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Tips For Visiting Plitvice Lakes In Croatia


Modified: December 28, 2023

by Alena Moody



Welcome to one of Croatia’s most breathtaking natural wonders – the Plitvice Lakes. Nestled in the heart of the country, this enchanting national park is a true paradise for nature lovers and adventure seekers alike. With its cascading waterfalls, crystal-clear turquoise lakes, and lush greenery, Plitvice Lakes offers a magical escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.


Recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage site, Plitvice Lakes is renowned for its unique system of interconnected lakes and waterfalls. Spanning over 73,000 acres, the park is a haven for wildlife and boasts an incredible diversity of flora and fauna. Whether you’re an avid hiker, a wildlife enthusiast, or simply in search of tranquility and natural beauty, Plitvice Lakes promises an unforgettable experience.


In this guide, we’ll provide you with valuable tips and insider knowledge to help you make the most of your visit to Plitvice Lakes. From how to get there and the best time to visit, to what to pack and where to stay, we’ve got you covered. So, grab your camera, lace up your hiking boots, and let’s embark on an adventure of a lifetime at Plitvice Lakes!


Getting to Plitvice Lakes

Located in central Croatia, Plitvice Lakes is easily accessible from both Zagreb, the capital city, and Zadar, a popular coastal destination. Here are the main transportation options to reach the park:

  1. By Car: If you prefer the freedom and flexibility of a car, you can rent one and drive to Plitvice Lakes. From Zagreb, take the E71 highway southbound, and the journey will take around two hours. From Zadar, head northeast on the D1 road, and the drive will take approximately one and a half hours. The park has ample parking facilities available.
  2. By Bus: Croatia has an excellent network of buses, and you can easily reach Plitvice Lakes from major cities. Several companies operate daily routes to and from the park. The bus journey from Zagreb takes around two and a half hours, while from Zadar, it takes two hours.
  3. By Train: While there is no direct train service to Plitvice Lakes, you can take a train to one of the nearby towns such as Karlovac or Ogulin and then transfer to a bus to reach the park. Train travel in Croatia is comfortable and offers scenic views along the way.
  4. By Guided Tour: If you prefer a hassle-free experience, you can join a guided tour to Plitvice Lakes. Many tour operators offer day trips from Zagreb or Zadar, which include transportation, entrance tickets, and a knowledgeable guide to enhance your visit.

Once you arrive at Plitvice Lakes, there are several entrances to choose from. Entrance 1 and Entrance 2 are the most popular, as they provide access to the main trails and attractions. It’s recommended to check the park’s official website for the latest information on entrance fees and opening hours.


As you reach the park, prepare to be mesmerized by the natural beauty that awaits you. Strap on your walking shoes, pack your camera, and get ready to explore the awe-inspiring landscapes of Plitvice Lakes.


Best Time to Visit

Plitvice Lakes is a year-round destination, each season offering a unique and captivating experience. Here’s a breakdown of the best time to visit based on the different seasons:

  1. Spring (April to June): Spring brings fresh blooms and vibrant colors to Plitvice Lakes. The weather is mild, and the park is not as crowded as during the peak summer months. It’s an ideal time for photographers and nature enthusiasts to capture the lush greenery and cascading waterfalls.
  2. Summer (July to August): The summer months are the busiest time at Plitvice Lakes, as tourists flock to enjoy the warm weather and longer days. The lakes glisten under the sunlight, and the foliage is at its fullest. Be prepared for larger crowds and consider visiting early in the morning or in the late afternoon to avoid peak hours.
  3. Fall (September to October): Fall is a magical time to visit Plitvice Lakes when the leaves change into a palette of red, yellow, and orange hues. The weather is mild, and the park’s trails are adorned with the colors of autumn. The crowds start to thin out, making it a peaceful time to explore.
  4. Winter (November to March): Plitvice Lakes in winter is a completely different experience. The landscape is transformed into a winter wonderland, with frozen waterfalls and snow-covered trees. The park is less crowded, providing a serene ambiance for those seeking solitude. However, be prepared for colder temperatures and check for possible trail closures due to ice or snow.

Ultimately, the best time to visit Plitvice Lakes depends on your personal preferences. If you prefer mild weather and fewer crowds, consider visiting during the shoulder seasons of spring and fall. But if you don’t mind the higher visitor numbers and want to experience the vibrant atmosphere, then summer is the time for you. Just be sure to plan ahead and book your accommodation and tickets in advance, especially during the peak tourist season.


No matter when you decide to visit, Plitvice Lakes will leave you spellbound with its natural beauty and tranquility. So, choose a time that suits you best, and get ready for an unforgettable journey amidst the wonders of this Croatian national park.


Entrance Tickets and Trails

When visiting Plitvice Lakes, it’s important to familiarize yourself with the entrance ticket options and the various trails available. Here’s what you need to know:


Entrance Tickets: To enter the national park, you will need to purchase an entrance ticket. Tickets can be bought online in advance or at the park’s entrances. There are different ticket types available, including one-day tickets and two-day tickets for extended visits. The prices vary depending on the time of year, with higher rates during the peak season. It’s advisable to check the official website for up-to-date information on ticket prices and availability.


Trails: Plitvice Lakes offers several well-marked trails that allow you to explore the park’s stunning landscapes. Each trail has different lengths and difficulty levels, catering to a range of hiking abilities. Here are some of the main trails:

  1. Route A: This is the shortest and easiest route, ideal for visitors with limited time or those who prefer a leisurely stroll. It takes approximately 2-3 hours to complete and covers the lower lakes area, showcasing the park’s famous waterfalls.
  2. Route B: Route B is a longer trail that will take you around 3-4 hours to hike. It covers both the lower and upper lakes, offering a more comprehensive experience of Plitvice Lakes.
  3. Route C: For a more challenging hike, opt for Route C. This trail combines the lower and upper lakes, as well as a detour to a panoramic viewpoint. It takes around 4-6 hours to complete, depending on your pace and the number of stops along the way.
  4. Route K: Route K is a combination of the park’s trails A, B, and C, providing a full-day hiking adventure. This route allows you to experience Plitvice Lakes in its entirety, including the most picturesque spots and hidden gems of the park.

Each trail is marked with signposts and has designated viewpoints and resting areas. It’s important to follow the designated paths and respect the park’s rules and regulations to preserve the natural ecosystem.


Keep in mind that swimming is not allowed in the lakes, as it is essential for maintaining the park’s delicate ecosystem. However, there are designated picnic areas where you can enjoy a meal amidst the scenic surroundings.


With the diverse range of trails available, you can choose the one that suits your fitness level and time constraints. Whichever trail you decide to embark on, be prepared for breathtaking views, enchanting waterfalls, and an unforgettable adventure in the heart of Plitvice Lakes.


What to Pack

When preparing for your visit to Plitvice Lakes, it’s essential to pack the right items to ensure a comfortable and enjoyable experience. Here’s a list of items to consider:

  1. Comfortable Walking Shoes: The park’s trails can be uneven and slippery at times, so make sure you have sturdy, comfortable walking shoes or hiking boots. This will provide the necessary support and help protect your feet.
  2. Weather-Appropriate Clothing: Check the weather forecast before your visit and dress accordingly. Layered clothing is recommended as the temperature can fluctuate throughout the day. Bring a waterproof jacket or poncho in case of rain.
  3. Sun Protection: Protecting yourself from the sun is crucial, especially during the summer months. Pack a wide-brimmed hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen with a high SPF to shield yourself from the sun’s rays.
  4. Insect Repellent: While the park is generally free of mosquitoes, it’s still a good idea to bring insect repellent, especially if you’re visiting during the warmer months.
  5. Water and Snacks: Staying hydrated is essential during your visit to Plitvice Lakes, so carry a reusable water bottle. It’s also a good idea to pack some snacks to keep your energy levels up, such as granola bars or fruits.
  6. Camera or Binoculars: Plitvice Lakes is a photographer’s paradise, so don’t forget to bring your camera to capture the breathtaking landscapes and wildlife. Binoculars can also come in handy for observing birds and other wildlife from a distance.
  7. Backpack: A comfortable backpack is essential for carrying your belongings, such as water, snacks, camera, and extra layers of clothing. Choose one with adjustable straps and good back support.
  8. Cash or Credit Card: While there are ATMs and card payment facilities in the park, it’s always a good idea to carry some cash for any unexpected expenses or small purchases.
  9. Map or Guidebook: While the park is well-marked, having a map or guidebook can enhance your understanding of the park’s layout and provide valuable information about its history and features.
  10. Respect for Nature: Lastly, it’s important to pack an attitude of respect for the environment. Make sure to bring a reusable water bottle and avoid single-use plastic items. Follow the park’s rules and stay on designated trails to minimize your impact on the delicate ecosystem.

Packing these essential items will ensure that you have a comfortable and enjoyable visit to Plitvice Lakes. Being prepared will allow you to fully immerse yourself in the natural beauty of the park and create memories that will last a lifetime.


Exploring the Lakes

Exploring the picturesque lakes of Plitvice is the highlight of any visit to the national park. Here are some tips to make the most of your experience:


Follow the designated paths: Plitvice Lakes has well-marked trails and boardwalks that guide visitors through the park’s stunning landscapes. It’s important to stay on the designated paths to protect the delicate ecosystem and ensure your safety.


Take your time: The park is vast, and there are plenty of breathtaking sights to admire. Don’t rush through the trails; take your time to soak in the beauty of the cascading waterfalls, turquoise lakes, and lush surroundings. Stop at the viewpoints along the way to capture memorable photos.


Visit the viewpoints: Plitvice Lakes offers several viewpoints that provide panoramic vistas of the lakes and waterfalls. Don’t miss spots like Veliki Slap, the tallest waterfall in Croatia, or Prošćansko Lake, known for its tranquil beauty. These viewpoints offer a different perspective and allow you to appreciate the park’s grandeur.


Experience the boat ride: Take a break from walking and hop on one of the park’s electric boats to cross the larger lakes. This short boat ride will not only offer a different perspective but also provide a chance to rest your legs and admire the scenery from the water.


Be prepared for crowds: Plitvice Lakes can get busy, especially during the peak summer months. If you prefer a quieter experience, try visiting early in the morning or late in the afternoon when the crowds are smaller. Explore the less crowded sections of the park, away from the main entrances.


Respect the wildlife: Plitvice Lakes is not only famous for its stunning scenery but also for its abundant wildlife. Keep your eyes open for various bird species, fish, and even occasional sightings of deer and other animals. Remember to respect their natural habitat and observe from a distance without disturbing them.


Listen to the sounds of nature: One of the most enchanting aspects of Plitvice Lakes is the soothing sounds of cascading waterfalls and rustling leaves. Take moments to pause, close your eyes, and immerse yourself in the harmony of nature’s symphony. It’s a rejuvenating experience that adds to the overall enchantment of the park.


Remember to carry all your belongings with you, including any trash, to help keep the park clean and preserve its natural beauty. Enjoy every step of your journey as you explore the lakes, capturing the essence of Plitvice’s mesmerizing allure.


Wildlife and Nature

Plitvice Lakes is not only a haven for stunning waterfalls and crystal-clear lakes but also a thriving ecosystem teeming with wildlife and diverse flora. Here’s a glimpse into the wildlife and nature you can expect to encounter during your visit:


Avian Paradise: The park is home to over 160 bird species, making it a true haven for birdwatchers. Keep an eye out for the vibrant European Bee-eaters, elusive Kingfishers, and regal Golden Eagles. The melodious songs of these feathered creatures fill the air and add to the park’s enchanting atmosphere.


Underwater Wonders: Plitvice’s lakes are not just visually captivating but also home to a variety of fish species. Look closely, and you might spot Brown Trout, European Chub, or Danube Salmon swimming beneath the crystal-clear waters. These thriving fish populations are crucial to maintaining the ecological balance of the lakes.


Flourishing Flora: As you explore the trails, you’ll be surrounded by a rich tapestry of plant life. Plitvice Lakes boasts over a thousand different plant species, including mosses, ferns, and orchids. Depending on the time of year, you may be greeted by vibrant wildflowers in full bloom, adding pops of color to the verdant landscapes.


Elusive Wildlife: While sightings are not guaranteed, the park is also home to a range of mammal species. Keep a keen eye out for European Brown Bears, wolves, foxes, and elusive lynx. These creatures are rare to spot, but their presence adds to the wild and untouched nature of Plitvice Lakes.


Rare Butterflies: Plitvice is a hotspot for butterfly enthusiasts, as it is a habitat for numerous species. The park is home to rare and elusive butterflies such as the Apollo, Swallowtail, and Brimstone. Witnessing these delicate creatures fluttering from flower to flower is a true delight for nature lovers.


Unique Karst Landscape: Plitvice Lakes is situated in a karst landscape, characterized by its porous limestone formations. This geological wonder contributes to the creation of the park’s stunning waterfalls and lakes. The ever-changing karst processes continue to shape the landscape, making Plitvice a dynamic and evolving natural masterpiece.


It’s important to approach the wildlife with respect and observe from a distance to ensure their safety and the preservation of their habitat. Keep in mind that feeding, touching, or approaching the animals is strictly prohibited.


As you navigate the trails of Plitvice Lakes, take the time to appreciate the interconnectedness of nature and the delicate balance that allows this thriving ecosystem to exist. The combination of stunning landscapes and abundant wildlife makes Plitvice Lakes an unrivaled destination for nature enthusiasts and conservationists alike.


Nearby Attractions

While Plitvice Lakes alone offers a magnificent natural experience, there are several other captivating attractions in the surrounding area that you can explore. Here are some nearby attractions to consider visiting during your trip:


Rastoke: Located just a short drive from Plitvice Lakes, Rastoke is a picturesque village known for its charming watermills and cascading waterfalls. Explore the wooden bridges that span the Slunjčica River, walk along the enchanting pathways, and admire the idyllic setting of this hidden gem.


Barać Caves: Venture underground and explore the spellbinding Barać Caves, located about 30 kilometers from Plitvice Lakes. Embark on a guided tour through the labyrinth of caverns, marveling at the striking stalactites and stalagmites that adorn the cave walls.


Špancirfest: If you happen to visit in late August, head to the town of Varaždin for Špancirfest, a vibrant street festival that fills the cobblestone streets with art, music, and cultural performances. Immerse yourself in the lively atmosphere and enjoy the delights of this annual event.


Medieval Town of Karlovac: Take a day trip to the historic town of Karlovac, known for its well-preserved medieval fortifications and picturesque riverside promenades. Explore the Old Town, visit the Museum of Karlovac, and enjoy a leisurely stroll along the banks of the Kupa River.


Una National Park: Cross the border into Bosnia and Herzegovina and discover the stunning Una National Park. This pristine park is renowned for its emerald-green river, dramatic waterfalls, and untouched landscapes. Enjoy outdoor activities such as rafting, hiking, and wildlife spotting.


Zadar: Extend your exploration to the coast and visit the city of Zadar, located around 2 hours away from Plitvice Lakes. Discover the unique Sea Organ, an architectural masterpiece that creates music from the waves, and visit the Roman Forum and St. Donatus Church in the Old Town.


Karlovac Beer Festival: If you’re a beer enthusiast, plan your visit in July when Karlovac holds its annual beer festival. Sample a wide variety of local and international beers, enjoy live music, and experience the vibrant atmosphere of this lively event.


These nearby attractions offer a diverse range of experiences, from natural wonders to cultural delights. Whether you choose to stay close to Plitvice Lakes or venture further afield, you’ll find an abundance of exploration opportunities that will enhance your visit to this magnificent region of Croatia.


Accommodation Options

Plitvice Lakes and its surrounding area offer a variety of accommodation options to suit different preferences and budgets. Here are some choices to consider for your stay:


Hotels and Resorts: There are several hotels and resorts within close proximity to Plitvice Lakes, offering convenience and comfort. These establishments provide amenities such as spacious rooms, on-site restaurants, and sometimes even spa facilities. Staying at a hotel or resort allows you to relax and rejuvenate after a day of exploring the park.


Guesthouses and B&Bs: For a more intimate and homely experience, consider booking a guesthouse or bed and breakfast. These accommodations are usually family-run and offer a cozy atmosphere with personalized service. You can expect comfortable rooms and a delicious homemade breakfast to start your day off right.


Apartments and Villas: If you prefer a bit more independence and privacy, renting an apartment or villa near Plitvice Lakes can be a great choice. This option is ideal for families or groups, as it provides more space and often includes amenities like a kitchenette or a full kitchen, allowing you to prepare your own meals.


Campsites: For nature enthusiasts and campers, there are campsites available near Plitvice Lakes. These campsites offer a closer connection to nature and a more budget-friendly option. Facilities at the campsites typically include basic amenities such as toilets, showers, and cooking areas.


Private Villas and Holiday Homes: If you’re looking for a luxurious and exclusive stay, private villas and holiday homes in the Plitvice Lakes area provide a high level of comfort and privacy. These accommodations often come with amenities like private pools, gardens, and stunning views, offering an unforgettable vacation experience.


When choosing your accommodation, it’s advisable to book in advance, especially during the peak tourist season, to secure your preferred option. Consider factors such as location, amenities, and reviews from previous guests to find the accommodation that best fits your needs.


Regardless of the type of accommodation you choose, the proximity to Plitvice Lakes ensures that you can easily access the park and maximize your time exploring its natural wonders. Rest assured, after a day of adventure, you’ll have a comfortable retreat to relax and recharge for the next day’s explorations.


Safety Tips

As you embark on your adventure to Plitvice Lakes, it’s important to prioritize your safety and well-being. Here are some essential safety tips to keep in mind:


Stay on designated paths: The park has well-marked trails and boardwalks for a reason. It’s crucial to stick to these designated paths to ensure your safety and protect the sensitive ecosystem of the park. Venturing off-trail can be dangerous and may result in accidents or damage to the surroundings.


Wear appropriate footwear: Plitvice Lakes’ trails can be uneven and slippery, particularly near waterfalls or after rain. It’s essential to wear sturdy, comfortable walking shoes or hiking boots with good traction to prevent slips and falls. Avoid wearing flip-flops or unsuitable footwear.


Drink plenty of water: Staying hydrated is key, especially during warm weather and when engaging in physical activity. Carry a reusable water bottle and drink regularly to prevent dehydration. There are also several drinking water fountains available in the park for refilling your bottle.


Be cautious around water: While the lakes’ turquoise waters may be enticing, it’s crucial to remember that swimming is strictly prohibited. The water may appear calm, but strong undercurrents can pose a risk. Enjoy the beauty of the lakes from the designated viewpoints and respect the rules to ensure your safety.


Protect yourself from the sun: The Croatian sun can be intense, especially during the summer months. Protect your skin and eyes by wearing sunscreen with a high SPF, a wide-brimmed hat, and sunglasses. Consider seeking shade during the hottest hours of the day to avoid sunburn and heat-related issues.


Keep an eye on children: If you’re visiting Plitvice Lakes with children, it’s important to supervise them closely throughout your visit. The park’s terrain can be challenging for little ones, and they should never wander off alone or play near the edges of waterfalls or cliffs.


Respect wildlife: While the park is home to various wildlife species, it’s crucial to observe them from a distance and never attempt to approach or feed them. Do not litter or leave any food scraps behind, as it can disrupt their natural behavior and impact their health. Keep wildlife wild by maintaining a respectful distance.


Check the weather conditions: Before heading to Plitvice Lakes, check the weather forecast and be prepared for possible changes in conditions. It’s advisable to bring appropriate clothing layers, as weather conditions can vary throughout the day. Be cautious during inclement weather, as paths may become slippery.


Follow park regulations: Familiarize yourself with the park’s regulations and follow them diligently. These guidelines are in place to protect both visitors and the natural environment. Be mindful of any signage and instructions provided by park authorities.


Inform someone of your plans: If you’re exploring the park alone or venturing off the main trails, inform someone of your plans. Let a friend or family member know your expected route and estimated time of return for added safety and peace of mind.


By adhering to these safety tips, you’ll ensure a secure and enjoyable visit to Plitvice Lakes. Remember that nature can be unpredictable, so always prioritize your well-being and respect the park’s rules, allowing for a memorable and safe adventure.



A visit to Plitvice Lakes is an unforgettable journey into the heart of Croatia’s natural beauty. From the mesmerizing waterfalls to the tranquil turquoise lakes, this national park offers a true haven for outdoor enthusiasts, photographers, and nature lovers alike.


By following the tips and information provided in this guide, you can make the most of your visit to Plitvice Lakes. Whether you’re hiking along the well-marked trails, capturing breathtaking photos, or simply immersing yourself in the serenity of the surroundings, each step will be filled with wonder and awe.


Remember to plan your visit and book accommodations and entrance tickets in advance, especially during the peak tourist season. Pack appropriately for the weather conditions and respect the park’s rules and regulations to help preserve its pristine beauty for future generations.


As you explore Plitvice Lakes, take the time to appreciate the interconnectedness of nature and the delicate balance that sustains this remarkable ecosystem. Listen to the soothing sounds of cascading waterfalls, gaze at the vibrant flora, and keep an eye out for the diverse wildlife that calls this park home.


Whether you choose to visit during the blooming colors of spring, the vibrant energy of summer, the enchanting hues of autumn, or the serene beauty of winter, Plitvice Lakes promises an immersive experience that will leave a lasting impression.


So, pack your bags, embark on an adventure, and prepare to be captivated by the magical landscapes and natural wonders of Plitvice Lakes. It’s time to create memories that will stay with you long after you bid farewell to this Croatian paradise.