The Complete Guide to Visiting the Picturesque Plitvice Lakes

by wanderworld
Plitvice Lakes National Park

The Complete Guide to Visiting the Picturesque Plitvice Lakes

You haven’t truly visited Croatia unless you explore the Plitvice lakes! Honestly, if you’re going to Croatia, or you are in Croatia, plan your trip to Plitvice lakes NOW!

The Plitvice lakes became a protected national park in 1949 and became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979.  The park consists of 16 beautiful interconnected lakes and a whopping 90+ waterfalls, making the views absolutely magical.

Plitvice Lakes National Park

Park Opening Times:

For updated times and opening hours, visit the official website page here.

Winter– 8am – 4pm

Spring – 8am – 7pm

Summer– 7am  – 8pm

Autumn– 7am – 7pm

Plitvice Lakes

Getting There

By Public Transport:

If your favourite method of public transport is via train, then I’m sorry you’re going to have to get a bus this time. There are no trains near the Plitvice lakes. Hell, there is literally nothing near the Plitvice lakes! That’s what makes them so beautiful!

Don’t worry though, there are LOTS of buses. I mean tons of buses. You can get a bus from here, there and anywhere. In fact, getbybus suggests you can get to Plitvice from over 20 cities in Croatia and even get international connections from countries such as Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia. For example, you can travel from:

  • Dubrovnik
  • Zagreb
  • Zadar
  • Split
  • Rijeka
  • Mostar (Bosnia)
  • Belgrade (Serbia)
  • Trieste (Italy)
  • Ljubljana (Slovenia)
  • Budapest (Hungary)

…to name a few!

We travelled from Zagreb and got a bus for about €10 each way. The journey was around 2 hours and 15 minutes. The journey and price obviously varies dependent on where you’re travelling from, but it is worth it, trust me!

WanderWorld at Plitvice Lakes

 Top Tip: Get there EARLY! The queues to get into the park were ENORMOUS. I mean it took over an hour, if not two. We arrived fairly early but not nearly early enough. Most cruise tours aim to arrive as early as possible but often arrive after 10, like we did. If you can arrive as soon as the park opens I would!

By Car:

There are numerous entrances to the Plitvice lakes, both are abundant with parking spaces. However, there is a fee for parking of 7kn per hour.

Entrance Fee:

There is an entrance fee to the parks, so don’t be bamboozled like I was. The park is accessible all year round, however, in an attempt to discourage visitors in summer (due to the high numbers of visitors) the entrance fee tends to increase in Summer.

The fee also differs dependant on whether you wish to enter before or after 4pm – the later you go, the cheaper it is.  You can find the entrance fee on the official website here.

Waterfall at Plitvice Lakes

Plitvice Lakes Entrances:

There is an entrance fee to the parks, so don’t be bamboozled like I was. The park is accessible all year round, however, in an attempt to discourage visitors in summer (due to the high numbers of visitors) the entrance fee tends to increase in Summer.

The fee also differs dependant on whether you wish to enter before or after 4pm – the later you go, the cheaper it is.  You can find the entrance fee on the official website here.

Plitvice Lakes Entrance One:

This is the north entrance to the Plitvice lakes and is just above the lower lakes. You can access the park via this entrance all year round, unlike the other two entrances. From this entrance there are 4 routes around the park: A, B, C and K1 – which I will explore later.

View of the lakes from Entrance One

Plitvice Lakes Entrance Two:

Upper Lakes

This is the south entrance and is next to the Upper Lakes. From this entrance, you can access 4 different routes around the park: E, F, H and K2.

Entrance Flora:

Entrance Flora is on lake Kozjak which is slightly off the main routes. It is the least crowded entrance to the park and recommended if you are staying in any accommodation in Plitvica selo, as the Flora entrance is a short walk from the village.
However, you cannot buy entrance tickets to the park at this entrance. Nor do any public buses stop there, so keep this in mind! It is possible to arrange with your accommodation to buy tickets and have them delivered to you at your accommodation, however it is easier to purchase tickets directly at either entrance one or two of the park.

Lake Kozjak

Getting Around the Park:

There are numerous different routes and trails around the Plitvice lakes. The shortest takes around 2 to 3 hours, whilst the longest is said to take up to 8 hours. The routes differ dependant on each entrance, as there are 4 from each entrance.

However, the trails aren’t always clearly marked and can be confusing to follow! At one point, we definitely thought we were lost, so if make sure to get a map to help navigate your way around the park!

Map of Plitvice Lakes

You can find a large collection of maps here.

Routes from Entrance One:

Route A (2-3 hours – 3.5km) this is the shortest route, covering just part of the Lower lakes and including the Great Waterfall (Veliki Slap)

Route B (3-4 hours – 4km) – this is similar to Route A, but covers all of the Lower lakes and includes a short boat ride on lake Kozjaka.

Route C (4-6 hours – 8km) this is an extended version of Route B, including the Lower and Upper lakes, including a boat ride on lake Kozjaka and a short shuttle ride.

Route K1 (6-8 hours – 18.3km) this route covers the entirety of the Plitvice lakes national park.

The Plitvice Lakes

Routes from Entrance Two:

Route E (2-3 hours – 5.2km) this is a shorter route, covering part of the Upper lakes, starting with a boat ride over lake Kozjaka.

Route F (3-4 hours – 4.6km) this route covers all of the Upper lakes and includes a boat ride over lake Kozjaka. It covers part of the Lower lakes and includes a shuttle ride.

Route H (4-6 hours – 8.9km) this route starts with a shuttle ride, it covers the Upper lakes and includes a boat ride across lake Kozjaka to explore the Lower lakes, before taking a shuttle back to Entrance Two.

Route K2 (6-8 hours – 18.3km) this is similar to route K1 and allows you to explore the whole park.

Waterfall at the Upper Lakes

General Information

Swimming: The lakes at Plitvice are the most beautiful blue lakes you have ever seen, however, you cannot swim in them! This is what keeps them so clean and wonderful, so if you’re planning on swimming at Plitvice lakes, think again.

Food & Water: There aren’t many places to get food and water along the trails. Near the boat stop at Kozjaka lake you can find some food places and toilets. You can also find plenty of places to get food & water at both Entrance One and Two. I would make sure to bring snacks and plenty of water with you! In Summer you can enjoy a nice idyllic picnic.

Toilets: I would go to the toilet before entering the Plitvice Lakes National Park, as there aren’t many toilets on the trails. Also, the queues to toilets can be long when you find some.

Dogs: Dogs are allowed in the park! They  have to be kept on a lead, but you can indeed bring your precious doggo with you.

Luggage: If you’re travelling by bus and fear you won’t have anywhere to leave your luggage, fear not, there is a free of charge designated luggage area at each entrance.

A Lake at Plitvice

If you are considering staying around Plitvice lakes, you can find plenty of places around the area. Frankaboutcroatia has a detailed guide to accommodation which you can find here.

WanderWorld at the Lakes

I hope you enjoyed this complete guide to the picturesque Plitvice Lakes! Make sure to checkout my other travel advice, such as the best things to do in Girona. 

Plitvice Lakes Pin

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