A Day in Plitvice Lakes National Park
A day in Plitvice Lakes National Park is a must-do for anyone travelling to Croatia. With 70,000 acres of dazzling lakes, stunning waterfalls and hiking trails for all levels there is something for everyone to enjoy within this park. No wonder it is one of Croatia’s biggest tourist attractions!
The park has seven routes around the lakes with 4 different hiking trails which differ in length. There is also a ferry which takes you from one side of the lake to the other if you are not up to walking the entire length of the park. There are also places where you can stop off and get food with places to sit and eat or set-up for a picnic.
Plitvice lakes national park is located between the capital city Zagreb and the old city of Zadar. There are plenty of buses you can take from either city to travel to the park, ranging from 50-100 HRK. You can also easily hire a car if you are looking to drive yourself. If you are driving you will have to pay for parking (8 HRK per hour) and there are various road tolls.
From Zagreb its about a 2 hour car drive and a 3 hour bus journey. From Zadar the car journey takes around 1 hour 30 minutes whilst the bus take between 1 hour 45 minutes to 3 hours depending on what route you take.
Tour buses start arriving at the park around 9 so if you want to beat the rush, get there for opening time.
When to Go?
Plitvice lakes national park is lovely to visit in any season. We travelled during the summer months which happens to be the most popular time to visit! Although it offers stunning views as the sunlight reflects off the lakes, the boardwalks can get crowded and if people are trying to take pictures you can end up getting stuck in a traffic jam of people.
Be warned, it can also get very hot so be sure to bring plenty of water with you and if you want to avoid the midday heat it is best to arrive at opening time so you can take in the beautiful surroundings before finding some shade to have a picnic or eat your lunch when it gets hot.
During the Winter months the temperature can be very low and the park can get icy but it gives you the opportunity to see the snowy waterfalls. Be aware that during the winter some of the hospitality may be closed. If you are looking to visit the park in a quieter season then Spring or Autumn is the time to go. Water levels are normally higher and although the temperature can vary, you are more likely to be able to spend time admiring the scenery from the viewpoints and getting that perfect photo without other people in it!
Where to Stay
To reach the park from either of the above main cities can take a long time, even if you’ve hired a car. We decided to stay in a lovely AirBnB in Plitvice right next to the park to make the most of our time there and would highly recommend doing this! It means you can arrive early and beat the crowds, especially if you are travelling in the summer months. Our host was lovely and super helpful with advice about places to eat and when we needed to visit a doctor (a story for another blog I think!).
Opening Hours & Prices
The park is open year round but varies in it’s opening hours so it is best to check the official website before going. The 2 entrances are both open from 08:00 – 17:00 (open longer in the summer months). Parking lots for both entrances are open from 07:00 – 19:00.
You can buy tickets online or at the park entrance these tickets also allow you to use the boat and train inside the park.
The park is more expensive during the peak summer months (300HRK from June to September) but offers cheaper entry after 4pm (200HRK in June to the end of August).