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:
- 1. What are those lakes and why should I even bother going to Plitvice park, Croatia?
- 2. How many days should I stay in Plitvice lakes?
- 3. How much is the entrance?
- 4. Where do I get the best picture of Plitvice lakes?
- Here is how to get to the secret spot:
- 5. How do I get around in the national park?
- 6. How to get to Plitvice Lakes National Park?
- 7. When is the best time to visit Plitvice lakes?
- 8. Can you swim in Plitvice Lakes?
- Where to stay in Plitvice Lakes National Park?
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 (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.
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?
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?
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?
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?
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:
- 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
- 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:
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?
The national park is located at the 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. These are 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 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:
- 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
- NEW: Private Night walking tour in Plitvice lakes! I think this would be pretty awesome and mysterious to see the lakes under the moon and stars!
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. 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?
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! 🙂
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!
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 Plitvice lakes National Park hotels, all rated fabulous:
NOTE: There are 3 hotels located in 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 Hotel are closed in December, January, and February. More about them below.
Luxury hotels: (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 taste and the reviews are outstanding!
Medium price: (50$ – 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 – also located minutes away from the park entrance, it 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 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!
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!
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!
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