Are you thinking about visiting Croatia for the first time?
If so, I am a bit jealous, because you are about to be charmed by one of the most beautiful countries on Earth! Croatia has countless places 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 more about that here.
Here is what you’ll find in this post:
- 1. What are those lakes and why should I even bother going to Plitvice Lakes National Park in Croatia?
- 2. How many days should I stay in Plitvice Lakes?
- 3. How much is the entrance fee?
- 4. Where do I get the best pictures of Plitvice Lakes?
- Here is how to get to the secret spot:
- 5. How do I get around in the national park?
- 6. How do you get to Plitvice Lakes National Park?
- 7. When is the best time to visit Plitvice Lakes?
- 8. Can you swim in Plitvice Lakes?
- Where can you stay in Plitvice Lakes National Park?
Have you heard about the amazing waterfalls in Croatia? If so, Plitvice Lakes National Park should be on your Croatian bucket list for sure!
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 collection of Plitvice waterfalls.
And I did not regret my decision. Why?
Hopefully, you will understand soon just by looking at the pictures below.
But to make everything clearer for you, let me answer some frequently asked questions here:
1. What are those lakes and why should I even bother going to Plitvice Lakes National Park in Croatia?
Plitvice is a group of 16 natural lakes and is a UNESCO heritage site due to its breathtaking views, its fauna and the unique turquoise waters of the lakes.
2. How many days should I stay in Plitvice Lakes?
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 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 because you will not be able to enjoy it to the fullest. I stayed overnight in the park, and 2 days seemed just perfect to 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 early in the morning – you will take amazing pictures and will walk the park without the crowds. It has a completely different atmosphere when tourists aren’t around!
NOTE: Wondering about the Plitvice Lakes opening hours? The park is open 365 days a year 7 am to 8 pm.
3. How much is the entrance fee?
I often get asked about that. There are different packages depending on how many days you want to stay, the season you visit 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 during the off season, or get a 2-day ticket. Don’t forget to take your student ID if you are a student (your entrance fee 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 of up to 50 people (good deal!)
Note that all the transportation INSIDE the park is included with your ticket. There are ferries and a small train that will take you from one side of the park to the other.
Food is not included, however, there are plenty of restaurants at station points where you can get a snack or a full meal.
Alternatively, you can take sandwiches with you and have a nice picnic with an amazing view of the lakes! Beware of the geese and ducks, they will want a part of your lunch! 😉
PRO TIP: To save you some time in line – there are two entrances to choose from. Plitivce Lakes Entrance 1 can get a bit crowded during the tourist season. Just head over to Plitvice Entrance 2; it is close by, and there are way less tourists.
4. Where do I get the best pictures of Plitvice Lakes?
If you have already surfed the Internet and seen pictures of the lakes, you probably have seen the picture above, right?
But the problem with this view is that it 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 do you get there?
No worries, I investigated everything for you! 😉 I was unsuccessfully searching for it and eventually, I just pointed to my ticket (there was a photo of that view there too) and asked the staff how to get there. You can do that too, but let me give you a small bit of instruction just to make it easier. Make sure to go there, though, as this is the best view of the lakes!
The lookout spot is called Veliki Slap. There are no signs directing you to it, but the place is stunning!
There are two simple ways to reach that location:
- 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, you can’t miss it. These are the upper lakes with the most beautiful waterfalls
- You can also easily reach it by car by searching for “Veliki Slap” in Google Maps and driving for approximately 10 minutes
After you pass by the bBig waterfall, (that has a tremendous amount of tourists by the way),
-> go up the stairs that are located on the right side of the waterfall,
-> at the top of the stairs, take a right
-> follow the road for about 5 mins (you will see the Big waterfall from above) until you get to an asphalt road.
-> turn right and walk straight (2-3 mins) until you pass a wooden bridge,
-> then turn right after the bridge, follow the path for 1-2 min until you see a viewpoint deck and, voila!, you will see THE view!
When I was there, there were only 3 other people, so basically you have the view all to yourself! How amazing is that? Now you know too, but shhh! 😉
5. How do I get around in the national park?
The territory of Plitvice Lakes is huge and you definitely cannot visit 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:
As you can see in the Plitvice map above, there are different routes for getting to the variou points in the park. The transportion runs according to a schedule and the frequency of runs 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 to 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 saw many people walking in the park with their dogs.
NOTE: Plitvice Lakes is not extremely wheelchair-friendly, but it can still be visited. For example The Great Waterfall (one of the main attractions of the park) can be seen soon after you enter Plitvice Lakes using Entrance 1, so this is totally doable. There is also a bus that can take you on a panoramic ride to some parts of the park. But there are some spots that cannot be seen because of steps or high water levels during some periods of the year (make sure to check the forecast before going). You can find a guide on how to see as many things in the park with a wheelchair here.
6. How do you get to Plitvice Lakes National Park?
The national park is located on National Route D1 Zagreb–Split between Slunj and Korenica in the vicinity of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Zagreb Airport is the closest airport to Plitvice Lakes. This is good news as, being the capital, it is very easy to get to Zagreb from abroad. It is 130 km (or about 2 hours driving) from Zagreb to Plitvice.
The best option to get around all of 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 a car and there are parking lots available everywhere! Check the rates and today’s discounts for a car rental 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:
- Zagreb to Plitvice Lakes day tour
- Trogir or Split to Plitvice Lakes day tour
- From Zadar
- From Porec and Rovinj
- Private Plitvice Lakes tour
- Private transfer
- Pick up in Zagreb, drop off in Split tour
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 frequently You can check the schedule and buy tickets online here. There is even a bus that departs directly from Zagreb Airport in case you do not want to stay in the city!
NOTE1: Keep in mind 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 Arriva. They also have Wi-FI on board by the way!
7. When is the best time to visit Plitvice Lakes?
Anytime you can because seriously, as Plitvice weather is almost always nice and welcoming. I wa there in early October when the weather was still nice and the water was incredibly turquoise. But every season is different in its beauty. Thinking of visiting Plitvice in the winter? I bet it looks gorgeous covered in snow as well!
In short, it does not matter when, just go there, don’t miss the chance! 🙂
Whatever the season, hiking shoes are not necessary because the road is nicely done and you will be just fine wearing regular shoes. But remember, as Plitvice National Park is located in a 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 has been forbidden in the park since 2006. But I have 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 soak there for however 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 can you 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 at around Plitvice Lakes – they are all hand-picked, have fabulous reviews are sorted by price for your convenience – enjoy! 🙂
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 has been open for more than 30 years. It was there even before the tourist boom and it is a great value for the money! My room was spacious and clean, all amenities needed were provided.
Dinner is an extra option, but you will miss so much if you opt out since 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!
All I wanted to do afterwards was to melt in the Jacuzzi and relax in the sauna, which is free of charge for all Villa Mukinja guests.
The breakfast was another huge meal. 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 a 10-15 minute walk 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.
Here are the other Plitvice Lakes National Park hotels, all rated fabulous:
NOTE: There are 3 hotels located inide the National Park: Hotel Jezero, Hotel Bellevue and Hotel Plitvice. Out of all three of them, Hotel Jezero is the only one that stays open all year round. Bellevue and Plitvice hotels are closed in December, January, and February. More about them below.
Luxury hotels: (US $100 and up) – Hotel Jezero is a great hotel in Plitvice that is actually located inside the park, which is a great advantage! Villa Lika has better room decor in my opinion and the reviews are outstanding!
Medium price: (US $ 50 – US $ 100) – Another great hotel located right inside the park is Hotel Bellevue – the rooms are very cozy and clean and the entire accommodation offers a peaceful experience! Hotel Plitvice is another awesome choice, located right next to the entrance to the National Park and close to Hotel Jezero! Pansion Breza is a perfect choice and one of the best Plitvice Lakes hotels, although it is located 1 km away from the park! It only has 7 rooms, so hurry up if you want to book it! Guest House Nenad is also located minutes away from the park entrance and offers a quiet setting and clean rooms!
Budget accommodation: (up to US $50) – The closer you get to the park, the pricier it is. Thus, if you want to stay on a 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 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 vacation!
Well, after Iceland, I got spoiled so it is hard to amaze me with waterfalls yet Plitvice Lakes still dazzled 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 just passed by!
To get an even better (visual) idea of what Plitvice Lakes are all about, 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 the answer to your question here, be sure to ask me in the comments below. 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 natural appeal of this country is breathtakingly beautiful. I wrote about my experience in Split here.
If you are heading to the Istrian coast, start with this post, as it is my favorite region in Croatia – simply amazing!
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!
Pin it for later!
Pin it for later!