Plitvice Lakes: The Ultimate Guide to Visiting


Plitvice Lakes, with their breathtaking waterfalls and crystal-clear waters, are the crowning glory of any trip to Croatia. As it’s Croatia’s most visited tourist attraction with over 1 million visitors annually, planning your visit ahead of time is key for making the most of your time there. We’ve shared our fairytale experience of visiting these stunning lakes in this ultimate guide for Plitvice Lakes – guaranteed to help make the most of your experience!

Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia’s oldest and most populous National Park, is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Consisting of 16 lakes divided between Upper Lakes and Lower Lakes, as well as over 90 waterfalls, these turquoise waters are surrounded by lush green forests with cascading waterfalls that rush into their depths. Accessible via network of wooden boardwalks that meander through this remarkable ecosystem is easy; simply grab some snacks for your journey!

How to reach Plitvice Lakes?

There are various ways to reach Plitvice Lakes National Park.

Renting a Car

Renting a car is the best way to get to Plitvice Lakes National Park. After arriving in Dubrovnik, we rented a car and explored Croatia, Slovenia and Montenegro by ourselves. This was an excellent way for us to see Croatia while being safe and easy to drive.

For the best deal, do your research and book your car rental ahead of time. is our top pick; they have competitive prices and an extensive selection to choose from.

By Bus or Tour

Tours are a popular way to see Plitvice Lakes from Zagreb. You can make an exciting day trip out of Zagreb by joining one of their guided tours or taking the bus directly there.

Plitvice Lakes are situated half way between Zadar and Zagreb, making for an easy daytrip from either city.

  • Zagreb: The journey from Zagreb to Plitvice Lakes takes approximately 2 hours
  • Split: From Split it will take you approximately 3 hours
  • Zadar: Traveling from Zadar directly to Plitvice Lakes will take between 2-3 hours

How Many Days Should I Plan For A Visit To Plitvice Lakes?

Plitvice Lakes National Park can easily be reached on a day trip from Zagreb, Zadar or Split. We suggest spending at least one night here to fully appreciate all that this stunning area has to offer – keep this in mind when planning your visit to Plitvice Lakes National Park.

Plitvice Lakes National Park, composed of 16 lakes and 90 waterfalls, is an expansive area with numerous trails. There are 22 kilometers of hiking trails surrounding the lakes system as well as 36 more in the national park that leads to them.

Since a leisurely hike around the lakes can easily take up one day, we suggest staying for at least two to three nights so you have ample time to explore this stunning park.

Peak times in the park may make it difficult to visit during the day. Dedicating an extra day for exploring other parts of the park is a great idea.

Accommodation options at Plitvice Lake

Staying as close to the Plitvice Lakes National Park entrances as possible is a great idea. You can walk there, then return to your hotel/B&B between visits – this way you won’t be surrounded by day-trippers. Although there are plenty of accommodations near the lakes, most are booked months in advance, so make sure you make reservations early.

Hotel Jezero: Situated at the No2 entrance, Hotel Jezero provides excellent opportunities for exploring the lakes. Unfortunately, it’s often sold out.

Pansion Breza is an attractive guest house situated near entrance No1. It provides delicious home-cooked meals.

House Tina is just 10 minutes away from the lakes, featuring comfortable rooms, an outdoor swimming pool and convenient access to the highway.

Plitvice Lake Tickets and Opening Hours

Tickets are available for both one-day and two-day visits, though it is highly recommended you book them well in advance, particularly during peak seasons as there may be limited availability. Tickets must be purchased a minimum of two days before visiting, and can only be collected at Entrance No 2. Additionally, please remember that entry to the park is only permitted during the hours indicated on your ticket.

The park entry ticket includes a shuttle bus between Upper Lakes and Lower Lakes, as well as a boat ride around Kozjak Lake. Plus, there’s an included panoramic train journey for an even more memorable experience.

Plitvice Lake Opening Hours: The Park is open year-round, but hours may differ based on season. Between June and September, the park opens at 7 a.m.; all other times of year it opens at 8 a.m. Finally, it closes at 8pm with visitors required to be there or exchange tickets two hours prior to closing time.

When is the Best Time to Visit Plitvice Lakes?

All seasons offer stunning views of the lakes in Niagara Park. In summer, they boast lush green foliage; while in winter you might find snow and frozen waterfalls. Autumn brings out the oranges and browns in abundance too. The best months to visit are May, June and September as these tend to be busiest months with day-trippers arriving by bus; thus we suggest visiting later or earlier in order to make most of your experience at this magical park.

Which entrance is the best for exploring Plitvice Lakes?

Plitvice Lakes have three entrances: Entrance 1, Entrance 2 and Flora auxiliary entry. You may only enter through Entrance 2, but you must possess advance tickets for admission.

Entrance 1 and 2 experience the highest traffic volumes. Entrance 1 is situated above Lower Lakes, while Entrance 2 is near Upper Lakes. Both offer large parking lots. From Flora Auxiliary Entrance, you can walk directly to Plitvica Seo Village; tickets cannot be bought here though.

Visitors to the Upper or Lower Lakes can enter through either of these entrances. Entrance 1 is preferred by some as it allows for an uphill trek through the park; at the end of your day though, your legs may be tired as you’ll be walking downhill back towards Entrance 1.

What is the best route around Plitvice Lakes?

Due to the park’s vastness and intricate layout, it is wise to plan your route carefully and decide what sights you want to see. There are two entrances for each set of lakes – one for each set – with both upper and lower lakes divided. Most of the route can be covered on foot but there are a few short transfers by boat or bus along the way.

Though you can explore the lakes in any direction, we recommend taking this route. It will allow you to avoid crowds and give yourself plenty of time for all the parks. Unfortunately, longer hikes around the lake are not included since they take more time.

Morning: Lower Lakes

Enter via Entrance No 1 (Rastovaca) and walk down to the Lower Lakes. Spend time exploring these picturesque waters on this strenuous route that includes many steps and inclines. Don’t miss the Great Waterfall, Croatia’s tallest waterfall located here as well as Plitvice Lakes’ largest one!

Take the ferry from Port P3 to P2, taking approximately two hours. Be aware that peak hours at Port P3 may involve long waits at the terminal drop-off; avoid arriving between 11am – 2pm when crowds start building!

Evening/Afternoon: Upper Lakes

From P2, take a leisurely walk up through Upper Lakes Park towards ST4. This route offers many picturesque spots, so allow yourself two to four hours for this section of the park.

Explore the area surrounding ST2 before taking the bus back to ST4.

Navigating Plitvice Lakes

Access the Plitvice lake system through wooden walkways and paths, as well as steps and stairs. Boardwalks take you close to the water’s edge while providing a scenic backdrop. However, be careful when using these boardwalks – particularly during busy periods when traffic jams may form.

Shuttle buses run between Upper Lakes and Lower Lakes, or you can take a boat trip around Kozjak Lake or go on an amazing train ride for some incredible scenery.

Car Parking at Plitvice Lake

Plitvice Lakes National Park’s two main entrances (No1 & No2) both feature pay car parks. You may need to park further away from the entrance as these lots tend to fill up quickly in the morning. Our hotel provided complimentary parking, making it a breeze for us to walk to both entrances without needing to worry about finding a place to park.

How Busy Are Plitvice Lakes?

Croatia’s most popular tourist spot, Plitvice Lakes, can get quite busy during peak hours due to their narrow boardwalks and two entrances. We recommend that you avoid these busy times by following our top tips and recommended routes for avoiding crowds.

11 | Can I Swim in Plitvice Lakes?

Swimming is strictly prohibited in the Plitvice Lakes due to their delicate ecosystem. This decision makes sense, considering how delicately balanced these lakes are.

Krka National Park offers ideal swimming conditions. Additionally, the Korana River, situated just outside the park boundaries, can also be enjoyed.

Be Respectful of the Park

Plitvice Lakes National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and also a protected area. To maintain its fragile ecosystem, all visitors must respect it by following designated paths and not swimming in the lakes. Furthermore, feeding wildlife or taking home souvenirs such as plant material from the park are strictly forbidden.

What to Bring to Plitvice Lakes?

Depending on the time of year, sunscreen, sunglasses and a sunhat are essential for hiking along the trail that is exposed to the sun during Croatia’s summer months. Apply sunscreen at peak exposure of UV rays for best protection.

Rain/Cold Gear: A raincoat is preferable to an umbrella when it rains. Dress appropriately for Winter conditions as well.

Shoes appropriate for the terrain: Flipflops can be more uncomfortable than sneakers on park trails. Before embarking on any of these hikes, be sure to have a book about hiking prepared.

Moskito Repellent: If you are prone to mosquito bites, make sure you have repellent on hand. In the evening we noticed many bugs around the lakes.

Food and Drinks

Plitvice Lakes National Park is vast, so plan to be active for many hours. Be sure to bring plenty of water and food; while you can purchase food at the park, it will likely be expensive and limited in selection.

15 | Capturing Photos at Plitvice Lakes

Plitvice Lakes National Park is one of Croatia’s top photo spots, so make sure to bring your best gear. A tripod and Polarising Filter are essential for taking stunning shots of these serene lakes.

Where is the best view of Plitvice Lakes?

Although there are many stunning views from the Upper Lakes, our favorite was Vidikovac’s sightseeing point. This viewpoint offers stunning panoramas of the lakes and is also known as Velikislap viewpoint. You can reach it either by hiking through Vidikovac waterfall or taking a car ride.

Walking: Climb the stairs on your left to reach Velikislap waterfall and continue straight on the road. Just after crossing a wooden bridge, turn left onto an unpaved trail that will lead you to Vidikovac Point Sightseeing Point. Follow these directions for safe passage!

Driving Directions: Use the coordinates 44deg54’09.1”N 45deg36’26.4”E to park near the road and walk a short distance to Vidikovac sightseeing spot – marked on your map as 44deg54’091’N 45deg36’26.4’E. Please park nearby before beginning your ascent.

Are drones allowed at Plitvice Lakes National Park?

It is simply not worth it. There are numerous signs to alert you; drone use in Croatia is strictly forbidden without government permission – something which can be quite difficult to obtain. Plitvice lakes also has a strict ban on drones, with security personnel always on guard for potential threats.

Are There Bears at Plitvice Lakes?

Although bears are rarely encountered on the main park trails, they have been reported on hiking trails.