Plitvice National Park feature image from Canva

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Croatia, known for its dreamlike beaches, monumental cities and paradisiacal islands, also stands out for its incredible nature. In fact, despite being a small country its natural beauty extends throughout no less than 8 national parks.

Its greatest jewel is the Plitvice National Park, 150 kilometers from the capital Zagreb. This beautiful park has become one of the most visited places in the country.

Within Plitvice are 16 lakes plus hundreds of spectacular waterfalls and glistening streams all surrounded by virgin forests. Furthermore, the natural springs of this park are the most spectacular in Europe.

Plitvice National Park Aerial view
Plitvice National Park aerial view. Image from Canva

This paradise of 30,000 hectares of untouched nature has given rise to the largest and oldest national park in Croatia. Plitvice is a mosaic of emerald and turquoise waters that UNESCO has included in its list of World Heritage Sites since 1979. It is the only one of Croatia’s eight national parks with this distinction.

The creation of the lakes is due to the karstic and dolomitic stones that form the environment. The dissolving and eroding of this stone have created pools and dams where the Korana riverbed is dammed.

The intense blue and green tone of the park waters is due to the abundance of minerals that are in suspension in its waters.

Plitvice National Park is Croatia's only park with a UNESCO designation and is home to 16 lovely lakes and hundreds of stunning waterfalls. #Croatia #Plitvicelakes

When is the Best Time to Visit Plitvice National Park?

The truth is that every season has its charm, so any time of the year can be a good time to visit the park.

In autumn the colorful beech leaves add a special charm to the landscape, tinged with brown, ocher and reddish tones. Winter is usually snowy so it is also beautiful, but there is a risk that the snow may hinder access to some trails in the park.

In Springtime, after the winter rains, the waterfalls are more spectacular and there is usually less tourism. Meanwhile, in summer, although there are more people, the green and blue colors are more intense than ever.

One of 16 turqoise lakes
One of 16 turquoise lakes. Image from Pixabay

How to Get to Plitvice National Park

The best option to get to the park from Zagreb airport is to rent a car. Zagreb, the capital city, is 150 kilometers away from the Plitvice Lakes, so it takes about two hours to get there. However, the road to the park is narrow and winding so prepare to drive a little slower than usual

Another possibility is to take a bus from the airport directly to the park, as the trip is not very long. There are also buses from other major cities in the country such as Zadar or Split.

Best Tips & Tools to Plan Your Trip

However, Croatia is a country with an excellent road network and car rental is usually not expensive, so the best way to travel around the country is by car.

The park has a large paid parking area where you can leave your car. In high season it can get very busy so it is best to try to arrive early to avoid queues.

One of many walkways through the park
One of many walkways through the park. Image from Canva

Tips for Visiting Plitvice National Park

There are two access zones for the park. Entrance 1 allows you to visit the lower lakes, while entrance 2 provides access to the upper lakes. The upper lakes form a group of twelve lakes connected to the lower lakes by Lake Kozjak.

The four lower lakes are the most popular and visited areas of the park. These are Milanovac, Gavanova, Kaluderovac and Novakovic Brod. Also, in the lower area is  Veliki Slap, the largest waterfall in Croatia, with a fall of  76 meters.

A bus-train connects both entrances and offers several stops along its scenic route. The price of the bus-train is included in the entrance ticket.

To discover the park on foot, you can walk along paths and wooden walkways that allow you access through five different routes. These walkways provide the best views of the lakes and waterfalls from all perspectives.

You can also navigate Kazjak Lake by electric boat. It is a slow ride that allows you to enjoy the scenery and reach other trails further away from the park. The boat runs every hour and its price is also included in the park entrance fee.

Another possibility is to take a guided tour of the park which is offered in multiple languages. Tours can be half a day, to visit either the lower or upper lakes or a full-day excursion to visit both areas.

To visit the entire park and on your own, it takes about 3 or 4 hours. Just be sure to enjoy the boat and the panoramic bus that also facilitates the visit and saves a lot of time.

If You Go

WORKING HOURS – Nacionalni park “Plitvička jezera” (

Price list – Nacionalni park “Plitvička jezera” (

Author Bio: Based in France, Lucia Otero Medraño is Spanish with a master’s degree in travel journalism. She has worked in the tourism sector but her true passion is to live enriching experiences and discover amazing places around the world and write about them. In her spare time, she likes to enjoy her second passion, music.

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