Hiking in the Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia

Plitvice Lakes: the most beautiful National Park in Europe!

Sixteen blue-green, clear lakes, each on a different level, are linked to a series of waterfalls falling in cascades. Surrounded by dense forest, the Plitvice Lakes are a natural phenomenon of rare and unique beauty. The national park was the location of the Karl May films such as “The Treasure in the Silver Lake” and “Winnetou”.

Thundering waterfalls, crystal clear water, large lakes and a magical nature invite you to the most beautiful walks.

A turquoise ribbon of crystal water and gushing waterfalls in the forested heart of continental Croatia, Plitvice Lakes National Park is an impressive sight.  There are dozens of lakes from 4km long Kozjak to reed-fringed ponds, all in an incredible hue that’s a product of the karst terrain.  Travertine expanses covered with green plants divide the lakes, while boardwalks allow you to step right over this beautiful water world.  Follow hiking trails through fir and pine trees to escape the crowds on the lakeshore.

How to get to Plitvice Lakes?

Getting to Plitvice National Park is pretty easy, assuming you have a rental car. In any case, this is always the case in Croatia, because you can visit such diverse beaches, sights and highlights as Dubrovnik quite easily. The roads are in good condition everywhere, and the rental car selection is excellent.

It doesn’t matter if you come from Split, Zadar or from the region around Dubrovnik – it’s best to follow your navigation system or download offline maps for all areas on Google Maps.

Zagreb – Plitvice / 130 kilometres

Pula – Plitvice / 257 kilometres

Rijeka Plitvice / 155 kilometres

Zadar – Plitvice / 120 kilometres

Split – Plitvice / 245 kilometres

Dubrovnik – Plitvice / 435 kilometres

By car

Driving to Plitvice Lakes is relatively easy, on the A1 (Zagreb – Split) motorway there are clear exit signs for Plitvice Lakes. If you come from the south, e.g. from Zadar or Split, you will have to exit in Gornja Ploča which is exit no. 13, from this motorway exit you’ll need about 45 minutes to the Plitvice national park. The driving time from Zadar is about 1 hour and 30 minutes and from Split about 2 hours and 45 minutes. If you come from the north, e.g. from Zagreb, you have several exit options: the first option is exit no. 3 towards Karlovac and Dugi Resi, and after leaving the highway, you’ll have to cover about 80 km before arriving. The total driving time from Zagreb is about 2 hours.

By train

Unfortunately, the train to Plitvice Lakes is not the best option. The nearest railway station is in Karlovac, from where you can continue by bus to Plitvice.

By bus

During the summer months, the number of bus departures to Plitvice from Zadar, Zagreb and Split is considerably high. Please note that there is a limited bus service between October and May.

One day excursions

During the summer season, you can find many organized tours to Plitvice from Zagreb and from many towns on the Adriatic coast. In addition to organized excursions, you can also find companies offering individual/private trips from most cities.

Park Entrance Gates

There are 3 official entries to the national park: entrance 1 (Rastovača), entrance 2 (Hladovina) and entrance 3 (Flora). Because of the ease of access and large parking spaces, most visitors use entrance 1 or 2.  I recommend entering the park at entrance 1 because it is very close to the bus station and the parking lot.

For further information visit the official website of Plitvice Lakes National Park.

If you are not tied to school holidays, the best time to visit Croatia is during the “shoulder season” months of May and June and September and October.

Have you been to Croatia?  What do you think about this magical country?


  1. I find the Plitvice Lakes most beautiful in the autumn, unfortunately, the day is shorter, but the good thing about visiting in the autumn is that the national park is as good as empty and you can find many quiet spots to simply relax and enjoy the nature.

  2. Thank you for your comment Dean. Yes, definitely – September/October is a good time to visit.

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