The Plitvice Lakes National Park is a popular destination thanks to its 16 beautiful emerald-green lakes and a series of waterfalls which connect them. In order to fully experience all the scents and flavors of your vacation, we hereby share with you 10 top tips to get the most from your visit to the region.
Avoid peak season
If the Plitvice Lakes National Park is on your wish list and if you are one of the lucky ones who can plan ahead, our advice is to avoid peak season. Choose the other months of the year when fewer people travel, when prices are lower and when it is possible to experience the attractions the way you want to. It’s important to point out that there will always be a small crowd in popular destinations and attractions, but you can avoid the largest crowds if you avoid peak season. Peak season in Croatia lasts approximately from June to the end of August. As these are the most sought-after months for visiting the Plitvice Lakes, that’s when the prices are the highest and crowds the largest. The pre-season and post-season (SHOULDER SEASON) is the time before and after the peak of the season, mostly from April to June and from September to October. Your vacation in the pre-season and post-season can be very pleasant and warm, which will turn your trip into an unforgettable experience. The off-season refers to the period from November to March, and in that period the number of visitors to the Park is the lowest. This period is certainly the most cost-effective and there are no crowds. If you like lower temperatures, the Christmas season and ski resorts, this period is ideal for you.
Find places where you get away, sit down and enjoy
Visiting the Plitvice Lakes National Park during peak season can mean a higher number of visitors and potential jams at the overlooks and popular spots where people like to linger and take photos. In order to make it easier to move through the beautiful nature in the lake area, visitors can choose between several routes, which start at Entrance 1 and Entrance 2. Everyone would like their tour to go smoothly and without too many crowds, but sometimes this simply cannot be avoided during high season. Therefore, find your wooden bench by the lake, sit down and take a moment for yourself because this is not a place where you should be surrounded by others, but rather a place where you should be relaxed and enjoy every breath of fresh forest air and every view of the most beautifully colored lakes.
Hit the trails – hiking trails
For the full experience of the Plitvice Lakes National Park, we advise you to take a walk down our hiking trails and get to know the forest ecosystem which covers more than ¾ of its surface. If, along with an active vacation, you wish to enrich your knowledge of the forest ecosystem and feel and understand the role of the forest preserved in the lake, hiking trails are the perfect route for you. In addition to avoiding any crowds, you will enjoy the spaciousness and beauty of nature through which the trails lead you and the mountain meadows with enchanting overlooks, as well as reading something about our natural and cultural sights.
As the forests and meadows are the habitats of many of our animals, it’s also possible that you will meet one of the inhabitants of the forest, and the animal footprints you see will your complete adventure trip. Never go hiking alone and study the map before setting out. Be relaxed, fall in love with nature, listen to the birds singing and feel the pulse of the centuries-old forest!
Should you come early on in the afternoon?
Try to get up early because you will be among the first visitors to the Park, but keep in mind you need to buy tickets for the time slot at which you want to enter the Park. Morning hours in the summer can also be refreshing!
The afternoon is also an excellent choice for entering the Park, because during this period many visitors have already finished their tour. From the beginning of June until the end of August, you can get tickets for the afternoon visits at cheaper prices. If you are accommodated in one of our facilities, you have the option of extending your ticket for all the following days and at the same time of deciding for yourself the time you will enter the Park.
Buy tickets online
In the Plitvice Lakes National Park, there has been a limited number of tickets per hour for several years now. The online purchasing system allows you to choose the entrance and the time at which you want to go on a tour of the park. Tickets can also be purchased at Entrance 1, Entrance 2 and the “Flora” auxiliary entrance, but it is possible you will find waiting lines when you arrive at the entrances. Planned purchase, ie buying tickets online, is therefore considered a good idea. In addition to buying a ticket, you can hire a tour guide for a carefree stroll and in order to learn more about the park.
Plan your rests
It’s always a good idea to make an itinerary and determine where you can rest and refresh yourself. Not only will it be easier for you to continue your tour, but you will be able to relax and finish the route at the desired time. There are several places in the Park where you can plan a break. If you decide to take a rest before or after the boat, the ideal places by Kozjak Lake are Kozjačka draga and Bistro Kupalište. Kozjačka draga is located on a spacious meadow by the shore of Kozjak Lake, where you can enjoy the natural environment, singing birds and a beautiful view of the largest lake! There, you can make your own picnic, rest on the benches and try something from the offer of our hospitality establishments. You can also take a break on the other side of Kozjak Lake, ie at Bistro Kupalište. You will be amazed by the beautiful view of the blue sky and the relaxing sound of waterfalls coming from the Upper Lakes. You won’t find refreshment here in swimming, as the name suggests, but you can refresh yourself with drinks and grilled food on the offer in a beautiful natural environment!
Walk along Kozjak Lake
When you arrive at Kozjak Lake, your view stretches towards the blue of the largest and deepest of the sixteen Plitvice Lakes. Kozjačka draga, as we’ve already mentioned, is the perfect place for a break and a picnic, as well as for planning your next move. After you rest, you can take an electric boat across Kozjak Lake, or if you want to avoid waiting for the boat, go along one of the trails which go around the lake. While you’re walking along the coast of Kozjak breathing in the scents of the forest and water, relax with the view of the boats which slowly, almost meditatively, sail on the lake.
Visit on weekdays
Throughout the year, there are more visitors on weekends than weekdays, so if you can, you should plan your trip accordingly. Most people go on vacations over the weekend or use the weekend for a short vacation. Domestic tourists also travel more on weekends. You should always keep in mind that the extended weekend is the time when most people want to go somewhere, leading to bigger crowds. For a better experience, a shorter wait and a nicer interaction with nature, plan your visit for weekdays.
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Do your research
Researching a destination saves time and money, so before making a reservation, you should do your research before you arrive. Find out information on where to eat and sleep and how to buy a ticket. Learn about the walkability of the trails, current conditions and possible works.
Walk down the longest route
It is said that a trail is created when several people walk along the same route in nature. Of course, we do not recommend going outside the trails, since we are a national park under UNESCO protection, but we want to recommend you to walk as much as possible, and use and wait for vehicles as little as possible. We recommend a full-day walk along route K – a route which starts at both entrances and is marked with a different color for each entrance. While walking along route K, you have a view of the lakes and waterfalls from the overlooks, you are close to the waterfalls on the chestnut trails and you walk through the forest hidden in the shade of the beech forest. One part of the trail takes you to the top of the Upper Lakes, where you will have a wonderful view you have only seen in photos so far. To quote hikers: “The view is always worth the climb!” 18 kilometers of walking may sound like a lot, but if you decided to set aside a whole day, it would be nice to enjoy nature in the full sense.
Tomislav Kovačević is General Manager at Plitvice Lakes National Park. Plitvice Lakes National Park is the oldest and largest national park in Croatia.
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