Plitvice National Park was a non-negotiable destination during my three-week stint traveling around Croatia. The sky-high waterfalls, beautiful boardwalks, and turquoise waters called to me early on in my Croatian research, and there was no way I was going to miss frolicking around in that lush environment.
A UNESCO world heritage site and the oldest national park in Croatia, the whole of Plitvice National Park seems to shine in technicolor. The sound of water rushing and falling is everpresent, the nature is wild, and you will find yourself more responsible for yourself and wellbeing than a guard railing could ever be (meaning, there are no guardrails in most areas and your legs will be what keeps you from falling into the cascading water).
The park is divided into the Upper Lakes and the Lower Lakes, and how you decide to divvy up your time at each of these locales is completely up to you, as they’re both impressive in their own right. The Upper Lakes consist of super high, dramatically flowing falls, while the Lower Lakes are home to smaller falls and those turquoise lakes that are splashed on all the postcards.
We spent a full day at Plitvice, but for a true dive into this beautiful location, I’d recommend spending at least a couple of days looking around.
What to Expect at Plitvice National Park, Croatia
How to Get to Plitvice Lakes
Being in a central location, you have a few options for getting to Plitvice. Personally, I booked a return bus trip from the Zagreb bus terminal and the journey took just under 2 hours each way, although you could easily rent a car and make the same trip. On the bus, the return trip wasn’t more than 250 Kuna, the schedule made it super easy to get there and back, and there was some cool scenery on the way.
However, Plitvice National Park sits almost right between Zagreb and Zadar, so doing the day trip from Zadar is easily done as well. There are bus companies that will take you to Plitvice from Split too, although this would be a slightly longer journey.
If you plan on seeing both Krka National Park and Plitvice National Park, then I recommend going to Krka as a trip from Split, and Plitvice as a trip from either Zadar or Zagreb.
Plitvice National Park Entrance Fees
Ticket prices vary by season, and you’ll pay roughly three times as much to see the park in the summertime than you would in a shoulder season or the winter. As of writing this, visiting Plitvice from November to March costs 55 Kuna, 150 Kuna from April to June and in September and October, and 250 Kuna in July and August.
Swimming at Plitvice
Plitvice National Park is home to sixteen pristine, turquoise lakes that look absolutely heavenly to jump into. However, unlike at Krka National Park, swimming is not permitted at Plitvice, due to habitat and ecosystem protections in place.
To avoid some nasty repercussions and to do your part in protecting the environment, take a dip elsewhere.
Waterfalls, and More Waterfalls
As mentioned, Plitvice is absolutely brimming with waterfalls, and that’s probably a huge reason why you’re heading there in the first place. Trust me when I say that the falls will not disappoint, and take the opportunity of walking among them to practice your photography skills!
Grab a tripod, slow down your shutter speed, and take beautiful photos of crystal clear flowing water.
When to Visit Plitvice National Park
Plitvice National Park is the second most popular tourist destination in Croatia, sitting right behind Dubrovnik, and sees over 1 million visitors a year. That said, when I went to Plitvice it was late June — right before peak season in Croatia. Even then, there were a few tour groups at the park, and walking along the narrow boardwalks with no handrails got interesting at times what with dodging other people.
I’d recommend traveling in the shoulder seasons — either Spring or Fall, as the park is still open, still beautiful, and you’ll experience much less crowding. I’ve heard that Plitvice gets totally crazy with people when you get deeper into July and August, so if you’re traveling during these months, prepare yourself for the masses and a (probably) much less relaxing experience.
Plitvice National Park Hiking
Hiking around Plitvice is super easy to do, as there are eight clearly marked trails of various lengths — A, B, C, E, F, H, and K. Although there are plenty of “you are here” signs along each of the routes, I recommend grabbing a trail map for the journey.
What to Pack for Plitvice National Park
Shoes: I recommend wearing sturdy walking shoes or hiking boots at Plitvice. While the park has fairly smooth terrain, you’ll often be walking on wet boardwalks, and you’ll want as much grip as possible. Avoid flip-flops.
Waterproof Gear: I highly recommend bringing either a waterproof backpack or dry bag for your trip. As mentioned above, there are waterfalls everywhere, and you don’t want to have your valuables accidentally get splashed.
Refillable Water Bottle: Do your part to take care of the environment and bring along a refillable water bottle. The water (from the taps, not the lakes) at Plitvice is totally drinkable so you can just refill as you go.