One of the largest national parks in Croatia, Plitvice Lakes receives over 1 million visitors per year. Home to 16 interconnected lakes that result in stunning waterfalls, the park attracts lots of photographers, nature lovers, and hikers. Visitors can trek around the park’s many km of wooden footbridges, catching sight of fluttering butterflies and rumbling waterfalls.
How to get to Plitvice Lakes from Split?
Plitvice Lakes is located in central Croatia, near the borders with Bosnia and Herzegovina. Over 200 km away from Split, the park can be visited as a day trip if you plan things well and start on your way early.
From Split to Plitvice Lakes by car
There are two routes that take you from Split to Plitvice. The shortest one takes about 2:30 hours along highways E65 and E75. This is a toll route that gets very busy in summer, but it’s still usually faster. If you’re not in a hurry, there’s a second route via highways A1 and D1 that cuts through the Dalmatian Hinterland and historical towns like Sinj. No tolls and more picturesque sights, but the drive will take you 3 hours and 30 minutes.
From Split to Plitvice Lakes by bus
The only form of public transportation that connects Split with Plitvice Lakes is a bus. During the high season (June to September), there are nine buses throughout the day that make this route. Buses leave from the Split main bus terminal and take either 3.5 hours or 5.5 hours, depending on whether it’s the express or the local bus (which cuts through smaller towns). Off-season buses run only three times per day, with only one morning bus, which makes day trips to the lakes much more difficult.
Guided tour to Plitvice Lakes from Split
Guided tours are one of the best ways to discover Plitvice Lakes. They offer the convenience of pick-ups and drop-offs at your hotel or at a suitable meeting point in the city center. With a knowledgeable guide along, you can be sure you’ll get to see the main attractions; or you can choose an independent tour where you get time to explore on your own.
How much does the entrance ticket to Plitvice Lakes National Park cost?
Tickets to visit Plitvice Lakes are sold on a limited basis. If you want to ensure you’ll get in, it’s best to buy your entrance ticket online, at least a day in advance. Tickets might be available at one of the two park entrances, but only if not sold out online for the day. During high season, advance purchase is recommended.
Adult ticket prices for the park change throughout the year:
- January, February, March & November, December: 80 HRK (11 €)
- May & October: 180 HRK (24 €)
- June, July, August, September: 300 HRK (40 €)
During June, July and August, the price of 300 HRK is valid for visitors arriving before 4pm. If you arrive after 4pm, the price goes down to 200 HRK (26.50 €).
What is the typical itinerary of a day tour to Plitvice Lakes from Split?
While every tour is different, tours departing from Split usually include either hotel pick up or offer a central meet-up point. From there, the air-conditioned minivan or coach will then start the 200+km scenic route to the park. The ride usually takes about three hours unless there are stops along the way.
Once at the park, tours will take you on the best hiking trails around the thundering waterfalls and lush forest. You will also be able to take a boat and cruise around the crystal blue lakes and ride a scenic train to the upper lakes. At the end of the day, your driver will bring you back to Split.
What kinds of tours are available to visit Plitvice Lakes?
Guided Tours to Plitvice Lakes from Split
Guided tours are a great way to discover the beauty of this UNESCO World Heritage Site park with a knowledgeable guide who can show you the best spots. Walk across the upper lakes of Plitvice, hear the roaring of the waterfalls, and stop by Outlook Cave. Along the way, you’ll find the best photo spots and hear about how the lakes were formed and continue to change daily.
Follow your guide as you learn about the area’s biodiversity before you enjoy a boat trip on the lakes, followed by a train ride back down to the park’s entrance.
Non-Guided Tour to Plitvice Lakes (return transfer without a guide)
If you’d rather explore on your own, non-guided trips get you to the park in an air-conditioned vehicle and then allow you to venture at your own pace. Spend your day walking the wooden trails and bridges that connect the waterfalls, then get your camera out to capture the lush greenery and ever-changing rock formations. At the end of the day, meet your driver for the ride back to Split.
Transfer to Plitvice Lakes with return to Zagreb
If you’re traveling from Split or Trogir to Zagreb, one-way transfers give you a door-to-door experience with a stop at the Lakes along the way. Board a comfortable coach or minibus directly at your hotel. Halfway along the route, stop at Plitvice Lakes, where an English-speaking guide will show you the park’s highlights, including Veliki Slap, Croatia’s tallest waterfall. After some time for an optional lunch at a local traditional restaurant, you’ll continue on to Zagreb.
Private tour to Plitvice Lakes from Split
A private tour is a great way to make the most of your visit to the park. Design your own exclusive experiences and enjoy a tour tailored to your preferences. Take as long as you want for photo opportunities as your guide brings you to the park’s many lakes and waterfalls, and enjoy time on your own to appreciate the park’s silent beauty. Your friendly tour guide will be able to answer all your questions as you make your way to Kozjak lake for a breathtaking boat ride and discover other park’s highlights. The tour ends back at the departing point in Split.
What will you see and do in Plitvice Lakes National Park?
Plitvice Lakes National Park has plenty to offer and it would probably take you at least two days to fully explore it. The park is home to four major trails and seven routes that take you through the main highlights of the park. If you’re short on time or only want to catch the highlights, here are some must-sees and do’s.
Veliki Slap (the Big Waterfall)
This is the park’s highlight, Croatia’s tallest waterfall at 78 meters. The best way to visit the waterfall is to take Trail A, a route that starts right at Entrance 1 (Lower Lakes area) of the park and takes you straight to Veliki Slap, as well as to other waterfalls. This two-hour, 3.5-km trail is easy and great for all fitness levels.
The Upper Lakes are characterized for wooden pathwalks that zigzag through emerald-green lakes and past roaring waterfalls. The trails here offer great open views over the lakes below and plenty of picture-perfect spots for when you need a break. To make the most of this area, take Trail H. This 8.9 km route might seem a little long, but it includes a boat across lake Kozjaka and the hike itself is only moderately hard.
Plitvice Lakes is a UNESCO World Heritage Site site, so water activities are limited. This means no swimming or bothering the fish. You can, however, rent a small paddling canoe to explore on your own. It’s a great option to cool off and get away from the crowds, but also gives you a completely different perspective of the lakes and the waterfalls.
When is Plitvice Lakes National Park open over the year?
Plitvice Lakes National Park is open 365 days a year and visitors can take to the trails all year long. Between November and April, however, the train and boat cease operation. If you want to reach the upper lakes during these months, you’ll have to walk the entire route.
What are the opening times?
The park opens at 8 am most of the year, except June-September, when it opens an hour earlier. Closing times vary during the year: in winter, the park closes at 4pm, in summer at 8pm, while in Spring and autumn at 7pm.
The entrance to the park closes two hours before the park’s closing time. If you arrive later than that, you won’t be able to purchase or validate your ticket.
When is the best time to visit Plitvice Lakes National Park?
Plitvice Lakes is breathtaking all-year-long, but each season offers some unique beauty. Summer months mean nature is lush, but these months also bring the largest crowds. Spring and fall offer great weather and smaller crowds, plus the waterfalls are at their peak power. Arrive in Spring for tons of wildflowers or October for the vibrant colors. If you’re not scared of winter, this is a great time to visit for magical, snow-covered lakes and silent walks almost entirely on your own.
Are there any tours to Plitvice Lakes from other cities in Croatia?
Plitvice Lakes is a popular place to visit in Croatia and it can be reached on a day trip from several cities. If you would like to start your tour from a different city than Split, take a look at one of our pages:
- Book your tickets in advance. During peak season, they are likely to sell out and you might not be able to get in.
- If your time at the park is limited, take advantage of the free sightseeing train to reach the upper lakes. You can then walk back down to the park’s entrance, with plenty of time to see other attractions.
- Bring good footwear. The park is very well maintained, but the wooden walkways and dirt trails are difficult to maneuver in flip-flops or sandals. Sturdy shoes with good soles are essential at all times, but especially during rainy, muddy weather.
- Stay overnight, if possible. There are three hotels within the park limits, all just steps away from the famous falls. If you sleep over, you’ll have a chance to get up early and take to the trails before the park opens to visitors.