Plitvice Lakes is one of the most visited tourist attractions in this part of Europe. More than 1.3 million people visit the national park each year, making it one of the most visited sites in Croatia. Plitvice has been a national park since 1949. And in 1979 the lakes enter the UNESCO list of World Natural Heritage. Therefore, the lakes are the oldest and most popular NP in Croatia.
The National park covers an area of 300 square kilometers and is located in the Croatian region called Lika. However, it is not too far from the border of Bosnia and Herzegovina. It was also recently named the most popular Instagram location in Croatia.
There are a total of 16 lakes in the area, grouped to Upper Lakes (hr. Gornja Jezera) and Lower Lakes (hr. Donja Jezera). The largest lake is called Kozjak, while the largest waterfall is called The Big Waterfall (hr. Veliki Slap), with a height of 78 meters.
If you’re planning to visit National Park Plitvice Lakes, below is a detailed guide with everything you need to know before your trip.
Table of Contents
How to get to Plitvice Lakes?
There are a few ways you can reach the Plitvice Lakes National Park, the most popular of all being taking a car or bus to the Park. Below we have listed the most convenient ways of getting to Plitvice.
Driving to Plitvice Lakes is fairly easy. From the A1 highway (Zagreb – Split) there are clear signs where to exit when going to the national park.
If you are arriving from the south, e.g Zadar or Split, you will have to exit the highway in Gornja Ploča which is exit No. 13. From there, there’s about 50 km to the national park on the country road. The driving time from Zadar is about 1h 30min and from Split about 2h 45min.
If you are arriving from the north (Zagreb), you have several exit options. The first one is exit No. 3 towards Karlovac and Duga Resa. From the highway exit, you have an additional 80 km on the country road, and the total driving time from Zagreb is about 2 hours.
Tip! When arriving from Zagreb, you should plan 2 hours for a stop at Rastoke (Slunj) which is small town with waterfalls at the Korona river.
There are daily bus departures to Plitvice from Zagreb, Zadar, and Split throughout the whole year. The number of buses is limited in the winter months. However, during the summer season, there are numerous daily departures. Make sure to check all departures to Plitvice on our website.
Unfortunately getting to Plitvice Lakes by train is not an option. Years back some trains were stopping in Rudopolje which is about 10 km from the Plitvice entrance. However, now the closest train station from where you can continue to Plitvice by bus is Karlovac. From other train stations like Gospic, you can only get to the national park by taxi. Therefore, in reality, the train is not an option when travelling to the Plitvice Lakes National Park.
During the summer season, you can find many organized day trips to Plitvice from Zagreb and many cities on the Adriatic coast. In addition to the organized trips, you can also (in most cities) find companies offering individual trips.
Plitvice Lakes Entrance & Opening Hours
There are two entrances to the National Park: Plitvice Lakes Entrance 1 and Entrance 2. Both of them are located on the east side of the DC1 state road. Right next to the entrances you will find a bus station, parking, ATM and a restaurant. Make sure to check out our map at the end of the post, where you can see the exact location of both entrances.
As for the opening hours, the park is opened every day of the year. However, working hours can change depending on the weather. For example, in the winter months, most of the restaurants are closed. That is why we recommend planning your trip to Plitvice. In the worst-case scenario, you can always contact the National Park directly to get the latest information.
|Entrance 1 – Rastovača
|8 AM – 5 PM
|Entrance 2 – Hladovina
|8 AM – 5 PM
|Additional Entrance 2 – Flora
|8 AM – 5 PM
|Tickets sale (all entrances)
|until 3 PM
And below are working hours for boat rides, which are also limited due to the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic.
|Electric boat short route (P1-P2)
|08.30 AM – 07 PM
|Electric boat long route
Opened catering facilities within the Park are: Kozjačka draga, Kupalište, Labudovac and Vučnica.
As for the parking, there are a few spots where you can park your car. In all cases, there is a parking fee which has to be paid. Below are the working hours for Plitvice Lakes parking.
|Entrance 1 Parking
|07 AM – 07 PM
|Entrance 2 Parking
|07 AM – 07 PM
And below are the parking prices valid for 2023:
|Type of Vehicle
|Automobile with trailer
Plitvice Lakes Tickets
As mentioned above, Plitvice is one of the most popular sights in Croatia. That is why we recommend buying the tickets for the park online. Basically, you can select the date and time when you want to visit the lakes and order your tickets online in a few minutes.
Below is the table of prices for 2023. Please note that prices could change in the meantime, we will update them accordingly, but you can also check the official website.
|01.01.-31.03 & 01.11.-31.12.
|01.04.-31.05. & 01.10.-31.10.
| Peak Season
(Price B – after 3 pm)
|Kids 7-18 (group)
|Kids up to 7 & people with disabilities
- From 01 June – 31 August price A is valid until 4 pm, price B after 4 pm. From 01 September – 30 September price A is valid until 3 pm, price B after 3 pm.
- Children below 7 years of age accompanied by adults has free entrance all year round.
- In July and August, it is possible to enter after 16:00 at a reduced ticket price.
- For adult and student groups larger than 15 persons, there are group discount tickets available except for in the main season.
- Guide service: In addition to the entrance fee, it is possible to pre-book a guide service (which has to be paid extra) for groups larger than 15 persons; the guide service is available in various languages.
National Park Plitvice Lakes has recently introduced a new feature on their official website – an online ticket webshop. Here are the rules which should be followed if you are planning a trip to Plitvice, to avoid any potential problems before entering the park:
- When buying a online ticket, you need to select a precise arrival date, hour, and entrance (e.g. June 6th at 10:00, Entrance 2). Afterward, you need to select the ticket type and name the ticket holder. Once you buy the ticket, the ticket will be sent to the email address you used for the login.
- New tip from me: From my last trip in August 2023 i noticed that tickets for entrance 1 with early morning entrance (8 to 10 am) where all sold out a week a head, but the 7 am tickets where not.
- The ticket can be printed or shown on your smartphone/tablet and must be validated at the park entrance. Note that the ticket voucher will only be valid for the day, time and entrance stated on the voucher. (If you arrive a bit later than stated on the ticket e.g you book ticket for 8 am but arrive at 9.20 am, they will still let you in)
- Once you leave the park, you will not be allowed to go back inside later on that same day.
- Should you arrive at the park without a pre-bought voucher, be aware that buying the ticket on spot depends on the availability of the tickets at that time. Current ticket availability for today’s date (in real-time) can be checked here. To avoid being left without a ticket, we recommend buying tickets online.
- If you buy a two-day ticket, you need to stick to the chosen time on the first day. On the second day, you can pick any time you want (but you can only enter the park once).
- Tickets cannot be canceled nor changed. All online ticket orders and purchases are binding and final. Additional payments for other ticket types also aren’t possible. Each online purchase becomes final after completing the purchase procedure, i.e. after the ticket is sent and the invoice is issued.
- There’s no ticket refund for bad weather conditions in the park unless those weather conditions prevent a safe tour of the park. In that case, the NP will be closed and the ticket holders will get a refund.
There are 3 official entrances to the national park: Entrance 1 (Rastovača), Entrance 2 (Hladovina), and the entrance Auxiliary entrance Flora (Entrance 3). Due to the “easy access” and the large parking areas, the vast majority of visitors use entrance 1 or 2.
We recommend people to take Entrance 1, as it is located directly on the country road. The parking is very close and the bus stops are within sight of the entrance, so it doesn’t get any easier. The downside is that it is the most used entrance so in the summer months there can be a bit of a crowd.
Inside the national park, there are 8 well-marked walking trails with a duration of 2 to 8 hours. By each entrance, you have a sign looking similar to the one on the photo below. As you can see on the photo it contains information and a map illustration of different trails.
If you have enough time, I would for sure recommend seeing as much as possible of the national park, both the lower, as well as the upper lakes, are very beautiful and quite different from nature’s perspective so seeing both is a good idea. If you lack the time or do not feel like walking all the way around, take one of the trails in the lower part of the lakes.
The majority of the trails are covered in solid wooden planks. However, in some parts, there are tiles or smaller rocks, but all of them are easy to walk on if you have proper footwear.
Boat: On lake Kozjak there are two boat routes, one longer one between P3 and P2 as well as a short crossing between P2 and P1, the boat ride is included in the entrance ticket.
Electric trains (buses): If the walking gets too much, you have electrical trains/buses which run between St1 (Entrance 1) and St2 (Entrance 2) as well as to St3 which is at the end of the upper lakes.
When to visit Plitvice National Park?
Having visited Plitvice lakes more than 15 times, I can for sure say that the place is a beautiful sight all year round. The only thing which I dislike is the huge crowds in summer, but that, of course, has nothing to do with the beauty of nature. If I were forced to pick a favorite time of year to visit it, that would probably be in autumn, the nature’s colors at that time are just amazing.
For out-of-season visits, you should know that other opening hours apply and in wintertime, some parts of the park are closed. However, Plitvice Lakes in winter are something to behold, a magnificent sight, which is also a recommendation.
What to bring to Plitvice Lakes?
- Good solid footwear, and by that I do not mean flip flops. In fall/winter the wooden trails can be a bit slippery so hiking shoes or boots are the right footwear.
- For a late spring/summer visit, some protection against mosquito bites is not a bad idea.
- Also, at that time of year sunscreen is recommendable.
- A backpack with some water and snacks is always a good idea to bring.
- A good camera obviously
- A raincoat and some extra clothes in case the weather forecast is not looking too good.
Food & Restaurants
You are allowed to bring your own sandwiches or other food; at the boat piers and the electric train stations, there are places where you can sit and eat. Make sure to clean up after yourselves.
If you don’t feel like dragging food with you, you also have several restaurants and fast food places inside the parking area, so you should not worry about getting your lunch. If you are staying overnight, in the surrounding area you will also find plenty of restaurants serving traditional food as well as pizza and pasta dishes.
Staying overnight at Plitvice is for sure something to consider. In the vicinity of the national park, there are lots of apartments and B&B’s offering fairly cheap accommodation. If money is not an issue you could also choose to stay in one of the hotels operated by the national park.
If you like camping, you have an option to stay at Camp Korana where you, in addition to camping lots, also have bungalows available.
Till now I have stayed in 5 different places near the national park, all being nice places in beautiful natural surroundings. My absolute favorite was when I stayed in Korana, a small village with maybe 10 houses and fast streams from the Korana river running under and between them.
Important: If you are not with the car, you should pay attention to how to reach the accommodation from the national park. Lots of places are not within walking distance of the entrance, and public transportation is in most cases not an option, so you might have to take a taxi to reach your accommodation.
Bike riding: In the Plitvice area there are several bike trails of different lengths and difficulties, you can check out this website where you can find maps of all the routes. Alternatively, you can book a guided bike tour which is offered by several companies in the area.
Hiking: In addition to the hiking inside the national park, there are also trails in the outer area of Plitvice, you can find maps of hiking trails here.
Visit National Park Una: About 40 km from Plitvice NP you can visit the Una national park in Bosnia and Herzegovina; this national park is a great place for a nice hike in beautiful nature, and it is also a place where you can do wild water rafting. Here you can find more information about getting to Una from Plitvice.
Rastoke: 25 km north of Plitvice (towards Zagreb) you can find Rastoke, which is the old town center of the city Slunj. Rastoke is built on several river branches flowing over cascades and small waterfalls that eventually end up in bigger waterfalls going into the Korana river.
Barac Caves: About 28 km from the national park, you can visit the very interesting Barac caves which were re-opened to the public in 2004. At the Barac caves, you will have a guided tour which lasts about 60 minutes.
Other activities: Horseback riding, zip-lining, paintball, fishing, just to mention a few. During winter you can also go skiing at the nearby Mukinje ski center.
Plitvice Lakes FAQs
I cannot recall any part of the national park where the trails seemed wheelchair accessible but check with the national park administration, they should know for sure.
Well, as the national park covers a large area, and there is no fence around it, it is of course possible to enter without using the official entrance. This is of course illegal and you will get fined if you are caught in the act! Bear in mind the entrance fee is an important contribution to preserve this unique piece of nature.
Yes, you are allowed to bring your dog, but it has to be kept on a leash at all times!
No, swimming in the lakes in prohibited.
Plitvice Lakes Map
Below is the map containing all the information you will need when travelling to Plitvice, especially regarding Entrances. Click the menu in the upper right corner to get more info.