Nine Tips for visiting Plitvice Lakes in Croatia
Last Updated on February 21, 2021 by Polly Dimitrova
Plitvice Lakes National Park is not only the oldest and largest national park in Croatia, but it is also part of the UNESCO list of World Natural Heritage sites.
Plitvice Lakes National Park consists of 16 lakes, connected through beautiful waterfalls and cascades and surrounded by rich forests.
A few steps into the park and you will already feel like you are in a fairy-tale. Here are the top 9 tips you should know before visiting Plitvice Lakes.
Visiting Plitvice Lakes in Croatia in 9 Tips
Getting to Plitvice Lakes
Getting to Plitvice Lakes from Zagreb is quite easy and takes around 2 hours. From Zagreb take the E65 highway to Karlovac. At Karlovac, you need to take road D1. At this point, there will be signs navigating your way to Plitvice Lakes for approximately 80 km.
There are also buses from Zagreb and Split to Plitvice Lakes. Getting by car, though, is probably the best and most convenient way for visiting Plitvice Lakes and will give you flexibility with how to plan your time.
When to Go
Spring!! I am sure that the lakes are absolutely stunning throughout the entire year. I visited in the middle of May and absolutely loved it. The waterfalls and cascades run wildly, thanks to the high water levels of the lakes.
Going in April or May also means avoiding the peak tourist season and the large crowds. An additional benefit is the ticket price, which during the offseason is 150 kuna (21 Euro).
Click here for more information on the park and ticket prices.
One more tip for visiting Plitvice Lakes is to start the day early. The lakes get extremely crowded between 11:00 – 15:00 and visiting the lakes might be difficult and unpleasant. Try going off the beaten path and exploring the not so well known spots around the lakes.
Where to Stay
There are plenty of choices where you can stay with a wide range of guest houses and hotels in the area. We decided to stay at the Hotel Jezero, which is one of three hotels located in the National Park. The other ones are Hotel Plitvice and Hotel Bellevue. I strongly recommend staying in one of these three hotels because they would validate your ticket to the lakes for another day or two free of charge. This means that you can buy a one day ticket, but still visit Plitvice Lakes for two or even three days.
The other benefit of staying in one of these hotels is that they are located just next to the entrance, so you do not need to pay for parking. And parking at the Plitvice Lakes costs 7 kunas per hour.
How much time do you need
Well, it all depends, how much time you want to spend at Plitvice Lakes. I would certainly recommend two days, but most tourists manage to cover the lakes in just one day.
Those who decide to visit Plitvice Lakes for 2 days, would often do the upper lakes on the first day and the lower lakes on the second. Well, in reality, you need approximately 5 – 6 hours at a normal pace (no rush) to cover all 16 lakes. What we decided to do, though, is the tourist path on the first day and the off the beaten path on the second.
What to Eat
The best idea is to get some food from a local store or pack a sandwich and take it with you. The food in the park is both unimpressive and expensive. It is also possible to end up wasting too much time lining up to grab some food from the snack places in the park as they get extremely busy at lunchtime.
Also, remember to take enough water as you can only buy water from a few spots around the park.
What to Wear
Trainers or Hiking Shoes are a good idea, especially if you are planning on taking the hiking paths.
Make sure you bring a raincoat as rain is often forecast at Plitvice Lakes. We were lucky that we got only a bit of shower on our first day, but the wooden paths can still get slippery.
Do not miss the Upper Lakes
A lot of people are mainly interested in visiting the biggest waterfall (Veliki Slap) at Plitvice Lakes, which is located at the lower lakes. That makes the area around the lower lakes extremely overcrowded and it is almost impossible for people to pass each other and the experience of the lakes gets very disrupted.
I personally absolutely loved the Upper Lakes and I believe that this area was the more beautiful one. My favourite waterfall was Veliki Prštavac, even though, this is not the biggest waterfall in the park.
Take the off the beaten path
If you like adventures, hikes and less touristy areas, do not follow the crowd – take the off the beaten path instead. The large maps suggest more than the 8 paths. If you pay enough attention, you will notice there are a few hiking trails. I suggest taking one of them.
From station 2, you can take the main road instead of following the crowds to the small path to the right which leads to the lower lakes. In approximately 5 minutes you will get to a rangers office. If you feel insecure or lost ask them for directions. Keep walking on the main road and in another minute or two, you will notice a small path to the right, which will take you to the hiking trail. There are 5 – 6 viewpoints, where you will be able to enjoy the fresh air, the beautiful views of the lakes from the top and what is more you will not be disturbed by the massive crowds. This trail will take you to one of the most beautiful spots in the park – Vidikovac Sighting Point.
Explore and Enjoy
Plitvice Lakes National Park is truly outstanding and one of the most beautiful places I have ever been to. It made me feel like I am in another world. A world filled with beauty, peace and happiness.
Explore the lakes in your own pace, do not rush and take your time. Stop and take a deep breath of fresh air, enjoy the most outstanding views with crystal clear water constantly changing its colour from turquoise to dark green and from light green to azure.
I got extremely unhappy when my camera lens broke just before the trip to Plitvice Lakes, but after that I realized it may have been for the better. I actually managed to enjoy the lakes to their fullest. Because, trust me visiting Plitvice Lakes cannot be explained into words and cannot be described by photos. Go and see yourself. You will not regret it!
Have you been to Plitvice Lakes? Were these tips for visiting Plitvice Lakes useful? Do you have other ones that you found useful and important?
Share in the comments section below.
This is such a great article! I Love the layout and the pictures are absolutely spectacular! I have never heard of these lakes before but they are now on my list of places to see! Keep up the great articles!
Oh my god! What a beautiful place. I never imagined the place like this is in Croatia. This is a must-visit place when in Croatia!
Beautiful pictures!! I’m definitely an off the beaten path kinda gal so thanks for the hiking tips and the upper lake tip!
Can’t wait to head there layers this year all being permitted and well. I’ve not planned it too much but booked accommodation near by for a few days incase we want to try different routes round the park.
That is great, Nicole! I hope that everything goes smooth and you get to experience the area. Have fun 🙂
Wow I love the pictures. I love guides like this with details on how to visit the lesser known places. The lakes look so beautiful i can’t wait to see them soon!
Thank you, Kanuperiyaa! Yes, the lakes are totally worth the visit! 🙂
I am sooooooo wanting to visit Croatia; it’s so beautiful, and your photos show exactly how! I never knew of this spot, definitely pinning so I can find it when we go! Thanks so much!
CARMEN |Wellington World Travels
Oh my goodness!!! your photos are beautiful and the view is breathtaking. I have heard good things about Croatia, but wow! Your tips are really helpful and easy to follow. Thanks for sharing.
Oh my god, what a wonderful place. I can’t believe Croatia city is so nice and cool. I am very enjoying reading this article and pictures are very awsome thanks for sharing the lovely post.
Thank you. Croatia really is a fantastic country with a few extremely beautiful national parks – one of which Plitvice Lakes National Park. I certainly recommend visiting it if you get the chance 🙂
Wow! Plitvice Lakes looks stunning. I can’t believe I haven’t heard of it before (or seen it). Thank you! It’s now added to our bucket list!
It really is. I love this place. Glad that you have liked it and have added it to your bucket list 🙂
Omg I didn’t know about that national park and Croatia is pretty high on my bucketlist, so this is so helpful
I am happy that you found some useful information here, Yasmine 🙂
Your photos are amazing and give a great vision of what I’d like to see at Plitvice Lakes. I am a huge fan of waterfalls and this location has been on my list for years. The tips are very helpful
Thank you, Rhonda! Same here! I love waterfalls too and this was one of the most beautiful places that I have been too. It is certainly worth the visit 🙂
Your pictures makes Plitvice lakes so inviting and your tips on visiting Plitvice lakes are fantastic especially the tips on getting there early. That will be a must to get these sort of pictures.
Thank you, Bolupe! Oh, yes, this is certainly an important one, as everyone arrives during the lunch time and it can get extremely busy!
This is so amazing! We were supposed to visit Croatia this summer but unfortunately, the pandemic had other ideas. I will be pinning your post for when we finally do make it there!
Oh this is so, unfortunate, Michell. Hopefully you will get to visit in the upcoming year or two. 🙂
I love that you mentioned that there are several trails! People tend to stay on the same one, and miss out on so much from this amazing NP.
Yes, Coni. I have noticed the same and I think often people do not really know about the secret trails that can actually take you to the best spots 🙂
Wow sounds like a hidden treasure in Croatia and so close to Zagreb. I’d love to visit Croatia some day!
Yes, it really is! It is a place that is worth visiting 🙂
I can honestly say that I have never seen so much beauty! I was looking at cruises at one time that stopped here, but forget that! I’m going to stay in Croatia for a couple of weeks so I can visit the Plitvice Lakes. It is good to know that April/May is the best time to visit to avoid the crowds (or at least have less crowds).
It really is one of the most beautiful places that I have seen as well. Yes, during the summer it gets too crowded and the experience is not as nice and pleasant.
I have seen many pictures of Plitvice lakes but nothing as fascinating as the ones in this article. Lovely pictures and I super like the format of your blog. When I visited Croatia, I really don’t remember how I missed visiting this beautiful place.
Thank you, Anuradha! I am glad that you enjoy the format of the article as well! Oh, you should certainly go back and visit them 🙂
I liked the format of your blog, it is reader friendly. One thing which i liked in your blog, is the amount of detailing, like the name of the hotels from where you can get your ticket validated. Generally tourists, don’t have this kind of information and it comes very handy. And like you I believe the lake needs more then one day. Amazing blog.
Thank you so much for the positive feedback, Ramya! I greatly appreciate it! Yes, I belive this is good information to have 🙂
Woah! I never knew the Plitvice Lakes existed! This place is jaw-droppingly gorgeous. I now can’t wait to go back to Croatia for this!!
I am glad that you found something that you did not know about, Lauren! 🙂
This looks so beautiful! I have not been able to visit Croatia yet but when I do this is definitely on my list 🙂 Thanks for all the great tips!
Yes, totally worth the visit. It is a place that needs to be on your bucket list 🙂
Plitvice Lakes are actually one of the most gorgeous places in Croatia! I visited about 4 years back and spent two days exploring Plitvice and felt it was totally worth it. You’re right in saying that one must explore the Upper Lakes too. It’s a pity one can’t swim in these lakes, the waters are so clear and blue, all I wanted to do was jump into them!
That is so true, I think swimming in the lakes would have been amazing as well. 🙂
It is a stunning place. I tried visiting in August when I was driving down to Greece, and it was just too crowded and unpleasant. So I visited in early October on my way back north, and the autumn colours were stunning. There was hardly anyone else around, and the off-season tickets were cheaper too.
Yes, totally agree with you Annie, I found the Plitvice Lakes to be one of the most beautiful places I have been to. Oh, I can only imagine how beautiful it would be during the autumn with the fall colours. I would love to go back and visit during another season one day. Autumn sounds like a good idea!
What’s a beautiful lakes. i really love these picture. thanks for sharing information about this lakes.
I am glad that you liked the article 🙂