CROATIA

Plitvice Lakes in Croatia: the complete guide

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Located halfway between Zadar and Zagreb, Croatia’s Plitvice National Park is one of the country’s most emblematic sites. With its 16 fantastic turquoise and emerald lakes, linked by hundreds (92 to be exact!) of waterfalls, streams and torrents, it’s a veritable natural treasure trove. Covering almost 30,000 hectares, it has preserved its authenticity thanks to rules such as the ban on swimming.

Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1979, it is the most visited park in Croatia and one of the most beautiful in Europe! The problem is, everyone knows it! The park now attracts over 2 million visitors a year. So it’s safe to say that you won’t be alone when you get there. As far as we’re concerned, we were lucky enough to be able to visit it without too many people, or even almost empty. That’s because we went in September 2020, in the middle of the Covid crisis.

Practical information

  • Park access :
    By car: the park is 1h30 from Zadar and 2h from Zagreb. Follow signs for Plitvička jezera.
    By bus: You can reach the park by bus from Zadar or Zagreb. Simply go to the bus station. A one-way ticket costs around €10 (80 kuna). Many agencies offer day trips.
  • Park entrances: The park has two main entrances open to the public. The northern entrance, known as Entrance 1, is just above the lower lakes, while the southern entrance (Entrance 2) is next to the upper lakes. In fact, I recommend that you enter through Entrance 1 to admire the waterfalls from above!
    Each of these entrances has a pay parking lot at a rate of 7kn/h, or around €1/hr. A shuttle bus runs between the two entrances.
  • Prices: depending on the season, entrance fees vary:
    November 1 to March 31: €7.5 (55 kuna).
    April 1 to June 30 and September 1 to October 31: 15€ (110 kunas).
    July 1 to August 31: 24€ (180 kunas).
    As of 2019, admission is limited to 5,000 tickets per day. I advise you to buy your tickets in advance.
    More information on this site.
  • Remarks:
    The park is open year-round, but some trails may be closed due to bad weather: snow or flooding.
    The best time to visit the lakes is out of season (spring or autumn). In summer, the lakes are crowded and not very pleasant to visit.
  • What route should you choose to visit the park?
    The park comprises 4 lower lakes (entrance 1) and 12 upper lakes (entrance 2). There are 8 possible itineraries (A, B, C, E, F, H, K1 and K2): four different routes for each of the two main entrances. The shortest takes 2-3 hours, the longest up to 8 hours. All routes are marked and easy to follow. Everyone passes through pretty much the same places, so it’s impossible to escape the crowds in high season.

    For the most complete tour of Plitvice Park, the most interesting itineraries are B and H (for K, you really need to have time and come over 2 days).
    le site officiel du parc.

    You’ll find all the information you need on the park’s official website.
Plitvice
Plitvice
Plitvice

Our route: day 1

Arriving at the parking lot by 8am, we chose the H itinerary for the most complete tour of the site. It’s worth noting that most of the signposted itineraries follow the same paths. In fact, the paths form loops, crossing and mixing constantly. So you can easily jump from one trail to another, from one itinerary to another, because they all have very long stretches in common.

You’ll notice from the photos that, as well as being virtually alone, we were blessed with glorious weather!

Once we entered the park, we came face to face with the most impressive of the waterfalls, Veliki Slap, which is just magnificent! The panoramic view of the falls and pools is superb!

The lakes have magical colors, all in shades of blue and green! The trail follows wooden paths that blend harmoniously into the landscape.

We then take the path down to the edge of the pools and the foot of the waterfall. The water is translucent and emerald green. It’s a sight for sore eyes!

Our tour continues. The trail is well marked. We pass successively over wooden pontoons, footbridges and small paths bordering the lakes. Everything is well laid out for the walker.

We arrive at Lake Kozjak, which appears to be the largest in the park. From here, we board a shuttle boat. Having completed our visit to the lower lakes, we set off to discover the upper ones. The difference in altitude between the lakes is relatively small, the waterfalls are smaller here, the lakes are larger and the atmosphere is more peaceful.

Plitvice
Plitvice

This magical place is very real! The waterfalls that criss-cross the park are each as surprising as the next.

Our route: day 2

The next day, we return to the Veliki Slap waterfall and take the stairs next to the waterfall to enjoy another viewpoint. And here we arrive at one of the most beautiful views in the park.

Plitvice

On this 2nd day of our visit, as we had time to spare, we continued on our way to discover the park from the heights. The walk is well worth the detour: the colors and landscapes are totally different, and the viewpoints are all superbly beautiful. On the other hand, there’s a section right in the middle of the forest (which we found a little long) which was a little less interesting, but which we quickly forgot once we were back on the lakes!


Where to stay near Plitvices Lakes?

We found accommodation not far from the park. In fact, there’s quite a lot of accommodation on offer in the area. We rented a room, very pleasant, clean with a parking space and breakfast. Here’s the booking link: Green lakes house.

Where to eat near Plitvice Lakes?

If you can, pack a lunch for a picnic in the park. There’s a brasserie restaurant in the park, but in high season it’s probably full to bursting. As for a restaurant outside the park, we had a hard time finding anything we liked….tout is a bit too touristy, and we didn’t find that there were many restaurants close to the park.


Thanks for reading!

Mylène

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