Plitvice Lakes National Park – Guide to the Best Spots

Veliki Slap, the big waterfall of Plitvice Lakes National Park
Veliki Slap, the big waterfall of Plitvice Lakes National Park
Plitvice Lakes National Park logo
Plitvice Lakes National Park logo

Plitvice Lakes National Park is famous for its turquoise-colored lakes and for the countless waterfalls and cascades. Our guide to Plitvice Lakes National Park (Plitvička Jezera) will tell you about our experiences during our visit, and we give you tips for your visit to Plitvice National Park during our Croatia road trip. Plitvice Lakes National Park is our favorite out of the 8 national parks of Croatia, closely followed by Krka National Park.

Plitvice Lakes National Park is located on the east side of Croatia, on the border with Bosnia and Herzegovina. Plitvička Jezera is the largest and oldest national park in Croatia. Furthermore, Plitvice Lakes has been on the UNESCO world heritage list since 1979. The park attracts over 1.5 million visitors a year, making it the most visited National Park of Croatia.

Veliki Slap, the big waterfall of Plitvice Lakes National Park
Veliki Slap, the big waterfall of Plitvice Lakes National Park

When to visit Plitvice Lakes National Park

Plitvice Lakes can be visited year-round. Depending on when you visit the park, the color of the lakes changes. This is a result of the mineral deposits in the water, the angle of the sun shining on the water, and the organisms living in the water.

Most photos you find on the internet are taken in the summer season. The same goes for our pictures used in this article. But in winter the waterfalls can be frozen, giving the park a completely different look. And in fall all the trees will have beautiful fall colors.

Plitvice Lakes Tickets

Tickets for Plitvice Lakes National Park can be bought at the ticket office at both entrances of the park or online. When buying tickets online, you have to buy them in advance. This is because on the website you can’t buy tickets for the same day. So if you want to buy your Plitvice tickers online, buy them at least a day before you plan to visit the park.

We arrived by car and parked our car at the parking lot at Plitvice Lakes entrance 2. After that, we bought a two-day Plitvice ticket for 180 kn (about €24 / $28) per person. This ticket includes transport with the boat across the lakes and also an electrical train that you can take from Plitvice Lakes entrance 1 to entrance 2 and onwards to the end of the upper lakes. Also good to know is that parking needs to be paid separately.

Update November 2020: I checked and the Plitvice Lakes tickets increased in price since our visit in September 2017. A one-day adult entrance ticket now costs 200 kn. For the full price list, you can consult the official website.

Boat to cross the lake Kozjak
Boat to cross the lake Kozjak, included in ticket price

What to do in Plitvice Lakes National Park

Plitvice Lakes in Croatia is well equipped with hiking trails. The park offers 7 hiking trails that are indicated with a letter. Four of those trails start at Plitvice Lakes entrance 1: A, B, C, and K (green routes), and the other four start at entrance 2: E, F, H, and K (orange routes). K is a tour that can be started at both entrances.

All of those tours are well indicated when walking around Plitvice. Everywhere there will be big signs with the trail numbers on them, so you can’t miss the directions. You can find an overview of the different tours below.

Tour NumberDistance (km)Time (hours)
A3.52 – 3
B43 – 4
C84 – 5
E5.12 – 3
F4.63 – 4
H8.94 – 6
K18.36 – 8
Table with all official hiking tours in Plitvice Lakes National Park
Map of hiking tour K in Plitvice Lakes National Park
Map of hiking tour K in Plitvice Lakes National Park

Full details of the hiking tours can be found on the official website.

You can also build your own trail using the map below. This map is a photo we took in the park. You can find the map at the entrances of the park. It indicates all the walkable paths and the distances.

Map of the different hiking sections in Plitvice Lakes
Map of the different hiking sections in Plitvice Lakes

Our Itinerary to Plitvice Lakes National Park

Visiting the Veliki Slap and the Upper Lakes

We arrived at Plitvice Lakes around 10 AM. We bought a two-day ticket and entered the park at entrance 2. After entering the park, we took the boat across lake Kozjak to the other side of the lake. From there we walked over wooden boardwalks in the direction of Veliki Slap. Next to the boardwalks, we saw some small waterfalls and beautiful lakes.

Boardwalks next to beautiful lakes in Plitvice National Park
Boardwalks next to beautiful lakes in Plitvice National Park

After that, we arrived at the big waterfall of Plitvice Lakes National Park: Veliki Slap (photo at the beginning of the article). After taking some photos, we continued to a viewpoint from the mountains on the lakes and the waterfalls below. This is our favorite viewpoint of the park. It’s a bit tricky to get to this viewpoint as it’s not really indicated how to reach it, but we used the instructions provided by the website misstourist.

Our favorite viewpoint of Plitvice Lakes
Our favorite viewpoint of Plitvice Lakes

Visiting the Upper Lakes

After our visit to the viewpoint, we hiked to Plitvice Lakes entrance 1 and took the electric train all the way to the end of the trail track, at the upper lakes. We then did the walk around the upper lakes. In this part of the park, you also walk on wooden boardwalks most of the time. This gives you the opportunity to see how clear the lakes are and allows you to see the fish in the lakes.

The type of boardwalks you’ll walk on in the upper lakes
The type of boardwalks you’ll walk on in the upper lakes

The trail goes between, over, and around the lakes. This makes it very scenic. At the beginning of the trail, there are some smaller lakes, but later you also walk around and on boardwalks over the lake Galovac. The trails around the upper lakes are amazing, all the differently colored lakes are just wonderful to look at. And of course, as it’s Plitvice National Park, there are also very beautiful waterfalls to see along the trail.

My girlfriend at a azure blue lake with waterfalls on the back of the lake
My girlfriend at an azure blue lake with waterfalls on the back of the lake

After the walk around the upper lakes, we continued around lake Gradinsko back to lake Kozjak where we took the boat to cross the lake back to the entrance where we parked our car.

Second Day at Plitvice Lakes

We visited most of the highlights on our first day in the park, so for us, the second day was not really needed. If you arrive early enough and depending on your pace, the highlights of the park are doable in 1 day. It can be quite crowded though (even in September when we visited), and the wooden boardwalks make it difficult sometimes to keep a good pace.

On the second day of our visit to Plitvice, we parked at entrance 1. We took our time to take some more photos of the places where the light was less good on the first day. After that, we did a walk around the lake Kozjak, which we skipped on the first day because we took the boat instead.

You can see the fish in the clear waters of lake Kozjak
You can see the fish in the clear waters of lake Kozjak
View from entrance 1 down on the wooden boardwalks, the lakes and the waterfalls
View from entrance 1 down on the wooden boardwalks, the lakes and the waterfalls

In the early afternoon we finished our visit to Plitvice Lakes and drove back to our apartment. From there we went for a hike in the Korana River.

Swimming in Plitvice Lakes

The turquoise lakes of Plitvice look really inviting to swim in. Unfortunately, it’s forbidden in the complete park, so you can not swim anywhere in the lakes.

If you want to swim next to a waterfall in beautiful azure blue water, I’d recommend a visit to Krka National Park. Krka is definitely worth a visit. It’s not as big as Plitvice, but it’s much less busy and the occasion to swim near the waterfall is wonderful :). Check out our guide to Krka National Park for more information.

Where to stay at Plitvice Lakes

There are a few hotels in the town Plitvička Jezera where you can stay close to the park. Those hotels are hotel Jezero, hotel Plitvice, hotel Grabovac and hotel Bellevue. There are also two camping areas: campsite Borje and campsite Korana. For details and booking, you can go to the Plitvice website.

Staying near the park gives you the benefit of being at the park at opening time, or you can stay until closing time. Both give you the benefit of experiencing Plitvice Lakes without as many people as during the day. But you get this tranquility at a cost; those hotels aren’t cheap.

Personally, we stayed in another town, Rakovica. It’s about 10 minutes away from Plitvice and the hotels there are cheaper than the hotels close to the park. We recommend looking for your best option on a hotel booking website.

Further Reads

Interested to learn more about the other national parks of Croatia? Take some time to learn more about the National Parks of Croatia. And after that, check out our Croatia travel guide for all details for your road trip.

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By Steven

Hi there 👋! My name is Steven. I write for our travel blog and focus on the technicalities behind the blog (hosting, SEO…). My focus is to provide useful information I found lacking when preparing our own travels. That’s why I love making maps to enhance the articles. I hope you find what you seek on our website. And if there is something I can help with, make sure to reach out 🙂!

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