Europe has never failed to amaze people with its natural setting. The Swiss Alps, the green meadows of England, and the flower fields of Portugal are an example.
Even if it’s very natural, finding a place in Europe that has all the elements of the perfect nature’s wonderland is hard to find. No matter how good the destination is, it seems that something is missing about the places which you visit.
This missing feeds the longing to travel more and discover other locations that have it all.
So if you’re looking for a place that’s scenic and fun at the same time, book a flight to Croatia. In this small country not far from Italy lies a location that will make you think of and where elves and nymphs might dwell – Plitvice Lakes.
Plitvice Lakes is a Croatian National park that spans 296.8 square kilometers. On its area are 16 terracing lakes and are connected by rivers that feature rocky pools, gushing currents, and waterfalls.
Waterfalls in Plitvice aren’t a joke. There are about 60 of them. Each feature differing rock formations, flow patterns, and plunges. All of these are accessible by trails that are either carved or made out of wooden planks and metal frame.
How Far Is Plitvice Lakes From Croatia's Capital?
From Zagreb, which is Croatia’s capital, getting to Lake Plitvice by private car might take 2-3 hours. But traveling via grouped tours might take a day since you’ll be visiting other sights that tourists might want to see on the way. If you choose to ride by public bus, you might arrive in Lake Plitvice after riding for 3 hours.
You’ll enjoy the trip as you’re heading to Plitvice. There on the roads are various villages that you’ll pass by. Some of these villages have something special in them. For instance, you can stop and get a snack at local food shops or restaurants that serve Croatian dishes that families pass from one generation to the next.
As you come nearer to Plitvice, some of its vegetation, scenic landscape, and streams become visible from the highway. It’s possible to take photos of these but hold your camera tightly so that it won’t fall from the vehicle’s windows.
By the way, you can also access Plitvice lakes if you’re in Croatian cities such as Zadar, Split, and Dubrovnik. However, I suggest that you go directly to Zagreb because provides the shortest route for heading to Plitvice Lakes.
When Is the Best Time to Visit Plitvice Lakes?
Many come to the Plitvice lakes during the summer. That’s why many expect that it’s the best time to visit. However, If you come to Plitvice during the summertime expect crowded trails, screaming children, chatterboxes, and photo bombers.
Coming during Croatia’s mid-spring is the best. At mid-spring, flowers, grasses, and trees that grow in Plitvice showcase dynamic looking foliage. As you walk, their dark green, light green, or yellow crowns provide adequate shade for a comfortable hike
Lots of birds go to Lake Plitvice during the spring too. You’ll see some on the streams, the trees or flowers, or on roofs of the buildings that are placed on Plitvice’s specific areas.
Nevertheless, it’s the waterfalls, streams, and rivers in Plitvice that benefit greatly. Due to the melting of winter’s snow, their flow rage joyfully and as freshwater fish swim.
Plitvice Entrance Fee
The entrance fee varies from season to season.Fee is very cheap during the winter months. In November and December, tickets are sold for as low as $80.
But they become heftier in the months of spring. It’s because there are more things for tourists to see. From April to May, you might have to pay $180 to get inside.
In the summer, like June to September, entrance tickets are very expensive.Price of entrance tickets sits at $200 or 300. The entrance fee for children, less than 10 years old, is almost half the price of adults’
You can bring your I.D. if you’re a student. Then your student I.D.That will help you get a discount. However, be sure that the validity of your student I.D. applies up to the date of your visitation in Plitvice lakes.
Where is the Best Entrance in Plitvice Lakes?
The entrances in Plitvice lakes are placed nearby. They are 14 upper lakes and 4 lower lakes. But they are two entrances Gate 1 provides quick access to Plitvice’s for lower lakes. However, for the best sights, you should head to Plitvice’s gate 2. This is the entrance that’s close to Plitvice’s 14 upper lakes.
If you drive, come early. or parking zone will be filled with buses, SUVs, pickups, and other types of vehicles. The parking lot is divided into different sections. Each section is dedicated to parking lots for specific vehicles.
In spring, the raging sound of Plitvice’s rivers and streams reaches the entrance 2’s vicinity. Around the parking lot are groups of towering mountain ash, mountain elm, and spruce. These provide the entrance with a very lucid feel.
Walk inside and you’ll see two small bunkhouses that serve as the ticketing station.
Be sure to grab a bite before you go. Eating isn’t allowed on the premises of Plitvice lakes, as far as I know. Entrance 2 has small food shops that sell coffee, biscuits, and hearty meals to guests. In front of these small shops are tables equipped with parasols and benches for you to eat with congenially.
There’s also a souvenir store in entrance 2. Check that out before heading home. It sells pen holders, mugs, t-shirts, and other items that are handcrafted by the locals from nearby villages or town
Take A Look at These Vital Pieces of Information Before Visiting
- Passage 1 in Plitvice lakes might close early or late. It’s open until 8 pm from June to August. On the other hand, tourists can enter Plitvice through entrance 1 until 4 pm in the winter months.
- Passage 2 closes every November, December, January, February, and March.
- You can bring a dog or cat. However, be sure to keep them leashed. Also, looking after their droppings is your responsibility.
- Tourists can only use refillable water bottles. Disposable bottles aren’t allowed to prevent littering.
- The rate of boat rentals is calculated hourly.
- No swimming, fishing, kayaking, and canoeing are allowed on Plitvice lakes.
- Be mindful of snakes. Some snakes find their way on Plitvice due to its temperate environment
- Summer visitation is a very bad decision. Tourist infest all spots in Plitvice and you’ll find it hard to take great photos or view the sights
- Bring an umbrella with you, Plitvice doesn’t have cottages where you can take shade if ever rain starts falling
- Don’t forget your DSLR Camera or Binoculars, lots of birds and other animals spend their time on Plitvice’s trees.
Best Locations in Plitvice Lakes
You’ll access Batinovac lake through trail 15 that spans half a kilometer long. Batinovac lake features trees soaked by its green-hued waters. This location is very picturesque during the autumn. As winter starts to arrive, the green coloration of the trees’ foliage becomes yellow, peach, light green, or red.
This bright coloration of the foliage then goes with the green water underneath. The result is a live amorphous landscape painting right before your eyes.
The Kojac lake sits at the lowest level of the Plitvice lake group (remember that lakes in Plitvice are arranged in terraces). Nevertheless, it’s the deepest and widest. Kezjero Kojac lake looks very majestic if you see it from above. Its shallow parts have a turquoise color. Deeper parts, on the other, hand, have a blue shadowy hue.
The combination of dark and blue color goes well with the green background that grows near the shore of Kezjero Kojac Lake.
Velico lake is almost similar to Batinovac lake in autumn, on its shores are the dynamic colors of trees that are brought upon by the coming of winter. However, you’ll love it more than Batinovac due to the smaller streams and waterfalls that run from its higher grounds. Also, grasses are near the banks of Velico lake and grow with stalks submerged in water
A lot of people love this lake due to the green colorations of its waters. Furthermore, there a dozen mini-waterfalls and cascades around it. Trees here grow closely on the bank. In autumn and spring, their red, yellow, and pink leaves fall on the water. This makes the water in Malo Lake very stimulating and grandiose.
Is A Map Important?
A map is available for tourists in the Plitvice souvenir shop. The map is important because it will show you the important spots that each trail leads to. The map also gives you an idea about the top sights on Plitvice’s specific locations. To have a map is important because it helps you explore Plitvice lakes efficiently.
If you don’t want to use a map, you can download Google maps and Google earth. However, note that both doesn’t portray accurate information. Some trails in Plitvice can’t be viewed on Google map and Google earth. All that they do is show the famous landmarks where tourists usually go.
Best Trails in Plitvice Lakes
These are some of the best trails in Plitvice lakes
This trail is about 4 kilometers long. Trail F shows you all the views of Kojac lakes and leads to a dock. This dock contains boats that will take across the surface of lake Kojac so that you can reach other lakes. If you decide to follow this trail until the end, you’ll eventually reach the Great Waterfall.
Trail K-1 is a lengthy hike and exploring it might take an average of 6 hours. Even so, many come here because there are shuttles that are ready to take you if tiredness kicks in. Trail K-1 offers an unobstructed view of lake Jezero.
Trail K-2 is as lengthy as the previous trail. Most who traverse this path are people who love to see all the lakes of Plitvice in one go. The view’s great. However, this one serves well if you’re just stopping by to see Plitvice quickly.
Trail C and Trail B
Trail C and Trail B are interconnecting pathways in Plitvice lakes. These take you to through Kozjac, Proscansko, and other lakes in between. Both allow you to see cascades, streams, mini rock cliffs. etc.
Other Things To Do In Plitvice Lakes
Here’s a quick list of other fun things to do in Plitvice aside from hiking:
- Some parts of lake Plitvice allows you to ride the bike. Biking locations in Plitvice lakes are close to the entrance. Note that bicycles aren’t allowed on the trails
- Picture Taking
- You’re free to take pictures. However, authorities overseeing Lake Plitvice aren’t responsible for accidents that picture taking on risky spots causes (e.g., rock cliffs, river shores, etc.)
- Bird Watching
- Lots of birds hang around in Plitvice lakes. Some are found on the buildings while others love to spend their time on trees that grow near the lakes and waterfalls. Some birds that you might spot here are the White-backed woodpecker, Tengmalm’s Owl, Montagu’s Harrier, Golden Eagle, and Peregrine Falcon
- Flower Hunting
- Flowers abundantly grow near the rivers, lakes, streams, and waterfalls of Plitvice. There are about 1400 flower species that grow here. Some of these flowers can only be found on its premises. Examples are Dalmatian Scilla, Lacy Hellebore, Croatian Carnation, and Fumewort.
- Horseback Riding
- Some locations in Plitvice Lakes allow horseback riding. These horseback riding locations are accessible through most of the trails in Plitvice. Horses are rented at an hourly rate. Still, this is fine because the pathways, where the horse traverses, offer sight as great as those in the trails.
Attractions Near to Plitvice Lakes
The Village of Rastoke
Rastoke is a village that’s existed since the 17th century. It sits 30 minutes away from northern Plitvice. Rastoke is one of the many remote villages in Croatia. In here, you’ll find numerous old houses that stand near streams and waterfalls. There are even old watermills that are still functional. Villagers in Rastoke and friendly. They won’t bother even if you decide to do a little picnic near the streams or waterfalls.
25 kilometers away from the Korana river and flowing between Bosnia and Croatia is the Korana river. This is perhaps the nearest river from Plitvice lakes where you can engage in kayaking or whitewater rafting. For whitewater rafting, early to late spring is the best time to come because the melting of snow makes the current very wild.
For kayaking, visit Korana during later summer and autumn, at these seasons, the water isn’t strong but deep nonetheless. Be sure to use a sit-on-top fiberglass kayak. Don’t use an inflatable kayak because the rocks will easily puncture it.
Go to Mreznica River if you’re an experienced kayaker or whitewater rafter. Mreznica is a class 2 or class 3 river that’s about 2 hours away from Plitvice. I know that it’s far but it’s the closest river to Plitvice that puts your kayaking or rafting skills to the limit. The current isn’t too strong. However, you’ll find Mreznica very challenging because it has mini waterfalls that serve as drops as you ride the kayak or the whitewater raft.
Eco Camp Rizvan City
70 kilometers away from Plitvice is the bustling Rizvan city. It offers fun activities like horseback riding, ziplining, playing paintball, and safari kayaking. Also, near Rizvan city are numerous farmhouses that you can visit. These farmhouses have great meadows and look very beautiful in the summer or spring due to their wildflowers.
Accommodation in Plitvice Lakes
The nearest accommodation in Plitvice Lakes is the Jezero and hotel Deginija. Jezero is where you should stay if you entered Lake Plitvice entrance 1. It’s nearby so expected that other tourists, tired after hiking at Plitvice for hours, will come here. Jezero is quite good because it’s a four-star hotel. In here, you’ll enjoy rooms that are inspired by the sceneries of Plitvice. It’s two onsite restaurants that serve Croatian and other European dishes that won’t fail your mouth.
Furthermore, Jezero has a spa where you can take a dip to relax your aching feet.
On the other hand, Deginija is a family-run hotel that’s 4 kilometers away from entrance 1. However, the warm atmosphere of Deginika allows you to hang out with others who checked in. Deginika serves homemade Croatian dishes to its hosts.
Head to Villa Verde for a very private stay and rest, it’s located in a very natural setting. Around it is numerous trees and wildflowers. What you’ll love about it is the sumptuous breakfast that it serves where the ingredients come fresh from nearby farms. Moreover, Villa Verde has a wonderful laundry service so that running out of wearables won’t spoil your vacation.