Plitvice Lakes Croatia – the most beautiful national park in the Balkans

Just imagine – 16 lakes, all arranged in cascades between two rivers where the water goes from one river to another. While on the way, the water forms a series of waterfalls. 

To make things even better, the water is crystal clear and there are mountains in the picture. With a landscape like that, of course, it is Croatia’s most visited national park – this is Plitvice Lakes National Park. It is also a part of the UNESCO World Heritage list since 1997.

Table of Contents

Introducing Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia

Crystal Clear Water - Plitvice Lakes Croatia
Water so clear that you can see the bottom of the lake – Plitvice Lakes Croatia

One of the most beautiful National Parks in Europe, the Plitvice Lakes is even more beautiful than the pictures. It is more than just the 16 interconnected lakes. It has spectacular waterfalls, river canyons, tufa formations, travertines, elevated viewpoints and so much more.

As per Wikipedia, the other comparable formations worldwide like Plitvice where tufa formation causes lakes and waterfalls are at Pamukkale in Turkey, Rastoke (Slunj) in Croatia, KRKA National Park in Croatia, Una National Park in Bosnia & Herzegovina – these all I have visited.

Also to add to this list are the Hindu Kush mountains’ Band-e Amir lakes, Yellowstone National Park, Jiuzhaigou in China, and Ocho Rios in Jamaica.

Snake inside the water in Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia
Snake inside the water in Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia

The biodiversity in Plitvice Lakes National Park is so rich – there are at least 75 plant species here that can’t be found anywhere else. If I were an animal, I would have picked THIS place to be my home.

There are 125 bird species, wolves, brown bears, and eagles that live here to name a few. Honestly, you won’t see all these animals but you will surely see amazing fish. We saw a snake too!

Water so slear that you can see the fish - Plitvice Lakes Croatia
Water so clear that you can see the fish – Plitvice Lakes Croatia

Plitvice is one of the oldest parks in South East Europe. It is the best place to visit for nature lovers. Nothing can prepare you for the beauty of the spectacle of Mother Nature in this national park.

On the other hand, nothing can prepare you for the shock of seeing the hordes of tourists lining up to enter this place during the high season.

After all, more than 1 million people visit it every year – and the number is steadily increasing. It is a part of most of many Croatia travel itineraries.

The crowd near Veliki slap in Plitvice Lakes Croatia
The crowd near Veliki slap in Plitvice Lakes Croatia

This is where MY HELP comes in, my post will help you figure out how to do Plitvice Lakes right. Yep, read on friends because I’m going to share my best tips for avoiding crowds, share info about photo spots, help you select a hike as per your comfort level and more. 

Having visited multiple national parks all over Europe, the beauty of Plitvice Lakes still holds very special in my heart. I want all my readers to enjoy this place as much as I did.

Things to Know Before Visiting Plitvice Lakes + Tips

Should You Make a Day Trip to Plitvice Lakes?

Stunning Clear Water - Plitvice Lakes, Croatia
Stunning Clear Water – Plitvice Lakes, Croatia
 

Avoid making a day trip to the Plitvice Lakes National Park [especially during the peak season] because it will be a stressful experience.

If you make a day trip here from the nearby towns of Zadar or Split, you won’t arrive here before 9 or 10 a.m. and that’s when it gets extremely crowded.  

If you’re visiting anytime between June to August, please note that they are peak months. Do not even think of visiting the national park for just a day trip from one of the nearby cities. The crowds are crazy and it will be the most stressful experience. Vacations aren’t supposed to be like that. 

If you’re visiting Plitvice Lakes during the low season then you can consider a day trip. If you have the energy to wake up extremely early and arrive here during spring, autumn, or winter – walk around at least 5 km in the park, and then leave then by all means do it.

But again, there’s so much to see in this national park that I highly recommend you take time and explore.

Here are some of the best day trips to Plitvice Lakes National Park that we have hand-picked for you:

Can You Stay Inside the Plitvice Lakes National Park?

One of the many upper lakes in Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia
One of the many upper lakes in Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia

Yes. There are just three hotels in Plitvice Lakes National Park where you can stay. There’s Hotel Plitvice, Hotel Bellevue and Hotel Jezero. Yes, they are really inside the national park close to park entrance 2. Entrance 2 is close to the upper lakes.

I don’t know why many websites claim that the park-operated hotels are overpriced – they aren’t. A room in these hotels can be from 70 Euros to 150 Euros per night.

Imagine you save money on getting to the national park on your taxi or the inconvenience of standing in line. Even if you spend 20 euros more by staying inside the national park, it is worth it (at least for me) as compared to staying in a village that’s 10 kilometers away.

Keep in mind that just because your hotel is inside the national park, you still have to buy your ticket for the Plitvice Lakes.

Yes, you can totally skip the queue and just walk in! If you’re not looking to stay inside the national park, then look for accommodation in nearby villages such as Čatrnja, Mukinje, and Rastovaca.

Plitvice Lakes Swimming

The inviting waters of Plitvice Lakes, Croatia
The inviting waters of Plitvice Lakes, Croatia

Can you swim in Plitvice Lakes? Sorry to break this to you. It is no longer permitted to swim in the lakes or waterfalls of Plitvice Lakes National Park. Before 2006, it was possible to swim in Lake Kozjak.

This beautiful area is sensitive and human influence harms the tufa formation. The process of tufa formation takes centuries as a result of the sedimentation of minerals from water.

The cascades of lakes and waterfalls inside this national park exist because of tufa – you don’t want to spoil that, right? After all, it is a UNESCO World Heritage site.

If you’re looking for a National Park where you can admire nature and swim, then try the nearby KRKA National Park or Kravice Waterfalls of Bosnia and Herzegovina. I have been to both and I loved them. I prefer the Kravice National Park of Bosnia over the KRKA National Park of Croatia.

Upper and Lower Lakes

Illustration of multi level lakes in Plitvice, Croatia
Illustration of multi-level lakes in Plitvice, Croatia

Sixteen Lakes – wow that’s a lot of lakes to view in just a day or two by walking, no? Well, you will be happy to know that they’re divided into Upper and Lower Lakes to make things easier for you to explore. There are 12 upper lakes and 4 lower lakes. During winter, some parts of the upper lakes may be closed.

How to Avoid the Crowds in Plitvice Lakes (in Summer)

Plitvice Lakes tends to get full in summer
Plitvice Lakes tends to get full in summer

Avoiding crowds is an important aspect of a stress-free travel experience, especially in a place like Plitvice Lakes. It is necessary to make a proper strategy else the crowds will greet you at every turn here. 

I have mentioned a few points below that you can keep in mind to skip the crowds. Not just one but you will have to implement a few of these points together to avoid crowds inside the Plitvice Lakes National Park.

Buy Your Tickets Online in Advance

The long lines in Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia
The long lines in Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia

The best way to avoid crowds in Plitvice Lakes is by saving yourself time in standing in the ticket queue. Queues are very long in summer so buy the tickets on the internet from before.

You will need to select your date and time for entering the national park at the time you purchase the tickets. If available, your time slot can be as early as 7 a.m. or as late as 5 p.m

Reach Super Early

When I say reach the Plitvice Lakes early, I mean earlier than early. The day-trippers start arriving between 9 and 10 and that’s when the national park starts getting jam-packed.

As mentioned in the last point, buy your tickets online and select an early morning time slot like 7 a.m. If in some cases you can’t find park tickets, then just show up at the entry area at 7 a.m. Of course this is why it helps if you book an overnight stay nearby.

..Or Reach in the Late Afternoon

Are you not a morning person? Neither am I. If 7 or 8 am slots are too early for you then enter in the afternoon to avoid the queues. The ticket price is cheaper in the late afternoon after 4 p.m.

The park closes by 8 p.m. in summer but much earlier in winter. If you enter at 4, you won’t have a lot of time to spend inside but you can most likely move faster because the trails won’t be jam-packed.

Pick the Longer Trail

Walking along the lake on trail K in Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia
Walking along the lake on trail K in Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia – we picked the longest trail

There are 7 walking routes or walking trails and they are of different lengths. I have a separate section in this post with details about the trails. Most of the people pick the smallest hiking trail. Veliki Slap / Big Waterfall is the most famous spot and tends to get very crowded after 10 a.m. 

In order to avoid crowds, pick the longer trail. Someone also mentioned that they avoided crowds by walking in the opposite direction of the trail.  Most of the smaller trails are crowded, the bigger trails are beautiful and totally worth it. The park is just so beautiful that you won’t even realize that you’ve walked so much.

Take a Detour

If you reach the park early, take a detour to Veliki Slap to avoid the crowds and come back to your original trail. Your entry ticket will also include a map on the opposite side, which isn’t difficult to read. Make the most of it.

Entrance 2 is a Lot Less Crowded

I mentioned a few times that the park has two entrances. Park entrance 1 is closer to the lower lakes and entrance 2 is closer to the upper lakes. Most of the people enter from the first entrance and hence it is more crowded than Entrance 2. The parking at Plitvice Lakes is both at entrances 1 and 2.

The Best Spots and Viewpoints inside Plitvice Lakes

If you’re like me and suffer from a massive FOMO (fear of missing out), then take the biggest walking trail so that you don’t miss out on even a single thing. However, if you’re short on time or low on energy, you will have to take one of the smaller trails or do a part of the bigger trail. In any case, here are some of my favorite stops:

Mali Prštavac Slap and Veliki Prštavac Waterfalls

Mali Prštavac Slap - the most beautiful waterfall in Plitvice Lakes Croatia
Mali Prštavac Slap – the most beautiful waterfall in Plitvice Lakes Croatia
Mali Prštavac Slap in Plitvice Lakes National Park in Croatia
Mali Prštavac Slap in Plitvice Lakes National Park in Croatia
Us in front of Mali Prštavac Slap - small waterfall in Plitvice Lake Croatia
Us in front of Mali Prštavac Slap – a small waterfall in Plitvice Lake Croatia

Going through all my photos of Plitvice Lakes, I realized this spot was really the most beautiful one. In fact, we loved it so much that we walked around here twice. This is Mali Prštavac Slap – one of the waterfalls in the upper lakes.

Us near Veliki Prštavac Waterfall in Plitvice Lakes Croatia
Us near Veliki Prštavac Waterfall in Plitvice Lakes Croatia
Veliki Prštavac Waterfall n Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia
Veliki Prštavac Waterfall n Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia

Actually, there’s a series of waterfalls that’s together – Veliki Prštavac Slap and Mali Prštavac Slap. Mali means small and Veliki means big. Slap means waterfall. There is an area where it is all together – Burgeti Lake, Gradinsko Lake, Veliki (Big) Prstavac, and Mali (small) Prstavac. Apart from these, there are many smaller waterfalls here.

The water here is super clear and it looks like one of those unbelievable AI-created natural landscapes that look too good to be true. The splash of blue water against the lush greenery is truly stunning at these waterfalls.

Galovački Buk Waterfall

Galovački Buk Waterfall is also in the upper lakes area and very close to. The water is clearer than most of the spots and the series of waterfalls look fantastic. It took me a while to realize what this spot is called and where it is.

The extremely beautiful Galovački Buk inside plitvice lakes
The extremely beautiful Galovački Buk inside plitvice lakes
clear pools under Galovački Buk in Plitvice Lakes Croatia
clear pools under Galovački Buk in Plitvice Lakes Croatia

This series of waterfalls is in the upper lakes area. This waterfall isn’t as big as Veliki Slap (the most famous and the biggest waterfall in Plitvice Lakes National Park), but in our opinion is the most beautiful one.

Galovački Buk is 25 meters high and falls from Milino Lake and Galovac Lake to Gradinsko Lake. The result is truly spectacular. 

To be honest, there is a little bit of confusion on the internet because if you google the pictures of Galovački Buk and Mali Prštavac Slap – the internet will show you the same waterfall for both names. They are two separate waterfalls.

If I hadn’t clicked a picture of the signboard next to Mali Prštavac Slap, I would have never known which one is which because the park is massive.

San and I in Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia
San and I in Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia

Viewpoint Near Veliki Slap / Big Waterfall (There are three)

Veliki Slap means big waterfall and is the most famous spot in the entire National Park. The Veliki Slap is at the end of the lower lakes.

Yes, the waterfall is surely beautiful but the best viewpoints to see the Plitvice Lakes are right over Veliki Slap. Veliki Slap and the surrounding limestone canyon are included on every walking route in Plitvice Park.

The big waterfall is lovely but the real beauty of it all lies further up on the other side of the canyon from where you can see lakes cascading into several waterfalls inside the huge canyon with the Big Waterfall on the right-hand side. 

Viewpoint Near the Big Waterfall - Veliki Slap in Plitvice Lakes National Park Croatia
Viewpoint Near the Big Waterfall – Veliki Slap in Plitvice Lakes National Park Croatia – Shot on my GoPro

There are at least three viewpoints on top of Veliki Slap and they’re not difficult to find. The view is awesome and a little different from all three. Here is how you can find them. (You may want to bookmark the below paragraph before visiting the national park.)

In the first viewpoint, you will see Veliki Slap behind Sastavci Waterfalls (Sastavci Slap). This is the most famous image of Plitvice Lakes that’s used everywhere.

The picture on top was shot on my GoPro. I visited during an extremely sunny day and the excessive daylight ruined my photo. Below is another image that I found of this spot on the internet. I wanted to show you both so that you understand how this place looks with and without harsh sunlight. 

The Viewpoint on top of Veliki Slap in Plitvice Lakes National park Croatia
The Viewpoint on top of Veliki Slap in Plitvice Lakes National Park Croatia – CC0 via Pixabay

As you face the Big Waterfall, take the steps that are on the left side that go behind the waterfall. You will eventually be on a higher path that goes around the waterfall.

Follow that path and you’ll reach the viewpoint where the most famous photo of the Plitvice Lakes is taken that’s used in most of the travel brochures. If you’re confused, then head on trail C or K after the big waterfall. You will soon reach the viewpoints. We also went up on trail B.

That’s not the only viewpoint. If you continue to explore the path that goes up on the other side of the canyon, you will see other viewpoints like this one here. Here are the other two viewpoints. The below one is particularly my favorite one because the time I visited, the water here looked lovely turquoise. 

One of the viewpoints above the Big Waterfall - Plitvice Lakes, Croatia
One of the viewpoints above the Big Waterfall – Plitvice Lakes, Croatia
Us on top - one of the viewpoints on top of Veliki Slap in Plitvice Lakes Croatia
Us on top – one of the viewpoints on top of Veliki Slap in Plitvice Lakes Croatia

I liked the second viewpoint more because there was more to see. You may not noticed but the pictures of the first viewpoint are really zoomed in. It doesn’t look as striking as the second one looks in reality but of course, in the pictures it does. 

Here is the third viewpoint that’s on top of the big waterfall. This viewpoint also shows you the great cascades, which can’t be seen from the other viewpoints.

Panorama viewpoint on top of Veliki slap in Plitvice Lakes Croatia
Panorama viewpoint on top of Veliki slap in Plitvice Lakes Croatia
Panorama viewpoint on top of Veliki slap in Plitvice Lakes National Park Croatia
Panorama viewpoint on top of Veliki slap in Plitvice Lakes National Park Croatia

Again, because of very harsh sunlight, my picture from the third viewpoint isn’t as good as many others that you will see on the internet. Here’s a better picture of the view from here. This is a highly zoomed-in picture. 

Plitvice Lakes - third viewpoint over the big waterfall that shoes the cascades
Plitvice Lakes – third viewpoint over the big waterfall that shows the cascades

Which one do you like the most? Viewpoints 1, 2, or 3 – let me know in the comments.

Tomićevo Pogledalo Viewpoint on Stubica Elevation

This viewpoint is on the trail that leads to Stubica Elevation from Lake Kozjak. There is a gazebo called Tomićevo Pogledalo where you can look at the panoramic view and see Lake Prošćansko and Lake Ciginovac. You will find this spot on walking trail K.

Tomićevo Pogledalo Viewpoint in Plitvice Lakes Croatia
Tomićevo Pogledalo Viewpoint in Plitvice Lakes Croatia
View from Stupica Elevation on trail K - Plitvice Lakes Croatia
View from Stubica Elevation on trail K – Plitvice Lakes Croatia

As you go down from Stubica elevation, you will also come across several spots from between the trees from where you can see the upper lakes and this little waterfall.

If you want to take pictures of Plitvice Lakes that are a little different from others’ photos, then go on top of Stubica Elevation and find such viewpoints.

View of the waterfall from trail K inside Plitvice Lakes National Park Croatia
View of the waterfall from Trail K inside Plitvice Lakes National Park Croatia
Waterfall view inside Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia
Waterfall view inside Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia

Šupljara cave

The path going inside Šupljara cave in Plitvice Lakes National Park
The path going inside Šupljara cave in Plitvice Lakes National Park

Šupljara cave is located in the lower lakes section, near Kaluđerovac Lake. There is a path that goes inside this cave. Don’t take a detour to just see this lake if you’re not visiting the lower lakes because it is pretty ok. This was the only cave that I saw in the entire park, so for me, this was one of the most memorable spots.

Šupljara cave, Plitvice Lakes
Šupljara cave near Kaluđerovac Lake – Plitvice Lakes, Croatia

Novakovića Lake

Novakovića Lake is the lowest lake in Plitvice National Park, located at an altitude of 503 meters above sea level. It is one of the smallest lakes in the group of Lower Lakes.

The lake is fed by waters from Kaludjerovac Lake via a meters two-meter-high travertine barrier, creating a series of tiny waterfalls. There is a nice wooded path leading over this barrier. 

The Great Cascades

There are many other spots inside the Plitvice Lakes National Park that are stunning. I really liked these cascades too. You will see the cascades at many different points in both upper and lower lakes.

Getting Around inside Plitvice Lakes

Plitvice Lakes National Park is pretty big but you don’t have to cover it all by just walking. You can take boats and trains inside for free. You need to hang on to your entry ticket and show it while getting onto an electric boat.

We did not end up taking a boat because there were a lot of people waiting so we decided to walk instead.

Seven Routes inside Plitvice Lakes National Park

The wooden walking ramp in Plitvice Lakes National Park Croatia
The wooden walking ramp in Plitvice Lakes National Park Croatia

Now that I have mentioned all the amazing spots inside the national park, you must be wondering which walking route you should pick to see them. I have gathered the details for you for that as well. There are seven suggested routes inside the Plitvice Lakes National Park and they are called “Lake Tour Programs”. You can do them by walking and also take a boat in between.

Routes that start from Entrance 1

  • Program A – 3.5 km, Short – this route covers the big waterfall, and the lower lakes – Novakovića brod, Kaluđerovac, Gavanovac, and Milanovac. You also go on the Kozjak Bridge and towards a part of the canyon. It is the most crowded trail.
  • Program B – 4 km, Short – This route covers the big waterfall, the lower lakes, a boat ride over Kozjak Lake, a panoramic train, and a part of the canyon.
  • Program C – 8 km, Long – Highly Recommended – This route will show you both the upper and the lower lakes, a big waterfall, and many smaller waterfalls like Veliki Prštavac and Mali Prštavac. This route also includes a boat ride and a panoramic train ride.
  • Program K1 – 18.3, Very Long – This is the one we took. Actually, Program K starts from both entrances 1 and 2. You can do this circle from any entrance instead, we did from entrance 1. This route includes everything – the lower lakes, upper lakes, big waterfall, and Stubica elevation. Instead of taking a boat over Lake Kozjak, you walk along the shore, and as a result, you see so much more.
One of the many waterfalls near the upper lakes in Plitvice Lakes National Park
One of the many waterfalls near the upper lakes in Plitvice Lakes National Park

Routes that start from Entrance 2

  • Program E – 5.1 KMs, Medium – This route only includes the upper lakes and Prštavci waterfalls. If you have to do one of the shorter trails, then pick this. It doesn’t have the big waterfall but has the smaller Prštavci waterfalls which I found more beautiful. 
  • Program F – 4.6 KMs, Medium – This route includes the lower lakes and the big waterfall. You miss out on the lovely Prštavci waterfalls but you will end up seeing the big waterfall and the viewpoints on top of the big waterfall.
  • Program H – 8.9 KMs – Long – Highly Recommended – This route will show you the upper lakes, lower lakes, the big waterfall, and the viewpoints. There’s also the boat ride on Lake Kozjak. It shows you most of what the park has to offer apart from Stubica Elevation.
  • Program K2 – 18.3, Very Long – Program K1 and K2 are both the same routes but the numbers are different to signify the different entrances where they begin. This route includes everything – the upper lakes, lower lakes, the big waterfall, and the Stubica Elevation.

If you want to see the most of Plitvice Lakes National Park but don’t want to walk as much as we did, then pick the trail H or C. If you want to pick a shorter trail and see the upper lakes and the smaller but lovelier waterfalls, then pick the trail E. I highly recommend you study the routes to make a suitable Plitvice Lakes itinerary for yourself.

Empty walking trail - route K in Plitvice Lakes national park
Empty walking trail – route K in Plitvice Lakes National Park

How to Get to Plitvice Lakes National Park?

It is easy to reach the Plitvice Lakes by car, bus, or even a taxi. Many taxi guys wait at bus stations and are happy to match the bus ticket price when there are at least 10 people.  

Reaching Plitvice Lakes by Car

Driving to Plitvice Lakes from Zagreb or Zadar, Croatia
Driving to Plitvice Lakes from Zagreb or Zadar, Croatia

It is so easy to travel within Europe in a rented car and turns out to be cheaper than taking buses and trains when there are 2 or more people. I wonder why San and I did not do this enough in our backpacking days. I highly recommend you rent a car in Zagreb or Zadar or Split or Karlovac and arrive here at your own pace. 

You can reach Plitvice Lakes in 2.5 to 3 hours from Zagreb on E71. You can make your route faster by switching to D42 or D1 from Karlovac city. From Zadar, the drive will take you 1.5 hours on E71 and D1. From Split, it will take you 2.5 – 3.5 hours on E71.

Reaching Plitvice Lakes on Bus

Shuttles and Buses to Plitvice Lakes, Croatia
Shuttles and Buses to Plitvice Lakes, Croatia

You can easily reach the Plitvice Lakes on a bus from Zagreb, Zadar, or Split. Buses that run between Zagreb to Zadar OR Zagreb and Split cross Plitvice Lakes. 

We arrived here from Pula with a change in Karlovac. Honestly, at that time we had no idea and we just reached the bus station and asked the ticket seller for help. It worked well for us and we waited for just 45 minutes for our bus. Of course, we had a general idea of our direction.

We did not even have a hotel reservation. Our bus driver dropped us outside Camp Korana, which is just 3 km away from the park.

How to Reach Plitvice Lakes from Your Hotel

If you get a hotel near the Plitvice Lakes, you will most likely stay in Čatrnja, Mukinje, or Rastovaca. I did not find information

Staying in one of the park-operated hotels will make it easier for you to get to the national park because you can simply walk in or if you’re further away, there will be a shuttle bus for you. 

Plitvice Lakes Entrance Fee

Like many National Parks in the Balkans, the Plitvice Lakes also have different ticket prices for different seasons. The tickets are more expensive in summer as compared to other months. Here is a breakdown of the cost based on the season for 2023 and 2024.

Adults, 1 dayAdults, 2 dayChild (7-18 years), 1 Day Child (7-18 years), 2 Day
Jan, Feb, March, November & December1015,504,507,50
April, May, October23,5039,506,5010,00
June, July, August, September (Peak Season Full Day)4059,7015,0022,50
Peak Season Afternoon Entry26,509,00
Plitvice Lakes Entrance Ticket Prices

Children below 7 years and people with disabilities can enter the Plitvice Lakes National Park for free. If you are here in a group of 15 or more, you can get discounted pricing only if you have informed the park authorities at least 2 days in advance on prodaja@np-plitvicka-jezera.hr and they have confirmed.

Be smart, and buy your tickets online from before to avoid wasting your time. Even the park officials recommend pre-booking the entry tickets.

Wondering what is the afternoon time here? From June 1 to August 31, it is 4 PM, and from September 1 to September 30 is 3 PM. If you buy a double-day ticket, the price is not double. 

 

Eating Inside Plitvice Lakes

Most of the restaurants inside the Plitvice Lakes complex are expensive. I’d say they were at least three times more expensive than other places in Croatia. There was a lot of waiting and most of the restaurants mainly sold burgers and chips. 

If you want my recommendation, check out Licka Kuca restaurant near Entrance 1. They have good salads, platters, polenta, and apple strudel. Meat lovers will enjoy this restaurant because of local Croatian specialties

Best Time to Visit the Plitvice Lakes

Lovely flowers inside Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia
Lovely flowers inside Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia
The Flowers inside Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia
The Flowers inside Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia

We visited in summer – the water was very blue but the park was crowded. Spring and Autumn months are recommended to avoid the crowds. Moreover, it is cheaper to visit Plitvice Lakes during this time. The tickets are also cheaper in winter but the water isn’t as blue. Of course, the lakes are beautiful all year round but every season has its own charm.

I can only imagine how lovely the park would be during the autumn or spring months. Imagine the contrast of red and brown leaves against the turquoise-blue waters – wow. Or, imagine flowers around the lakes and waterfalls. I’m sure Plitvice Lakes look stunning during winter but I’d personally not visit during that time considering how some part of the upper lakes is usually closed.

How Many Days Do You Need for Plitvice Lakes?

Stay overnight in one of the nearby villages so that you can enter the park early and avoid peak crowds. Do not make a day trip here, the park deserves way more than that.

Other Tips for Visiting Plitvice Lakes Croatia

Wear Comfortable Shoes

Wear comfortable shoes in Plitvice Lakes National Park
Wear comfortable shoes in Plitvice Lakes National Park

This is the most obvious point but many people miss it. Even if you take the shortest walking path inside the Plitvice Lakes National Park, you will still have to walk a lot. Be kind to your feet and wear comfortable shoes. 

Don’t just wear a brand new pair of shoes right before the hike, because c’mon you need to “break your shoe” first. Instead, wear your slightly older tried and tested shoes.

Bring your own food to save money

The entry for Plitvice Lakes isn’t exactly cheap but you can save money by carrying your own food. If you want to eat at the restaurants that are inside, then keep in mind that they’re a bit expensive. 

Consider Getting a 2 Day Ticket

Croatia's Plitvice Lakes have the clearest water
Croatia’s Plitvice Lakes have the clearest water

Take your time to explore and make the most of your visit. It is possible to buy a multi-day ticket. Consider getting a 2-Days ticket for the park if you’re not in the mood to walk a lot in a single day.

The Park has two entrances

Plitvice Lakes National Park has two entrances – 1 and 2. Entrance 1 is closer to the lower lakes and entrance 2 is closer to the upper lakes. During winter, entrance 2 is usually closed.

Consider staying in one of the park-operated hotels to avoid the parking fee

If you’re visiting Plitvice Lakes National Park by driving here in your own car, then be mindful of the parking fee. You can avoid it by staying in one of the park-operated hotels.

Unlike many websites say – not all the park-recommended hotels aren’t overpriced. The time we visited Plitvice Lakes National Park, we were backpacking and we pitched our tent in Camp Korena. It is also one of the park’s recommended places to stay but it is very affordable.

Plitvice Lakes National Park has an App – Use it

Consider downloading the mobile app to study the trails. Instead of spending hours on the internet and hunting for information that you need about Plitvice Lakes National Park, why not install just one free app that’s run by the park tourism? Try it. 

Visiting Plitvice Lakes with Baby? Yes or No?

The wooden walking path in Plitvice Lakes National Park Croatia
The wooden walking path in Plitvice Lakes National Park Croatia

I’m all for traveling with a baby and I have multiple posts that encourage new parents to do so. However, Plitvice Lakes National Park isn’t the best place for you to bring your baby in a stroller. 

Why? Well because when you’re inside the national park, the only way to walk from one place to another is by taking one of the walking paths. Taking your baby’s pram on the wooden ramp isn’t going to be comfortable for you and those who are around you. The path goes up and down has steps. You will cause a traffic jam to an already jammed-up space. 

It isn’t easy to take your baby on your arm and walk so much, and it isn’t easy taking pushchairs and strollers. If you’re traveling with a baby then consider skipping Plitvice and heading to Krka National Park instead. 

Where to Stay to visit Plitvice Lakes

Plitvice Lakes Lakes Hotels

Hotels In Plitvice National Park

There are only three hotels inside Plitvice Lakes National Park. They are Hotel Plitvice, Hotel Bellevue and Hotel Jezero. Yes, they are really inside the national park close to entrance 2. You can really skip the queue and walk inside the national park but of course, you have to buy your ticket. They are priced between EUR 70 per night for two to EUR 300. 

Places to Stay near Plitvice Lakes

Here are a few guest houses, hotels, and campgrounds near the Plitvice Lakes National Park.

Camp Korana (They have Bungalows Too – Bungalows Korana)

Our camping place in Camp Korana near Plitvice Lakes Croatia
Our camping place in Camp Korana near Plitvice Lakes Croatia

The time I went to Plitvice Lakes, I stayed in Camp Korana. It is a camping place that’s next to the River Korana. Yes, the same river that is also in Plitvice Lakes National Park. The best part is that they have free shuttles to the National Park and back.

They also have bungalows, and that part is called Bungalows Korana.

Outdoor restaurant in Camp Korana near Plitvice Lakes Croatia
Outdoor restaurant in Camp Korana near Plitvice Lakes Croatia

Camp Korana is essentially a place for camper vans but we entered without a van just with our tents. This place is very big from the inside. We visited in the peak summer season – August but still there appeared to be a lot of free space inside.

Camp Korana Swimming Spot by Korana River - camping place near Plitvice Lakes Croatia
Camp Korana Swimming Spot by Korana River – camping place near Plitvice Lakes Croatia

We also saw bungalows inside and their website advertises that there are 47 of them. So, if camping isn’t your thing, then you can also rent a bungalow here. There’s also a decent restaurant here and a bar. There’s wifi that actually works in the entire campground.

Green Lakes House

Green Lakes House is one of the most affordable places to stay that’s super close to Plitvice Lakes. It is 2 km away from entrance 2 of the national park.

This guest house also has an air conditioner, that you will surely need if you’re visiting Croatia in summer. They have a dining area that you can share with other travelers. They also offer free WiFi. The rooms here cost between 40 – 50 EUR per night.

House Flora in Rastovaca

House Flora is just 700 meters away from the Plitvice Lakes National Park’s entrance 1. If you want to save money by staying outside the national park, you can’t get any closer than this! The rooms sell out fast and are for 80 – 100 EUR. 

Where to Go After Plitvice Lakes?

Plitvice Lakes is located in Central Croatia and if you drive for just 20 kilometers, you will arrive at the Bosnian border. Here are some amazing places where you can go after visiting Plitvice Lakes:

Una National Park, Bosnia

Una National Park is very close to the Croatia-Bosnia border. It is just 70 kilometers away from Plitvice Lakes. We have visited Bosnia & Herzegovina twice and we love it. It is as beautiful as Croatia, minus the crowds. There are two big waterfalls inside Una National Park and they’re spectacular.

Slunj – Rastoke (Mini Plitvice Lakes) and Mjesto Primišlje

MoDem Festival's Killer Location - Psytrance Festivals 2017
MoDem Festival’s Killer Location – Psytrance Festivals 2017

Slunj town is 25 km away from Plitvice Lakes – it is totally under the radar and you can visit the historical center here called Rastoke. Here Slunjčica River joins Korana River and creates something that’s called Mini Plitvice Lakes.

Primslje is around 15 km away from Slunj and is just 38 kilometers away from Plitvice Lakes. I have visited (and camped here) twice. It is actually the location for the Modem festival and I’m sure it is much better to visit it without the festival. Here Mrežnica River creates multiple pools and waterfalls. You can camp here at Campsite Vrela Mrežnice.

KRKA National Park

We visited KRKA National Park this year (2019) and enjoyed it. Unlike Plitvice, you can swim here. It is nowhere as beautiful as the Plitvice Lakes but swimming makes the experience worthwhile.

Zadar

Zadar is 119 Kilometers away from Plitvice Lakes National Park. It is a historical coastal town that is a famous tourist destination in Croatia.

Kravice Waterfalls, Bosnia

Kravice Waterfalls are 337 Kilometers away from Plitvice Lakes National Park. These waterfalls are in Bosnia & Herzegovina and are truly spectacular. You can swim here too. Read my post about Kravice Waterfalls for more information.

Have you visited the Plitvice Lakes, Croatia?

If yes, did you like it as much as I did? What were your favorite spots inside the national park? Also, I’d love to know if you saw crowds here and what are your tips for avoiding them.

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