With 16 pristine lakes, thundering waterfalls and aquamarine pools framed by towering mountain ranges, Plitvice Lakes National Park is one of the most spellbinding spots in Croatia. The lush landscape is accented by crystal clear falls gushing out of the hillsides, and wooden boardwalks wind through the park and into a deep, limestone canyon.
With more than 36 kilometres of tranquil trails, multiple entrances, a ferry that connects the lakes and a shuttle bus, planning a trip here can seem somewhat overwhelming, especially if you only have a day to explore. Here are five things you need to know about visiting Plitvice Lakes National Park, to make the most of your time at the UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The best time to visit Plitvice Lakes
The national park (Plitvička Jezera) is open year round from 7 AM to 8 PM, with summer being the busiest season. While this is the best time to visit Plitvice Lakes if you want to see the contrast of vibrant green foliage against gem-toned water, keep in mind this is also the busiest time of year and chances are you’ll be jostling with other tourists on the boardwalk.
Don’t discount a shoulder season visit; the fall foliage is absolutely gorgeous, and winter brings a soft blanket of snow that freezes the waterfalls into dazzling ice crystals. You’ll also save money on admission, since Plitvice Lakes tickets are cheaper after August.
Due to the park’s popularity, buy your Plitvice Lakes tickets online at least one day in advance to avoid the disappointment of finding them sold out when you arrive.
- Adult ticket in winter: 55 kuna (about $8 USD)
- Adult ticket in spring, summer and fall: 150 kuna (about $22 USD)
- Kids: Free up to age 7
Where to find the best views in Plitvice Lakes National Park
The most iconic views in the park are of the lower lakes and main waterfall, Veliki Slap, near Entrance 1. For that reason, this is where most of the large tour groups start, so if you’re worried about it being too busy you can always save this section for later in the day.
To get a great vantage point of the wooden boardwalks winding through the turquoise lakes and craggy karst canyon, walk on the path between the P1 entrance and S1—no drone required! You can then take a boat or shuttle to the upper lakes section, which is where you’ll find some of the most stunning Plitvice waterfalls.
How to avoid crowds at Plitvice Lakes
Even if you visit Plitvice Lakes during the height of summer, once you stray from the main boardwalks and veer off onto one of the pathways it’s easy to find solace–this is a 73,000-acre park, after all. There are seven different loops around the lake system and four hiking trails, so if you plan to explore the area over a few days there’s plenty to see.
The best time to see the Plitvice Lakes waterfalls is early in the morning or late afternoon, to avoid the tour buses. There can also be a crush of people queued up to take the boat back across the lake mid-day.
The Plitvice Lakes swimming spots
A common question is “can you swim in Plitvice Lakes?” and there’s an easy answer: no. Visitors are not permitted in the water here, so if you want to swim under Croatian waterfalls you’ll have to head to Krka National Park instead.
Book Plitvice Lakes accommodation in advance
During the busy summer months, rooms are at a premium and often snapped up by tour groups, so book ahead to ensure you get a spot. There are a few options right on site which are great for making the most of your time in the park; otherwise, you can stay at a hotel nearby or in a city like Zadar which is 90 minutes away.
- Hotel Degenija: Found just eight minutes from the Plitvice entrance, the updated rooms at this hotel have perks like mini-bars and bathtubs, and amenities include a playground, rental bikes and free parking. Its outdoor pool is a great place to relax after a long day of hiking through Plitvice. Click to book
- Plitvice Holiday Resort: This fun spot has the ‘unique accommodation’ nailed, with options like tree houses and tipis. The resort is a 10 minute drive from the park, and has an outdoor pool. Click to book
- Plitvice Hotel: This property at the entrance to Plitvice is a welcome respite after a long day of sightseeing, since it’s basically as close to the gates as you can get. Don’t expect luxury here: what you’re paying for is the convenience of getting to the falls ahead of the tour buses, which is priceless! Click to book
Book a Plitvice Lakes tour
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