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Plitvice Lakes National Park: A Comprehensive Trail Guide

Plitvice Lakes National Park, located in Croatia, is a true natural wonder that captivates visitors with its stunning landscapes and cascading waterfalls. This UNESCO World Heritage site is renowned for its pristine lakes, lush forests, and abundant wildlife. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll provide you with valuable insights into the park’s layout, trail routes, and transportation options. By the end, you’ll be fully equipped to embark on an unforgettable adventure through this breathtaking natural wonder. Let’s dive right in!

Plitvice Lakes National Park Overview

Plitvice Lakes National Park Layout Map

Plitvice Lakes National Park Layout:

The park is divided into two main sections: the Lower Lakes, located near Entrance 1 on the right-hand side of the map, and the Upper Lakes, situated near Entrance 2 on the left-hand side. Connecting these sections is the expansive Jezero Kozjak, the park’s stunning main lake. As you explore, you’ll be captivated by the serene beauty that surrounds you.

Trail Routes:

With seven enchanting walking routes spread across the Upper and Lower Lakes, Plitvice Lakes National Park offers something for everyone. Experience the magic as you stroll along routes that exclusively circle the Lower Lakes (Routes A, B, and F), marvel at the wonders of the Upper Lakes (Route E), or opt for routes that traverse both the Upper and Lower Lakes (Routes C, H, and K). Each route has its own unique features and picturesque views.

To ensure you never miss anything, we’ve included individual route maps in the next section. These maps will assist you in navigating the trails, highlighting key points of interest and guiding you along your chosen route. Let the maps be your trusted companions as you embark on your Plitvice adventure.

Entrances, Boat Terminals, and Shuttle Bus Stops:

Plitvice Lakes National Park boasts two entrances: Entrance 1 and Entrance 2. It’s important to note that regardless of the route you choose, all paths lead back to the same entrance from which you started. As you plan your journey, you’ll also encounter three boat terminals: P1, conveniently located next to Entrance 2; P2, just a quick 5-minute boat ride from P1; and P3, situated on the other side of Jezero Kozjak lake, reachable via a 30-minute boat ride from P1.

To make exploring the park even more convenient, three shuttle bus stops are strategically placed for easy access between different areas. ST1 is a mere 10-15 minute walk from Entrance 1, ST2 is situated just outside Entrance 2, and ST3 awaits you at the top of the Upper Lakes section. Depending on your chosen route, you can make use of these transportation options or simply enjoy a leisurely walk amidst the natural splendor.

You’ll be pleased to know that the boat and shuttle bus services are included in the price of your Plitvice Lakes National Park ticket. So, you can hop on a boat, catch a shuttle, or explore on foot without any additional charges

Quick Tip: The boat and shuttle bus services are included in the price of your Plitvice Lakes National Park ticket. So, you can hop on a boat, catch a shuttle without any additional charges.


From entrance 1 of Plitvice Lakes National Park, you’ll find four main routes awaiting your exploration: A, B, C, and K.


Plitvice Lakes National Park Trail Route A
Trail Time: 2-3 hours
Trail Length : 3.5 kms (2.2 miles)
Difficulty : Easy

To embark on Trail A in Plitvice Lakes National Park, start at Entrance 1 and follow the well-marked signs indicating Trail A. Begin your journey along the boardwalk, immersing yourself in the natural beauty that surrounds you.

Don’t miss the chance to take a short detour to the magnificent Veliki Slap Big Waterfall. It’s a must-see attraction that will leave you breathless. After exploring the waterfall, retrace your steps back to the intersection and continue along the captivating boardwalk of route A.

The boardwalks of route A, which are also shared by other trails, will guide you around the Lower Lakes, treating you to more mesmerizing waterfalls and breathtaking natural beauty. Traverse the charming wooden bridges, catching glimpses of smaller waterfalls that add to the park’s enchanting atmosphere. As you make your way across the Lower Lakes, eventually reaching the opposite side. From there, follow the high trail back towards entrance 1, enjoying elevated views of the park along the way.


Plitvice Lakes National Park Trail B
Trail Time: 3-4 hours
Trail Length : 4 kms (2.6 miles)
Difficulty : Easy

Get ready for a captivating adventure along Trail B in Plitvice Lakes National Park! Trail B initially follows the same path as Trail A, treating you to the wonders of the Lower Lakes and the magnificent Veliki Slap Big Waterfall. But here’s where the adventure takes a delightful twist.

Prepare yourself for an exhilarating adventure along Trail B in Plitvice Lakes National Park! Trail B follows the initial path of Trail A, showcasing the wonders of the Lower Lakes and the Veliki Slap Big Waterfall. But hold on tight, because there’s more excitement in store!

Instead of retracing your steps to entrance 1 like Trail A, Trail B continues its journey, beckoning you towards the P3 boat terminal. As you traverse this trail, be prepared to be enchanted by the captivating beauty of the Lower Lakes, with their cascading waterfalls and mesmerizing azure and emerald lakes.

As you cross the pathway that separates the Lower Lakes from the main Jezero Kozjak lake, a delightful surprise awaits you—a scenic boat ride. Step aboard the ferry and let it carry you across the stunning Jezero Kozjak lake, where every moment is infused with pure enchantment.

Upon reaching the other side of the lake, you’ll find yourself at the P1 boat terminal. From here, you have two enticing options. Take a leisurely stroll back to entrance 1 along the picturesque pathway, immersing yourself in the tranquil ambiance, or opt for the convenient shuttle bus from ST2, which will whisk you away to ST1, a mere 10-15 minute walk from entrance 1.

Get ready to embark on this captivating expedition, where every step unveils a new enchantment and where the beauty of Plitvice Lakes National Park will leave an indelible imprint on your soul.


Plitvice Lakes National Park Trail C
Trail Time: 4-6 hours
Trail Length : 8 kms (5 miles)
Difficulty : Medium

Plitvice Lakes Route C is a true delight for those who are willing to devote time and effort to explore both the Lower and Upper Lakes of Plitvice Lakes National Park. This trail combines the best of both worlds, encompassing the beauty of route A (until it turns back) and route B.

As you follow route B, you will disembark the boat at P1 and board another, shorter boat ride to P2, the gateway to the captivating Upper Lakes. While the Lower Lakes attract more visitors, the Upper Lakes hold their own charm with a splendid collection of waterfalls and pristine lake waters.

From the moment you step off the boat at P2, a well-marked boardwalk will guide you through a mesmerizing landscape adorned with an array of waterfalls of various sizes and strengths. Crystal clear lakes will unfold before you, adorned with cascading waterfalls and meandering streams that create a symphony of natural beauty.

Your journey continues until you reach the ST3 shuttle stop. Here, you can conveniently hop on the shuttle bus that will transport you back to ST1, allowing for an effortless return to entrance 1. From there, a leisurely 10-15 minute walk along the pathway will bring you full circle.


Plitvice Lakes National Park Trail K from Entrance 1
Trail Time: 6-8 hours
Trail Length : 18.3 kms (11.4 miles)
Difficulty : Hard

Get ready to experience the longest and most rewarding trail in Plitvice Lakes National Park. Route K offers a unique opportunity to immerse yourself in the breathtaking beauty of this natural wonderland.

Unlike other routes, Route K is primarily a walking route, allowing you to escape the crowds and connect with nature on a deeper level. While you’ll need to take a short boat ride from P2 to P1, the rest of the trail is a picturesque hike along the forested paths and alongside the serene Jezero Kozjak lake.

As you meander along the trail, you’ll discover the tranquility of the less-traveled sections of the park. The absence of walkways adds to the sense of adventure as you weave through the forest, taking in the stunning lake views along the way. If you’re seeking solitude and a break from the crowds, Route K is the perfect choice.

At the intersection between routes C and K, you have the option to explore the Upper Lakes from a different perspective. Route C focuses on the lower portions of the boardwalks, while Route K takes you above the Upper Lakes, offering breathtaking viewpoints. You’ll then descend and venture up close to the mesmerizing waterfalls and emerald pools.

Instead of taking the shuttle bus from ST3, Route K continues on foot, guiding you around the Upper Lakes before looping back to the P2 boat terminal. After a quick ride to P1, you’ll walk along the opposite side of Jezero Kozjak lake, savoring every step of the journey until you reach ST1 and ultimately return to entrance 1.

While Route K requires a considerable amount of walking, the unparalleled experience it offers is well worth the effort. Escape the ordinary and explore Plitvice Lakes in a way few others have.


From entrance 2 of Plitvice Lakes National Park, you’ll find four main routes eagerly waiting to be explored: E, F, H, and K. Situated near the captivating Upper Lakes section, these routes offer a unique perspective as they lead you in the opposite direction from entrance 1 hikes.


Plitvice Lakes National Park Trail E
Trail Time: 2-3 hours
Trail Length : 4.3 kms (2.7 miles)

Embark on a captivating journey through Plitvice Lakes Route E, an exploration dedicated to the breathtaking Upper Lakes of Plitvice Lakes National Park. Begin your adventure at entrance 2, where you’ll board a quick and delightful boat ride from the P1 to P2 boat terminal. As you step onto solid ground at P2, prepare to be mesmerized by the enchanting beauty of the Upper Lakes.

Follow the well-marked boardwalks that wind their way around the pristine lakes and cascading waterfalls, immersing yourself in the splendor of this natural wonder. This route mirrors the second half of Route C, ensuring you don’t miss a single highlight.

Once you’ve taken in the inspiring sights, you’ll find yourself at the ST3 shuttle bus station. Climb aboard the bus, which will conveniently transport you back to entrance 2, where your journey began (ST2 shuttle bus stop).


Plitvice Lakes National Park Trail F

Experience the beauty of the Lower Lakes with Plitvice Lakes Route F, a route that begins at entrance 2 and focuses exclusively on this mesmerizing section of Plitvice Lakes National Park. Ideal for those staying near entrance 2 who want to explore the Lower Lakes area, Route F offers a memorable adventure.

Start your journey with a tranquil boat ride across the captivating Jezero Kozjak, from the P1 to P3 boat terminal. From there, immerse yourself in the enchanting world of the Lower Lakes and its magnificent waterfalls, as you follow the clockwise route along the scenic boardwalks.

Savor the sights and sounds of nature as you complete your circuit around the Lower Lakes. When you reach the end, continue your walk towards the ST1 shuttle bus stop. Hop on the shuttle, which will seamlessly transport you back to the ST2 stop at entrance 2, ensuring a convenient and hassle-free return.


Plitvice Lakes National Park Trail H

Starting at entrance 2, your adventure begins with a scenic shuttle bus ride from ST2 to ST3, setting the stage for an immersive experience. Follow the winding pathways that lead you through the captivating Upper Lakes, where you’ll be captivated by the mesmerizing waterfalls and picturesque lakes that adorn the landscape.

Once you’ve taken in the beauty of the Upper Lakes, make your way to the P2 boat terminal, where a short boat ride will transport you to P1. From there, embark on a memorable long boat ride across the stunning Jezero Kozjak, arriving at P3.

Continue your journey as you traverse the enchanting Lower Lakes, immersing yourself in their beauty. Marvel at the cascading waterfalls and crystal-clear lakes before concluding your adventure at the ST1 bus stop. Hop on the shuttle bus, which will effortlessly transport you back to ST2, located at entrance 2.


Plitvice Lakes National Park Trail K from Entrance 2

The entrance 2 route mirrors the captivating journey of Route K from entrance 1, offering the same breathtaking experiences from a different entry point.

Begin your expedition by strolling along the picturesque Jezero Kozjak lake, immersing yourself in its serene beauty. Take your time to appreciate the tranquil surroundings before venturing towards the mesmerizing Lower Lakes.

After exploring the wonders of the Lower Lakes, continue your journey by traversing the entire length of the opposite side of Jezero Kozjak lake. As you ascend to higher ground, be prepared to be rewarded with panoramic views of the Plitvice lakes from an elevated perspective.

Descend back to the enchanting Upper Lakes, allowing yourself to get up close and personal with the captivating waterfalls that adorn the landscape. Follow the pathway that leads you to the P2 boat terminal, where a quick boat ride awaits to transport you to P1. From there, make your way back to entrance 2, relishing the final moments of this unforgettable expedition.

Plitvice Lakes Route K from entrance 2 presents the same captivating sights and exhilarating experiences as its counterpart from entrance 1.

Choosing the best trail route?

So, I know that was a lot of information to absorb, and you’re probably still wondering which Plitvice Lakes route is the perfect fit for you. Don’t worry, I’ve got some suggestions to help you decide:

  1. Split your day for the best experience: I recommend dividing your day into two parts. Start your morning at entrance 1 when the park opens and take your time exploring the enchanting Lower Lakes. You can choose either Route A or B and even check out the upper trail viewpoints for an extra treat (accessible near P3). By doing this, you’ll have the Lower Lakes all to yourself before the crowds arrive later in the morning. Afterward, head back to your accommodation for a couple of hours to relax and recharge.Once the crowds have thinned out in the afternoon, make your way to entrance 2 and embark on Route E, which will take you on a delightful journey around the stunning Upper Lakes of the park. If you stay close to entrance 2 you could do the reverse start with Route E in the morning and either route A or B in the afternoon.
  2. Full-day adventure: If you have a full day to spare and don’t mind a bit of company, I recommend Route C (starting from entrance 1) or Route H (starting from entrance 2). These routes allow you to experience the beauty of both the Lower and Upper Lakes, including a scenic boat ride across Jezero Kozjak. If you prefer, you can also take a leisurely walk along the lake instead (part of Route K) for a different perspective.
  3. Half-day exploration: If time is limited and you only have a half day to spare, don’t worry! You can still have an amazing experience by focusing on either the Lower or Upper Lakes section.
    • For the Lower Lakes, choose either Route A or B based on your preferences.
    • For the Upper Lakes, go with Route E and get ready to be mesmerized.
  4. Beginners and Families: If you’re new to hiking or visiting with young children, the Lower Lakes Trail (Trail A or B) is a great choice. It offers a relatively easy and flat path, making it accessible for all fitness levels. You’ll have the opportunity to admire the stunning waterfalls, lakes, and cascades while enjoying a leisurely walk along the boardwalks and forest paths.

Helpful Tips

Here are some friendly and concise tips for your visit to Plitvice Lakes National Park:

  • Plan Ahead: Before your visit, check the park’s official website for up-to-date information on opening hours, ticket prices, and any special regulations or requirements. Consider visiting during the shoulder seasons (spring or autumn) when the park is less crowded, allowing for a more peaceful and enjoyable experience.
  • Arrive Early: Start your day at Plitvice National Park early to avoid crowds and have ample time to explore the park at your own pace. Arriving early also allows you to capture stunning photographs with fewer people in the background.
  • Choose the Right Trail: Plitvice National Park offers various hiking trails of different lengths and difficulty levels. Research and choose a trail that suits your fitness level and the time you have available. Trail A and Trail B are popular choices, offering breathtaking views and access to the park’s main attractions.
  • Secure your tickets: It’s recommended to purchase your tickets in advance through the park’s online portal to secure your preferred entry time. Don’t worry, once you’re inside, you can stay as long as you want.
  • Wear Comfortable Clothing and Footwear: Dress in layers and wear comfortable clothing suitable for outdoor activities. The weather in the park can be unpredictable, so it’s best to be prepared. Opt for sturdy, waterproof footwear that provides good traction, as some sections of the trails can be slippery.
  • Follow Park Regulations: Stay on designated paths and follow the park’s regulations to preserve the natural beauty and protect the wildlife. Keep in mind that swimming or entering the lakes is strictly prohibited for conservation purposes.
  • Pack Essentials: Bring essential items such as sunscreen, insect repellent, a reusable water bottle, snacks, and a camera to capture the stunning scenery. It’s important to stay hydrated and protect yourself from the sun and insects during your exploration.
  • Take Your Time: Plitvice National Park is a place to savor and enjoy. Take your time to soak in the breathtaking landscapes, listen to the sounds of nature, and appreciate the tranquil atmosphere. There’s no rush, so allow yourself to fully immerse in the park’s beauty.
  • Stay Overnight: If possible, consider staying overnight near the park to have more time to explore and experience the tranquil atmosphere of Plitvice National Park without rushing. There are various accommodation options available, ranging from hotels to guesthouses, allowing you to extend your stay and fully appreciate the park’s wonders.
  • Dining Options and Restrooms: Plitvice Lakes National Park features several restaurants and cafeterias located at strategic points throughout the park. You can enjoy a meal or snack while taking in the stunning surroundings. The park also provides restroom facilities at strategic locations along the hiking trails, offering clean and well-maintained restrooms for visitors to use during their exploration.

In conclusion, visiting Plitvice Lakes National Park is a breathtaking experience that offers a remarkable encounter with nature’s beauty. With its cascading waterfalls, crystal-clear lakes, and lush surroundings, the park offers a variety of routes to explore. Whether you choose to embark on the Lower Lakes, Upper Lakes, or a combination of both, each route provides its own unique charm and wonders to discover. Remember to plan your visit strategically to avoid crowds, bring necessary supplies, and secure your tickets in advance. With careful planning and an adventurous spirit, you’re bound to create unforgettable memories in this natural paradise.