Visiting Plitvice Lakes is one of Croatia’s biggest tourist attractions and for good reason – it’s absolutely breathtaking!
Plitvice Lakes National Park has been given UNESCO heritage status for its crystal clear turquoise water and its chain of 16 limestone terraced lakes, all interlinked with cascading waterfalls. Wooden walkways, forest pathways and little bridges allow visitors to walk or hike around the lakes. There is a ferry connecting the lower 4 lakes to the upper 12 lakes and a shuttle bus which stops at near Entrance One, Entrance Two and the furthest point of the upper lakes.
Getting to Plitvice Lakes
Croatia has a vast network of toll roads. The speed limit on these is generally 130km per hour, which is great if you have a fast car, but not so fabulous when you cruise at 80km per hour! The smaller backroads, where we can tootle along at 60-70km/h, allowing us to meander through quaint villages, is way more our style.
We were leaving Rovinj on the Istrian Peninsula, with our destination being the famous Plitvice Lakes. According to Google Maps, the toll roads would take 4hrs versus 4.5hrs on the back roads – no guessing which option we chose! But oh my word was it seriously the wrong choice to forego the tolls!
This toll, in particular, was not there so one could speed along at the breakneck pace of 130km/h. This toll road was there to guide you into a very long tunnel through the middle of a mountain. Our route…yup… up and over! A couple of hairpin bends, a few 30 degree angled roads, first gear literally the whole way up, some excruciatingly tense moments and finally we reached the top, only to have the whole process begin down the other side! 6.5hrs later we arrived at the lakes, a little longer than initially planned, but what an adventure!
Plitvice Lakes is 130km from Zagreb, 120km from Zadar or 240km from Split, so easy to get to as a day trip from either of these cities and I’m sure a little easier than our route.
Arriving at Plitvice Lakes
There are two entrances to Plitvice Lakes. The North entrance, known as Entrance One, is just above lower lakes, while the south entrance, Entrance Two, is next to the Upper Lakes.
The car parks are huge so you shouldn’t have a problem finding a parking. We drove just past Entrance One, past the car park on our right, and turned into the first road on the right. There was ample place to park for free.
Entrance Fee at Plitvice Lakes
Our epic road trip meant we only arrived at Plitvice Lakes at 4pm. I knew the park closed at 8pm, but would that leave us enough time to really make the most of our visit? In the end, we decided to go ahead and what a great decision it was. Unbeknown to me, the ticket prices dropped dramatically after 4pm, so the driving delay worked in our favour!
JANUARY- MARCH / DECEMBER-JANUARY
Adults: 35 Kuna
Kids (7-18 years): 55 Kuna
Kids (0-7 years): Free
APRIL – JUNE / SEPTEMBER – OCTOBER
Adults: 150 Kuna
Kids (7-18 years): 80 Kuna
Kids (0-7 years): Free
JULY – AUGUST
Adults: 250 Kuna until 16:00 hours / 150 Kuna after 16:00 hours
Kids (7-18 years): 110 Kuna until 16:00 hours / 50 Kuna after 16:00 hours
Kids (0-7 years): Free
The above prices are for the One Day Tickets. Two Day tickets are also available should you wish.
Note: The cost of the ticket includes all the transport within the lake, so you can catch the ferry or the shuttle bus at no additional cost. Just hop on!
The Walking Trails of Plitvice Lakes
There are 8 different walking/hiking trails around the lake. The shortest taking 2-3 hours and the longest up to 8 hours.
Route A: This route is 3,5 km long, it takes 2 to 3 hours and only covers the lower lakes. It is a physically undemanding hike.
Route B: This route is 4 km long, it takes 3 to 4 hours and includes a ferry ride across the Kozjaka Lake. It is an easy hike.
Route C: The route is 8 km long, it takes 4 to 6 hours and is an extension of route B. It is a moderate hike.
Route K1: The route is 18,3 km long, it takes 6 to 8 hours, and is a demanding hike. The K1 route gives you an opportunity to explore the entire lakes section of the park.
Route E: The route is 5,2 km long, it takes 2 to 3 hours and is the shortest route from Entrance Two.
Route F: The route is 4,6 km long and it takes 3 to 4 hours.
Route H: The route is 8,9 km long and it takes 4 to 6 hours.
Route K2: The route is 18,3 km long, it takes 6 to 8 hours and starts from Entrance Two. The K2 route gives you an opportunity to explore the entire lakes section of the park.
Exploring Plitvice Lakes
The Plitvice lakes were every bit as incredible as I had imagined! Multiple streams of water cascading between outcrops of green moss, the turquoise, greens and blues of the water, the pretty wooden walkways with overhanging trees and immenseness of the lakes – it was all just magical. We spent more than three hours exploring from the lower lakes right to the furthest upper lakes.
Thunderbolts & Lightning
The last shuttle bus back to the entrance left at 7.30pm and we made sure not to miss it. Twisting and turning on the windy roads in the shuttle, we could hear a storm brewing and thunder rolling through the valley. The shuttle drop-off point was a 15 minute walk away from Entrance One and no sooner had we started walking than the heavens opened! With thunder and lightning cracking all around us and torrential rain bucketing down, the path soon became a river. There was a crowd of about 10 of us, them all trying to miss the stream in their trainers, us running full tilt through the water in our flip flops! Needless to say, we were drenched and Tai’s phone lived in a box a rice for the next 3 days!
- Make sure to take water with you to drink. It gets hot out there!
- Swimming isn’t permitted in any of the lakes here, but you can hire a small rowboat for only 50 kunas per hour.
- Dogs are allowed in the park but must be kept on a leash at all times.
- Beware of selfie-takers and Instagrammers knocking you off the walkways 🙂
- Make sure you have a good pair of traveling shoes for walking on the boardwalks and hiking paths.
If you eat at Bistro Marina Chinese Restaurant, the owner allows you to stay overnight in the carpark, which is what we did. There was an electric hookup but only for two cars and it was turned off in the middle of the night. Be warned, that the church is right next door and the bell tolls on the hour every hour. We were so exhausted from running around at the lakes, so didn’t hear a thing!
GPS: 44.74724, 15.704