We are traveling to Croatia in early June and will be arriving in Plitvice in the afternoon, staying the night near the park, and planning to go through the park early the next day before driving to Zagreb. I'm considering driving to Bihac the afternoon that we arrive in Plitvice for dinner, but I was just wondering if anyone has done this before and can offer advice on the border crossing and restaurant recommendations. We will have a car. I appreciate any information you can provide!
I drove through Bihać in 2015 on the way to Plitvice. I drove through the border only one way - wasn't very long. But things could have changed a lot in four years.
The town was interesting - but it wasn't the most amazing, charming town I've ever seen. Not sure it is worth the effort. (there isn't much in the way of a town at Plitvice so I understand your need to find dinner - in addition to wanting to visit a different kind of town, obviously). If you wanted to go to another national park near Bihać, Una National Park is a big contrast from the touristy Plitvice. There's one big cascading waterfall that dwarfs any waterfall at Plitvice. In 2015, the infrastructure in the park was very rough - driving over stone roads for a few km just to get to the parking area (which was very modern and finished. But you have to get there...). Still, it sounds like you don't really have time for any of this with your current plan.
Personally, I'd head right into Plitvice the first afternoon and try to enjoy it as some of the tourists leave. Then see the rest in the morning - and hit the road by the time the place becomes saturated with tour groups late in the morning. But, unless you are staying at one of the overpriced park-run hotels, you'll have to pay twice, two days in a row, to enter the park that way.
Since PL is a tourist destination, there are a lot of restaurants in the area. If you drink alcohol at dinner, driving back from Bihac to PL may be a challenge, as the general terrain in mountainous, the roads are twisty-windy, and the locals drive like maniacs.
Since PL is a tourist destination, there are a lot of restaurants in the area.
I don't remember many - I wound up eating at the pizza joint in the place that rents ski equipment just south of the park. There are a lot of sobe (B&Bs) near Plitvice but not much of a town.
There's many small restaurants on some of the back roads. We came down Hwy 1 from Karlovac. We passed a charming area with lots of lakes and waterfalls - a smaller version of PLJ. I think it is Plitvice Lakes Ethno Garden. Just looking on Google maps in the area, there are 5 or 6. Some of my pictures say "Rastoke" and another "Slunjcica". There is a website:
As to entering the park 2 times, I think that would be 400 Kn, or almost $60. A little steep for my vacation spending.