Our tips for visiting the fairytale Plitvice Lakes National Park
Plitvice Lakes National Park is with no doubt the most features of natural interest in Croatia. The park extends over an area of 29,000 hectares where almost 22.000 are forested and where the water covers 217 hectares.
Tucked away in this fairytales landscape are 16 lakes with their blue and green colour, one underneath another. The most exciting thing is that the lakes are linked together with roaming cascades and pounding waterfalls that make the park unique.
The best choice is to rent a car and self-drive to Plitvice that is only 120 km from Zagreb and 240 km from Split.
Walking through the park is very easy, all the trails are well marked and if you are a good hiker, the visit could be done in a full day, otherwise, as we did, it’s better to split your visit in 1 day an half (or 2 days) and get the most out of it.
The park is divided in “Lower lakes” or “Upper lakes” trail programs if you have an only half-day or a day, but you’d like to take it easy, you can choose one of them.
There are 2 main entrances from where you can start your tour (number 1 and 2), and the park boasts 5 sightseeing programs (A-B-C-E-K).
1) Program A details
It’s a circular walk, 3500 mt long and it takes pretty much less than 2 hours. The trail starts from the Entrance 1 and covers waterfalls and lakes in Lower Lakes part of the Park.
It’s an easy walk, where you will see Veliki Slap (Great Waterfall), Sastavci and Milanovacki Falls while walking along the canyon of Novakovića Brod Lake, Kaluđerovac, Gavanovac and Milanovac Lakes.
When you arrive at the bridge crossing over the Kozjak Lake (on your right side), go on a bit and turn left following the path to the starting point (1370 meters long).
The path to go back climbs up the hill until it becomes flat. Walking here is terrific because you can admire the lower lakes from some viewpoints on the top.
Don’t take the path to go back but go on crossing the bridge reaching the docking area (named P3) on the Kozjak Lake. It takes just 10 minutes walk and here you can find a huge meadow with 2 restaurants, bar and toilets.
2) Program B details
It’s a circular walk, 4 km long and it takes 3-4 hours. The trail includes a boat ride on the Kozjak Lake and the shuttle train to go back at the Entrance 1.
The trail starts from the Entrance 1, and the first part is the same of the trail A. Once got to the bridge, cross it towards the Kozjak Lake and proceed to your left walking to the boat dock named dock P3 (here you can rest and eat).
Before taking the boat, you can spend 1-hour walking (out of the park trails) to see the lower lake from above and get to the breathtaking views on the “big waterfall” with the Kaluderovac Lake and its series of cascades.
Then embark on the scenic trip across the Kozjak Lake and get the docking area named P1. From the boat, you will see the surrounding hills as well as the small Štefanijin Island in the middle of the lake.
From dock P1, after a bit steep ascent, you’ll get the Entrance 2. Here you can take the shuttle train towards the Entrance 1.
The shuttle doesn’t stop in front of the Entrance 1 but at the beginning of a short scenic trail from where you can see the lower lakes from the top of the hill before getting to the exit.
If you don’t want to take the shuttle train, there is a 30 minutes trail from the dock P1 to the Kozjak Lake the lines the lake itself until a small bridge (2 km long).
Before reaching the bridge, you see the sign of the last part of A trail that leads to the Entrance 1.
It’s 1370 meters long, and the first part is uphill until you reach the top where is located the shuttle train stop. It starts here the short and flat scenic trail to the entrance.
3) Program C details
It’s a circular walk, 8 km long and it takes 4-5 hours. The path includes a boat and a shuttle train ride.
Starting from the Entrance 1 the walk covers waterfalls and lakes of Lower as well as Upper part of the Park.
It includes the trail A and B, but after crossing the Kozjak Lake by boat you have to reach the dock named P2, and from here follow the footpath through the upper lakes (Burgeti, Gradinsko, Galovac, Butinovac) to the edge of Proscansko Lake.
Once you arrive at the edge of Proscansko, you‘ll find a cafè, the toilets and the shuttle train stop (named ST3) to go back to the Entrance 2 or, if you want, to the Entrance 1.
If you’d like to walk, from the ST3, you can follow the path on the west side of the Upper lakes that lead you to the boat dock P2 (2500 mt long).
4) Program E details
It’s a circular walk, 5500 meters long and it takes 2-3 hours. This program is a walking route in the higher area of the Park and includes a boat and shuttle train ride.
Starting from the Entrance 2 the walk covers waterfalls and lakes of Upper part of the Park.
After a short boat where you cross Kozjak Lake from dock P1 to P2, the footpath is extending to the higher elevations, along Burgeti, Gradinsko, Milino, Galovac and Okrugljak all the way to the edge of Proscansko Lake.
The trail is delightful, easy to follow, featuring the beautiful Veliki, Mali Prstavac and Galovacki Buk Waterfalls. Once reached the edge of Proscansko Lake, you’ll find the shuttle bus station ST3 to get back to the Entrance 2 or Entrance 1.
5) Program K details
The longest trail is named K, sure the hardest and tiring of the park. It’s 18 km long, and it takes at least 8 hours.
The difference is that this K trail doesn’t include the boat ride from P3 to P1 or the shuttle trains either, but the program K lines the upper part of Kozjak Lakes and along the upper lakes trail it follows a path through the forest to see the lakes from the high viewpoint.
On the way back it passes by the Kozjak Lake on the lower part from P1 to Entrance 1 just by walk.
Starting from the entrance 2
If you decide to start your visit from Entrance 2, you can enjoy all the sightseeing programs as well.
The program B is named F, and program C is named H, both done in the opposite direction (check the map you’ll buy at the ticket office). The program K remains K.
Need to Know about Plitvice lakes
Next to the ticket office at entrance 1 and next to entrance 2 there is an information centre where you can buy the map and get all the information you need to enjoy the park and get the most out of it. In case there is also a currency exchange shop, a mini-market and souvenir shop.
Ticket fares and opening time
Click here to know the opening times and fares.
Facilities in the park
You’ll find restaurants next to the main entrances and at P3 docking area. Bar and toilets at the main entrances, at P3 docking area and ST3.
Once in the park, you can organise many different amazing activities/tours such panoramic boat ride, bike tour, kayak safari, walking or guided tour and many other options. Have a look and book your activities/tour on Viator or GetYourGuide.
Where to sleep and eat outside the park
About eating, you’ll find restaurants in these towns as well or along the road. If you are not tired, we suggest you have your dinner in Slunj. Here the beautiful tiny historic city centre (called Rastoke) is a very peaceful and relaxing area, where you’ll find restaurants and accommodations along the Korana river. We had a great dinner at Petro Restaurant.
Would you like to know more about this destination?
Find out our tour around the Plitvice Lakes National Park.
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