There are few places on earth that conjure up the same visual as Plitvice Lakes in Croatia. While it's unfortunate that visitors can no longer swim in the lakes, that doesn't mean the reason for visiting is gone. If anything, it means that visitors can now spend their time exploring the rest of Plitvice Lakes National Park, and the time will be well spent.

The park's boardwalk trails make it incredibly easy to navigate and there are no special requirements or know-how when it comes to exploring the park's vast natural areas. Different overlooks give way to various scenic points throughout the park, so visitors should have their cameras or phones at the ready, any chance they get. Here's what else to know when visiting this majestic waterfall wonderland.

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A Breakdown Of The Park Areas

Visitors will notice that there are four main trails that wind through the park. Combined, these four trails create seven different routes by which hikers can use to explore the park's natural features. With 16 lakes to explore, all of which are interconnected somehow, there's plenty to see during each of the trails.

The easiest way to go about exploring the park - which is 73,000 acres, in total - is to break it down into three sections, as follows:

  • Lower Lakes Section. This is the first section that hikers will have the choice to follow. This includes entrance 1 into the park and Veliki Slap waterfall, and it's also a gateway to the Upper Lakes section of the park.
  • Upper Lakes Section. This can be reached via boat or shuttle from the Lower Lakes section of the park. This is the area that has the most picturesque boardwalks in the park, as well as the most waterfalls.
  • Third Section. If hikers continue on, they'll find the third area of the park, which is home to Proscansko Lake.

If hikers opt for the trail less traveled, then they can head in the direction of what's called Cliff Views. This provides stunning views over the lower lakes and the boardwalks; a unique perspective compared to the rest of the park. This is also where hikers can find the Veliki Slap Overlook. This overlook is near entrance 1.

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Luckily, the trails through Plitvice are quite easy to follow and those seven different routes, known as programs, are provided to let hikers know exactly what they'll see, and how challenging the hike is.

Program A: 2.2 miles, Easy

  • Starts at entrance 1
  • Veliki Slaps, lower lake waterfalls, Kozjak Bridge
  • Walk or take the shuttle back to entrance 1

Program B: 2.5 miles, Easy

  • Starts at entrance 1 and continues past the Kozjak Bridge
  • Return to entrance 1 by the lake loop or shuttle

Program C: 5 miles, Easy

  • Starts at entrance 1 and continues past Program B
  • Trails through the upper lakes and waterfalls
  • Take the shuttle back to entrance 1

Program E: 3.2 miles, Easy

  • Starts at entrance 2 and requires the shuttle across Kozjak Lake
  • Trails through the upper lakes and waterfalls
  • Ends at entrance 2

Program F: 2.9 miles, Easy

  • Starts at entrance 2 and follows the same shuttle
  • Walk through lower lakes trails
  • Walk or take the shuttle back to entrance 2

Program H: 5.6 miles, Easy

  • Shuttle from entrance 2 to the upper lakes
  • Follow boardwalks along the upper lakes, take the Kozjak Lake boat, and follow the trails along the lower lakes
  • Take the shuttle back to entrance 2 from entrance 1

Program K: 11.6 miles, Moderate

  • This follows the start from either entrance through all of the lake trails, without the boat or shuttle service

Tips For Hiking Plitvice National Park

Since hiking is now the main attraction at the park (and also the best way to see its incredible lakes), there are some tips that will make a trip much better. According to Earth Trekkers, the park sees its busiest hours after 10 AM. Therefore, it's best to get there first thing in the morning, around 7 AM, in order to have at least three hours of uncrowded boardwalk time. Arriving after 10 AM doesn't mean that the boardwalks are impassable but it does mean that it might take a little longer to get around everything and snap photos.

It's also entirely worth it to make detours in order to see different viewpoints, such as the one mentioned for Veliki Slap. These are often the vantage points from which people can get the most appreciated views - and photos - of the lakes, which means even more now that swimming is forbidden.

Park Details

  • Cost of Admission: 80 kn January March & November - December, 180 kn during April, May & October, 300 kn until 4 PM & 200 kn after 4 PM during June - September
  • Hours of Operation: 7 AM - 8 PM during the summer, 8 AM - 6 PM during the spring and fall, 8 AM - 3 PM during the winter

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