A Complete Guide to Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia
When someone says Croatia, the first thing that comes to mind is the sea. The long and beautiful shoreline of the country is a well-known attraction around the world. However, there is more to Croatia than the beach and party. It’s time we talk about visiting the Plitvice Lakes.
What are the Plitvice Lakes?
In short, it’s a national park. However, it’s not just any national park. The Plitvice Lakes National Park is the most famous natural attraction in Croatia. It is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The beauty of the area was recognized very early on. This region is considered to be one of the first major tourist attractions across Europe. The first hotel of the lakes was built as early as 1896. Incredible!
However, at this point, the area was not a protected nature reserve. The status was earned in 1949. This has made the Plitvice Lakes National Park, the first official national park of Croatia.
As the name suggests, the area is famous for the lakes. There are a total of 16 interconnected lakes that make up the national park. The most beautiful sights are always at the connection points between the lakes.
Here you will be able to see some of the most beautiful waterfalls in Europe. The hilly terrain proved a perfect place to create this natural phenomenon.
The Plitvice lakes are divided into two parts. The lower lakes and the upper lakes. The lower lakes are bigger and calmer. They provide easy walking opportunities for a relaxed exploration.
The upper lakes are much smaller and here you will see most of the waterfalls. You will feel that there is an amazing sight lurking at every corner.
Please keep in mind, that the upper lakes area is usually closed during the winter. Snow and ice make this part of the park unsafe for visitors. Once the snow melts, the national park will open up the area for tourists.
Although you can walk around and see the Plitvice National Park, you can only do so in a portion of it. The majority of the park is off-limits for visitors.
These areas are full of life and vegetation. The big forests in the mountains of the park give a home to many wild animals. The protected species include rare animals such as the Grey Wolf, European Brown Bear, and Lynx.
Where is the Plitvice Lakes National Park?
The park is located towards the Bosnia and Herzegovinan border. It’s almost halfway between Zagreb and Zadar. If you want to travel here, you will have to leave the beach behind, as it’s situated deep in the mountains.
How to get to Plitvice?
You have some options when you visit the national park. If you want to drive you can find it easily. The park is conveniently located next to the main roads. You will have no trouble reaching it by car.
Many European tourists visit Croatia by car. They usually include the Plitvice Lakes National park on the first day or last day of their vacation. As they will be leaving the country that way anyway, it’s a perfect place to stop.If you don’t have a car or want to rent one, then you are still in luck. You can get to the park by bus. The buses run from almost any major Croatian city. The journey can take as short as 2 hours or as long as 6 hours depending on where are situated.
Regardless of how you decide, as you can see you will have an option to access the park easily.
Also Read : Guide to Yacht Week Croatia
Visiting Plitvice Lakes National Park
Now you know the history of the national park and how to get there. It’s time to learn about the visit to Plitvice.
When is the best time to visit Plitvice Lakes National Park?
The best time would be spring. It’s a good season as many tourists come to Croatia during the summer. In spring, when all the flowers start to bloom the park will come alive. An experience of sensations waiting for you. Although you won’t be alone in the park, it’s not as crowded during the spring as it is in the summer.
A special time for your visit would be winter. The park doesn’t close shop in the colder months. In fact, when you visit in the winter you have the chance to see beautiful frozen waterfalls. It’s a unique experience to visit when the temperature is below freezing.
Summer and fall are good months too. However, there are crowds of tourists in the summer so keep that in mind when planning. The weather also runs very hot when you visit in the summer. As for autumn, it’s almost as good as spring. However, spring is the livelier month.
What to wear when visiting the park?
You will be walking a lot. At times you are going to be walking in the open sun. There are routes that will take you over the water on little wooden walkways.
Considering all this, you should dress comfortably. Similar to what you would wear when you go hiking. Make sure that you have some protection from the sun. This is especially true during the summer.
Which walking route to take?
Once you arrive at the park, you will see that there are multiple walking trails available. They are all marked very clearly next to the path. As we have already learned there are a total of 16 interconnected lakes for you to visit in the Plitvice National Park.
For a well-rounded experience, walking trail ‘C’ is the best option. The official time estimation for this trail is around 5 hours, but it can be done quicker. Alternatively, if you take a lot of pictures you might be closer to 6 hours. This route will take you to the upper lakes and around some of the most beautiful waterfalls of the park. The full path also includes a ride on the electric boat and tram.
If you are looking for a quicker option then take route ‘B’. This one will take you around the lower lakes of Plitvice and will allow you to visit one of the upper lakes. The total time is around 3.5 hours for the route.
You can visit the official site for all the available trails.
What else to do at Plitvice?
Now, if you are looking to spend more time here there are a few options. Of course, the walk around the lakes itself will take quite a long time. However, consider these extra options if you want to further enjoy the national park.
You can rent a small rowing boat on your visit to Plitvice Lakes. To do this, you need to go to the biggest lake called Kozjak. When here, look for the dock called ‘P1’. You will be able to rent the small boat here for 50 Kuna per hour (around 8 USD).
As already mentioned, the national park itself consists of a much bigger area than the lakes. While you can’t wander into the wilderness, there are some hiking trails you can take. These will lead you into the forest and mountains.
How much is the entry ticket for Plitvice Lakes National Park?
If you want to find the latest prices make sure that you visit the official website.
As of now, in 2021 the entry ticket prices for one-day tickets are the following:
- November to March 80 KN ($12)
- April, May & October 180 KN ($28)
- June to September 300 KN ($47) before 4 PM and 200 KN ($31) after 4 PM (except in September, 300 KN before 3 PM and 200 KN after 3 PM due to available light)
- November to March 50 KN ($8)
- April, May & October 110 KN ($17)
- June to September 200 KN ($31) before 4 PM and 125 KN ($20) after 4 PM (except in September, 200 KN before 3 PM and 125 KN after 3 PM due to available light)
- You will need to present a valid student ID
Children (7-18 years)
- November to March 35 KN ($5.5)
- April, May & October 50 KN ($8)
- June to September 120 KN ($19) before 4 PM and 70 KN ($11) after 4 PM (except in September, 120 KN before 3 PM and 70 KN after 3 PM due to available light)
Children under 7