Pristine Lakes and Waterfalls: Day Trip to The Plitvice Lakes National Park in Croatia

If you are ever in Croatia, try and make the trip to Plitvice Lakes National Park. Being the largest national park in Croatia, the oldest in Southeast Europe and a UNESCO world heritage site, we promise you will not be disappointed!

Plitvice Lakes National Park

Traveling to Plitvice Lakes National Park from Zagreb

Plitvice Lakes are in central Croatia and are about 2 and half hours away by bus from Zagreb. We visited in a car with friends. The roads are good in Croatia, so with your GPS it is not a difficult drive from Zagreb to Plitvice Lakes National Park. The ride takes around 2 and 1/2 hours each way.

Buses also run semi-frequently from the central bus station in Zagreb. Buses in Croatia are privately run, so check the prices for a few companies before buying your ticket as in our experience the difference could be as much as €10 each way. Another option is to go with an organized tour, which will cost more than a rental car if you are two or more. But it will probably cost less than a rental car hire if you are a solo traveler. Perks of a tour include not having to worry about bus timetables or driving.

Plitvice Lakes National Park

Plitvice Lakes National Park Admission

Admission to Plitvice Lakes National Park costs around €23 ($25 USD) for adults, €14 for students and €6 for children ages 7-18. Prices vary depending on dates. In the winter it is a little cheaper, and while you might think why would I want to visit in winter, apparently it is spectacular because all the lakes are frozen! So there is really no wrong time to visit this beautiful national park, which is among the many highlights of European Union travels that have taken us to all 27 EU countries.

Plitvice Lakes National Park

Plitvice Lakes National Park in Summer

We spent the whole day in the park on a sizzling hot July day. If you do go in summer take lots of sunscreen, and lots of water. While there are a few places around to get water and some lovely Croatian beers, they are few and far between. I ended up with mild sun stroke even though I had sunscreen and a good amount of water, which was not fun at all. So take precautions to avoid that in the hear.

Plitvice Lakes National Park

But back to the lakes! The colour of the water changes from lake to lake (currently there are 16), and the colour is dependent on the minerals and organisms in the lake and of course the angle of the sun.

Plitvice Lakes National Park

There is lots of wildlife as well. However we did not encounter any of the bears, foxes, lynx, wolf or badgers that call this their home! We did see some fish, birds and butterflies though.

Plitvice Lakes National Park


The amazing waterfalls Plitvice Lakes National Park are created by water mosses that grow on the river beds and then push up through the surface to create barriers, and hence waterfalls. The caves that can be found under the waterfalls have also been created by moss. The moss first creates a crag, which then leads to the development of a hardening roof that then turns into a travertine cave. These caves are amazing to duck into to cool off! There is much to experience in Croatia, but this national park is an absolute highlight.

Plitvice Lakes National Park


  • Alex&Bell

    Alex and Bell originally met while solo traveling after finishing university in 2002, in Brugge, Belgium. Alex grew up in the USA and Bell hails from Australia. During our nearly 20 year marriage we've lived around the world, including spending six years living in the Netherlands and Ireland. We have traveled to nearly 70 countries and enjoy giving readers authentic and quality travel tips. Alex is an award winning travel journalist and travel planner, who also freelances for other outlets. Bell is an award winning PhD scientist who currently works for a non-profit lung cancer advocacy research organization called Lungevity. Happy travels and if you have any questions leave a comment or drop an email!

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8 thoughts on “Pristine Lakes and Waterfalls: Day Trip to The Plitvice Lakes National Park in Croatia

    1. Sorry for the delay! Thank you and you are absolutely right, and more people should know about these lakes as they really are gorgeous.

    1. Hi Shikha, thanks for your comment! We’re really glad you enjoyed learning about the Plitvice Lakes and looking at the pictures. This was certainly one of the most beautiful hikes and walks we’ve ever had. Cheers! 🙂

  1. Nice photos. My number one recommendation is to stay in the park 2 nights – it’s nature, enjoy it. I saw all these tourists running around stressed, trying to see everything in a few hours. And if you’re rushing to see it on a day trip you’ll miss the best times: early morning and late afternoon when lighting is best and crowds sparse.
    Frank (bbqboy)

    1. Thank you and good advice! I wish we could have spent a couple nights at the time because the park is so pretty and peaceful.

      Even though we went with friends on a day trip from Zagreb, we still found it to be a relaxing day. As you mentioned, the crowds dispersed late afternoon and we had much of the beautiful park to ourselves. If you try and see everything in a day you’ll be a little rushed, but you can still see a lot in one day at a relaxed pace. But indeed, more time would have been nicer!

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