Plitvice Lakes National Park (Plitvička Jezera) in Croatia is one of the many places that I had never heard about until moving to Europe. Usually popping up on many “World’s Most Beautiful Parks” lists, Plitvice Lakes National Park is well deserving of this title.
The park was added to the UNESCO World Heritage list in 1979 and is the oldest and largest in Croatia. It is centrally located within the country and covers an expansive area of just under 300 kilometers.
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What to Do in Plitvice Lakes National Park
There is no doubt that you came to Plitvice Lakes to walk through the stunning waterfall park. Immediately upon entering the park, your ears will already be teased with the sound of flowing water. As soon as you step just a few feet into the part you will begin to see the beauty that makes up this natural wonder.
Waterfalls that flow into blue-green lakes are surrounded by a lush, green forest providing a beautiful contrast of colors. The sounds of birds singing and leaves rustling only add to the park’s natural ambience.
Plitvice Lakes is unique because the water contains travertine which contributes to the clarity and blue-green hue that is characteristic of the beautiful lakes and waterfalls.
Plitvice has many footpaths located throughout the park that wind through and around the flowing waterfalls, making hiking easily accessible. There are a total of sixteen lakes in the park all inter-connected by series of waterfalls.
Around every bend is a new waterfall, some taller, some shorter, some narrow or wide. All shapes and sizes and just as beautiful as the last.
During off season, the park isn’t as crowded so is will be easier to enjoy hiking at your own pace. However, even during high tourist season (we went on a Saturday in July and again in September) the paths were not particularly overcrowded or difficult to pass through.
If a large group of visitors were passing by we simply stood to the side for a minute and let them pass, leaving the trail empty again.
The weather here is quite pleasant for most of the year. In the winter the paths can become quite snowy and the air cold but the park will still be open. During the summertime you can find shady areas to protect you from the blazing sun and provide some breeze.
Which Trail Should You Take?
The park provides maps indicating different walks of varying length that visitors can embark on. These paths start from either of the two entrances of the park and can range from two to eight hours long.
Within the park there are seven different paths to see the lakes and waterfalls. Additionally, there are four different hiking trails. For us, we followed path C and took approximately 5-6 hours to hike through the park.
This includes the electric boat ride across the Lake Kozjak to get to the other part of the park. The boats run conveniently every 60 min. A restaurant, bathrooms and cafe area are located about halfway through the park at the site of the boat dock.
I would recommend bringing a water bottle and snack if you get hungry or thirsty frequently. Once you’ve reached the end of the trail there is the option to take the sightseeing, panoramic train back to the main entrance.
Purchasing Your Ticket to Plitvice Lakes
Visiting Plitvice Lakes National Park is a magical experience and one that should not be missed. The park offers one or two day tickets with prices varying for each season. Although Croatia has recently jointed the EU, if is still advertised that the ticket prices are in Croatian Kuna.
However, before visiting the park I would recommend checking their website to see if they have changed over to the Euro. There are also tours available in English, among a few other languages, or you can choose to explore the beauty of Plitvice Lakes on your own.
Please visit their website to find out current opening hours and ticket prices. It is highly recommended to purchase your ticket online at least 2 days prior to arrival. Due to the increasing popularity and their efforts to protect the national park, they are now limited the amount of tickets sold daily.
The park is open 365 days a year from 7 AM to 8 PM.
How to Get to Plitvice Lakes National Park
Plitvice Lakes (Plitvička Jezera) is located in the middle of the country in the east, close to the border of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Due to the location it is best to use a car to reach the park. You can easily rent a car in Croatia and drive there yourself. The roads are typically well maintained and driving in Croatia is easy. The closer to Plitvice Lakes National Park you get, the windier the roads and the less gas stations and shops you will see. So I recommend filling up when you see a station, just in case.
Croatia has many international airports and the closest to Plitvice Lakes would be either Zagreb or Zadar. From Zagreb the drive will be about 2 hours and from Zadar it will take roughly 1 hour 45 minutes.
To drive within Croatia you do not need a vignette like in Slovenia, Austria or Switzerland. They have normal toll roads so be sure to have some Croatian Kuna on you just in case.
Where to Stay Near the National Park
I’ve been to Plitvice Lakes National Park many times and each time I stay at Bed & Breakfast Helena. Located a mere 6 km from the entrance of the park, Helena Bike and Bed rents out full apartments with multiple rooms, bathrooms and a kitchen. The apartments have large balconies with breathtaking views. The perfect place to enjoy a glass of wine or cup of tea.
As there aren’t many restaurants nearby I highly recommend bringing groceries with you to make dinner, breakfast and pack a lunch for the park!
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WHAT CAMERA GEAR DO I USE?
- Main Camera: Sony A7III
- Wide angle lens: Sony G Master 16-35mm f/2.8
- Zoom lens: Sony 24-240mm f/3.5-6.3
- Secondary Camera: Canon 6D Mark II
- Canon wide angle lens: Canon EF 17-40mm f/4L
- Underwater camera: Leica X-U
- Camera with gimbal: DJI Osmo Pocket & Underwater Housing
- Drone: DJI Mavic Pro
- Camera Bag: Polar Pro Drone Trekker
- External Hard Drive: LaCie 1 TB rugged mini external hard drive