An Ultimate Guide to Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia

An Ultimate Guide to Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia

By 10A editorsTrip Guides

Situated about a hundred kilometers from the treasured coast of Croatia lies the country’s natural treasure, Plitvice Lakes National Park or Plitvička Jezera. A favorite for its stunning lakes, majestic travertine formations, and magnificent waterfalls, Plitvice Lakes National Park is well worth the trip inland.

This ultimate guide for planning a trip to Plitvice Lakes National Park will tell you how to get there, where to stay and what to see during your visit.

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Walking paths bridges through Plitvice Lakes Croatia

Walking paths bridges through Plitvice Lakes Croatia

About Plitvice Lakes National Park

Expanding over 30,000 hectares / 74,132 acres of the Dinaric Alps, Plitvice Lakes National Park is Croatia’s largest national park. The park was formed in 1949 and named a UNESCO world heritage site In 1979, appreciated for both its ecological and geological value.

Plitvice Lakes National Park offers astonishing views of a natural waterway system that features emerald lake and waterfall views. The park features sixteen lakes, countless waterfalls, and two rivers, as well as several hiking and cycling pathways.

Plitvice Lakes National Park can be visited in one to a few days, depending on your chosen activities.

Ready to plan your adventure in Plitvice Lakes National Park? Read on for more tips on what to do, how to get there, where to stay, and what to eat!

Fallen tree in clear aqua waters Plitvice Lakes National Park Croatia

Fallen tree in clear aqua waters Plitvice Lakes National Park Croatia

How to get to Plitvice Lakes National Park

You can fly into the Franjo Tuđman Airport Zagreb or drive from other destinations on your European or Adriatic vacation. The park itself is accessible by car, bus or bicycle.

There are two entrances to Plitvice National Park. Entrance 1 is located at the northern part of the lake system, Entrance 2 is located to the south of the water features. Each entrance lends itself to a variety of waterway viewing pathways.

There are fees to park at each entrance, approximately $1 per day for a car, and $13 per day for a bus or camping van.

Park entry fees are as follows:

Approximately $24 per adult.
Approximately $6 per child over the age of 7.
Student and multi-day discounts are also available. Currently you must pre-purchase your tickets online.

Flying to Plitvice Lakes National Park

Fly into a nearby airport and explore the Croatian countryside on your journey to Plitvice National Park by car or bus.

Plitvice National Park (Entrance 2) is 155.0 km from Rijeka International Airport.

Driving to Plitvice Lakes National Park

You can easily reach Plitvice Lakes National Park by car from other stops on your European or Adriatic vacation.

Plitvice Lakes National Park is 143.0 km from Zagreb.
Plitvice Lakes National Park 210.0 km from Ljubljana.
Plitvice Lakes National Park is 258.0 km from Split.
Plitvice Lakes National Park 300.0 km from Graz.
Plitvice Lakes National Park 399.0 km from Venice.
Plitvice Lakes National Park 416.0 km from Sarajevo.

Public Transportation to Plitvice Lakes National Park

There are many affordable options for bus rides into Plitvice Lakes National Park from many cities in Croatia.

Natural waterfalls in Plitvice National Park Croatia

Natural waterfalls in Plitvice National Park Croatia

Best time to visit Plitvice Lakes National Park

The best time to visit Plitvice Lakes National Park is late spring, when the weather is pleasant, but the crowds may not be too intense. Plitvice Lakes National Park can get very crowded during the summer months, especially in August. Visiting the park when it opens or towards closing will lend the most tranquil experience. Plitvice Lakes National Park hours vary depending on the season.

How to get around Plitvice Lakes National Park

The most common way to get around Plitvice Lakes National Park is to drive to an entrance and follow one of the “programs” through the remarkable waterways. Other areas of the park can be traveled by foot or bicycle.

Fish swimming in Plitvice Lakes National Park Plitvicka Jezera Croatia

Fish swimming in Plitvice Lakes National Park Plitvicka Jezera Croatia

Where to stay in Plitvice Lakes National Park

There are a few accommodations within the park, and also many hotels, homes and campgrounds just a short distance from the entrances that cater to park visitors.

Hotels in Plitvice Lakes National Park

Hotel Jezero - A natural retreat located walking distance from both entrances of Plitvice Lakes National Park.

Hotel Plitvice - This hotel boasts architectural history and lakeside rooms, just minutes away from a bus that will take you to the waterway tours.

Hotel Bellevue - This hotel is situated just steps away from Entrance 2.

Hotels outside of Plitvice National Park

There are many home stays and bread and breakfast options outside of Plitvice Lakes National Park that welcome park visitors. If you are planning on taking public transportation, you may consider booking an accommodation that offers shuttle service to the park.

Accomodations near Entrance 1:

Selište Drežničko - There are many home rentals and bread and breakfast options in this charming village just outside of Plitvice Lakes National Park.

Grabovac, Irinovac and Rakovica - These nearby villages offer a breadth of accommodations for visitors to Plitvice Lakes National Park.

Accomodations near Entrance 2:

The towns of Vranovača, Koreničko, and Korenica all offer welcoming lodging options near the south entrance of the park.

Popular camping sites outside of Plitvice Lakes National Park

Camping Plitvice - This highly rated campground near Entrance 1 is more like a camping resort. Camping Plitvice features a pool, restaurant, camping pitches and mobile homes.

Camping Korana - A clean and well maintained campground just 13.0 km from the park. This campground offers daily shuttle service to an entrance.

Big Bear Plitvice Nature Resort - A hospitable resort featuring camping pitches and mobile homes. This resort is located approximately 38.0 km from Entrance 2.

Camp Fortuna - This campground is a highly rated budget option close to Entrance 2.

Plitvice Lakes National Park lakes and waterfalls in Plitvicka Jezera Croatia

Plitvice Lakes National Park lakes and waterfalls in Plitvicka Jezera Croatia

Where to Eat in Plitvice Lakes National Park

Plitvice Etno Garden - This restaurant offers a traditional Croatian dining experience. Try the grilled meats and local Croatian wines.

Lička Kuća National Restaurant - Situated across from Entrance 1, this restaurant serves a delectable roasted lamb and other traditional dishes from the Lika region.

House Katja - Another favorite for traditional Croatian fare within the park.

Outside the park

There are many restaurants lining Plitvice Lakes National Park that cater to its visitors. Here are some of the top restaurants:

Near Entrance 1:

Old Shatterhand - This restaurant in Selište Drežničko is best known for its delicious Croatian style burgers.

Restaurant Plitvice - The restaurant at Camping Plitvice is one of the highest rated in the area and is a mainstay for breakfast.

Near Entrance 2:

Bistro-Pizzeria L'MAT - Visit this Korenica favorite for large, delicious Croatian style pizzas.

Bistro Vila Velebita - From grilled meats to local spirits, this restaurant is a great pick if you are looking for a traditional Croatian meal outside of the park.

Swimming under waterfalls in Plitvice National Park Croatia

Swimming under waterfalls in Plitvice National Park Croatia

Things to do in Plitvice Lakes National Park

Tour the natural waterways - many people visit Plitvice Lakes National Park specifically for the impressive scenery of gorgeous lakeviews and mesmerizing waterfalls.

There are 4 viewing programs available from each entrance of the park:

Entrance 1 routes:

There are four Plitvice Lake system viewing options that commence at Entrance 1:

Program A 3,500 m, 2-3 hours features the lower lakes and the great waterfall.
Program B 4,000 m, 3-4 hours features viewing of the lower lakes and a boat ride across Lake Kozjak.
Program C 8,000 m, 4-5 hours features a viewing of the entire lake system by a combination of foot, boat and train.
Program K 18,300 m, 6-8 hours explores the entire lakes section of the park.

Entrance 2 routes:

There are four Plitvice Lake system viewing options that commence at Entrance 2:

Program E 5,100 m, 2-3 hours view the upper lake system by foot, boat and sightseeing train.
Program F 4,600 m, 3-4 hours view the limestone canyon of the lower lake and the Great Waterfall by foot, boat and sightseeing train.
Program H 8,900 m, 4-6 hours view the entire lake system by train, boat and foot.
Program K 18,300 m, 6-8 hours explores the entire lakes section of the park mostly by foot.

Hiking and cycling trails

If you’re feeling adventurous, you can head off of the waterway viewing paths and explore the outer reaches of the park by bike or foot. There are hiking path options ranging from 4.5 km to 21.0 km and bike paths up to 45.6 km. Click here to view the Plitvice Lakes National Park hiking and cycling trails.

Rowing

Rent a boat for approximately $11 for 4 hours and explore Plitvice Lakes National Park’s largest lake, Kozjak Lake.

Skiing

If you are visiting Plitvice Lakes National Park in the winter, you can head to the in-park ski resort Mukinje Ski Resort. This ski resort is located just a few kilometers from each entrance to the park. It contains one lift, and gentle slope grades making it perfect for beginners and children.

Port city of rijeka croatia near Plitvice National Park Croatia

Port city of rijeka croatia near Plitvice National Park Croatia

Dangers in Plitvice Lakes National Park

A trip to Plitvice Lakes National Park is generally considered safe, but as always there are a few things to take into consideration before heading out.

  • Heat - If you are out walking the pathways for long periods during the summer months, make sure to bring proper hydration and sun protection, like sunscreen and a hat.
  • Selfies - The Croatian Mountains Service warns of avoiding death or serious injury from selfies in dangerous locations.
  • Pickpockets - Like in any crowded tourist destination, keep an eye on your belongings while visiting Plitvice Lakes National Park. There have been reports of pickpocketing.
  • Landmines - Plitvice Lakes National Park was prioritized in post-war demining efforts, so landmines are not really a concern if you stick to the main tourist areas. If you are planning an excursion near the outer edges of the park, it would be advised to stay on trails and adhere to any warning signs of landmines (red sign with skull and bones).
  • Bears - If you are traveling through the forested areas of Plitvice Lakes National Park, it would be possible to experience a bear. If you see a bear do not run, keep your distance and slowly back away.
  • Wolves and Lynxes - The forests of Plitvice Lakes National Park are also home to grey wolves and Eurasian lynxes. It would be rare to see these animals as they generally avoid humans, but if you do, do not run, keep your distance, make yourself appear larger, and slowly back away.
Wooden steps over waterfalls Plitvice Lakes National Park Plitvicka Jezera Croatia

Wooden steps over waterfalls Plitvice Lakes National Park Plitvicka Jezera Croatia

Interesting Facts about Plitvice Lakes National Park

  • Plitvice Lakes National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage site.
  • The twelve upper lakes of Plitvice Lakes National Park were formed by impermeable dolomite rocks. The four lower lakes are formed of permeable limestone substrate.
  • There are over 150 different bird species in Plitvice Lakes National Park.