As someone who has been obsessed with Croatia since 2016, I can confidently say that Plitvice National Park is one of the most breathtaking natural wonders this country has to offer. With its cascading waterfalls, crystal-clear lakes, and lush greenery, it’s no wonder why Plitvice is one of Croatia’s most visited destinations.
But with its immense popularity also comes the challenge of navigating crowds and planning the perfect visit. That’s why I’ve put together the ultimate guide to visiting Plitvice National Park. I want to help you make the most of your trip and experience the park’s beauty in all its glory.
In this guide, I’ll be sharing tips on planning your visit and exploring the park’s stunning sights. I’ll also share practical advice on what to wear and bring. Lastly, I’ll mention some of my personal experiences and recommendations on attractions that you won’t want to miss.
So if you’re ready to embark on a journey through one of Croatia’s most iconic national parks, grab your hiking boots and let’s get started!
Want to read more about Croatia? You’re in luck! This post is a part of the Croatia series. Here is the complete 15-part series:
Krka National Park – The Ultimate Guide To Visiting Krka National Park, Croatia
Plitvice National Park – The Ultimate Guide To Visiting Plitvice National Park, Croatia
Plitvice vs Krka – Krka vs Plitvice National Park: Which One Should You Visit?
Mljet National Park – The Ultimate Guide To Visiting Mljet National Park, Croatia
An Overview of Plitvice National Park
Located in central Croatia, Plitvice National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is also one of the country’s most popular tourist destinations. The park is renowned for its interconnected system of 16 crystal-clear lakes and countless waterfalls that flow through a series of limestone canyons and forests.
One of the things that make Plitvice so unique is the abundance of wildlife and plant species that call this park home. From brown bears and lynx to rare bird species and plant life, there is no shortage of natural wonders to discover.
Exploring Plitvice National Park is an incredible adventure. There are plenty of trails and routes to choose from, catering to all levels of fitness and experience. Whether you’re looking for a leisurely stroll along the boardwalks or a more challenging hike through the forest, there’s something for everyone.
Know before you go
The best time to visit Plitvice National Park
If you’re looking to avoid crowds and have a more peaceful experience, the shoulder seasons of spring (April to May) and fall (September to October) are the ideal times to visit. During these times, you’ll be able to enjoy the park’s stunning scenery without being jostled by hordes of tourists. You’ll also have a better chance of spotting wildlife and taking beautiful photographs.
Looking to see the park’s famous waterfalls in all their glory? Then it’s best to visit during the rainy season, which typically lasts from October to May. During this time, the water levels in the lakes and waterfalls are at their highest. This creates a stunning spectacle that is truly unforgettable. Just keep in mind that the park can get muddy and slippery during this time. Be sure to wear sturdy shoes and bring rain gear.
On the other hand, if you prefer warmer weather and don’t mind the crowds, then the summer months (June to August) would be the perfect time to visit. The weather is sunny, and the park’s lush greenery is in full bloom, making for some truly stunning views. However, keep in mind that this is peak season, and the park gets crowded. Be prepared to navigate the crowds and possibly wait in line for some of the park’s most popular attractions.
Ultimately, the best time to visit Plitvice National Park depends on your preferences and priorities. Whether you’re looking to avoid the crowds, witness the stunning waterfalls, or soak up the summer sun, there’s a perfect time for you to visit this Croatian gem.
How to get to Plitvice National Park
Getting to Plitvice National Park is relatively easy. It is located in a central part of Croatia and is well-connected to the rest of the country. Here are some of the ways you can get to Plitvice:
By car – If you decide to rent a car in Croatia, driving to Plitvice National Park can be an adventure in itself. The park is easily accessible by road, and there are plenty of parking spaces available. The park has two entrances. You can access it from the main highway E71 (also known as the Zagreb-Split highway) by taking the exit for Plitvice Lakes.
By bus – There are regular bus services from major cities in Croatia, including Zagreb, Split, and Zadar, to Plitvice National Park. You can check schedules and buy tickets online or at the bus stations. The bus stops at both the lower and upper park entrances.
By train – If you’re coming from Zagreb, you can take a train to the nearby town of Slunj. The town is about 19 miles from the park. From Slunj, you can take a local bus or taxi to the park’s entrance.
By organized tour – Many tour companies offer day trips and multi-day tours to Plitvice National Park. These tours are a convenient option. They often include transportation, park entrance fees, and a guide to help you navigate the park. I went with this option and would recommend it to anyone visiting the park. It saves you from having to do a lot of the planning on your own.
Regardless of how you choose to get to Plitvice, be sure to plan ahead and check schedules. Transport options may vary depending on the season and demand. In addition, keep in mind that parking at the park can be limited during peak season. It’s best to arrive early if you’re driving.
What to bring to Plitvice National Park
Comfortable walking shoes: You’ll be doing a lot of walking on uneven terrain. That’s why it’s necessary to wear comfortable and sturdy shoes to avoid blisters and injuries.
Breathable clothing: Plitvice gets hot and humid during the summer. Wearing breathable, lightweight clothing will help keep you cool and dry.
Light jacket or raincoat: The weather in the park can be unpredictable, even during the summer. A light jacket or raincoat will help protect you from rain or chilly temperatures.
Small backpack to carry essentials: A small backpack will allow you to carry essential items. Pack your sunscreen, insect repellent, snacks, and plenty of water.
Sunscreen: The sun’s rays can be strong, especially during the summer, so protecting your skin from sunburns and skin damage is important.
Insect repellent: Mosquitoes and other bugs are everywhere in the park, especially near water, so it’s a good idea to bring insect repellent to avoid bites.
Plenty of water or water bottle: Staying hydrated is essential when visiting the park. This is especially important during the summer months when temperatures can soar.
Snacks: You’ll be doing a lot of walking, so it’s important to keep your energy levels up by bringing snacks such as granola bars, nuts, or fruit. My go-to travel snack, the WanderBar, is a protein bar made specifically for travelers and frequent flyers. I can’t get enough of the Cocoa Crunch flavor.
Camera or smartphone to capture memories and stunning scenery: Plitvice is known for its stunning scenery and wildlife, so bringing a camera or smartphone will allow you to capture memories and share them with others.
Admissions and fees
The admission fee is higher during the peak season from April to October than during the off-season from November to March. As of the time of writing this, the current ticket prices are as follows:
Adults: 300 Kuna (approximately $48 USD)
Children (7-18 years old): 120 Kuna (approximately $19 USD)
Children under 7 years old: Free
Adults: 450 Kuna (approximately $72 USD)
Children (7-18 years old): 180 Kuna (approximately $29 USD)
Children under 7 years old: Free
During the off-season (November – March), the prices are as follows:
Adults: 120 Kuna (approximately $19 USD)
Children (7-18 years old): 60 Kuna (approximately $10 USD)
Children under 7 years old: Free
Adults: 180 Kuna (approximately $29 USD)
Children (7-18 years old): 90 Kuna (approximately $14 USD)
Children under 7 years old: Free
The park also offers a variety of discount options, such as for groups of 15 or more people, students, and seniors. In addition, you can purchase tickets online or at the park entrances.
It’s important to note that the park has limited daily capacity and may sell out during peak season, so purchasing tickets in advance or arriving early in the morning is recommended. Also, remember that the admission fee grants access to the walking trails and shuttle buses within the park, but additional fees apply for activities such as guided tours, electric boat rides, and bicycle rentals.
Exploring Plitvice National Park
The main attractions
Plitvice National Park is famous for its breathtaking natural beauty and cascading lakes, waterfalls, and lush forests. The park is divided into two main areas: the Upper Lakes and the Lower Lakes. You can explore the park on a series of well-marked walking trails and wooden footbridges, offering stunning views of the park’s natural wonders.
One of my favorite things about Plitvice National Park is the interconnected lakes that seem to change color before your very eyes. Watching the water go from a deep blue to a sparkling turquoise as the light hits it just right is fascinating. I always recommend that you take your time to wander around the park’s numerous trails, take in the colors of the lakes, and let the beauty of the park wash over them.
Another attraction that I always make sure to visit is the Veliki Slap or Big Waterfall. This majestic waterfall is simply stunning and it’s always a thrill to stand at the foot of it and feel the cool mist on your face. The sound of the water crashing down and the surrounding greenery creates an idyllic natural setting that feels like something out of a fairytale.
For those who love hiking, the park has numerous trails that offer a variety of difficulty levels. My personal favorite is the trail that leads to the Supljara Cave. It’s a short hike, but it takes you through some of the most stunning parts of the park, and the cave itself is an impressive sight to behold.
The park is divided into two main areas: the Upper Lakes and the Lower Lakes. You can explore the park on a series of well-marked walking trails and wooden footbridges, offering stunning views of the park’s natural wonders.
Here are some of the main attractions of Plitvice National Park:
The park boasts 16 interconnected lakes, each with its unique color and character, ranging from turquoise to deep blue. The crystal clear waters of the lakes are so pure that you can see all the way to the bottom.
The park has numerous waterfalls, both small and large, with the most famous ones being the Veliki Slap (Big Waterfall) and Sastavci Waterfall. You can admire the waterfalls from the footbridges and viewpoints located throughout the park.
The park has a network of wooden footbridges that allow you to explore the lakes and waterfalls up close. The footbridges are built to blend in with the natural environment and offer spectacular views of the park’s attractions.
There are several caves in the park, the most famous of which is the Supljara Cave, which can be reached by a short hike from the P3 parking lot.
Flora and fauna
The park is home to a diverse range of plant and animal species, including brown bears, lynx, wolves, deer, and numerous bird species. You can also see a variety of rare and endemic plant species.
Boat rides: You can take a boat ride on Lake Kozjak, the largest lake in the park, and admire the surrounding scenery from a different perspective.
The best things to do in Plitvice National Park
As someone who has traveled extensively throughout Croatia and beyond, I can say with certainty that Plitvice National Park is one of the most beautiful and unique destinations in the country. Here are some of the best things to do in the park, based on my personal experiences:
Plitvice has a network of trails that offer a range of difficulty levels and take you through some of the most stunning parts of the park. I always recommend you take your time to explore the park’s trails and take in the beauty of the landscape. One of my favorite trails is the K route, which takes you through some of the park’s less crowded areas and offers stunning views of the lakes and waterfalls.
Plitvice is home to some of the most beautiful waterfalls in Croatia, and one of the best things to do in the park is to take the time to admire them. The Veliki Slap (Big Waterfall) is the most famous and most impressive of the park’s waterfalls, but there are many others to discover as well.
The park’s lakes are interconnected and you can take a boat ride between the upper and lower lakes, which is a fun and relaxing way to see the park from a different perspective.
Plitvice National Park is a photographer’s dream come true, with its stunning landscapes, waterfalls, and lakes. Whether you’re a professional photographer or just enjoy taking photos with your phone, the park offers endless opportunities to capture beautiful shots.
The park is home to a variety of wildlife, including deer, foxes, and even bears. While it’s rare to see bears in the park, there are many opportunities to spot other wildlife along the trails.
Practical tips for visiting Plitvice National Park
Visiting Plitvice National Park can be an unforgettable experience, but there are some practical tips to keep in mind to make sure you have a safe and enjoyable visit. Here are some tips from my personal experiences:
Wear comfortable and appropriate clothing
Plitvice has a lot of walking and hiking trails, so it’s important to wear comfortable shoes and clothing. I always wear hiking boots or sneakers and comfortable clothes that allow for easy movement. Also, make sure to bring a waterproof jacket if you’re visiting during the rainy season.
Stay on designated paths
To protect the delicate ecosystem of the park, the park authorities require you to stay on designated paths. While it can be tempting to venture off the trail to get a better view or a unique photo, doing so can damage the natural habitat and put you at risk of injury.
Bring plenty of water and snacks
Exploring the park can take several hours, so make sure to bring enough water and snacks to stay hydrated and energized. There are also restaurants and cafes within the park, but they attract large crowds during peak season.
Be aware of safety hazards
While the park is generally safe, there are some safety hazards to keep in mind. These include slippery rocks and steep stairs. Pay attention to signs and warnings and take extra caution during wet or icy conditions.
Respect wildlife. Sure, it’s exciting to see wildlife in the park, but it’s also important to keep a safe distance and not disturb their natural behavior. Never feed or approach wild animals and always respect their space.
Avoid peak season crowds
Plitvice can get quite crowded during peak season (July and August). If possible, try to visit during the shoulder season (May-June or September-October) when the crowds are smaller.
By following these tips, you can ensure a safe and enjoyable visit to Plitvice National Park and make the most out of your experience.
Where to stay near Plitvice National Park
Wondering where to stay when you visit Plitvice National Park? The closest towns to the park are Skradin, Lozovac, and Knin. These are the best-rated hotels listed on my go-to booking site, booking.com that are within 10 miles of Krka National Park.
I’ve been using booking.com to book accommodations, from hotels to all-inclusive resorts to apartments, since 2013. I’m now a Genius member, which means I get special discounts when I book accommodations through the site. The great thing about booking.com is that it rewards you for using the site with exclusive discounts. Check out these perfect hotels on booking.com that are within a short distance from Krka National Park and offer the nicest amenities.
Frequently asked questions
How much time should I spend at Plitvice Lakes?
I recommend spending at least a full day exploring the park. There are multiple walking trails that vary in length and difficulty, so the amount of time you spend in the park will depend on the trail you choose and your pace. However, to truly appreciate the park’s beauty and to have enough time to explore all the major attractions, a full day is ideal.
If you’re short on time, you can still get a good taste of the park in a half-day visit but keep in mind that you may have to skip some of the less popular trails and attractions. However, I would highly recommend avoiding a rushed visit and giving yourself ample time to fully immerse yourself in the natural beauty of the park.
Additionally, if you’re staying in the nearby area, you may want to consider spending a few days in the region to explore other nearby attractions, such as the nearby town of Rastoke or the historic city of Zadar.
Is Plitvice Lakes National Park worth visiting?
Absolutely! Plitvice Lakes National Park is one of the must-see destinations in Croatia. As a nature lover and traveler, I highly recommend visiting the park. The park offers a unique experience of walking through the forest and discovering the beauty of interconnected lakes and waterfalls. The crystal-clear water of the lakes and the sound of the waterfalls create a serene atmosphere that is perfect for relaxing and enjoying nature. The park is also home to a variety of flora and fauna, making it an excellent destination for wildlife enthusiasts.
How long is the Plitvice walk?
The Plitvice walk can take anywhere from 2-8 hours, depending on the route you choose and your pace. The shortest route, Route A, is about 2-3 hours long and covers a distance of 2.2 miles. The longest route, Route K, is about 8 hours long and covers a distance of 11.4 miles. Most visitors choose to take Route A or B, which takes about 3-4 hours to complete. However, I would recommend taking your time to explore the park and enjoy the scenery. Plan to spend at least half a day at the park to get the most out of your visit.
Do you need hiking boots for Plitvice?
Hiking boots are not absolutely necessary for a visit to Plitvice Lakes National Park. That said, I’d recommend wearing hiking boots or some other sturdy shoes. The trails can be uneven and rocky, and the terrain can be slippery at times, especially near the waterfalls. Hiking boots with good ankle support and a sturdy sole will provide better traction and help prevent injuries. Also, wearing comfortable and appropriate footwear can make the walk more enjoyable, especially if you plan to spend several hours exploring the park. So, if you have them, I would suggest bringing hiking boots. If you don’t, a comfortable pair of walking shoes with a good grip should suffice.
Are there toilets in Plitvice Lakes?
Yes, there are several toilets located throughout Plitvice Lakes National Park. You can find them near the park entrances, at major intersections of the hiking trails, and at the restaurants and cafes within the park. The toilets are well-maintained and clean, and they usually have toilet paper and running water. However, it is always a good idea to carry some tissues or wipes with you, just in case. Also, I would recommend using the toilets when you come across them during your hike, as some of the trails are quite long. There may not be toilets available for some time.
Do you need to book Plitvice Lakes in advance?
While it is not necessary to book your visit to Plitvice Lakes National Park in advance, I would highly recommend it. This is especially important if you’re visiting during the peak season (June to August). This is because the park gets crowded during this time. There may be long queues for tickets at the entrance. By booking your tickets in advance, you can avoid queues and save time. Additionally, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the park has implemented some new safety measures, including limiting the number of visitors per day. Therefore, if you want to guarantee your entry to the park on a specific date, it is best to book your tickets in advance. You can easily book your tickets online on the official Plitvice Lakes National Park website.
Can you drink tap water in Plitvice?
Yes, tap water in Plitvice Lakes National Park is safe to drink. The water in the park comes from the surrounding mountains and is filtered naturally, making it very clean and pure. In fact, the water in Plitvice Lakes is one of the main attractions of the park, with its crystal-clear blue and green colors. Therefore, you do not need to worry about bringing bottled water with you when you visit the park. Just bring a refillable water bottle and fill it up at one of the many drinking water fountains throughout the park.
Does Plitvice have food?
Yes, there are several places to eat within Plitvice Lakes National Park. There are several restaurants, cafes, and snack bars scattered throughout the park, serving a variety of food and drinks. You can find traditional Croatian dishes, such as cevapi and grilled fish, as well as more international options, such as pizza and sandwiches. There are also picnic areas throughout the park where you can bring your own food and enjoy a meal surrounded by the natural beauty of the park.
Can you do Plitvice Lakes in a day?
Yes, it’s possible to visit and explore Plitvice Lakes National Park in one day. While the park is quite large and there is a lot to see, if you arrive early and plan your route efficiently, you can see the main attractions and highlights in a day. I’d recommended starting early in the morning and allow at least 6-8 hours to explore the park. However, if you have the time, it’s also worth considering spending more than one day in the park to fully immerse yourself in the natural beauty and take your time to explore the various trails and attractions at a more leisurely pace.
Can you swim in Plitvice waterfalls?
Swimming is not allowed at Plitvice Lakes National Park, including the waterfalls. The park has strict regulations in place to protect the natural environment and preserve the clear waters of the lakes and waterfalls. You are not allowed to swim, dive, or fish in the waters, and there are no designated swimming areas or facilities in the park. The focus is on preserving the park’s natural beauty and ensuring that future generations can continue to enjoy it.
Travel Essentials I Can’t Live Without
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