Is It Best To Start At Plitvice Lakes Entrance 1 Or 2?

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Post author SJ

Written by our local expert SJ

Sarah-Jane has lived in Croatia for 10+ years. SJ, as she is known, has been traveling the Balkans & beyond since 2000. She now shares her passion for traveling with her husband & kids.

Choosing the right entrance to Plitvice Lakes National Park in Croatia is like deciding where to start a vivid journey through nature’s own art gallery. As someone who adores traveling, I believe that how you begin your adventure can shape your whole experience.

Plitvice Lakes National Park, with its cascading waterfalls and crystal-clear lakes, offers two primary entrances to start exploring: Entrance 1 and Entrance 2. Here is how to choose which is best for you.

Croatia Travel Blog_How To Choose Entrance 1 Or 2 At Plitvice Lakes

For eager visitors, Entrance 1 is like a grand introduction to the Park’s splendors. This northern entrance greets you with the park’s poster child, the magnificent Veliki Slap waterfall. It presents a classic route, leading directly to the lower lakes and offering that immediate ‘wow’ factor as soon as you step in.

It’s not just about the iconic views, though; starting here places you on a path that flows naturally with the layout of the park, making it a bit easier to navigate.

On the other hand, Entrance 2 situates you closer to the higher lakes and opens up a different perspective of the park’s beauty. It’s typically less crowded, making it a sensible choice if you’re a fan of a more serene beginning or planning to visit during peak season.

The south entrance is also great for those who prefer a quieter start to their trek or anticipate spending several days within the park, as it offers convenient access to some of the less explored paths and secrets of Plitvice.

Understanding The Layout Of Plitvice Lakes, Croatia

Scenic view of sunlit waterfalls cascading into a turquoise lake at Plitvice Lakes Entrance 1, with a wooden walkway surrounded by lush forest.

I’m here to give you the scoop on getting around Plitvice Lakes and choosing between Entrance 1 and Entrance 2. Knowing the layout is key to maximizing your visit, so let’s dive right in.

Overview Of Entrance 1 And Entrance 2

Choosing the best entrance at Plitvice Lakes National Park, either Entrance 1 or Entrance 2, depends on your specific preferences and what you want to experience during your visit.

Entrance 1 is typically recommended for first-time visitors because it provides immediate access to the iconic Veliki Slap waterfall, the tallest in the park. This entrance is ideal for those who want to start with the lower lakes and enjoy the stunning views right from the beginning. It’s particularly suitable for shorter visits or for those who prefer easier access and less walking.

Entrance 2 is better if you’re looking to start with the upper lakes. It’s generally less crowded, especially during peak times, which can make for a more peaceful start to your exploration. If you’re planning a longer visit or want to explore the park in a more relaxed manner, starting from Entrance 2 might be more advantageous.

Lower And Upper Lakes Explained

Now, let’s break down the park itself. The Lower Lakes are positioned closer to Entrance 1, right on the right-hand side when looking at a map. They’re known for the iconic Big Waterfall and a set of terraced lakes connected by cascades. It’s a more condensed area, so expect a bit more foot traffic as everyone wants a peek at the famous falls.

Heading towards Entrance 2 brings us to the Upper Lakes, which are a series of smaller, cascading lakes linked by waterfalls and set amidst dense forest. The upper region is generally more tranquil and might be more your speed if you’re aiming for a peaceful hike away from the majority of the crowds.

To sum it up, Entrance 1 is your target for dramatic waterfalls and hustle-bustle, while Entrance 2 is the quieter sibling, offering serenity and the chance to enjoy the park’s natural beauty without elbowing your way through.

Make your choice based on what you’re hoping to see and the kind of experience you’re after.

Lakes Entrance 1 Or 2: Choosing The Right Entrance For Your Visit

Wooden boardwalk winding through the lush green forest of Plitvice Lakes with vibrant undergrowth and a clear river.

When planning your visit to Plitvice Lakes National Park, it’s essential to choose the right entrance. Entrance 1 is generally seen as the best starting point for first-time visitors, while Entrance 2 offers its own advantages for specific routes and interests.

Pros And Cons Of Plitvice Entrance 1

Pros Of Entrance 1

  • Immediate views of Veliki Slap waterfall
  • Direct access to the lower lakes, which are among the most picturesque parts of the park
  • Easier navigation for those with limited mobility or short visit times​

Cons Of Entrance 1

  • Can become very crowded, especially during peak tourist seasons​​

Pros And Cons Of Plitvice Entrance 2

Pros Of Entrance 2

  • Generally less crowded, offering a quieter start to your visit
  • Closer to the upper lakes, which are set in a more serene environment
  • More route options, suitable for longer, more explorative visits​​

Cons Of Entrance 2

  • Less immediate “wow” factor upon entry compared to Entrance 1​​

Both entrances offer parking, restrooms, and ticket booths. Depending on which entrance you choose, you can choose between walking or taking a shuttle bus or boat.

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Choosing Either Plitvice Entrance 1 Or 2 Based On Your Interests

Best Places To Visit In Croatia For Couples - Plitvice Lakes

  • Scenic Views. If you’re here for the postcard-perfect snapshots, Entrance 1 is your go-to for that dramatic first glimpse of the park’s waterfalls
  • Extended Hiking. For those planning a more thorough exploration or preferring quieter trails, Entrance 2 might better suit your needs
  • Convenience. If your time is limited, or you prefer a more straightforward route, Entrance 1 makes it easier to hit the highlights quickly

Best Best Time To Visit Plitvice To Explore

A scenic view of Plitvice Lakes, featuring waterfalls with lush vegetation alongside a wooden boardwalk.

Planning a trip to Plitvice Lakes is a thrilling experience, and I’m here to guide you through selecting the optimal time to go and crafting an itinerary that maximizes your enjoyment.

Determining The Best Time To Take A Trip To Plitvice Lakes

When planning my visit to Plitvice Lakes, I consider several factors. Avoiding the crowds and enjoying moderate weather are my top priorities. Here’s a quick breakdown:

  • Peak Season (June to August). The park is most crowded, but all trails and services are open
  • Shoulder Seasons (May and September to October). A sweet spot with fewer tourists and comfortable temperatures
  • Off-Season (November to April). Some areas might be inaccessible due to snow and ice, but it’s serene and you can admire the frozen landscapes if that’s your thing.

My Tip: Visit early in the morning or later in the day during the peak season to avoid the crowds.


Creating Your Itinerary

Snow in Croatia at Plitvice waterfalls, Croatia.

When mapping out my day at Plitvice Lakes, I pay close attention to which entrance suits my needs the best:

  • Entrance 1 is ideal for those who want a grand view of the Great Waterfall and access to the lower lakes
  • Entrance 2 is better for visitors who prefer a more circular route around both the lower and upper lakes and potentially fewer initial crowds

Here’s a quick itinerary I’d recommend:

  1. Start. Entrance of choice, considering the type of views you’re eager to see first
  2. Morning. Boat ride across Kozjak Lake to see the park from a different perspective
  3. Midda. Take a leisurely hike, taking advantage of the less traveled paths—they offer stunning views away from the masses
  4. Late Afternoon. Circle back, capturing photos in the softer light and wrapping up those trails left unexplored

Remember, whether you’re a morning person itching for the soft glow of dawn or an afternoon enthusiast ready for golden hour skylight, Plitvice Lakes won’t disappoint. Just ensure you’ve got your camera ready and your schedule flexible to make the most of your visit!

How To Arrive At Plitvice Lakes

Krka or Plitvice Lakes Or Krka

When planning a trip to Plitvice Lakes National Park, it’s essential to figure out the best way to get there and ensure your tickets are secured in advance. Here’s the skinny on reaching the park and snagging your entrance pass without a hitch.

Transportation Options To The Park

Driving. If you’re up for a road trip, having a car gives you the most freedom. You’ll find ample parking at both entrances. From Zagreb, it’s about a 2-hour drive, and from Zadar, you should be on the road for roughly 1.5 hours.

Bus. For the eco-friendly traveler or someone who prefers to sit back and enjoy the ride, buses head to Plitvice Lakes frequently from major cities like Zagreb, Zadar, and Split. The journey time can vary, so check updated schedules beforehand.

To secure your spot, it’s a good idea to buy your bus tickets a day in advance, either online or at the bus station.


Tips For Buying Tickets In Advance

Online Purchase. Buying your Plitvice Lakes National Park entrance ticket online is the way to go. You’ll avoid long lines, and you’re guaranteed entry during peak times when visitor numbers are capped.

Secure your tickets via the official Plitvice Lakes National Park website which is

Ticket Time Slot. Remember, your ticket has a time slot. You must enter within an hour of your designated entry time, but once you’re in, feel free to explore until the park closes.

As a guide, here is how the time slots work:

Entry Time on Ticket Latest Entry Time
9:00 am Must enter by 9:59 am
1:00 pm Must enter by 1:59 pm

Do note that you cannot exit and re-enter on the same ticket. This is why planning your day and understanding the park’s layout, including where the entrances lead to, is crucial.

Accommodations And Amenities Nearby

Croatia Travel Blog_Plitvice Lakes Accommodation_B&B Apartments Burić Plitvice Lakes
Photo Credit: Apartments Burić Plitvice Lakes

When planning a visit to Plitvice Lakes National Park, your experience can greatly differ depending on where you stay and the amenities you can access. I’ll guide you through the options for staying close to the park and where to grab a bite or stock up on supplies.

Staying Close To The Park

Finding the perfect spot to rest your head near Plitvice is a breeze. There are a variety of accommodations catering to different preferences and budgets. Here’s a breakdown of what’s available:

These options ensure that you’re not only close to the action but also enveloped in comfort after a day of exploring.

Tips For A Smooth Park Experience

Clear turquoise lake, reminiscent of Plitvice Lakes, with fish swimming near the surface next to wooden walkway and reeds.

Efficiency and preparation are key to an optimal day trip to Plitvice Lakes, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Here are my insights to ensure you get the most out of your experience.

Navigating The Park Efficiently

I highly recommend checking the map of Plitvice Lakes before you arrive. If you’re in search of the famed Veliki Slap, Entrance 1 might be your best bet as it provides immediate access to this stunning sight. However, Entrance 2 is not to be underestimated, especially if you prefer the tranquility of Kozjak Lake as your starting point.

What To Bring For The Day

Absolutely, don’t forget your camera or smartphone. You’ll want to capture the park’s beauty. Wear comfortable hiking shoes because the terrain can vary from easy walks to more challenging hikes. A refillable water bottle is essential—hydration is your best friend on trails. Also, pack snacks or a picnic lunch if you plan to spend several hours in the park. The food at the cafe is gross, lacks choice and is way overpriced, so we never buy food in the park.

Essentials to pack

  • Camera/phone
  • Comfortable footwear
  • Water bottle
  • Snacks for your picnic
  • A plastic bag to take all your rubbish home with you

Environmental And Safety Considerations

It is vital to treat this natural gem with respect. Stay on the marked paths to protect the park’s environment and yourself. Always supervise children closely, especially on boardwalks and near waterfalls, for safety. Be mindful of the weather and pack accordingly—wet paths can be slippery!

Stay Safe

  • Keep to paths
  • Do not go off to areas that are not allowed (each year, deaths occur due to this!)
  • Watch your step
  • Weather-appropriate attire

Best Entrance At Plitvice Lakes FAQs

Croatia walking Croatia - Woman walking in park, Plitvice Lakes, Croatia

When planning a trip to the stunning Plitvice Lakes National Park, choosing the right entrance is crucial. Here, I’ll address some common queries that’ll help you make the best out of your visit, whether you’re pressed for time or looking to immerse yourself deeply in the park’s natural beauty.


Which entrance of Plitvice Lakes is preferable for a short visit?

If you’re on a tight schedule, Entrance 1 is ideal. Right off the bat, I’m greeted with a view of the Veliki Slap waterfall. The proximity to this feature makes it perfect for a succinct yet impactful visit.

What are the main differences between Plitvice Lakes Entrance 1 and Entrance 2?

Entrance 1 is closer to the lower lakes and the biggest waterfall, Veliki Slap, which means it’s often more crowded but offers instant gratification with its stunning views. On the other hand, Entrance 2 is typically less packed and closer to the upper lakes. It’s a more relaxed starting point, especially during peak tourist seasons.

Can you recommend the best walking tour starting from Entrance 1 of Plitvice Lakes?

For a fantastic walking tour from Entrance 1, I suggest taking the trail that leads you around the lower lakes. I love how this path presents the park’s famous cascades and tranquil woodland.

What are the advantages of choosing Entrance 2 at Plitvice Lakes National Park?

Opting for Entrance 2 is great if you’re looking to avoid some of the bustle associated with Entrance 1. From here, I can easily hop on a boat ride across the serene Kozjak Lake and savor the peaceful ambiance of the upper lakes.

How does the Plitvice Lakes two-day itinerary vary between starting at Entrance 1 versus Entrance 2?

Starting at Entrance 1, I focus on exploring the lower lakes on the first day, ensuring that I catch Veliki Slap without the midday crowds. For the second day, venturing out from Entrance 2 lets me dive into the upper lakes at a leisurely pace, allowing me to fully appreciate their serenity and untouched beauty.

What time of year is considered the best to explore Plitvice Lakes from Entrance 1 or 2?

I find that late spring and early autumn have the best mix of pleasant weather and thinner crowds, providing a great opportunity to experience the park’s enchanting landscapes through either entrance without the overwhelm of peak tourist season.

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