Visiting Plitvice Lakes is an absolute must if you’re coming to Croatia. Croatia has a myriad of beautiful spots to visit, but unless you’re a billionaire with unlimited time you won’t be able to see all of them. So, if you’re stressing out trying to plan your itinerary, deciding what you should keep in and take out, I am here to help! Plitvice Lakes was my favourite thing I saw in Croatia, followed closely by Dubrovnik, so definitely put this magical oasis on your itinerary as I promise you won’t be disappointed.
What is Plitvice Lakes?
Plitvice Lakes is the oldest national park in Croatia and is a UNESCO World Heritage site. It is known for its chain of 16 terraced lakes, that are joined by waterfalls. There are hiking trails that go around and across the water, with a boat that links the 12 upper and 4 lower lakes together. It truly is a magnificent site.
How many days should I spend here / Should I just go on a day trip?
This answer varies depending on a few factors. What time of year you are visiting, how much time you have and how much you want to see of the lake.
For me, I only came as a day trip from Zagreb. I did manage to see everything I wanted to, however it felt a tad rushed as I didn’t want to miss anything and most importantly, I didn’t want to miss my bus back to Zagreb.
I caught a 7:30am bus and arrived to the lakes at 10am to Entrance 2 (the upper lakes). By the time I had arrived there was already a huge line and I spent 40 minutes waiting to purchase my entrance ticket. Note: tickets are not sold online.
If you want to avoid this, I would suggest travelling to the lakes the afternoon before you plan to visit and staying in a hostel/hotel/AirBnB for 2 nights so that you can be at the lakes by 8am when the gate opens so you don’t waste any time waiting in line and you’ll beat the crowds for a few hours too.
Also, if you are visiting in peak season (July-August) prepare for crowds! By midday the park was really crowded, and while you could still enjoy the scenery it took away from the atmosphere. I also had to wait in line for 45 minutes for the boat across the lake back to entrance 2 for my bus at 6pm.
In conclusion, a day trip is definitely doable, especially if you visit in the off peak season. However, if you have more time and want to go at a more leisurely pace, book accommodation for a couple nights by the lakes, buy the 2-day ticket and enjoy your time at the lakes!
When should I visit?
I visited Croatia in July and it was very hot and crowded. July and August are the peak travel times as that is summer school holidays for Europeans and Americans, and it is Australia and New Zealand’s winter so they’re looking to escape the cold.
I would suggest visiting in April-May or September-October in the shoulder seasons as the weather will be much more pleasant going in to or out of summer, prices will be slightly cheaper and there will be less tourists!
Which trail should I take?
There are 8 different hiking trails to choose from.
Trail options from Entrance 1-
- Trail A (2-3 hours – 3.5km – easy) lower lakes only as it starts and ends at Entrance 1. Walk to the Great Waterfall and to Kozjaka Bridge.
- Trail B (3-4 hours -4km – easy) similar to Trail A but includes sailing on lake Kozjaka.
- Trail C (4-6 hours – 8km – moderate) extended Trail B including a visit to the upper lakes.
- Trail K (6-8 hours – 18.3km – difficult) Explores the whole park
Trail options from Entrance 2-
- Trail E (2-3 hours – 5.2 km – easy) upper lakes to Proscansko Jezero starting with a short boat ride across the Kozjak Lake.
- Trail F (3-4 hours – 4.6km – easy) walk the upper lakes and sail across lake Kozjaka, then visit the lower lakes – take shuttle back
- Trail H (4-6 hours – 8.9km – moderate) starts with a bus ride to your starting point, walk the upper lakes then sail across lake Kozjaka, to the lower lakes – take shuttle bus back.
- Trail K-2 (6-8 hours – 18.3km -difficult) like Trail K-1 – explore the whole park.
I recommend any of the trail options from Entrance 2 as you start at the upper lakes and walk downwards- why would anyone want to walk upwards in really hot weather, or ever?!
I went on trail K/H… somehow I managed to get off track, nearly tread on a brown snake and had to find my way back onto the correct trail. But that’s all part of the solo travel adventure, right?
How do I get here?
It takes about 2 hours by car to reach Plitvice Lakes either from Zagreb or Zadar, and about 2.30 hours by bus.
I travelled by bus from Zagreb with GetByBus. You can take a bus from Zagreb or Zadar main bus station.
If you have your own car you can also drive and there is a parking lot.
How much is the entrance?
I visited in peak season and the prices were:
One day tickets-
- Adult- 250kn ($53.55AUD)
- Children- 110kn ($23.56AUD)
- Student- 160kn ($34.27AUD)
Two day tickets-
- Adult- 400kn ($85.72AUD)
- Children- 200kn ($42.86AUD)
- Student- 300kn ($64.29AUD)
What are the park hours?
- 9am – 4pm in the Winter
- 8am – 6pm in the Spring and Autumn
- 7am – 8pm in the Summer
Is there food sold in the park?
Bring a packed lunch and water! Also, take your rubbish home with you.
There was a small kiosk selling limited food at Entrance 2 and somewhere in the middle of the park there was a cafe selling food and ice-creams.
Can I swim?
Swimming is strictly forbidden at Plitvice Lakes, so don’t waste your time bringing your cossies (bathers, swimmers, swiming costume).