Chances are, you know about the Plitvice lakes in Croatia. And no wonder this national park in the central part of Croatia is popular because it’s a stunning piece of nature. All those waterfalls and magnificent lakes… But it is also a place that is incredibly busy, even outside the high season. So, is visiting Plitvice lakes worth your while?
A few weeks back, around the 20th of October, we were in Croatia for a few days. Because we were curious about the Plitvice lakes, a visit to the national park was on our wish list. But once we were in the park, we were shocked by the huge amount of people visiting the national park.
Why is national park Plitvice such a hotspot?
The Plitvice lakes NP is the oldest and largest national park in Croatia. In the park, you will find 16 large and numerous smaller lakes and impressive waterfalls that connect the lakes. The park is known for its turquoise waters and is home to the highest waterfall in Croatia (78 meters high). The total national park covers nearly 300 km2 and consists mainly of forests. Many wild animals live in these forests, including wild boar, bears, wolves, deer and even lynx. In 1979 the national park became a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The unique thing about the Plitvice NP is certainly the number of waterfalls and lakes. And the turquoise water makes it a very instagramable location. Also, the various routes through the park are well marked and not very difficult, making all that gorgeous nature available for everyone to see. Moreover, the organization of the NP goes out of its way to make the park appealing for everyone. There are trains and boats that allow you to move faster through the park. These functionalities are only available if the weather permits. And is it beautiful? Well, you can be the judge of that:
Visiting Plitvice national park: yes or no?
I am not going to tell you the Plitvice lakes aren’t beautiful, but we’re never visiting the national park again. It was just too busy for us (even in October!). Waiting in line to make a good shot isn’t really our thing. Also, We totally didn’t expect a crowd like this, this late in the year. So maybe our expectations were just a bit off. Another big setback for us was the fact that a piece of nature as impressive as the Plitvice lakes, doesn’t feel like nature anymore. The crowds, boats and trains that take you from A to B, standing in line to take pictures and not to mention the huge entrance fee, are more reminiscent of an amusement park than a stunning piece of nature…
By the time it was two o’clock Juul was sick and tired of the crowd, and we left the park. So yes, it is beautiful, but the thousands of people visiting it daily, make the experience a lot less special.
How much does a ticket for Plitvice NP cost?
How much you’ll have to pay to get into the Plitvice national park, depends on when you’re visiting. During the summer months (July and August) you pay 250 Croatian kuna for a one-day visit. That is almost 34 euros! If you can, try to travel outside the summer months. If you visit the park between 1 April and 31 October, you pay 150 kuna (over 20 euros). From 31 October to 31 March the ticket price is considerably lower (slightly over 7 euros). Also, take into account that parking your car will costs you 7 kuna per hour (almost one euro). There are discounts for students but don’t forget your student card otherwise you’ll pay full price. Check out the website for the latest prices.
Visiting Plitvice lakes anyway?
Still want to go? I get it 🙂 Here’re some tips to make the most out of your visit:
- Avoid the summer months if possible. Not only is it jam-packed with people, but it can also get boiling hot in this part of Croatia. And you can not swim in the lakes! So cooling yourself down can be tough challenge.
- Get there early. The park opens at 8 am and the parking at 7. For the best experience: make sure you get there as early as possible. It’s quieter and you might even have some part of the track all to yourself. The buses with groups usually get there around 10 am.
- Start at entrance 1. Lot’s of people (including the tour buses with groups) start their day at entrance 2. So it will be busier there. And more importantly: near entrance 1 is the most beautiful part of the park, you can therefore optimally enjoy the peace in that area if you go a bit early.
- Buy a one-day ticket. In most cases, a ticket that allows you to visit the park for one day is more than enough to see the lakes. The lower lakes and waterfalls are way more spectacular, and you can easily visit that part of the park in an hour or two.
- Use the train and boat. Even though you might feel stupid and touristy, using the train and boat (included in the ticket price) is the smart thing to do. That saves you plenty of time compared to when you have to walk that distance.
- Use the higher paths! At first, you will probably walk past the waterfalls and the lakes, but do not forget to take the path that runs high above it. On those paths, you’ll have the best views of all the breathtaking scenery the park has to offer.
- Use the marked hiking trails. These routes are well marked, and you can pick one that matches your fitness or your available time. On the website of the national park, you can view all the routes in advance. We did route C, which covers the most spectacular places in the park.
Visiting Plitvice lakes in the morning: close to empty tracks.
Did you ever visit National park Plitvice Jezero? Or are you dying to go there? I am curious to hear your opinion! Share your views in the comment section down below.