Has anyone taken the bus from Zagreb to Plitvice National Park. I'm unable to locate the express bus Rick Steves speaks about in his guidebook. We would like to bus from Zagreb to Plitvice and then from Plitvice to Split the later part of May.
I took a bus from Zagreb to Plitvice, and back, in late August 2015. I don't think it was a special Express bus. I went to the bus station (not as close to the train station as it looks on the map--allow time), ran into a bit of a line at the ticket counter, and took the advice of a passerby to just go down to the bus and buy a ticket from the driver. I am not sure that is always possible, and I'm quite certain I paid more than the going rate for the privilege, but I didn't miss the bus.
There are multiple companies making that run. The BusCroatia website lists a bunch of departures. You can check your planned travel date for specifics. I do see some variation in the trip length. I believe the shortest runs are 1:45.
The park gets overrun with daytrippers. To have a good visit, you really need to spend one night near the park so you can start your visit very early the next day. This may cost more than sleeping in Zagreb, but you really must do it. I believe there are some small guesthouses outside the park but close enough to visit easily; check websites like booking.com. Those would probably be quite a bit less expensive than a hotel room inside the park.
It might also help to visit Mon-Thu. My own visit on a Friday in late August was a mob scene. I didn't arrive until after 10 AM (really big mistake), and I waited over 1 hour in the ticket line. The walkways are only inches above the water so they don't bother with hand rails. There were solid streams of people walking in both directions on the walkways, and it would have been awfully easy for someone to end up with a broken wrist or twisted ankle after falling into the (very shallow) water. It was like being in a major museum on free-entry day. Actually, probably worse, because in museums the crowds are often confined to just a few rooms. Late May will probably be less crowded than late August, but here's the thing: the crowds could be 50% smaller than what I experienced and it would still be far too many people.
Plitvice is potentially a wonderful destination. Be sure you see it at its best.
Thanks, Acraven, we are hoping late May will be less crowded. Thank you for the great information you shared. Our plan is to spend the night and get up early the following day to beat the crowds. That was a great suggestion to do mid week and we'll shoot for that. Thanks again