Are you thinking about visiting Croatia for the first time?
If so, I am a bit jealous, because you are about be charmed by some of the most beautiful countries on Earth! Croatia has countless spots to visit!
But let me help you plan your itinerary a little:
Plitvice Lakes National Park should be in 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 ensemble of 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 clear for you, let me answer some frequently asked questions here:
1. What are those lakes and why should I even bother going there?
Plitvice is an ensemble of 16 natural lakes. It is an UNESCO heritage site due to its breathtaking views, its fauna and the unique turquoise waters.
Plitvička jezera 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?
It depends from 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. There are plenty of day trips offered from Zagreb or Split.
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!
3. How much is the entrance?
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 on during the high season for 1 day is 180 HRK (~23 EUR). In order to save on tickets, you can go after August (off season), stay for longer. Don’t forget to take your student ID if you have one!
If you want to discover this UNESCO World Heritage Site with an expert guide, it is about 90$ 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. Entrance 1 can get a bit crowded during touristic season. Just head your way to Entrance 2, it is close, and there are way less people there.
4. Where do I get the best picture of Plitvice lakes?
If you have already surfed the Internet about the lakes, you probably have seen this amazing postcard-like view.
But the problem with this view is that is not really obvious how to get there, there are no arrows pointing to that view. So, where the hell is this view and how to get there?
No worries, I investigated this problem for you! 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!
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 map of the park so that you understand it better:
The transport runs according to the schedule, the frequently depends on how busy is the park.
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?
Unfortunately, there are no trains to Plitvice lakes, so I could not use my Eurail pass.
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. Or, if you take it for more than 7 days, there’s a 35% discount with this link.
If you don’t want to rent a car, there is a convenient door-to-door service on a private transfer from Plitvice to Zagreb
If you want to get there by public transport, there are many buses 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 it better to go to Plitvice lakes?
When you can, seriously. 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. 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. Where to stay in Plitvice lakes?
I stayed in Villa Mukinja, which I can definitely recommend. 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!
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.
Here are the other choices of accommodation in Plitvice lakes National Park, all rated fabulous:
Luxury hotels: (100$ and up) – Hotel Jezero is the only hotel 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, 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!
While, after Iceland, I got spoiled and it is hard to amaze me with waterfalls, Plitvice lakes still amazed me with the beauty. Its turquoise waters are a totally different experience! I really want you to visit that park if you are in Croatia! It would be such a pity, if you would just pass by it!
To have even a better (visual) idea of what Plitvice lakes are, watch this video:
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. The nature in Croatia is breathtakingly beautiful, I write 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 going to Plitvice lakes?
Feel free to ask me questions in the comments below, I love talking to my readers!