8 things you should know about Plitvice lakes, Croatia (2018 Update)

Plitvice lakes national park great view

Are you thinking about visiting Croatia for the first time?

If so, I am a bit jealous, because you are about be charmed by one of the most beautiful countries on Earth! Croatia has countless spots to visit!

In this post, let’s talk about the famous Plitvice Lakes National Park in Croatia. If you need help planning your Croatian vacation, you can read about it here.

Here is what you’ll find in this post:

Have you heard about the amazing Croatia waterfalls? If so, Plitvice Lakes National Park should be on your Croatian bucket list for sure!

Plitvice lakes Turquoise water

Plitvice lakes (Plitvička Jezera) was the number 1 place I wanted to visit in Croatia!

That is why after just 1 day in Zagreb, I left the hustle and bustle of the city and headed to this amazing natural ensemble of Plitvice waterfalls.

8 things you should know about Plitvice lakes2

And I did not regret my decision. Why?

Hopefully, you will understand soon just by looking at the pictures below.

But to make everything clear for you, let me answer some frequently asked questions here:

1. What are those lakes and why should I even bother going to Plitvice park, Croatia?

Waterfalls in Plitvice lakes

Plitvice is an ensemble of 16 natural lakes. It is a UNESCO heritage site due to its breathtaking views, its fauna and the unique turquoise waters.

Plitvička Jezera National Park is located in the middle of the country and is about 130 km from the capital, Zagreb. It is great, as it makes it easy to visit in a day trip from Zagreb and from Split.

2. How many days should I stay in Plitvice lakes?

Plitvice lakes park Turquoise water

It depends on what you are looking for and how tight your schedule is.

For instance, if you want to simply check the place off from your to-do list, or, if you are on a tight schedule, it is totally doable in 1 day. As I mentioned above, there are plenty of day trips offered from Zagreb or Split, so that would not be a problem.

But if you ask me, 1 day would be a bit rushed in my opinion, you will not be able to enjoy it to the fullest. I stayed overnight in the park, and 2 days seemed just perfect for me!

On the other hand, if you want to do some extra activities (read below) and have a relaxed schedule, why not to stay there for 3 days? You will not get bored, I promise!

PRO TIP: Try to start your park visit in the early morning – you will take amazing pictures and will walk the park without the crowd. It is completely different atmosphere without tourists!

NOTE: Wondering about the Plitvice lakes opening hours? The park is open 365 days a year and the entrance times are between 7 am and 8 pm.

3. How much is the entrance?

Plitvice lakes national park girl

I often get asked what is the Plitvice Lakes National Park entrance fee. They have different packages depending on how many days you want to stay, the season and your age. The most expensive ticket for an adult during the high season for 1 day is 250 HRK (~34 EUR). In order to save on your Plitvice lakes tickets, you can go after August (off season), or get a 2-days ticket. Don’t forget to take your student ID if you are a student (your entrance is 160 HRK or 22 EUR in this case).

If you want to discover this UNESCO World Heritage Site with an expert guide, it is about 100 EUR for a group up to 50 people (good deal!)

Note that all the transportation INSIDE the park is included in your ticket. There are ferries and a small train that will take you from one side of the park to the other.

The food is not included, however, there are plenty of restaurants on station points, where you can get a snack or a full meal.

Alternatively, you can take sandwiches with you and organize a nice picnic with an amazing view to the lakes! Beware of geese and ducks, they will want a part of your lunch! 😉

PRO TIP: to save your time in queuing –  there are two entrances. Plitivce Lakes Entrance 1 can get a bit crowded during touristic season. Just head your way to Plitvice Entrance 2, it is close, and there are way less people there.

4. Where do I get the best picture of Plitvice lakes?

5 Plitvice lakes postcard view2

If you have already surfed the Internet and saw pictures of the lakes, you probably have seen the picture above, right?

But the problem with this view is that is not really obvious how to get there, there are no arrows saying “This way to the amazing post-card like view”. So, where the hell is this view and how to get there?

No worries, I investigated everything for you! 😉 I was unsuccessfully searching for it and eventually, I just pointed on the ticket (there was a photo of that view too) and asked the staff how to get there. You can do that too, but let give you a small instruction just to make it easier. Make sure to go there, this is the best view to the lakes!

The lookout spot is called Veliki Slap. There are no signs directing you, but the place is stunning!

TEMPORARY UPDATE May 2018: If you scroll down, you will see that people in the comments (as of May 2018) say that the usual path is closed for maintainance, but thanks to my awesome readers, we know that there are other simple ways to reach that spot:

  1. If you take Plitvice Lakes Entrance 2, once you are downstairs at the river, take the boat to the other side(2 minutes).
    Once on the other side just follow the path upstairs, can’t miss it. These are the upper lakes and the most beautiful waterfalls
  2. You can easily reach that spot by car by searching for “Veliki Slap” in your Google Maps

After you pass by the Big waterfall, (that has a tremendous amount of tourists by the way),

-> go up the stairs that are located on the right of the waterfall,

-> follow the road for about 5 mins (you will see the Big waterfall from up) until you go to an asphalt road.

-> Turn right there and walk straight (2-3 mins) until you pass a wooden bridge,

->then turn right after the bridge and, voila!, you will see THE view!

When I was there, there were 3 other people only, so basically you have the view only for yourself! How amazing is that? Now you know too, but tsss! 😉

5. How do I get around in the national park?

The territory of Plitvice lakes is huge and you definitely cannot go around the whole park by walking. That is why there is a special transfer service that will take you from point A to point B either by ferry or by train.

Here is the Plitvice lakes map so that you understand it better:

map Plitvice lakes

As you can see in the Plitvice map above, there are certain routes for getting to the different points in the park. The transport runs according to the schedule, the frequency depends on how busy the park is.

I waited in line for a maximum of 20 minutes, so do not worry about standing in lines for ages! (Yes, avoiding lines are very important for me, I wrote a great post about how to avoid lines in Paris).

By the way, if you want to visit the park with your dog, it is not a problem, I have seen many people walking in the park with their dogs.

6. How to get to Plitvice Lakes National Park?

Plitvice Vidikovac view

Unfortunately, there are no trains to Plitvice lakes, Croatia, so I could not use my Eurail pass.

During the 30 days I was touring Europe by train and visited 6 countries and countless cities. Read here if it was worth the money!

The best option to go around the whole Croatia is definitely to rent a car. The roads are great and you get to see some truly breathtaking coastal views! In the case of Plitvice lakes, it is also easy, many people arrive with the car, the parking lots are available everywhere! Check the rates and today’s discounts for a car hire here.

If you don’t want to rent a car, here are some awesome (and convenient) door-to-door tours depending on where you are coming from:

Are you in Croatia, searching for a bus from Zagreb to Plitvice lakes, for example? You should know that there are many buses departing from all the major Croatian cities that are quite cheap and they run very often. You can see the schedule and buy tickets online here. Keep in mind, however, that you will have to pay a small luggage fee similar to the one you pay to low-cost airlines (from 7 to 10 kunas, ~1 Eur). You can usually save about 5% by booking your ticket online for bus companies like Autotrans. They also have Wi-FI on board by the way!

NOTE: the fee for the parking is 7 kunas/hour (1,3 Euros)

7. When is the best time to visit Plitvice lakes?

Plitvice lakes pathes

When you can, seriously, as Plitvice weather is mostly nice and welcoming. I have been there in early October, the weather was still nice and the water was incredibly turquoise. But every season is different in its beauty. Think of visiting Plitvice in the winter? I bet it looks gorgeous covered in snow as well!

In short, does not matter when, just go there, don’t miss the chance! 🙂

Whichever the season, hiking shoes are not obligatory because the road is nicely done and you will be just fine wearing normal shoes. But remember, as Plitvice national park is located in the mountain area, it gets pretty cold in the evening, so, don’t forget to take warm clothes!

8. Can you swim in Plitvice Lakes?

Are you in the mood for some Plitvice lakes swimming? Unfortunately for you, swimming in forbidden in the park ever since 2006. But I got some good news, too! In case you really want to swim in some wonderful, turquoise water, you can do so in Krka waterfall National Park in Dalmatia. This park is only 2 hours away from Plitvice and you can bathe there for how long you please, although you can’t actually swim under the waterfalls.

So, Krka or Plitvice? My answer is: both, if you have the time!

Both parks have stunning waterfalls, views and nature, but different atmospheres. If you really want to swim, then you should add Krka to your itinerary as well 🙂

Where to stay in Plitvice Lakes National Park?

UPDATE: In case you are searching for hotels near Plitvice Lakes, I have written a blog post about the Best hotels to stay around Plitvice Lakes – they are all hand-picked, have fabulous reviews and sorted by price for your convenience, enjoy! 🙂

Villa Mukiunja hotel PlitviceThere are more and more accommodations around the national park, home-stays are popping up like mushrooms after the rain!

I stayed in Villa Mukinja, which I can definitely recommend, it is one of the best places to stay in and the perfect Plitvice accommodation!

This family run hotel is open for more than 30 years. It was there even before the tourist boom and it has a great value for money! My room was spacious and clean, all amenities needed were provided.

The dinner is an extra option, but you will miss so much if you opt out, local food is a part of the Plitvice experience! You will get an AMAZING dinner that you will remember for a long time! What I had for my dinner was an appetizer (could have been easily a dinner by itself), a salad, a soup, one of the 3 local specialties of your choice (fresh catch of the day, meat dish or a vegetarian plate) and a dessert. Crazy!

Villa Mukinja Plitvice lakes

Everything I wanted to do afterwards is to melt in Jacuzzi and relax in the sauna, which is free of charge for all Villa Mukinja guests.

The breakfast was the same huge, I don’t think I have ever had a bigger breakfast anywhere else! Just to give you an example –  me alone, I had 5 pitchers of different types of drinks – a pitcher of milk, tea, coffee, water and juice. Did they seriously think I could drink it all by myself?

The owner told me that if their guests stay for 2 days or longer they get used to the amount of food offered, but at first it comes as a shock.

Oh, and by the way, the place is located 10-15 minutes walking from the park. It is an enjoyable walk through the forest. I loved the location!

If you arrive by bus, just give them a call or tell them in advance what time you arrive, and they will pick you up from the bus station.

Book your stay with Villa Mukinja here! 

Here are the other Plitvice lakes National Park hotels, all rated fabulous:

Luxury hotels: (100$ and up) – Hotel Jezero is actually the only hotel in Plitvice that is actually located inside the park, that is a great advantage. Villa Lika in my taste has better decor of the rooms and the reviews are outstanding!

Medium price: (50$ – 100$) – Pansion Breza is a perfect choice and one of the best Plitvice lakes hotels, it is located just 1 km away from the park and has outstanding reviews. It is only 7 rooms, so hurry up if you want to book it! Guest House Nenad – also minutes away from the park entrance, quiet setting and clean rooms!

Budget accommodation: (Price range up to $US 50 a night) – The closer you get to the park, the pricier it is. Thus, if you want to stay on the budget, you will have to walk 4-5 km, or have a car. House Dado is great if you are searching for something close – private bathroom, nice surroundings, book in advance to get that price! If you are driving, Guest House Bruna and Guest House Kolić would be great choices for you – nice prices and amazing reviews!

In case you don’t want to a hotel near the National Park, you should know that there is also the option of Plitvice camping! There are six campsites near the park and all of them are different in terms of comfort and interests. Here you can find a list with the recommended campsites and details for each of them that I hope will help you make the most out of your Plitvice lakes camping!


Plitvice lakes path

While, after Iceland, I got spoiled and it is hard to amaze me with waterfalls, Plitvice lakes still amazed me with its beauty. Its turquoise waters are a totally different experience! I really want you to visit this Croatia waterfall park if you are in the country! It would be such a pity, if you would just pass by it!

Waterfalls Plitvice national park

Plitvice lakes Miss tourist

To have even a better (visual) idea of what Plitvice lakes are, watch this video:

Packing list essentials for visiting Plitvička Jezera, Croatia

Conclusion: I have answered some of the most popular questions above, but if you did not find your question here, be sure to ask me in the comments. I will be happy to tell you everything I know about it! 🙂

P.S. Even though Plitvice is one of the best natural parks in Croatia, the nature of this country is breathtakingly beautiful, I wrote about my experience in Split here.

If you are heading to the Istrian coast, start from this post, it is my favorite region in Croatia, breathtaking!

Disclaimer  –  I was invited to Villa Mukinja as their guest, all opinions are my own!


Have you been to Croatia? What do you think about adding Plitvice Lakes to your Croatia itinerary?

Feel free to ask me questions in the comments below, I love talking to my readers!

Yulia

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By | 2018-07-22T02:57:54+00:00 November 13th, 2015|Croatia, Europe, export, Plitvice|55 Comments

About the Author:

Yulia is originally Russian but truly is a world citizen in heart. She was traveling around the world for over 4 years now. Her blog MissTourist.com is created with the purpose to inspire people to travel more and to share her advice of how to travel "smart".

55 Comments

  1. Stephanie Jane 15.11.2015 at 01:16 - Reply

    We have often thought of going back to Croatia to visit these lakes. Your gorgeous photos have convinced me that we must!

  2. Eva/Kid Minds 18.11.2015 at 17:15 - Reply

    We are thinking of visiting Croatia, but we have lots of kids, so that would be a totally different experience. Thanks for the review, Юля.

    • Yulia 11.03.2016 at 05:27 - Reply

      Hey Eva! Не за что! 🙂
      I actually think that Plitvice lake is one of the most ideal places for traveling with kids! It is not difficult at all, the pathes are built, no climbs and lots of breathtaking nature to enjoy for your kids. Try and you will have an amazing time, promise! 🙂

  3. Bea 07.07.2017 at 17:27 - Reply

    Is it possible to take a bath in the lakes?

    • Yulia 08.07.2017 at 05:30 - Reply

      No, unfortunately swimming is forbidden in Plitvice lakes (you can swim in Krka lakes though)

  4. Denise 11.07.2017 at 05:33 - Reply

    Heading there in September 2017, can’t wait!!

  5. Minchu 11.07.2017 at 18:56 - Reply

    Hi how about going in month of august Ll it be moe crowed and we cannot enjoy ??? We are early in the morning

    • Yulia 13.07.2017 at 20:02 - Reply

      come as early as possible and it will be fine!

  6. Dan Makovec 19.07.2017 at 16:27 - Reply

    Thanks for the tip to the secret view! I’m writing to you from the now 🙂

  7. Amanda 24.07.2017 at 03:41 - Reply

    Going in August – so looking forward to it. This place looks so spiritual – paradise on earth……..

  8. agingerandagiant 30.07.2017 at 20:15 - Reply

    Thank you so much for the directions to the most amazing view in the park! My boyfriend and I were the only ones there for about 30mins and it made up for the extortionate entry costs and lack of a free map! Thanks again!

  9. ashwini 10.08.2017 at 19:55 - Reply

    how about visiting in december?

    • Yulia 14.08.2017 at 12:20 - Reply

      Should be different, but beautiful nevertheless!

  10. Priscilla 12.08.2017 at 14:10 - Reply

    Thank you so much for this post! My family and I just visited Plitvice Lakes one week ago. We followed your directions to the secret lookout spot over Veliki Slap and loved the view there!

  11. Gabriela Mihai 27.08.2017 at 22:05 - Reply

    tx for tips,ill be there in 6 sept…

  12. Gizella Demjen 12.09.2017 at 15:44 - Reply

    Hi,

    So good I’ve found your blog. Thank you for being able to find Veliki Slap. I’m sure we’ve never knew and found it without you. Beautiful lookout. We climed up at the big waterfall and really there was no sigh at all to show this sightseeing pont. We tried to persuade people not to miss it.
    Thank you.

  13. Diane Lindsay 18.09.2017 at 12:53 - Reply

    Would love to visit Plitvice lakes but what’s the nearest coastal area to stay in please?

  14. Zainon 11.10.2017 at 08:51 - Reply

    Will be visiting the lake on 25th october. Your post is very useful. Thank you so much.

  15. Mujib Rahman 18.12.2017 at 12:33 - Reply

    i just arrive from Plitvice, beautifull place i will returt to

  16. peter s 25.12.2017 at 04:50 - Reply

    Great blog, yulia….and beautiful pictures. many thanks you recommend to spend at least 2 days in the park, and i agree that i want to do it at leisure.
    So… how would you recommend to split the visit between the 2 days in the park – lower lakes in the afternoon of arrival, and upper lakes the next morning? or???
    also – from a photography point of view – when is it best to visit the “secret” lookout – in the morning sun, or the afternoon?
    thx and happy travels.

  17. Alicia 25.12.2017 at 12:00 - Reply

    I’ve read some reviews stating that it is extremely crowded to visit during the month of June. I plan to go there end of June, do u think it is worth it ? And also how do u suggest getting to Plitvice from Split.
    Thank you

  18. Pat 15.01.2018 at 15:39 - Reply

    Hi
    Fantastic blog and v helpful for us. Good work! Can you advice if my elderly mother (age 83) would be able to walk on the paths and if there a wheelchair service avaialble at the park?
    Also would you recommend 2 days to see the park and any nice house to stay nearby for 6 people in last week of July 2018?
    Thanks very much.

    • Yulia 19.01.2018 at 17:31 - Reply

      I am sorry, I can’t really advice on this. I think there must be some path accessible with a wheel chair, but I remember some path having small bridges and steps, which would be inconvenient for your mother.
      I recommend calling the park directly and asking them about this, hopefully they will be able to help!
      As for the hotel, i stayed in Villa Mukinja and I loved it, such a great hospitable place with Huuuuge breakfasts.
      It is about 10 minutes walk from the park if I remember correct.
      If you would like a hotel right inside the park, Hotel Jezero is a great choice!

      Hope this helps,
      have a wonderful vacation and I hope your mother will be able to see those beautiful spots!

  19. Annchen 05.02.2018 at 14:36 - Reply

    We are heading to Plitvice over Easter and this has been amazingly helpful – thanks! Can’t wait to see it in person!

    • Yulia 05.02.2018 at 20:16 - Reply

      Awesome! Do not forget to climb to the secret spot I described here! 😉

  20. Lotte 26.02.2018 at 19:06 - Reply

    Hi! Do you have any recommendation for combining these lakes with other cities/places in croatia? We are planning a holiday to Croatia for about a week-10 days and we definitely want to visit Plitvice lakes, but we don’t know what other places not too far away (but we will have a car so a few hours drive is no problem) are a must see!

    • Yulia 01.03.2018 at 12:57 - Reply

      Yes, please check my other posts on Croatia.
      I would definitely recommend Split and Istria region, both are so beautiful!

  21. Jenny 07.03.2018 at 17:45 - Reply

    Hi! thanks for your blog. If we started at Entrance 2 and had 4-5 hours, which way do we go? The map is quite confusing which is the upper and which is lower lakes. Which way do you recommend? What are the trail numbers?

    • Henk 29.04.2018 at 22:08 - Reply

      If you take entrance 2 , once you are downstairs at the river, take the boat to the other side(2 minutes) by boat.
      Once on the other side just follow the path upstairs, can’t miss them. These are the upper lakes and the most beautiful waterfalls

  22. cmcf 23.04.2018 at 20:29 - Reply

    The stairway to the secret spot was damaged in the recent mudslides and is closed. 🙁 (24 April 2018)

    • Yulia 26.04.2018 at 11:50 - Reply

      Oh no!! I hope they will fix it as soon as possible.
      if anyone who is there could update us on that, that would be great 🙂

  23. Henk 29.04.2018 at 21:50 - Reply

    Its very easy to reach that secret spot by car. I was there last week and indeed the stairs are closed. So I looked it up in Google earth and voila, by car no problem

    • Yulia 01.05.2018 at 20:41 - Reply

      Thanks so much for your update!!
      I will update the post and I hope that change is temporary

    • Vanessa 16.06.2018 at 11:27 - Reply

      Is it still possible to get there WITHOUT a car?

  24. Eden 06.05.2018 at 16:21 - Reply

    Hi!

    I’m going to Croatia/ Montenegro this month and wanted to ask if it’s cheaper/ easier to buy tickets online for buses (including to Plitvice) or in person at bus stops?

    Let me know and thanks for posting!
    Eden

    • Yulia 06.05.2018 at 18:16 - Reply

      Hello Eden,
      talking about Croatia, it is fine to buy tickets at the cash register as there are no lines usually and i did not encountered any miscommunication problems.
      As for money saving, I believe Autotrans provides 10% discount if you book tickets online, so it might be a better option in this sense.

  25. Einyel 22.05.2018 at 13:14 - Reply

    Hi Yulia, thanks for your blog. We are thinking on travelling to Croatia this summer and I found your words snooping around.
    We make our trips by van, could You tell me about our possibilities to enjoy that beautiful place by driving?

    • Yulia 22.05.2018 at 18:54 - Reply

      Hello Einyel,
      Even if I havent rented a car during my trip in Croatia, I have heard so many things about how beautiful it is to drive those coastal roads!
      The next time I come back, I will definitely do it!
      If you haven’t booked your car yet, check out this site, they are basically a skyscanner for car rentals (including the local companies).

      Have an amazing trip!

  26. Tamar 23.05.2018 at 03:14 - Reply

    Hi! This is so helpful! Are there places at the entrances to leave bags? I’m going early next month and plan to go from Zagreb to the lakes to Zadar in the evening. Thank you!

    • Yulia 23.05.2018 at 11:33 - Reply

      I am not 100% sure, but I think there is, there are many people stopping by, like you, for one day. I would double check with the official website just in case though

  27. Beatrice 29.05.2018 at 00:35 - Reply

    Hi, after reading your blog I checked the park’s website; however I’m a little bit confused. The Lake tours programs (A, B, C programs and so on) are guided or you can do it by your own?
    Also what do you think is a must see?

  28. Craig Smith 02.06.2018 at 04:04 - Reply

    I’m wondering if soemeone can show me with a map how to now get to the secret spot? I’m looking at the map but am quite confsued. We will be there next month (June, 2018). Thanks.
    Craig

    • Yulia 03.06.2018 at 22:45 - Reply

      You can just ask one of the employees how to get there, that is what I did! 🙂

  29. Anu 24.06.2018 at 00:53 - Reply

    Hey Hi,very helpful blog.Thanks for sharing

  30. Jon 03.07.2018 at 04:21 - Reply

    You wrote a really nice post with a ton of info and great pictures!

  31. Harriet Heffron 06.07.2018 at 00:07 - Reply

    Great detailed information! We are planning on going in September but we have a 3 year old in tow. How long would you say it took you from Entrance 2 to get to the viewpoint?

    • Yulia 08.07.2018 at 09:09 - Reply

      15 minutes max from the waterfall on the pic, +5 minutes from the entrance
      PS If you can pls update us weather it is open, we all would highly appreciate it! 🙂

  32. Julie Dudemaine 30.07.2018 at 12:41 - Reply

    Anyone got an update about the secret spot? Is it still close by the stairs?? I’m going in 2 weeks and I would like to know! Thanks!

    • Jen 13.08.2018 at 09:59 - Reply

      I just visited the park last week. The stairs are still closed. I was able to access the spot by driving to it just as others mentioned above.

  33. ANGIE ENGLAND 07.08.2018 at 14:56 - Reply

    Hi. Do you know if the eating places in the park cater for gluten free?

    • Yulia 08.08.2018 at 10:44 - Reply

      I dont know, sorry, you may want to ask the park direcly

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