A Guide to Plitvice Lakes National Park

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Plitvice National Park is one of the reasons travellers visit Croatia. Plitvice is the oldest and largest national park in the country, covering almost 30,000 hectares. Being big and old isn’t what makes it so special, though.

It’s the park’s incredible natural beauty that leaves visitors in awe. Every area of Plitvice offers something unique. Whether it be a new viewpoint of a spectacular waterfall or a different perspective of one of the lakes and its underwater world. Over 1 million people visit Plitvice every year to see these remarkable sights, making it one of Croatia’s most popular tourist destinations.

Spending the day at Plitvice National Park is a great way to escape the busy cities of Croatia. Here, you can enjoy a stunning hike surrounded by some of Croatia’s most inspiring natural sights.

Plitvice is overflowing with lakes and waterfalls

Plitvice’s biggest attraction lies in its 16 terraced lakes, 12 Upper and 4 Lower Lakes. You might think that the lakes are the biggest part of the park, but surprisingly they only cover 1% of the park’s area.

Connecting these lakes are seven spectacular waterfalls, one of which is the largest waterfall in Croatia. The majestic Veliki Slap is an impressive 78 m wall of water that becomes completely frozen in winter.

While tourists fall in love with Plitvice Lakes for its spectacular bodies of water, the national park also boasts impressive biodiversity.

Note: In an effort to preserve Plitvice’s fragile environment from further human impact, swimming in the lakes has been prohibited since 2006.

Plitvice lake walkway
Walkway overlooking one of Plitvice’s waterfalls

Remarkable plant and animal biodiversity

Plitvice National Park has recorded over 1,400 plant species and subspecies, some of which are endemic and endangered.

The park’s karst landscape and lush forests are also a paradise for a variety of wildlife. The national park is home to over 50 different mammals, including brown bears, wolves, and lynx, as well as a huge array of birds and bats.

Plitvice National Park is a must-visit for nature lovers and those wanting to witness one of Croatia’s spectacular natural wonders.

In this guide, we’ve compiled everything that you need to know for your trip!

When to visit Plitvice National Park

The national park is open all year round, but its opening hours and facilities vary depending on the season. There are areas that are not accessible to tourists in some parts of the year, mostly due to weather and water levels.

It would be a shame if you travelled all the way to Plitvice National Park just to find out that what you wanted to see was closed!

Here is some helpful information for you to decide when to visit this UNESCO heritage site:

Summer season (June to August)

The summer months, between June and August, are when Plitvice National Park is busiest.

All areas of the park are open. However, the entrance tickets are at their most expensive in this peak season.

To accommodate an influx of visitors, there are more public buses going to Plitvice during these months. The downside is that the park can feel pretty busy.

During your visit, be prepared for warm weather, with temperatures between 23℃ – 26℃. While this temperature can be a bit cooler than the rest of Croatia, it can feel much hotter if you’re trekking even the shortest trail at the park.

PRO TIP: Plitvice National Park gets jam-packed with tourists by midday, resulting in long queues at the entrance, boat and train terminals. We recommend arriving at the park at opening time to avoid the queues.

Spring season (April and May)

If you want to avoid the crowds, visit the park during the spring season. You’ll also be in for a treat with the abundance of herbaceous plants and colourful spring flowers.

The waterfalls also reach their peak flow in April and May. As magnificent as this may look, it does mean that high water levels can cause some areas of the park to close.

Autumn season (September and October)

There are also fewer visitors from September to October, but that doesn’t mean the park isn’t as wonderful as it is during the other seasons.

The national park is a delight to see with the trees’ vibrant hues of yellow and orange. Combined with the turquoise lakes, the national park is a haven for photographers during this time of the year!

Orange and yellow leaves in Plitvice during Autumn
Plitvice in Autumn

Winter season (November to March)

Plitvice National Park rarely gets visitors from November to March, all the more reason why you should experience the winter season here. 

Temperatures average between 4°C-11°C during the day and can even get below 0°C at night. If you visit Plitvice during the coldest days of the year, you can witness the park in its most serene state. With the frozen lakes and the trees covered in snow, the park looks like it’s the perfect setting for a fairy tale.

The Upper Lakes are closed during winter, as well as all hiking trails leading to them. Only Entrance 1 is open, meaning you can still take the trails starting from this entrance and explore the Lower Lakes.

The good thing is that parking is free of charge during winter, and tickets are also cheaper!

Entrances to Plitvice National Park

There are three entrances to Plitvice National Park. The main entrances, 1 and 2, are about 3 km apart from each other. The third entrance, Flora Auxiliary, is near Plitvica Selo village

  • Entrance 1 is the north entrance, and is located near the Lower Lakes of the national park. This is the entrance closest to the most-visited Veliki Slap Waterfall.
  • Entrance 2 is the south entrance. If you have only a few hours at the park and want to explore the Upper Lakes, you can start your journey from this entrance. 
  • The Flora Auxiliary Entrance is an additional entrance near Plitvica Selo. The entrance is near P3, one of the boat terminals. This entrance usually has no queue, as people mostly enter the park through the main entrances. However, no hiking trails start from this entrance.

Note that tickets can only be bought at the main entrances.

Both main entrances have paid parking, restaurants and cafes. You can also pick up a copy of the national park’s tourism map from all entrances.

Before heading to Plitvice National Park, deciding which trail you want to take will make your trip a bit easier. You’ll then know which entrance to go to and which entrance tickets to buy.

Hiking path over a waterfall
Hiking path over a waterfall in Plitvice

Hiking trails in Plitvice National Park

Given Plitvice National Park’s vast landscape, there is a lot to cover! On your visit, you can choose from eight different hiking trails, all varying in length.

Here’s an overview of the hiking trails in Plitvice:

Hiking TrailDurationTrail LengthStarting Point
Trail A2-3 hours3.5 kmEntrance 1
Trail E2-3 hours5.1 kmEntrance 2
Trail B3-4 hours4 kmEntrance 1
Trail F3-4 hours4.6 kmEntrance 2
Trail C4-5 hours8 kmEntrance 1
Trail H5-6 hours8.9 kmEntrance 2
Trail K6-8 hours18.3 kmEntrance 1 or 2

The hiking trails are named using seven letters. However, Trail K can be taken from Entrance 1 or 2 and counts as two trails. Hence, there are a total number of eight hiking trails.  

Each of the hiking trails explores only a section of the park, apart from Trail K which covers the whole of Plitvice National Park.

If you have the time and energy, we recommend taking Trail K, which allows you to see the maximum amount of beauty that Plitvice has to offer.

Here we’ve summarised the sights accessible by each of the trails:

Shorter trails

Trail A 

  • Lower Lakes
  • Veliki Slap and Sastavci Slap

Trail E

  • Short boat ride across Lake Kozjak
  • Upper Lakes, Veliki Prštavci, and Mali Prštavci
  • Train ride back to Entrance 2

Trail B 

  • Boat ride across Lake Kozjak
  • Lower Lakes, Veliki Slap, and Sastavci Slap
  • Train ride back to Entrance 1

Trail F 

  • Boat ride across Lake Kozjak
  • Lower Lakes, Veliki Slap, and Sastavci Slap
  • Train ride back to Entrance 2

Longer trails

Trail C 

  • Boat ride across Lake Kozjak
  • Lower and Upper Lakes
  • Veliki Slap, Sastavci Slap, Veliki Prštavci, and Mali Prštavci
  • Train ride back to Entrance 1

Trail H 

  • Boat ride across Lake Kozjak
  • Lower and Upper Lakes
  • Veliki Slap, Sastavci Slap, Veliki Prštavci, and Mali Prštavci
  • Train ride back to Entrance 2

Trail K 

  • Short boat ride and a hike along the shore of Lake Kozjak
  • Lower and Upper Lakes
  • Veliki Slap, Sastavci Slap, Veliki Prštavci, and Mali Prštavci
  • Tomićevo Pogledalo gazebo
Boat in Plitvice
Boat trip included in tickets

How to buy entrance tickets?

Ticket prices vary depending on the season you’re visiting. 

You can buy a 1-day ticket or a 2-day ticket if you really want to maximise your time in the park.

SeasonOne-day ticketTwo-day ticket
Summer300 KN ($41)450 KN ($61)
Spring & Autumn180 KN ($24.50)300 KN ($41)
Winter80 KN ($10.50)120 KN ($16)

All tickets include a boat ride and panoramic train transport, as well as visitor insurance. Discounts are also available for children, students, and people with disabilities.

Tickets are available at Entrances 1 and 2. Due to the number of tourists, the national park has introduced an e-ticket system where you can book your tickets online in advance, at least one day before your visit.

When you buy your tickets online, you have the choice to buy a ticket from Entrance 1 or 2, as well as an hour-long slot. The ticket is then only valid at the entrance and time you chose.

During the summer months, we recommend buying your ticket in advance since there is a limit to the number of visitors per day.

You can buy your entrance tickets through Plitvice Lakes’ official website.

Book entrance tickets on Plitvice Lakes’ website

Getting to Plitvice National Park

Plitvice National Park lies in the northern mountainous region of Croatia.

It can easily be reached by car, and you can park your vehicle right outside the entrances.

If you’re looking for budget-friendly transport, you can take a public bus from different cities in Croatia. The bus will drop you off at the main entrances.

We’ve written detailed guides on how to get from popular destinations in Croatia to Plitvice National Park:

Join a tour

A tour can be the most efficient and stress-free way to visit Plitvice National Park. Your transportation is arranged for you, often there’s a guide and one of the best pluses is that you skip the ticket line! 

You’ll appreciate that when you see how long that line can get, especially during peak season.

Here are the best tours from some of Croatia’s most popular destinations:

Staying overnight near Plitvice National Park

For some people, a day trip to Plitvice National Park may be too rushed, with not enough time to fully appreciate what it has to offer.

Our suggestion would be to spend at least the night before your visit to Plitvice in the surrounding area. Then you can arrive at Plitvice National Park when it opens, maximising your time in the park and avoiding the crowds that arrive later in the day.

Where to stay?

Since Plitvice Lakes is a famous tourist destination, several hotels and accommodations are available in the nearby areas:

Grabovac Village 

If you’re coming from the north, you can stay in Grabovac village, just a few minutes drive from Entrance 1.

To get to the national park, you can take a 15-minute bus costing from 19 KN (€2.50).

You can spend a night in the 16 Lakes Hotel. Lounging at the hotel’s pool is a great way to end a tiring day at the park! You’ll also be well looked after by their excellent staff.

Jezerce Village

Located about 2 km from Entrance 2, Jezerce village is a good place to stay for those travelling from the south.

By bus, you’ll be at Plitvice National Park in 5 minutes. The bus fare is around 15 KN (€1.95).

B&B Lady of the Lake is a great bed and breakfast with clean rooms, beautiful garden views, and a peaceful ambience. From here, it is about a 10-minute walk to the bus stop for Plitvice.

Plitvica Selo

It’s also possible to stay in Plitvica Selo, which is the nearest area to the Flora Auxiliary entrance.

Here, we recommend staying at Pansion Breza guesthouse for its welcoming hosts and exceptional homemade food!

To get to the national park, you can take a 15-minute walk downhill or drive to the entrance and park on the street.

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