Visiting Plitvice Lakes National Park? This post answers all your questions and tells you everything you need to know to plan your visit to see the amazing Plitvice Lakes National Park in Croatia, including:
- when and where to buy tickets
- the best time to visit
- what to except
- what you can and can’t bring
- how to get there
- and more!
Read on to learn everything you need to know about visiting Plitvice Lakes!
What to Know Before Visiting Plitvice Lakes National Park: All Your Questions Answered
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Is Plitvice Lakes worth visiting?
First things first, Plitvice Lakes National Park in Croatia really is as beautiful as the photos make it seem and it is definitely worth visiting. Much like the rest of the country, the scenery and landscape is stunning.
I have never seen anything like it before. Even though we didn’t have the best experience (more on that later), I would still highly recommend visiting this incredible National Park.
I’d argue that Plitvice Lakes National park is one of the most beautiful places in all of Croatia.
When should you buy tickets to Plitvice Lakes National Park?
You should DEFINITELY buy your tickets online ahead of time. In the summer, during the peak season, if you don’t buy your tickets beforehand, they may sell out and you won’t be able to get in!
Be aware of your entrance time, they are strict about that. We watched several people get turned away because they were too early for their designated time slot. Purchase tickets ahead of time here.
What time should you get to Plitvice Lakes National Park?
The earlier in the day, the better — especially during peak season. Book an early entrance time to Plitvice Lakes to avoid the crowds (and heat in the summer). It means waking up earlier, yes, especially if you’re doing a day trip and driving from Zadar like we did, but it’s worth it.
What time of year should you visit Plitvice Lakes?
In my opinion, visiting Plitvice Lakes National Park during the shoulder seasons is best: spring, early summer, or late summer/early autumn. During the middle of summer, while beautiful, it can be very crowded (more on this later).
While the weather is cooler, the colors in autumn are said to be beautiful. The photos of Plitvice Lakes in autumn below prove that:
Is winter a good time to visit Plitvice Lakes? While it gets very cold, the lakes do look beautiful in the snow! If you can bear the cold weather, then it might be worth it.
Is Plitvice Lakes National Park crowded in the summer?
Very. Unfortunately, no matter what time you go during the peak summer months, Plitvice is going to be packed. Like miserably packed. Like freaking Disney World miserably packed.
Thousands and thousands of people were crammed on this narrow boardwalk trying to get THE photo. This video shows it below (or you can see it in my IG story highlight):
It was unfortunate and really kind of ruined the experience for us. We don’t regret going and look back fondly on it now, but at the time it sucked. I think if I had been more prepared and expected the crowds it would have been a little different.
Should you start at Entrance 1 or 2 at Plitvice Lakes National Park?
I recommend parking and starting your day from Entrance 1. We got there around 9 AM, and it was already tough to find a parking spot. Walking to the entrance from where we parked was a hike in itself. But, when we got to the entrance, the line wasn’t too bad. Unlike Entrance 2….
That was the line to get on the trolly from Entrance 2. I’ll take a longer walk over waiting in a line like that.
How long do you need to spend at Plitvice Lakes National Park?
The amount of time depends on the trail/route you choose and how much want to see. I think realistically, 5 hours is a good amount of time to see most of the park, which is how long we were there.
You could see the highlights in less time and if you really powered through. On the other hand, you could spend even more time if you chose the longer routes.
Which Plitvice Lakes trail/route is best?
I think we did a pretty good job of seeing the park and would recommend our route. Here is what we did:
- started at Entrance 1 of the park
- walked out to the main overlook and took a left toward St1 (there were less people that way)
- walked to St1 and got on the train/shuttle
- got off the shuttle at St3
- had a snack/bathroom break
- took a right and hiked back down toward P2
- got on the ferry at P2 and took it across the lake to P3
- walked from P3 (another good place for bathroom/snack break) to the big waterfall
- finally we hiked from the big waterfall back to Entrance 1
It was a good route, not too difficult if you’re in decent shape!
Is Plitvice National Park stroller and wheelchair friendly?
We saw a couple strollers and wheelchairs attempting to navigate through the park. While it is doable, it will be very difficult. The walkways are very narrow and uneven. Just something to keep in mind!
Can you swim at Plitvice National Park?
While the water is incredibly clear and blue, unfortunately, you cannot swim in Plitvice Lakes.
You are prohibited to swim in hopes to preserve the National Park and keep it beautiful for visitors.
You can swim in lakes at Krka National Park though, another famous park with waterfalls in Croatia. We didn’t have time to visit during our trip, but I’ve heard good things!
What to bring to Plitvice Lakes National Park?
When planning a trip to Plitvice Lakes National Park, I would suggest packing these items along:
- Water bottle
- Camera (this is what I use)
- Bug Spray
- Fan (in the summer months)
Are drones allowed at Plitvice Lakes?
While you’ll see many photos like the one below, it was not taken with a drone! In fact, drones are prohibited in Plitvice Lakes National Park, and Croatia as a whole.
Luckily, there are tons of places around Plitvice to take stunning aerial photos without a drone!
PS – if you’re looking at getting a drone, I have the DJI Spark and love it!
Where should you stay in Croatia to visit Plitvice Lakes National Park?
When visiting Plitvice Lakes National Park, you can either stay nearby the National Park or day trip in from a bigger nearby city like Zadar, Zagreb, or Split.
If you’d rather stay in a bigger city, it is very doable to day trip to Plitvice Lakes Park from Zagreb, Zadar, or even Split. Many tour companies offer tours:
We personally stayed in Zadar and did a day trip on our own since we had already rented a car.
How do you get to Plitvice Lakes National Park?
From Zadar, Croatia to Plitvice Lakes, it was a fairly easy drive and only took us about an hour and a half. There are several tolls along the way. We panicked at the first one thinking they were cash only (of which we had none), but luckily, they do take cards as well.
From Zagreb, Croatia it is about a 2-hour drive. Google directions are linked here or see map below:
For more details on how to get to Plitvice lakes National Park visit their website.
I hope this article was helpful in planning your trip to Plitvice Lakes National Park! Have more questions? Feel free to leave a comment below or DM me on Instagram!
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