Plitvice Lakes Travel Guide
Contents [click on chapter for quick jump]
- 1 Get to know Plitvice Lakes National Park
- 2 How to get to Plitvice Lakes National Park
- 3 Ticket prices and operating hours
- 4 Nine tips on planning your visit to Plitvice Lakes
- 5 Hiking trails
- 6 Accommodation near Plitvice Lakes
- 7 Things to do around Plitvice Lakes
- 8 Map of Plitvice Lakes
Get to know Plitvice Lakes National Park
Facts about Plitvice Lakes. Plitvice Lakes National Park is listed as UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1979. and located in Lika region, in Continental Croatia, just at the midway between capital Zagreb and coastal city Zadar.
The park covers a total area of 29685 ha (300 square kilometers) where the lakes are just a small part of it (200 ha). The Great Waterfall is the largest fall of the Plitvice Lakes and the largest lake is Lake Kozjak.
Plitvice Lakes National Park and Dubrovnik are the most visited Croatian sites.
What a phenomenon! Plitvice Lakes is an outstanding natural phenomenon of 16 lakes inter-connected by over 90 magnificent waterfalls, many caves and caverns, and set in deep woodland populated by deer, bears, wolves, boars and rare bird species. The lakes are divided in two groups – 12 Upper Lakes and 4 Lower Lakes. The Lakes are famous for their stunning water colors, changing from shades of emerald and deep blues to greys. While walking on the wooden footbridges and pathway go over the water you really feel like walking on the water, like in a fairy land.
Best time to visit Plitvice. Although Plitvice Lakes are worth of visiting year-round, we recommend late Spring and Autumn when the weather is warm and colors of nature are incredible. Summer months in Plitvice are also amazing but more crowded. In winter the scenes of nature are just unbelievable but be prepared to low temperatures.
Entrances to National Park. There are two main entrances to the lakes and an additional auxiliary entrance. Entrance 1 is just above lower lakes, while south entrance – Entrance 2 is next to the Upper Lakes. An additional Entrance Flora is less crowded, but a bit off main routes.
Plan your visit and learn more about Plitvice before you arrive on official Plitvice Lakes website.
How to get to Plitvice Lakes National Park
Most of people visit Plitvice on their way from Zagreb down to the coast or when travel back home from holiday. However, if you stay for a couple of days in Zadar, Split, Šibenik or Zagreb, considering to join one of the organized or private tours is absolutely great idea – check official tourist offices or travel agencies in town of your stay.
Travelling to Plitvice Lakes by car
From Zagreb (north) you drive on the motorway A1 in direction Karlovac, a town 40 km southeast of Zagreb. From Karlovac take a state road D1 in direction Slunj, Grabovac, Plitvice.
From Split or Zadar (south) you drive on the motorway A1 in direction Zagreb/Rijeka (to north). Than you take the highway exit at Gornja Ploča and continue on the state road D522 to Udbina. From Udbina D1 road will take you to the Plitvice Lakes.
Getting to Plitvice with an organized tour
If you would prefer to get to Plitvice Lakes with an organized group, join one of the numerous small or private tours that are available from almost all coastal towns, and from capital Zagreb. All you need to do is to check and book your place at travel agency or Tourist Board in town of your stay. Another, even easier way, is to book your tour online. Here’re organized tours from Croatian cities we found on Viator – the global tour operator:
Getting to Plitvice Lakes by bus
If you consider of getting to Plitvice Lakes by bus with one of the national bus companies, you can take a bus to Plitvice Lakes from Zagreb, Zadar or Split at the main bus station. If you’re coming from elsewhere in Croatia, the best way to reach Plitvice Lakes is that you get by bus to one of these towns first and continue your trip to Plitvice from there.
For travelling from Zagreb to Plitvice Lakes, you can buy tickets online on Zagreb Bus Terminal website.
To reach Plitvice Lakes by bus, either from Zagreb, Zadar or Split, it takes about 2.30 hour.
Ticket prices and operating hours
One-day ticket includes electric boat rides on Lake Kozjak and panoramic train rides, visitor insurance and VAT. The tickets don’t need to be booked in advance for single visitors. Booking is recommended for groups.
For more info on operating hours, tickets and guided tours please visit Plitvice Lakes official website.
Nine tips on planning your visit to Plitvice Lakes
- Take plenty of water and sunscreen.
- When you decide which route to take, expect it takes a little longer than stated.
- Get there early in order to avoid crowds.
- Consider an overnight stay in a nearby hotel or private accommodation to make your access to Lakes easier and hike without a rush.
- To avoid crowds visit Plitvice Lakes in spring or late summer/earl autumn when the weather is still warm and the nature is stunning.
- Rent a boat for just 50 kuna per hour.
- Swimming isn’t permitted in any of the lakes!
- Buy a Park Map that is sold at the Park entrances for your greater experience.
- Dogs must be kept on leash at all times.
For the best experience of exploring Plitvice Lakes visitors have 8 different hiking routes at their disposal, to each route is assigned an alphabet letter. However, it’s impossible to explore Plitvice in a single day because the lakes constitute only 1% of the park’s total surface area.
ROUTE A, takes 2-3 hours
Route starts at Entrance no. 1. The tour is circular and provides an opportunity to admire the Great Waterfall –the largest fall of the Plitvice Lakes and in Croatia. The path leads on upstream, through the Lower Lakes canyon, along the lakes Novakovića Brod, Kaluđerovac, Gavanovac and Milanovac, to a point at Kozjak Bridge where the trail begins to ascend towards the eastern side of the canyon. From this part, you return to the starting point (Entrance no. 1).
ROUTE B, takes 3-4 hours
Starting point is Entrance 1. Sightseeing is circular, and includes a walk through the limestone canyon of the Lower Lakes, an electric-boat ride across the largest of the Plitvice lakes – Lake Kozjak, a panoramic train ride, and a walk along the top of the canyon’s east side all the way back to starting point at Entrance 1. You will also see the impressive Great Waterfall” and the Sastavci waterfalls, the beautiful dark blue lakes of Novakovića Brod, Kaluđerovac, Gavanovac and Milanovac, as well as the vastness of Lake Kozjak.
ROUTE C, takes 4-6 hours
Starting point is Entrance 1. Sightseeing is circular and includes the Lower and Upper Lakes area, and a combination of walks and electric-boat rides, while the return to starting point will be mostly by panoramic train. Enjoy the beauty of the largest and most attractive waterfalls (Great Waterfall, Veliki Prštavac and Mali Prštavac), and countless smaller waterfalls, as well as the lakes.
ROUTE E, takes 2-3 hours
Route starts at Entrance 2. The tour is circular and explores the Upper Lakes section. The tour includes a short boat ride cross the Kozjak Lake, followed by a walk upstream, all the way to Lake Prošćansko. There’s a sightseeing train to return to the starting point. Experience the magic tranquility and vastness of Upper Lakes and their wooded shores and admirable Great and Small Prštavci falls, as well as countless smaller waterfalls.
ROUTE F, takes 3-4 hours
Starting point is Entrance 2. After a short walk and electric-boat ride across Lake Kozjak, the tour will take you on a walk through the limestone canyon of the Upper Lakes all the way to the Great Waterfall. From the Great Waterfall to the train station there is a steep serpentine leading to the east side of the canyon, where there are numerous viewpoints offering spectacular views of the crystal-clear, dark blue lakes and adjoining high cliffs. Return to starting point by panoramic train. Sightseeing is circular.
ROUTE H, takes 4-6 hours
Starting point is Entrance 2. After a short walk and panoramic train ride, you will continue on foot along the Upper Lakes, take a boat ride across Lake Kozjak, and walk through the Lower Lakes canyon all the way to the Great Waterfall, along the top of the canyon’s east side, and again take a ride on the panoramic train. This circular program gives you the opportunity to enjoy the beauty of the Park’s entire lake area.
ROUTE K1, takes 6-8 hours
Route starts at Entrance no. 1. This walking tour gives you the opportunity to explore the whole lakes section of the Park. The tour includes the Great Fall, a walk through the Lower Lakes canyon and on, alongside the western shore of Lake Kozjak, where from the trail leads towards the Stubica elevation. A gazebo Tomićevo pogledalo offers a magnificent view of Lake Ciginovac and the vastness of Lake Prošćansko. On your return, you will enjoy a walk alongside the beautiful Upper Lakes and the east shore of Lake Kozjak, which is reached by a short electric boat ride. The last part of the tour consists of walking above the east shore of the Lower Lakes and back to the starting point (Entrance no. 1).
ROUTE K2, takes 6-8 hours
Route starts at Entrance no. 2. and give you the opportunity to explore the whole lakes section of the Park. The tour includes a walk along the east shore of Lake Kozjak and continues above the east side of the Lower Lakes canyon, leading to the Great Fall. The walk continues upstream through the canyon and along the west shore of the Kozjak Lake where from the trail leads towards the Stubica elevation. A gazebo Tomićevo pogledalo offers a magnificent view of Lake Ciginovac and the vastness of the Prošćansko Lake. On your return, you will enjoy walking alongside the beautiful Upper Lakes and the east shore of Lake Kozjak, which is reached by a short electric boat ride. The tour ends at the starting point (Entrance no. 2).
Accommodation near Plitvice Lakes
Although people mostly visit Plitvice Lakes for a day-trip, considering of stay in a nearby hotel, private room or apartment is not a bad idea at all. By spending a night in a hotel or private accommodation near Plitvice, you’ll have great opportunity to enter Park easier and earlier, rent your own boat and begin your fantastic exploring experience without morning rush, especially in order to avoid the crowd in the summer season.
Moreover, you’ll have enough time to explore some other amazing places in the region such village Rastoke or Memorial Center Nikola Tesla.
Things to do around Plitvice Lakes
If you are a true nature lover and want to explore this region even more, there are some incredible places you can discover and admire its outstanding beauty.
Visit incredible old village Rastoke
Just 20 km north from Plitvice Lakes (at the entrance of town Slunj) road takes you to amazingly charming village Rastoke.
This lovely place with the old watermills, small waterfalls and rapids will leave you breathless while eating local food at the restaurants and cafes with terraces above and at the edge of water. If you travel for a day trip to Plitvice from capital Zagreb, we definitely recommend you a fantastic COMBO TOUR PLITVICE LAKES AND RASTOKE.
More hiking and trekking
Besides hiking routes at National Park Plitvice, there are many other gorgeous hiking routes to explore in this area. For more info on trekking and hiking please visit Plitvice Lakes official site.
Another very popular activity in this region is cycling. For more info on cycling routes please contact local company Raftrek.
White water rafting
This region is very popular for white water rafting with exciting rivers you can roll down streams and rapids – the rivers Korana and Una (in Bosnia).
For more info on rafting near Plitvice Lakes please check local companies Mirjana-Rastoke or Una Rafting in Bosnia.
To visit Tesla Museum in village Smiljan, the birthplace of the one of the greatest inventors ever lived Nikola Tesla, just take exit Gospić from the main motorway A1 Zagreb- Split and follow the road with the signs for the museum. This thematic park consists of renovated birth house of Nikola Tesla, a Serbian Orthodox Church and a multimedia center. The program and guiding tour runs every few hours and the best is you contact the museum directly before visit.
Memorial Center Nikola Tesla, Smiljan, firstname.lastname@example.org, tel.: +385 53 746 530