Nested in mountainous Lika region, half-way between the coast and the capital Zagreb, Plitvice Lakes National Park is, along with Dubrovnik, the single most visited site in Croatia. Plitvice Lakes became protected national park back in 1949, and since 1979 the place is also listed as UNESCO World Heritage Site.
This wonderful natural phenomenon consists of 16 interconnected lakes and over 90 waterfalls of different size.
Contents For Plitvice Lakes National Park Travel Guide 2019
- 1 Where is Plitvice Lakes national park
- 2 How to get to Plitvice Lakes National Park
- 3 Best time to visit Plitvice National Park Croatia
- 4 Visiting Plitvice Lakes National Park in Croatia
- 5 Accommodation near Plitvice Lakes
- 6 Where to eat in Plitvice
- 7 Things to do around Plitvice Lakes
Where is Plitvice Lakes national park
Depending on the point of view, we can think of Plitvice Lakes national park Croatia as being in the middle of nowhere, or not far from anywhere. Plitvice national park is actually located in the mountainous Lika region, in central Croatia, half way between Zagreb and Zadar. As such, Plitvice national park, are a perfect stop for anybody traveling from north to south or vice versa.
Before the modern multilane highway A1 was built, Plitvice lakes were actually along the main route from Zagreb to Dalmatia.
Below is location of Plitvice lakes national park Croatia on google map.
How to get to Plitvice Lakes National Park
Many people visit Plitvice Lakes National Park for a day either from Zagreb or from Zadar and Split. While this is a good way to experience the lakes, you might also consider staying in the nearby villages for easier and early access to the lakes.
How to get from Zagreb to Plitvice Lakes
If you travel from Zagreb to Plitvice Lakes by car head to Karlovac, a town 40 km southeast of Zagreb. From Karlovac take a state road D1 direction Slunj, Grabovac, Plitvice. You'll see lots of signs for Plitvice lake. Plitvice is about 80 km south of Karlovac. The highway fees amounts to 19 Kn (approx. 2,5 €), and the ride is less than 2 hours.
If you prefer to travel by bus from Zagreb to Plitvice lakes it's super easy. Many buses leave throughout the day from Zagreb main bus station. The trip takes about 2 hours, and it costs around 100 Kn (13 €).
How to get from Zadar to Plitvice Lakes
Zadar is less than 2 hours drive from Plitvice waterfalls. If you decide to take your own car there or rent one (check for rates and availability here!), it's an easy and safe drive along multilane highway A1. You will take a highway exit Gornja Ploca, and then continue along state road D522 to Udbina. From Udbina take D1 road to the Plitvice Lakes. One-way highway fees cost 24 Kn (approx. 3 €).
A bus from Zadar to Plitvice Lakes departs throughout the day and the ticket costs about 100 Kn (approx. 13 €). The ride takes around 2 hours.
From Split to Plitvice Lakes
If you travel by car from Split to Plitvice lakes take a motorway A1 direction north (Zagreb/Rijeka). Take a highway exit Gornja Ploca. Continue on a state road D522 to Udbina. From Udbina take D1 road to the Plitvice Lakes. Highway will set you back 84 Kn (approx. 11 €). The drive from Split to Plitvice park takes a bit less than 3 hours.
Bus from Split to Plitvice lakes costs 150 Kn (20 €). It takes about 4h 30 min, and it departs many times a day.
Day tours to Plitvice Lakes Croatia
If you plan to visit the lakes, you can do so in your own arrangement. Most of people visit Plitvice on their way from Zagreb down to the coast, or vice versa.
If you stay for a couple of days in one place, be it in Zadar, Split, Dubrovnik or Zagreb, consider joining one of the organised group or private tours.
Here are some of the popular private or group tours to Plitvice Lakes Croatia.
- Plitvice Lakes Private Guided Tour
- Day Tour From Zadar To Plitvice Lakes
- A group tour from Split to Plitvice Lakes
- Day Trip From Zagreb To Plitvice Lakes and Rastoke
- Private transfer from Zadar To Zagreb With A Visit To Plitvice Lakes
Best time to visit Plitvice National Park Croatia
Plitvice falls are worth visiting at any time of a year, because they change with every season.
In summer months (particularly in July and August), lakes get really crowded, that it is even difficult to move around. Also, in summertime the level of water is lower. They are still pretty, though :).
Spring and autumn are perhaps the best time to visit Pltvice park. If you visit Plitvice national park Croatia in spring you'll benefit from high water levels, and witness the waterfalls and streams running wildly.
Autumn is also good time to visit Plitvice lakes national park as there aren't many people around, and trees start changing colors. In winter, when covered in snow, the Plitvice waterfalls look like a scene from a fairy tail.
Visiting Plitvice Lakes National Park in Croatia
In the following chapters you will find everything you need to know if visiting Plitvice lakes. The national Park covers an area of almost 73.000 acres. It consists of 16 lakes, over 90 waterfalls, many caves, caverns, and forest. Lakes are divided in two groups: 12 Upper Lakes and 4 Lower Lakes. The Upper ones are larger than the Lower ones.
Plitvice Lakes National Park is accessible on foot via dirt paths, and walkways. Shuttle buses run every 20 minutes along designated areas of the park. A visit also includes a boat ride.
The highest point of the park is Seliski Vrh (1279 m), and the lowest point is the Korana Canyon (367 m). Lakes lie on altitude between 503 m and 636 m.
Plitvice Lakes Park, for us, is one of the most wonderful places we've ever visited. The colour of the water, changing from emerald green to aqua blue, is simply mesmerizing. And it's so clear that you can easily see through, and spot many small fish.
Plitvice Lakes Map
Below you will find Plitvice Lakes map with both entrances marked as well as all bus and boat stops, and most importantly lakes and waterfalls. However, once you are in Plitvice national park buy a printed Plitvice lakes national park map. The free map they offer with the ticket isn't very useful. On our last trip there we didn't have a map and we did regret it later. We ended up walking around without an idea where we are going.
While trails are well marked majority of the time, unfortunately it's not all the time. At certain fork roads, you need to use your own judgement. You can always consult google maps, or get yourself familiar with the trails using Plitvice park app (found at their website).
Plitvice lakes entrance
Plitvice waterfalls can be accessed through two main entrances open to public, and the third auxiliary entrance Flora. North entrance, known as Plitvice lakes entrance 1, is just above lower lakes, while the south entrance, Plitvice lakes entrance 2, is next to the Upper Lakes.
If you travel by car, you will like to know that parking spaces are abundant even in a high season. However, in high season you'll perhaps have to park a bit further from the entrance.
An auxiliary, third Plitvice entrance – entrance Flora – is on lake Kozjak, a bit off the main routes. This Plitvice national park entrance is interesting if you are staying in any accommodation in Plitvica selo, as it is the least crowded, and within the walking distance from the village.
You can't purchase tickets at this entrance (only at Plitvice entrance 1 and Plitvice entrance 2). However, you can arrange with the staff of a property you are staying at to buy and deliver you the tickets at the reception.
Bear in mind that in the wintertime, from November through March, you can access park only through Plitvice lakes national park entrance 1. Plitvice entrance 2, and Plitvice entrance Flora, are closed in winter.
Plitvice lakes trails
There are as many as 8 different hiking routes (actually four different Plitvice lakes hiking trails for each of two main entrances). The shortest rout takes 2 to 3 hours, and the longest up to 8 hours. Although, the routes are marked, they aren't always easy to follow. Sometimes the marks aren't clear.
Plitvice Lakes best route depends really on how fit you are, how much time you have, and how much you enjoy hiking.
This route starts at the north entrance to the park (Entrance 1), descending down to lower lakes, and leading to the Great Waterfall. You return a bit, and then continue along lower lakes to the Kozjaka Bridge. From here you walk uphill back to the Entrance 1. You can also take a shuttle back. This route is 3,5 km long, it takes 2 to 3 hours, and it isn't physically demanding. However, you only get to see the lower lakes.
Similar to the route A, but it continues across Kozjaka Bridge where you take a boat across the Kozjaka Lake. Once you get off the boat, you can walk back to the Entrance 1, or take a shuttle back. This route is 4 km long, it takes 3 to 4 hours, and a hike is easy.
Plitvice Lakes trail C is actually extended route B. The first part is the same, but instead to return to the Entrance 1 after the boat crosses the Kozjak Lake, you continue the hike along other three lakes to the southernmost Proscansko Lake. The route C is 8 km long, it takes 4 to 6 hours, and a hike is moderate.
The longest route to take starting at the Entrance 1, route K includes also a hike around the Proscansko Jezero. The route K is 18,3 km long, it takes 6 to 8 hours, and a hike is demanding.
The shortest route of all starting at the south gate – Entrance 2, route E takes you along the Upper Lakes, all the way to the Proscansko Jezero. You start a visit with a short boat ride across the Kozjak Lake. You can come back with a shuttle bus, or on foot. The route is 5,2 km long, and it takes 2 to 3 hours.
Route F takes a different direction than the route E. You start a vidit with a longer boat ride across the Kozjak Lake. From there you continue a visit across the Kozjak bridge, and slong the lower lakes to the Great Waterfalls. On return, you'll need to walk up to arrive at the shuttle bus stop. The route is 4,6 km long, and it takes 3 to 4 hours.
Route H includes a bus ride to the Studovac site near the Proscansko Lake. Here you start your hike along the Upoer Lakes to the Kozjak Lake that you cross by boat. After a boat ride, you continue walking along the lower lakes all the way to the Great Waterfall. You return to your starting point by shuttle bus. The route is 8,9 km long, and it takes 4 to 6 hours.
Similar to route K1, K2 route gives you an opportunity to explore entire lakes section of the park. The hike starts at the south entrance – Entrance 2. The route is 18,3 km long, and it takes 6 to 8 hours.
Plitvice lakes national park entrance fee
Plitvice Croatia is open a year around. However, not all parts of the park are accessible to visitors year around. Also, the crowds aren't the same in winter or summer. In order to limit the number of visitors (or at least to discourage them a bit) the Plitvice lakes entrance fee has a tendency to increase in summer time every few years, if not yearly. Last increase of Plitvice lakes price was in spring 2018.
Plitvice lakes national park entrance fee is as following:
Nov.-March | Adults: 55 kn | Children (7 to 18): 35 kn | Children below 7: free
April-June, Sept.-Oct | Adults: 150 kn | Children (7 to 18): 80 kn | Children below 7: free
July-Aug for visits until 4 pm | Adults: 250 kn | Children (7 to 18): 110 kn | Children below 7: free
July-Aug for visits after 4 pm | Adults: 150 kn | Children (7 to 18): 50 kn | Children below 7: free
Parking costs 7 kn per hour.
Working hours & Contacts
Park is open a year around but certain parts of park can have a limited access due to the weather conditions. Shuttles and boats operate from April through October.
Entrance 1 | Nov.-March: Daily, 8 am-4 pm | April-June, Sept.-Oct: Daily, 8 am-5 pm | July-Aug: Daily, 8 am-6 pm
Entrance 2 | Nov.-March: closed | April-June, Sept.-Oct: Daily, 8 am-5 pm | July-Aug: Daily, 8 am-6 pm
Entrance Flora | July-Aug: Daily, 8 am-6 pm
Parking | Daily, 7 am-7 pm
Boat | 8.00 am-6 pm, every 30 minutes
Shuttle | 8.30 am-6 pm, every 30 minutes
Contacts |t: +385 0 53 751 026 | e: email@example.com | Website
Tips on visiting Plitvice Lakes
- Go to the gate 2 and buy your tickets from the little booth just across the wooden bridge, not in the car park as the queues here are very long.
- Buy your ticket at Plitvice entrance 1 or 2, but enter the park through entrance 3. It's much quieter, and boat stop is very close by.
- Go to the toilets before entering the park. You'll find toilets along the trails, at certain stops, but maybe not when you really need it.
- Take plenty of water and enjoy it at your own pace.
- Take a look at the boards to decide which route to take but expect it to take a little longer than stated.
- Get there early in order to avoid crowds. Crowds also tend to go down after 3 pm.
- If visiting in summer, be patient. Some trails are narrow. People of all ages visit the park. Some people move very slow. And people do stop to take photos.
- Further parts of the Plitvice park are less crowded even in summer (from Burgeti station further away).
- Swimming isn't permitted in any of the lakes here, but you can hire a small row boat for only 50 kn per hour.
- Dogs are allowed in the park, but must be kept on leash at all times.
- If you travel by bus, and wonder where to leave your luggage while visiting Plitvice lakes, you'll like to know that at each entrance you'll find designated luggage area. It's free of charge, but go early as storage space might be limited.
- Swimming in Plitvice lakes is strictly forbidden. However, if you feel like cooling down in cool river waters, head to the village of Korana. Here you can swim. You can also swim a bit further north in Slunj.
Accommodation near Plitvice Lakes
Majority of accommodation in the vicinity of the park consists of vacation homes and apartments. There are also a couple of hotels near the entrance 2 (walking distance to the lakes), and in a nearby villages.
Below you will find a couple of properties we recommend in Plitvice Lakes, but for more info check our detailed guide on Plitvice lakes accommodation.
Conveniently located near the south entrance to the park, hotel Jezero gives you a head start to visit the lakes. So if you just want a bad, shower, a roof over your head, and a decent breakfast in the morning, hotel Jezero can be a good choice. The hotel is open year around.Check the latest prices and availability!
A small family-run 4-star hotel Degenija is located only 4 km from the north entrance to the park. The hotel is modern and clean with spacious rooms, good buffet breakfast, free parking, and two on-site restaurants.Check the latest prices and availability!
Ranch Jelov Klanac
A ranch Jelov Klanac is located off the main road, in a magnificent natural setting. Accommodation is provided in two chalets featuring 4-bed and 6-bed apartments. This is an excellent place to stay if you like a seclusion, peace and quiet, slow pace, and if you don't mind to drive a bit to reach the park.Check the latest prices and availability!
Holiday home Fairy Land
A wonderful detached wooden cottage, a holiday home Fairy Land is warm and cozy with a nice fireplace, a small kitchen, and a porch. The cottage can accommodate up to four persons.Check the latest prices and availability!
Villa Verde Guest House
This brand-new villa offers modern and spacious guest rooms with en-suite bathrooms. Located only few kilometers from the lakes, villa Verde is surrounded with greenery. A breakfast is excellent, it even includes eggs from their farm free chickens. Owners are very attentive and friendly.Check the latest prices and availability!
Where to eat in Plitvice
If you're a foodie, you might be disappointed with a food offer in and around Plitvice Lakes.
Many restaurants here are big, adapted to receive large tour coaches. In a high season it doesn't really matter, but in low season you can feel quite intimidated when alone or with just few others in such a big restaurant.
Many restaurants here work only from April to October. If the choice of restaurants is already limited, then in winter is almost non-existent. It's a bit better since reopening of the Licka Kuca, a restaurant near the Plitvice lakes entrance 1.
The food offer here is heavily based on meat, often fried or roasted.
If you drive around a bit, along the road you'll encounter locals selling cheeses, and typical pastries from the area, like cheese or apple strudel.
If you decide to stay at Plitvice Lakes, you can also arrange with a host family to prepare your meals. This can be a hit and miss game, because the food depends on culinary expertise of your host family, but more often than not you'll eat better than in any restaurant around. Such a meal usually costs around 20€ per person, and it consists of a starter, a main, a side dish, a salade, a dessert, and a 1/2 l of a table wine and water.
So here is the list of restaurants to consider trying out if you are in this area:
The restaurant Licka Kuca is located right at the north entrance to the park. It's been recently reopened, after it disappeared in fire back in 2012. It's a big restaurant that can accommodate up to 270 people. The restaurant is run by the state owned company that is also in charge of the entire park, so the service can be a bit grumpy. Food is good, and the ambiance is convivial.
Located within the hotel Degenija, a restaurant Degenija serves everything: grilled meat, pasta, trouts, pizza, you name it, they've got it. Not my kind of a place, but a decent place to have a meal in Plitvice.
A cafe/ bistro Plum also belongs to the hotel Degenija, but it offers a simplified menu featuring burgers, club sandwich, risottos, tortillas, and alike.
Things to do around Plitvice Lakes
Besides a visit to the national park, there are a couple of other interesting activities to do in this area.
Many places around Plitvice offer horseback riding experience, including half-day and full day horseback riding trips, and riding school. You can also book entire horseback riding holidays around the Lakes.
Expect to pay around 30 kn for a 10-minute ride with a guide, or 150 kn per hour for a filed ride.
Equestrian Center Fairy Land | a: Brocanac 39, Rakovica | m: +385 99 871 8181 | e: firstname.lastname@example.org | Website
Ranch Terra | a: Irinovac 156, Grabovac | m: +385 95 911 0544 | e: email@example.com | Website
Ranch Equus Igni | a: Jelov Klanac, Rakovica | m: +385 98 909 7856 | e: firstname.lastname@example.org | Website
A visit to Rastoke
At the entrance of Slunj, just 15 km north of Plitvice Lakes, you'll find an old village of Rastoke. It consists of well-preserved mills surrounded with lovely waterfalls, and rapids. Bring sandwiches and have a picnic while enjoying the beauty of Rastoke. There are also a couple of restaurants and cafes with terraces above and at the edge of water.
White water rafting
With so many rivers, streams, and rapids going through this karst region, white water rafting is, besides hiking, one of the most popular activities to do in Plitvice Lakes. The best rafting here is on rivers Korana and Una (in Bosnia).
Expect to pay anywhere between 25€ and 45€ per person depending on the route.
Mirjana & Rastoke | a: Donji Niksic 101, Slunj | t: +385 47 787 205 | m: +385 98 214 658 | e:email@example.com | Website
Bijeli Sport | a: Kokot – Pecikovici, Bihac (BiH) | t: +387 61 138 853 | e: firstname.lastname@example.org | Website
Read our full post on white water rafting in Croatia.
Quads, Paintball, High-ropes, Abseiling, and more
You can enjoy various outdoor activities in Plitvice lakes, including an off road quad rides, paintball games, archery, high ropes park, jeep safari, kayak safari, and much more.
All these activities you can find at Rizvan City, some 70 km southwest from Plitvice Lakes national park.
Rizvan City | Brušane bb, Brusane | t: +385 245 769 | e: email@example.com | Website
Tesla Museum is located in a village of Smiljan, 65 km from the Lakes. The museum, or rather a park, consists of a inventor's birth house, a Serbian Orthodox Church, a multimedia center, an old barn, and a children playground.
Try to schedule your visit with a start of a guided tour (every two hours). The tour shows a couple of experiments, and a video about Tesla.
Working hours | Apr-Oct.: Tue-Sat, 8 am-7 pm; Sun, 9 am-6 pm; Monday closed | Nov-March: Tue-Sat, 8 am-2 pm; Sun, 10 am-2 pm; Monday closed
Prices | adults: 50 kn | children, students, seniors: 20 kn
Contacts | t: +385 53 746 530 | e: firstname.lastname@example.org | Website
Unfortunately cycling within a national park isn't allowed any longer, but it's extremly popular in the area surrounding the park.
If you plan to cycle in this area, we highly recommend that you book an organised cycling tour with some of the local companies.
These guys know the area inside-out, and will provide the best sightseeing and routes you might otherwise not be able to access yourself. Expect to pay around 40€ per person for a guided tour. For more info check Huck Finn website.
If you would like to do it on your own, check cycling routes in the area at Lika-Senj County Tourist Board website.
Hiking in Plitvice is an obvious thing to do. However, besides hiking within well-known routes of the national park, you can spend days in this area hiking.
Check trekking and hiking routes within the park here.
At the western edge of the national park, there is a zip line with one of the longest lines in all Europe. The line is 1.700 m long, and it picks up speeds of up to 120 km/h (when pushed by north wind from the back).
Price is 240 kn per person.
More info here.
Located in a village of Nova Krslja, just few kilometers from the lakes, the Barac caves were first open to visitors back in 1893, but soon forgotten following the WWII.
A 45-minute guided tour takes you through this underground world.
Prices | adults: 75 kn | children (7-18): 45 kn | children below 7: free of charge
Working hours | Nov.-Feb.: closed | March: Fri-Sun, 10 am-5pm | April, Oct: Daily, 10 am-5pm | May, Sept: Daily, 10 am-6 pm | June, July, Aug: Daily, 9 am-7 pm
Contacts | a: Nova Krslja bb, Rakovica | t: +385 47 782 007 | m: ++385 98 432 720 | e: email@example.com | Website
We hope that our travel guide to Plitvice Lakes was handy in planning your visit to this wonderful natural site. As always, if you have any question, comments, or suggestions, please leave it in the comments below. Happy travels!