I took a ferry from Mjlet Island to Split in the evening. While I was on the ferry, I booked 2 nights at Room’s Ruby. When I got off the ferry, I knew right away that Split was not for me. It was crowded and smelly. It had much more of a city-feel than Dubrovnik.
I walked over to the hostel. The rate itself was very cheap, but everything else costs extra. Extra for linens, extra for internet, etc. There was a sheet on my bed and a spare blanket on the bed opposite mine, but who knows when they were last washed. Inside, the reception help lacked energy and were slow to help with things like turning on the AC so we could close the windows to block mosquitos and street noise. The reception was on the terrace, so since people could smoke out there, the hall smelled like cigarettes. The bathrooms were filthy and the showers had clogged drains leaving you to question if you really felt any cleaner after bathing. Several bunks in our dorm were even broken.
Despite booking two nights, I decided to leave after one. In the morning, I wandered in search of the bus station. When I found my way, I booked a ticket to Plitvice Lakes National Park for 3:30pm. That gave me time to explore the old square, grab some fruit from the open market, eat some sushi at Sushi and Oyster Bar Bota, and chat with a girl in my hostel.
The bus to Plitvice was about 4 hours. The bus makes several stops before the two park entrances, as well as the entrances themselves. If you know where you’re staying, tell your driver and they will tell you when to get off the bus. I got off at Entrance 2 and walked over to the Plitvice Hotel. The rooms were a little expensive (75 euros), so I asked if there was anything cheaper nearby. They said the same company owns Bellevue just across the parking lot. I think Bellevue cost 40 or 50 euros per night. I had a room with three twin beds on the lowest level. No balcony, but the room stayed cool (no AC). After the Room’s Ruby situation, this was heaven. I went back to Plitvice Hotel for dinner and called it an early night.
After breakfast, I entered the park. The map of the park is on the ticket, but you can also purchase more detailed maps. The ticket is plenty. I explored the Upper Lakes first before hiking the Plitvice Trail (purple trail) back towards the Lower Lakes. This gave me the opportunity to see some incredible aerial views of the Lower Lakes, as well as see a more forested area. There were very few people on the trail.
On my second day (my birthday!), I set out a little earlier to see the Lower Lakes from Entrance 1. I really enjoyed taking two days to see the park. If time is limited, it can be done in one day, but you won’t regret taking two so that you have more time to see the falls from different perspectives. Some of the falls were hard to capture. This would have been a great place for a drone.
When I set out to leave, I waited a long time, longer than the schedule said, for a bus to come by. I even thought I saw it pass me without stopping. When I asked for help I was directed to a bus schedule and told, “…but one will probably come sooner.” Sure enough one did and I made my way all the way to Lake Bled, Slovenia via Zagreb.
I never felt the need for a car south of Split, but I would recommend renting a car from Split going north into Slovenia. I did not see Krka National Park, but if I did it again, I would have gone from Split to Krka and continued north to Plitvice the same day. While getting there was no problem, a car would allow more flexibility with departure times.
Next stop: Lake Bled, Slovenia.