Plitvice Lakes National Park

Nestled in the lush landscape of Croatia, the Plitvice Lakes National Park, also known as Plitvice National Park or by its English name Plitvice Lakes National Park from the original : Plitvička jezera; Plitvice, is a spectacular display of nature at its finest. Declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site, this park is a labyrinth of lakes, waterfalls, and forests that offers an unparalleled experience to its visitors. This article delves into the wonders that make this park a must-visit for nature and hiking enthusiasts.

Information about Plitvice Lakes National Park

Creation of the National Park

Plitvice Lakes National Park, in Croatia, is located in the Lika region, an area of stunning beauty where lakes, waterfalls, and springs intertwine. This park was established as a protected area in 1949 and in 1979 was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List, with number 98 with a subsequent expansion in 2000.

Plitvice Lakes National Park

Protected Area

Covering an area close to 30,000 hectares, of which approximately 22,000 are covered by dense forests, the park offers an unparalleled natural experience. The area accessible to visitors, located in the center of the park, encompasses around 8 km² of wooded valleys. Here, the hydrography has sculpted a landscape of 16 lakes at different altitudes, connected by 92 cataracts and waterfalls, possessing breathtaking landscapes as also seen in the Krka National Park. The predominant vegetation, mostly beech trees, adds a touch of color and serenity to the environment.

Exploring the national park is primarily a walking experience, through a network of well-maintained trails and wooden bridges that allow visitors to immerse themselves in the serene beauty of this place. For those who want a different perspective, the larger lakes offer the opportunity to be explored in silent boats, providing an even more intimate experience with the surrounding nature.

Besides its natural beauty, the park also attracts attention from tourists worldwide for special events held here, such as romantic weddings at the foot of the waterfalls, adding a touch of charm and romance to this idyllic setting. It is no surprise that in 2011, Plitvice Lakes National Park was nominated as a candidate to become one of the seven natural wonders of the world.

With seven different tourist routes to explore this lake system, the park offers a variety of options for visitors to enjoy and immerse themselves in the magnificent nature that surrounds it. Each trail reveals new landscapes and views that delight the senses and leave a lasting impression on those privileged to visit this spectacular place.

History of Plitvice Lakes

The Plitvice Lakes area has historically been part of the Lika and Kordun regions. During the Ottoman wars, this region was part of the Croatian military frontier, which was under the direct control of the Habsburg War Council.

In prehistoric times, this area was inhabited by the Illyrian people, specifically the Japods, from the 12th to the 1st century BC. The Japods built their settlements on hills to improve control and defense of the roads, and they also engaged in livestock farming. With the arrival of the Romans, new settlements were established in the Plitvice area, and the Japods actively participated in the political and economic life of these urban centers.

In the medieval period, the settled Croats mixed with the Romanized Japods and other population groups. Medieval fortresses were more frequently built on the sites of prehistoric forts, reflecting the strategic importance of the region throughout history.

History of Plitvice Lakes National Park

Ottoman Empire and Habsburg Monarchy

In the late 15th century, near the Plitvice Lakes, a crucial battle in Croatian history was fought between the Austrian and Ottoman Empires. In the Battle of Krbavsko Polje, almost all of the Croatian nobility perished, and the Ottomans advanced significantly towards the western countries, including Croatia and Hungary. At the beginning of the 16th century, the Croatian Parliament elected the Habsburg monarchy and Archduke Ferdinand of Austria as the new king of Croatia, hoping that their support could halt the Ottoman advance. In 1528, the area around the Plitvice Lakes fell under Ottoman rule, being recaptured by the Habsburg Empire only 150 years later.

In 1538, King Ferdinand I established the Croatian Military Frontier as a border zone controlled by the Habsburgs, intended to contain Ottoman expansion. This measure resulted in specific laws governing life in the region for centuries, leading to a massive exodus of the local population to the west.

By the late 17th century, the Lika region was liberated from Turkish rule, and in 1699 the peace treaty was signed in Sremski Karlovci. The region came under the control of the Military Frontier at the beginning of the 18th century. The struggles between the Ottoman Empire and the Habsburg Monarchy continued until the Treaty of Sistova in 1791 defined the borders between the two empires. This treaty also delineated the border of Croatia in the region, including Drežnik Grad, Cetingrad, and the Plitvice Lakes area, which became part of the monarchy. Demilitarization in the 19th century marked the beginning of a new era in the area, without military conflicts and with a non-militarized lifestyle that had prevailed for so long.

How to Get to Plitvice Lakes

Located at coordinates: 44°52′50″N 15°36′58″E, in Croatia, it is possible to reach the entrance by various means. The most common way is through the state roads D429 and D52.

The D429 road to Plitvice Lakes National Park runs through the eastern part of the park, connecting the two main entrance and reception areas: Entrance 1 and Entrance 2. Both entrances have paid parking for visitors. Additionally, there are bus stops near both entrances. This road is also used by bus lines connecting Croatia’s interior with the coast. It is recommended to check bus schedules at the park’s information offices or on the Zagreb bus station website. Since the main entrances are about 3 km apart, it is advisable to plan the visit in advance to choose among the various available tourist programs.

By Car

An excellent option to get to Plitvice Lakes is by renting a car, as it provides the greatest speed and flexibility to plan your stay in Croatia and engage in other activities besides visiting Plitvice Park.

The distances to the national park are not very extensive. From Zagreb and Zadar, it takes approximately two hours to get there, while from Split, the journey takes about three hours.

The roads leading to the park are paved and in excellent condition, ensuring a comfortable and safe trip.

It is important to note that when parking the car at the park, an additional fee for parking must be paid. During the high season, this fee is 10 kunas per hour, which is approximately 1.5 euros.

A useful tip for those visiting Plitvice Lakes from Dubrovnik by car is to consider that the travel time is considerably longer, about six hours, and also requires crossing Bosnia and Herzegovina. In this case, it is recommended to make a stop in cities like Split or Zadar, enjoy their beauty, and then continue the journey to the lakes. This allows dividing the trip into more manageable segments and enjoying more places of interest along the way.

By Bus

Traveling by bus is another convenient and accessible option to reach Plitvice Lakes from various tourist cities in Croatia, including the capital.

From Zagreb, the bus trip to Plitvice Lakes takes less than three hours, making it a quick and convenient option for visitors in the capital.

If you are in Split, the bus trip lasts approximately five hours. Although it is a bit longer than from Zagreb, it is still a viable option for those who want to visit this impressive natural destination.

However, from Dubrovnik, the bus trip is considerably longer, lasting around nine hours. For this reason, it may be convenient to make an intermediate stop along the way or plan to spend the night in Plitvice and start exploring the lakes the next day. This allows dividing the trip into more manageable segments and enjoying a rest before embarking on the adventure of exploring the protected area.

Guided Tour

For those who prefer a worry-free experience and wish to enjoy a guided tour in Spanish to the Plitvice Lakes, there is an option for an organized tour that includes entry to the National Park and transfers.

This tour offers the convenience of having everything organized and guided by an expert in Spanish, allowing visitors to fully enjoy the beauty and history of the place without worrying about logistical details.

The total duration of the excursion is 12 hours, so it is recommended to reserve the entire day for this experience. This allows enough time to explore the lakes, walk the trails, and enjoy the panoramic views, as well as make stops at points of interest along the way.

Opting for a guided tour in Spanish can be an excellent choice for those who want a hassle-free experience and a deeper understanding of the beauty and historical significance of the place.

Weather in Plitvice

Weather in winter, summer, autumn and spring at Plitvice Lakes National Park

Weather Description of Plitvice Lakes

The weather at Plitvice Lakes varies from cool and pleasant in spring and autumn, to warm in summer, and snowy in winter, offering a different and spectacular view in each season. Spring and autumn are ideal for those seeking to avoid the crowds and enjoy moderate temperatures.

Best Times to Visit

It is possible to visit at any time of the year, however, it should be noted that winters in Croatia are quite cold, making summer the most comfortable season with better options for outdoor activities.

During the months of July and August, the weather is warm and pleasant during the day, making it a popular time to visit the park. However, due to the massive influx of tourists, the place can be quite crowded.

For those who prefer to avoid the crowds, the months of May to June and September to October are ideal. The weather is still pleasant, but there are fewer tourists, allowing for a more tranquil experience. However, it is important to note that the nights can be cool during this period.

Winter is the season with the fewest visitors in the park. Although the weather is cold and the park closes early, around 4 p.m., it is possible to enjoy the place in peace and quiet. Additionally, if you are lucky with the weather, you might witness the lakes covered in snow, adding a special charm to the landscape.

Geography of the National Park

Situated in the Lika region, the park encompasses a vast area of rugged terrain, where the lakes are interconnected by a series of waterfalls. The unique topography of the place contributes to its unparalleled beauty, creating a landscape that changes with the seasons.

Wildlife and Characteristic Animals of the Park

Lynx at Plitvice Lakes

The protected area of the national park is a haven for numerous animal species, some of which are hard to find elsewhere. Among the park’s inhabitants are the mighty European brown bear, the stealthy wolf, the majestic eagle, the mysterious owl, the elusive lynx, the agile wildcat, and the peculiar capercaillie, along with a variety of other species that complete this unique ecosystem. At least 126 bird species have been recorded in the park, of which 70 are known to breed there, further emphasizing the importance of this natural sanctuary as a habitat for wildlife.

Flora, Endemic and Significant Species

Plitvice Lakes are home to a rich diversity of flora and fauna in their forested surroundings. The predominant forests consist mainly of beech, fir, and pine trees, creating an impressive natural setting. Additionally, the combination of different microclimates, soils, and altitudes within the park allows for the development of a wide variety of plant communities, ranging from alpine to Mediterranean vegetation.

What to Do and See in the Park: Attractions and Recommended Excursions

Plitvice Lakes

Plitvice Lakes, Croatia

The national park is divided into two distinct sections: the lower section and the upper section, each offering a unique and fascinating experience.

  • In the lower section of the park, visitors can explore four of the sixteen lakes that make up this stunning landscape. Here, a well-designed walkway system allows for walks among the lakes, approaching the park’s highest waterfall, Veliki Slap, which majestically rises to a height of 78 meters. This waterfall, a true jewel of Plitvice Lakes, captivates the senses with its beauty. The lower section is generally the most crowded due to its easy access and the clear view of the characteristic turquoise blue tone of the lakes in photographs.
  • The upper section of the park houses twelve of the sixteen lakes, as well as caves formed by erosion. Although it is currently not possible to access these caves, they offer a fascinating landscape. Additionally, this section contains the remains of a hydroelectric plant near Lake Burg, which was built to harness the area’s natural energy but was never used.

While both sections are impressive on their own, it is important to note that a complete visit to Plitvice Lakes National Park involves touring both areas. However, if time is limited, it is recommended to focus on the lower section, which offers a visually spectacular experience. Nonetheless, this recommendation should not lead to dismissing the upper section, as the combined visit is what truly makes this place one of the most beautiful in the country.

Moreover, it is important to note that swimming in the lakes is currently prohibited, a measure aimed at preserving this unique natural environment.

Hiking and Trekking Routes

Within Plitvice Lakes National Park, eight different circular routes are offered, each with distinct characteristics, distances, and difficulty levels. While all are worth exploring, we will focus on the five routes we consider the most touristic and recommended for any type of traveler wishing to know this impressive natural space, one of the most spectacular places to visit in Croatia.

To explore this stunning natural environment, the park offers eight circular routes (A, B, C, E, F, H, and two K routes), with durations ranging from 2 hours to 8 hours for route K.

The routes starting from entrance number 1 (A, B, C, and K) are marked in green, while those starting from entrance number 2 (E, F, H, and K) are marked in orange.

These routes are carefully designed, making it impossible to get lost. In addition to trails and wooden walkways, visitors can enjoy an electric boat transfer across the central Lake Kozjak and panoramic views from the small trains operating within the park.

Route A

Route A is the shortest and quickest option to explore, but it does not skimp on beauty or highlights. This circular route focuses mainly on the lower section of the park and starts from Entrance 1. Along the way, visitors will have the opportunity to admire the impressive Great Waterfall, which is the park’s highest waterfall, as well as a series of charming lakes.

The itinerary includes passing by the Lower Lakes and the lakes Novakovića Brod, Kaluđerovac, Gavanovac, and Milanovac, before reaching the Kozjak Bridge. Once there, hikers will follow an ascending trail that will lead them back to the starting point.

With a total distance of approximately 3.5 kilometers, it is estimated that this route will take between 2 and 3 hours to complete. Along the way, visitors will witness the park’s lush natural beauty, with its crystal-clear lakes, impressive waterfalls, and dense forests that create a truly magical landscape.

Route B

Route B offers a more complete and varied experience, also starting from Entrance 1. Like Route A, this circular route covers the lower section of the park but adds exciting additional elements.

During this tour, visitors will have the opportunity to explore the highlights of Route A, including the majestic Great Waterfall, the Lower Lakes, and the lakes Novakovića Brod, Kaluđerovac, Gavanovac, and Milanovac. However, what makes Route B special is the inclusion of a boat ride across the impressive Lake Kozjak, the largest lake in the park, connecting the lower section with the upper section. Additionally, visitors will enjoy a panoramic bus-train ride, providing spectacular views of the surrounding landscape.

Another highlight of Route B is the stunning Sastavci waterfalls, which offer a visually impressive experience.

With a total distance of approximately 4 kilometers, it is estimated that this route will take between 3 and 4 hours to complete. Along the way, visitors will be delighted with the magnificent natural beauty of the park, from its roaring waterfalls to its serene crystal-clear lakes, creating an unforgettable experience amidst nature.

Route C

Route C is one of the most popular and touristic options to explore Plitvice Lakes National Park, as it covers both the lower and upper sections of the park, allowing visitors to enjoy the highlights of this impressive natural destination.

During this tour, hikers will have the opportunity to visit all the important points, including those found in Routes A and B, such as the Great Waterfall, the Lower Lakes, the lakes Novakovića Brod, Kaluđerovac, Gavanovac, and Milanovac, as well as the Veliki Prštavac and Mali Prštavac waterfalls. Additionally, the route includes an exciting boat ride to cross the majestic Lake Kozjak, as well as a return trip on the panoramic train, offering spectacular views of the surrounding landscape.

Despite covering a longer distance of approximately 8 kilometers, it is estimated that this route will take between 4 and 5 hours to complete. Due to its combination of the lower and upper sections of the park, as well as the exciting boat and panoramic train rides, Route C offers a complete and memorable experience.

Route C is an excellent choice if you are looking for a complete and exciting experience to explore the entire park.

Route D

Route D is ideal for those who wish to explore exclusively the upper section of Plitvice Lakes National Park. This tour starts from the southern entrance, known as Entrance 2, and offers a complete experience in this area of the park.

During this tour, visitors will enjoy a brief boat ride on the beautiful Lake Kozjak, followed by an extensive walk to some of the most impressive waterfalls in the area, including the Great and Small Prštavac waterfalls. These waterfalls offer an impressive view and an unforgettable experience amidst nature.

With a total distance of approximately 5.1 kilometers, it is estimated that this route will take between 2 and 3 hours to complete. At the end of the tour, visitors will return to the starting point on a panoramic train, which offers panoramic views of the surrounding landscape and a comfortable way to end the exploration of the upper section of the park.

In summary, if you are looking for a concentrated experience in the upper section of the park, Route D is the perfect option, offering a complete and picturesque tour of this beautiful natural area.

Route F

This route has a length of 4.6 kilometers and focuses on the lower section of the park. It is accessed through Entrance 2 and takes between 3 and 4 hours to complete. During the tour, visitors can enjoy the wonders of the lower section, including lakes, waterfalls, and lush landscapes.

Route H

Route H is undoubtedly one of the most recommended options for exploring Plitvice Lakes National Park in Croatia. This tour, along with Route C, offers a complete and varied experience that allows visitors to enjoy all the natural wonders this park has to offer.

Access to Route H is from Entrance 2, located in the southern area of the park. The tour begins with a scenic ride on a panoramic train that takes visitors to the upper section of the park, where they can marvel at the impressive waterfalls and enjoy a pleasant walk among the lush vegetation.

After exploring the upper section, visitors have the opportunity to cross the beautiful Lake Kozjak by boat, a unique experience offering spectacular views of the surrounding landscape. The tour then continues through the lower section of the park, where hikers can walk along the walkways that wind between the lakes and admire the imposing Great Waterfall.

With a total distance of approximately 8.9 kilometers, it is estimated that this route will take between 5 and 6 hours to complete. Along the way, visitors will have the opportunity to explore lake margins not included in Route C, adding an extra touch of adventure and discovery to this unforgettable experience in Plitvice Lakes National Park.

Route K

With a length of 18.3 kilometers, Route K is one of the longest and most challenging options available in the park. This route covers both the lower and upper sections and is accessed via Entrance 1. It is estimated to take between 6 and 8 hours to complete, offering hikers a comprehensive and varied experience that allows exploration of every corner of the park.

Route K2

Similar to Route K, Route K2 also has a length of 18.3 kilometers and covers both the lower and upper sections of the park. However, this route is accessed via Entrance 2. Like Route K, it is estimated to take between 6 and 8 hours to complete, offering visitors the opportunity to enjoy a comprehensive experience in Plitvice Lakes National Park.

Nearby Towns to Visit

Plitvice Lakes are well-connected, allowing for tourist and cultural visits to the following nearby towns:

Plitvička Jezera

This is the closest town and is often directly associated with the park. Here, you will find most of the accommodations, restaurants, and visitor services.


Located about 10 km south of the lakes, Rakovica offers more accommodation options and services, such as shops and restaurants, compared to areas closer to the park.


Approximately 5 km south of the lakes, Grabovac is also a popular option for accommodation and offers a variety of options for visitors.

These towns provide a convenient base for exploring Plitvice Lakes and its surroundings, with easy access to the park and other attractions in the region.

National Park Entrance Fees

It is recommended to buy tickets in advance, especially during high season, to ensure access to the park. Prices vary according to the season.

Entrance Fees for Adults (2024)

  • January, February, March, November, December: 10 euros or 11.85 US dollars
  • April, May, October: 23.5 euros or 26.5 US dollars
  • June, July, August, September: 40 euros or 44.5 US dollars

Entrance Fees for Children (2024)

Entrance fee for children aged 7 to 18 years:

  • January, February, March, November, December: 4.5 euros or 5.2 US dollars
  • April, May, October: 6.5 euros or 7.5 US dollars
  • June, July, August, September: 16 euros or 18 US dollars

Note: Admission for children under 7 years old is free.


  • Discount for 2-day visits
  • Discounts for students, groups, and disabled visitors

A valid card must be presented to verify eligibility for discounts.

Accommodations within Plitvice National Park

Inside the Park

Hotel Jezero

Within the park, Hotel Jezero offers a comfortable and relaxing stay just 300 meters from Lake Kozjak. Amenities include well-equipped rooms and suites, two restaurants with distinctive cuisine, a spa with a gym, sauna, and hot tub, a children’s playground, and a winter garden. Renowned for its location and tranquility, it is particularly popular with couples, receiving a rating of 9.6 for two-person trips. The hotel features single rooms, double rooms, suites, a restaurant, a spa, and everything you need for a pleasant stay. It also has a playground for children.


Hotel Bellevue is another option within Plitvice Lakes National Park. Although specific details may vary, it offers a convenient location for exploring the park’s natural wonders, with amenities and services for guests seeking a comfortable and relaxing experience.


Hotel Plitvice is also located within Plitvice Lakes National Park, providing a prime location for those who wish to immerse themselves in the area’s natural beauty. With various amenities and services, it offers a comfortable stay for park visitors.

Outside the Park

In the vicinity of the park, there is a variety of hotels and guesthouses to suit all budgets. Many locals offer rooms for lodging, known as "sobe" in Croatia, which is a common option in the country.
If you arrive by car, it is more convenient to look for accommodation in the surrounding areas. However, many lodgings are less than a kilometer from the park entrance, making it possible to walk even if you don’t have your own vehicle.

Where to Eat in Plitvice Lakes

Within the park, there are various dining options, from restaurants to bistros and cafes, ensuring you won’t go hungry during your visit.

  • At Entrance 1: you will find the Licka Kuca restaurant and the Slap buffet,
  • At Entrance 2: Bistro Hladovina or Poljana restaurant.

During the tour along the marked routes, there are other places to eat, such as Bistro Kupaliste or Kozjacka Draga, both located near Lake Kozjak, ideal for taking a break and recharging.
Additionally, hotels within the park, such as Hotel Jezero, have restaurants where you can enjoy a more substantial meal.

If you have your own car, the dining options around the park are even more extensive, with many establishments along the route.

In all these places, you will find a varied menu that includes pizzas, pastas, sandwiches, and traditional Croatian food.

It is important to note that prices for eating within the park tend to be slightly higher compared to the average price for eating in Croatia. To save money, you can opt to bring your own snacks or food and enjoy a picnic at one of the available benches in the area.

For more information about all the places to eat within the park and the surrounding areas, the official website of Plitvice Lakes National Park offers complete details about each site.