Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia: The Complete Travel Guide Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia: The Complete Travel Guide

Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia: The Complete Travel Guide

In the mountainous region of Croatia, full of lush forests, stunning grasslands, and limestone rock, you’ll find the oldest and largest national park in the country: Plitvice Lakes. This incredible UNESCO site exudes natural beauty, with 16 different lakes, powerful waterfalls, and gorgeous greenery. Embark on one of the many hiking trails, paddle through the calm waters, and take in all the beautiful sights. Here’s everything you need to know about visiting Plitvice Lakes National Park in Croatia.

Visiting Plitvice Lakes National Park in Croatia

Plitvice Lakes is one of the most beautiful natural places we’ve ever seen in Europe! With 16 interconnected lakes and many waterfalls, you can roam this protected UNESCO park as long as you like.

Pass through the natural habitat of countless plant and animal species, making your way across wooden pathways amid the wilderness. Discover everything you need to know about visiting the magical Plitvice Lakes. 

Plitvice croatia wooden pathway

Things to do in Plitvice, Croatia

Plitvice Lakes National Park has many gems, from the stunningly blue lakes surrounded by vibrant greenery to plummeting falls. Hike over the beautiful wooden pathways through an exceptional landscape that draws in millions of visitors annually.

Good to know: Inside the park, you’ll also find two restaurants, three hotels, and a few toilet stops along the trails. 

1. The Lower Lakes

Inside a 40-meter-deep limestone gorge, you’ll find four small and relatively shallow lakes in Plitvice Lakes National Park. If you enter through entrance 1, these stunning waters will be the first you see. Walk across the famous wooden pathway, only stopping at the many viewpoints to take in the stunning sights.

lower lakes Plitvice national park croatia

When the sun hits the water, it turns into an incredible blue color – one of the most magical sights we’ve ever seen! Here, you can also see the little streams of water that slowly move between the greenery into the neighboring lakes.

waterfalls plitvice lakes national park croatia

2. The Upper Lakes

As you continue on one of the hiking routes through the park, you’re eventually greeted by the upper lakes, which are much more extensive than the lower ones. There are 12 in total, all with a beautiful deep green color and lots of surrounding vegetation. 

croatia plitvice national park upper lakes

Depending on what route you choose to take, you can walk around the Plitvice Lakes for hours. The water flows from the highest lake, Proscansko, down to Kozjak Lake, which is the last upper lake of the 12. Make your way over the wooden pathways that loop through the forest and past the edges of the lakes, admiring the different shades and tranquility of the environment here.   

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waterfall plitvice national park

3. Veliki Slap Waterfall

Right next to the lower lakes, plummeting from 78 meters high, you’ll find the Veliki Slap waterfall. Unlike the smaller falls of Plitvice Lakes National Park, this gem is fed by waters from the Potok River. The others are formed by excess water flowing from the upper lakes into the lower lakes.

veliki slap waterfall plitvice lakes national park croatia

The quickest way to get to the waterfall is to enter from entrance 1. Walk along the wooden path, up the stairs to the top of the waterfall, and look out over the impressive landscape. 

plitvice lakes national park croatia top view

4. Kozjak Lake

Lake Kozjak is the largest and deepest lake of all the Plitvice lakes. Known as the last of the Upper Lakes, it covers a total length of 2,35 kilometers and is about 48 meters deep. Though you can hike this distance around the lake, you can also take the small ferry across.

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Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia: The Complete Travel Guide
ferry kozjak lake plitvice lakes national park croatia

This scenic 15-minute ride is included in your entrance fee and allows you to admire the lake’s beautiful dark green color up close.

5. Kayaking on the Mreznica River (a must-do in Plitvice!)

Although swimming isn’t permitted in the protected UNESCO park, you can discover the region’s beauty in another adventurous way. Just north of the Plitvice Lakes lies the Mreznice River, an untouched slice of the landscape away from the masses. With the same beautiful colors as the lakes and several waterfalls, it makes the perfect location to go kayaking. 

Kayaking on the Mreznica River croatia

Together with a guide, make your way down the river, catching rapids every now and then. Jump off waterfalls or opt for a more relaxed route as you paddle through the stunning waters.

The starting point of the kayaking tour lies 40 minutes from the entrance of Plitvice Lakes and is easy to reach by car or bus. You can book a kayak tour in advance online. Don’t forget to bring your swimsuit and shoes that can get wet as you’ll be walking over rocks at times. 

veliki slap waterfall plitvice national park

How to Visit Plitvice Lakes National Park

Getting to Plitvice

Plitvice Lakes is one of the most popular activities to do on a Croatia road trip. With different transport options, the park makes an easy destination to get to from cities like Zagreb, Sibenik, or Split.

most beautiful national park croatia

By Car 

The most flexible way to get to the Plitvice Lakes is by car. Drive through Croatia’s stunning landscapes, making your way up into the mountains to finally reach the lush park. The roads are in fairly good condition, and traffic is limited outside cities, making it an easy ride. Depending on where you’re traveling from, it takes 2 – 3 hours of driving to get to Plitvice.  

By Bus 

If you’re traveling by public transport, you can also get to Plitvice Lakes by bus. From Split and Zagreb, daily buses go to Plitvice, with a few stops in between. Buses are fairly comfortable, with most of them air-conditioned. 

  • From Zagreb: 2 – 3 hours
  • From Zadar: 2 – 3 hours 
  • From Split: 3 – 5 hours

Organized Tour

Lastly, you also have the option to visit the stunning Plitvice Lakes National Park by joining an organized tour from one of Croatia’s cities. From booked transport to fully guided tours, there are plenty of options to choose from. 

Tours & Tickets 🥾View all

Getting Around Plitvice

To experience the natural beauty of Plitvice Lakes, you embark on one of the walking trails in the park. These routes have good signs, making sure you know exactly where to go. The trails are fairly easy, though lots of the wooden walkways don’t have any railing, so always pay attention.

Plitvice lakes national park croatia pathway

Entrances to the Park

There are two main entrances to the park, which you must choose between when booking a ticket. Entrance 1 lies just above the Lower Lakes, while the southern entrance (entrance 2) is right next to the Upper Lakes. At entrance 1, you’ll also find the powerful Veliki Slap waterfall, which you can admire from a viewing platform.  

viewpoint veliki slap waterfall plitvice national park

Choosing an entrance is especially good if you only want to see a part of the park. However, if you’re exploring all of Plitvice Lakes, we recommend choosing entrance 1, starting at the Lower Lakes, where it’s often a bit quieter.

Trails 

There are as many as 8 different routes you can choose between (4 at each entrance), ranging from 3 to 18 kilometers in distance. You can view a map at the entrance and follow the clearly marked signs throughout the park, looping past the stunning sights. 

hiking trails plitvice lakes national park croatia

We started from entrance 1 and did route C, which starts at the wonderful Veliki Slap waterfall and Lower Lakes. From there, you cross Kozjak Lake to the Upper Lakes and eventually take the visitor’s train back to entrance 1. This way, you can see all the sights without walking for a very long time. It took us about 5 hours, with lots of photo stops and a break for drinks in between. 

Entrance Fee & Opening Times

To be able to visit Plitvice Lakes National Park, you have to order your tickets in advance online via the park’s e-ticket system. Only a limited number of people are allowed into the park to preserve the incredible nature better, so it’s best to book online to avoid having no ticket. During the peak season, we recommend booking your tickets well in advance or a day trip from Split or Zadar. 

Tours & Tickets 🥾View all

You’ll have to select an entrance gate and a time you want to enter. This is so crowds are spread out throughout the day. After you enter, you can stay as long as you like. The entrance prices change per month:

Low season: Jan – Mar + Nov – Dec:

  • Adults: 10 EUR (11,25 USD)
  • Children 7 – 18: 4.50 EUR (5.05 USD)
  • Students: 6.50 EUR (7.50 USD)

Shoulder season: Apr, May + Oct:

  • Adults: 23.5 EUR (26.5 USD)
  • Children 7 – 18: 6.50 EUR (7.50 USD)
  • Students: 14.50 EUR (16 USD)

High season: Jun – Sept:

  • Adults: 40 EUR (44.5 USD)
  • Children 7 – 18: 16 EUR (18 USD)
  • Students: 25.00 EUR (27.50 USD)

The park is open year-round, though the hours differ per season. During the summer months, June – August, the park’s open between 7 AM – 8 PM, closing only an hour earlier in the fall (Sept-Oct). From November till March, the park’s open from 8 AM – 4 PM and from 8 AM – 7 PM in April and May.

Tips for Visiting Plitvice Lakes National Park

Plitvice Lakes is a must-see on your trip to Croatia and one of the most popular things to do. Here are some tips to make your visit to this incredible location unforgettable:

  • If you’re visiting during the high season, try to go as early as possible and book your ticket in advance through the park’s website. Be patient on the narrow trails as you share them with others. Crowds tend to go down after 3 PM. 
  • Plitvice Lakes can get very hot during midday, so come prepared with lightweight clothes, lots of water, sunscreen, and a good hat. 
  • There are only a few bins along the trails, so please keep your items with you. Leave no trace and stay on the marked trails in order to preserve this protected area. 
  • You won’t need any hiking gear, but do need good shoes! Don’t wear any flip-flops on the wooden trails.
  • It’s possible to visit with kids, but due to the pathways, you can’t bring a stroller. 
  • Go to the toilet before entering the park. Though there are a few inside Plitvice Lakes, they’re spread out, and routes may take a bit longer than you think.
plitvice national park restaurant

Where to Stay

Although you can visit Plitvice Lakes National Park on a day trip from cities like Zadar, Sibenik, or Split, it’s in a beautiful area worth exploring for a few days. There are a few hotels inside the park where you can stay the night before exploring the park. We stayed here next to the park entrance.

Alternatively, only a short drive away, you’ll find more options in Rastovača and cheaper options in Jezerce.

Best Time to Visit Plitvice Lakes

There’s no wrong time to see the incredible Plitvice Lakes, as every season offers a different sight over the protected area. Summer is the most popular time to visit the park, though it’s also the busiest time and a period with less rain (lower water levels). 

Best
Good
Mixed
Poor
🌦️
9°C
Jan
🌦️
11°C
Feb
🌦️
13°C
Mar
🌤
17°C
Apr
🌤
21°C
May
🌤
27°C
Jun
☀️
32°C
Jul
☀️
32°C
Aug
🌤
24°C
Sep
🌤
20°C
Oct
🌦️
15°C
Nov
🌧️
11°C
Dec

As it lies in the northern mountains, Plitvice has a different climate than its Mediterranean coast, with slightly cooler temperatures. In spring, the lakes will have more water and powerful falls. In autumn, colors change around the park; in winter, the greenery often sees a layer of snow, creating another magical experience. Note that parts of the park can have limited access when you visit outside of the summer period.

01/12/2023 https://www.saltinourhair.com/croatia/plitvice-lakes-national-park/
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