I will be in Zagreb from February 15-19 and wonder about visiting Plitvice Lakes National Park. My hotel in Zagreb is paid for, so I'd like to go over and back to the national park in one day. Do the buses run to the park during February? Is it worth going there during this time of year?
I've been to Plitvice twice, in the spring and the fall. I'll bet it is gorgeous in the snow! Not to say there is automatically snow in the park in February, but if there is, I've love to see it.
You can check the bus schedule on buscroatia.com .
Would you recommend traveling on a day tour or independently? It appears the buses do run all day.
Weather aside, Plitvice is ridiculously easy to do by yourself once you get there. It's a highly developed park with wooden boardwalks, well-marked trails, etc. It's not like being lost in the wilderness. (If you want that, Una National Park nearby in Bosnia is very very different - barely developed at all.)
But I have never taken the bus to Plitvice - I've always had a car. I have heard stories about the buses. (I've been on buses in Croatia just not to Plitvice.) I've seen where the buses stop at the park off the main D1 road - it's an easy walk from there into the park. (People who drive park in a lot about the same distance away and have about the same walk in.) But I have heard that occasionally a bus that's full won't stop for people waiting at the stop. (There are just stops along the road, not bus stations or anything.) How reliable are these stories? Did the people who got stuck have the schedule wrong or arrive too late? No idea. I'd probably do some web searches for anecdotes about people successfully riding the buses to/from Plitvice.
I do remember on another Croatian bus I was on that locals routinely "waved down" a passing bus, so I wouldn't be afraid to do that at any bus stop in Croatia if I thought that was the bus I wanted. The bus rules seem less rigid there. I remember people getting on at unscheduled stops sort of negotiating with the driver about what going a few stops would cost. It seems less formal than what you'd see say in the US with Greyhound or something. (The Croatian buses I've been on have been modern, clean, and comfortable, though.)
The important thing is to know the bus schedules especially going back to Zagreb. Be at the stop early and if you expect a bus at 15:30 and one is coming at 15:25, don't be afraid to wave it down and be visible. You probably have a lot of buses to choose from. I'd pick a bus that isn't the last one of the day, just in case you miss it or something, so then you have one more chance. Perhaps in February there is no worry about a bus being full, not sure. The bus to Zagreb is probably coming from somewhere far south like Split so might be full of people.