistening Waterfall at Plitvice Lakes National Park
Fairy-tale streams at Plitivice Lakes National Park
The Plitivice Lakes National Park
There’s no shortage of waterfalls at Plitivice Lakes National Park
Clear waters at Plitivice Lakes National Park
Funky fungi at Plitivice Lakes National Park
Bruised Passports’ Tip
If you ever find yourself in Plitvice, refresh yourself with a typical Croatian meal. In northern Croatia, food boasts of Slavic influences. We suggest the Ćevapčići, a unique grilled-meat dish served with fried flatbread, chopped onions, and sour cream and freshly boiled Žganci. Finish the meal with Zagorski Štruklji for dessert. Savour these delicacies, as it is hard to find them in the southern parts of the country.
As for accommodation, we suggest renting an apartment via AirBnB there are plenty of beautiful apartments very close to the entrance of Plitvice National Park.
Need help planning a road trip to Croatia? Have a look at some sample itineraries