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Guide to Plitvice lakes national park in Croatia

Guide to Plitvice lakes national park in Croatia

Plitvice Lakes is a national park in Croatia, about 2 hours from the capital Zagreb. Here awaits a nature experience out of the ordinary with greenery and cascading waterfalls mixed with calm lakes and crystal clear water in green and turquoise color.

In recent years, interest in the National Park has increased, especially since Croatia has become more popular as a tourist destination. Plitvice Lakes National Park consists of 16 lakes connected by waterfalls. The Plitvice Lakes is listed on the UNESCO’s World Heritage List and is considered as one of Europe’s most beautiful natural attractions.

And I can only agree. Although I was here during high season and it was full of tourists, it was still amazing to walk around here. The water of the Plitvice Lakes has a color that I just thought was able to find on retouched images and its beauty almost feels unreal.

Plitvice Lakes National Park in Croatia

Photo: Shutterstock

Inside the Plitvice national park, you will walk along the rustic wooden bridges that cross the water and waterfalls. The trails go through the park, and it is easy to find thanks to signs and maps posted along the trails.

Plan at least a full day here if you like being out in nature. There are so many beautiful spots to look at, and the farther you go; the fewer tourists you’ll have around you.

Below you can see the first viewpoint when you enter through the entrance one.

Lake Plitvice

Look at that color! Absolutely breathtaking. I have never in my life seen such a turquoise color on the water, and it’s even clearer in reality.

Plitvice Lakes National Park

Small gorgeous waterfalls can be found here and there along the hiking paths. 

plitvice national park

It’s like walking into a real-life fairytale world. When walking around the Plitvice lakes in Croatia, you will also be able to stop at viewpoints with spectacular views.

Plitvice Lakes from above

More info about Plitvice Lakes National Park

Plitvice Lakes (Croatian: “Plitvicka Jezera”) got its status as a national park already in 1949, making it the oldest Croatian national park. Since 1979 it’s also included on UNESCO’s World Heritage list.

About two million people visit Plitvice Lakes National Park each year, and it’s easily one of the best places to visit in Croatia.

The area is additionally home to 1267 different kinds of plants, including 55 orchids and 321 species of butterflies, 161 species of birds, bats, deer, lynx. Besides that, you can even catch sight of a European brown bear if you’re lucky.

There are two entrances; entry one is the most popular as the largest waterfalls are located in this part.

  • Entrance Fee: 180 kunas (25$) – high season. 110 kunas, middle season and 55 kunas during winter between November and March. You can find current prices here.
  • Opening Hours: 07:00 – 19:00.

An electrical boat trip on Lake Kozjak and train rides with a panoramic view are included in the tickets.

Plitvice nationalpark

Photo: Shutterstock

Shuttle Bus

Lake Plitvice visitors can also take advantage of the shuttle bus, which runs between the different sections of the national park. 

shuttle bus

Photo: Grzegorz Petrykowski /

How to get to Plitvice Lakes by car

Getting to different places in Croatia by car it is usually easy. The roads are well developed and at longer distances is Highway 130 in the speed limit. Plitvice can not motorway all the way, but it is still easy, and the park is usually no longer than 2-3 hours away, apart from the southern part of the country, such as Dubrovnik.

From Zagreb

The car ride from Zagreb to Plitvice Lakes takes about 2 hours. First, you go on road E65, and then on road 1, which goes all the way to Plitvice. The distance is 130km.

From Zadar

The journey from Zadar takes about 1 and a half hour if you keep the speed limits. From here, it’s also easy to get to the lakes. First, you go on road E71, and then at road 1 in a northerly direction. The distance is 119km.

From Rijeka

The easiest way to go from Rijeka is by car. The distance is about 155km, and the journey takes about 2 hours. First, you go on road A7/E65 and then D42.

From Split

Travel time from Split to Plitvice Lakes is about 2.5 hours. First, you drive on road E71 and then route 1. The distance is about 242 km. Day trips are possible, but I still recommend one night’s stay to really take advantage of your visit. It’s money well worth spending, and there are plenty of cheaper stays.

From Dubrovnik

The journey from Dubrovnik to Plitvice is a rather long one, and I recommend at least one night’s stay to make it worthwhile. It takes about 4 hours and 45 minutes if you keep the speed limits. First, you go on road E65 and then route 1. The distance is 432 km.

getting to Lake Plitvice by car

Photo: Den Rozhnovsky /

How to get to the Plitvice Lakes by Bus

Want to go to Plitvice Lakes by bus? No problem. There are plenty of buses that depart daily from the main cities. The difference between taking the bus and car is slightly longer travel time, and that it’s cheaper to go by car if you’re 3-5 people.

And, of course, you can also be more flexible when going by rental car. Other than that, the networks of buses in Croatia are great, so don’t worry if you don’t want to rent a car.

Tickets can also be bought at the bus terminal and onboard by the driver (if there are free seats). You can also buy tickets online. Buscroatia is a great website where you can find almost any bus line within, from and to Croatia.

From Zagreb

There are daily buses from Zagreb to the Plitvice park. On average, 2 buses per hour, of which the earliest departs 05:45 am. The bus trip costs between 40 and 80 kunas, depending on the bus company and time. Tickets can be bought on the bus if space is available, or the day before or the same day at the bus terminal. You can also buy bus tickets online.

Travel time: approx. 2 hours and 15 min.

From Zadar

The range from Zadar is not as wide as from Zagreb, but it is still smooth and there are several buses daily. The earliest departs at 08:30. A ticket costs around 100 Croatian kunas.

Travel Time: approx. 2 hours.

From Rijeka

There is one daily bus from Rijeka to Plitvice. That bus departs at 7 am and arrives at 10:55 am. The ticket costs 113 kunas.

Travel Time: approx. 4 hours.

From Split

Five daily buses depart from Split with destination Plitvice. The earliest leaves at 08:30 am and arrives at the park at 12:50 pm. A ticket cost about 150 kunas.

Travel Time: approx. 4 hours.

From Dubrovnik

Unfortunately, there are no direct buses from Dubrovnik to Plitvicka Jezera. You’ll have to hop on a bus to Split, and then transfer to another one that goes to the national park. Another option is to go on a guided tour. However, it will be a lot cheaper to by your own by rental car.

Travel Time: approx. 7 hours.

Plitvice Lakes in Croatia

How long time should you spend at the Plitvice Lakes in Croatia?

It depends on how much you want to explore. Visitors could easily spend a couple of days and hike around the Plitvice Lakes, but the most scenic parts of the national park can be seen in a few hours, hence why it has become a popular day trip from the Croatian capital as well as other popular tourist destinations. 

I suggest spending a full day at the Plitvice Lakes in Croatia with transport included. In this way, you will have plenty of time to explore the Plitvice national park and at the same time be able to relax and have lunch. 

Pathway in the Plitvicka Jezera

Photo: Shutterstock

Can you swim in the Plitvice Lakes?

Since 2006, it’s forbidden to swim here in order to protect the area. If you want to visit a beautiful place to swim, I suggest visiting Krka National Park instead of Plitvice Lakes, since swimming is allowed there and that park is also known for its beautiful scenery and waterfalls.  

What is the best time to visit the Plitvice national park?

The summer months of July and August are the busiest periods in Plitvice Lakes, so if you want to avoid the crowds, don’t go here then. May/June or even September are better choices for avoiding the crowds of Plitvice National Park. 

In wintertime, you can also come here, but it isn’t as scenic as during the summer months. In my opinion, late spring and early autumn are the best time to visit Plitvice Lakes in Croatia. 

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Do you have more questions about visiting the Plitvice Lakes in Croatia? Leave a comment below!


Sunday 2nd of September 2018

Plitvice Lakes are the most beautiful in the fall, but there is also shorter daylight. It is also less crowded and easier to walk because it is not so hot, though it may be rainy days ...