The Ultimate Guide to Visiting Plitvice Lakes National Park in Autumn

Trail at Plitvice Lakes in Autumn

Plitvice Lakes National Park is one of Croatia’s most breathtaking natural wonders. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is home to a series of sixteen interconnected lakes and countless waterfalls, surrounded by lush forests and rocky cliffs. While the park is a popular destination year-round, autumn is arguably the best time to visit, when the crowds thin out and the foliage takes on a riot of red, orange, and gold hues. In this ultimate guide, we’ll show you everything you need to know to plan your own autumn visit to Plitvice Lakes National Park. From getting there and finding accommodations to exploring the park’s trails and capturing stunning photos, we’ve got you covered. So pack your bags and get ready for an unforgettable adventure in one of Europe’s most stunning natural landscapes!

Getting There

trail at Plitvice Lakes

Plitvice Lakes National Park is located in central Croatia, roughly halfway between the cities of Zagreb and Zadar. There are several ways to get to the park, depending on where you’re coming from and your preferred mode of transportation.

By Car: If you’re traveling by car, the park is easily accessible from the main A1 highway, which runs from Zagreb to Split. Take the exit for “Plitvice Lakes” and follow the signs to the park entrance.

By Bus: There are several bus companies that offer direct service to Plitvice Lakes National Park from major cities like Zagreb, Zadar, and Split. Check with local bus companies for schedules and fares.

By Train: The nearest train station to the park is in the town of Oštarije, which is about 15 km away. From there, you can take a bus or taxi to the park entrance.

By Plane: The nearest airports to Plitvice Lakes National Park are Zagreb Airport and Zadar Airport, both of which are served by several major airlines. From there, you can rent a car or take a bus to the park.

No matter how you choose to get to Plitvice Lakes National Park, be sure to plan your transportation in advance to ensure a smooth and stress-free journey.


Walk at Plitvice lake

Whether you’re looking for a luxurious hotel, a cozy guesthouse, or a budget-friendly hostel, there are plenty of accommodation options in and around Plitvice Lakes National Park to suit any traveler’s needs and preferences. Here are some of the most popular types of accommodations in the area:

Hotels: There are several hotels located within the park itself, as well as many more in the surrounding towns and villages. Staying at a hotel near the park entrance can be convenient if you want to get an early start on your day of exploring.

Guesthouses and B&Bs: For a more authentic and intimate experience, consider staying at a local guesthouse or bed and breakfast. These smaller properties are often family-owned and offer a more personalized touch.

Hostels: If you’re on a budget, there are several hostels in the area that offer affordable accommodations. These are a great option if you’re traveling solo or with a group and don’t mind sharing a room with other travelers.

Camping: For a truly immersive outdoor experience, consider camping in or near the park. There are several campsites located within the park, as well as many more in the surrounding area.

No matter what type of accommodation you choose, be sure to book well in advance, especially if you’re planning to visit during peak season. And don’t forget to check reviews and ratings to ensure that you’re getting the best value for your money.

What to Pack

When visiting Plitvice Lakes National Park in autumn, it’s important to pack appropriately for the changing weather conditions. Here are some essentials to consider bringing with you:

  1. Layered Clothing: Autumn weather can be unpredictable, so it’s important to bring clothing that can be easily layered. A waterproof jacket or shell, fleece or wool sweater, and comfortable hiking pants are all good options.
  2. Hiking Boots: The park’s trails can be slippery and uneven, so a sturdy pair of hiking boots with good traction is a must.
  3. Daypack: A small daypack is perfect for carrying essentials like water, snacks, sunscreen, and a camera.
  4. Water Bottle: Staying hydrated is key when exploring the park, so be sure to bring a reusable water bottle that you can refill throughout the day.
  5. Insect Repellent: Insects like mosquitoes and ticks can be a nuisance in the park, so be sure to bring insect repellent and apply it regularly.
  6. Camera Gear: Whether you’re a professional photographer or just want to capture some memories, be sure to bring a camera with a wide-angle lens, extra batteries and memory cards, and a tripod for stable shots.
  7. Binoculars: If you’re interested in wildlife viewing, bring a pair of binoculars to get a closer look at birds, deer, and other animals in the park.

By packing these essential items, you’ll be well-prepared for a comfortable and enjoyable autumn visit to Plitvice Lakes National Park.

Exploring the Park

Plitvice Lakes National Park is a vast and stunning landscape, with over 300 square kilometers of forests, lakes, and waterfalls to explore. Here are some tips for making the most of your visit:

  1. Choose Your Route: The park has several hiking trails of varying lengths and difficulty levels, ranging from easy strolls to strenuous hikes. Choose a route that suits your fitness level and interests, and be sure to allow plenty of time to take in the sights along the way.
  2. Follow the Rules: To protect the park’s delicate ecosystem, visitors are required to stay on designated trails and boardwalks, and are not allowed to swim or fish in the lakes. Follow all posted signs and instructions to help preserve the park for future generations.
  3. Beat the Crowds: To avoid the busiest times at the park, try visiting early in the morning or late in the afternoon. You can also explore some of the lesser-known trails and viewpoints to find more solitude.
  4. Take Your Time: With so much natural beauty to see, it’s important to take your time and savor the experience. Stop often to take photos, listen to the sounds of the waterfalls, and breathe in the fresh air.
  5. Consider a Guided Tour: If you want to learn more about the park’s history, flora, and fauna, consider taking a guided tour with a knowledgeable local guide. This can be a great way to gain a deeper appreciation for the park’s natural wonders.

By following these tips, you’ll be able to experience the magic of Plitvice Lakes National Park in all its autumnal glory.

Other Activities in the Area

While Plitvice Lakes National Park is the main attraction in the area, there are plenty of other activities and sights to explore during your visit. Here are a few ideas:

  1. Visit Rastoke: Located just a short drive from the park, the charming village of Rastoke is known for its historic watermills and picturesque waterfalls. It’s a great place to wander through the narrow streets, take photos, and sample local food and drink.
  2. Go Horseback Riding: Several horseback riding tours are available in the area, offering a unique perspective on the surrounding landscape.
  3. Explore the Caves: The area around Plitvice Lakes National Park is home to several impressive caves, including the Barać Caves and the Vrlovka Cave. Guided tours are available for those who want to explore underground.
  4. Visit the Bear Sanctuary: If you’re interested in wildlife, consider visiting the Kuterevo Bear Sanctuary, which is home to several rescued brown bears. You can observe the bears in their natural habitat and learn about their behavior and conservation.
  5. Try Local Cuisine: Croatian cuisine is known for its fresh seafood, grilled meats, and hearty stews. Be sure to sample some local specialties during your visit, such as cevapi (grilled meat skewers), burek (a savory pastry), and homemade rakija (fruit brandy).

By exploring these additional activities and sights, you’ll get a deeper sense of the history and culture of the area surrounding Plitvice Lakes National Park.


Autumn is a wonderful time to visit Plitvice Lakes National Park, with cooler temperatures, smaller crowds, and stunning fall foliage adding to the natural beauty of the park. Whether you’re a hiker, a photographer, or just a nature lover, there’s something for everyone to enjoy in this UNESCO World Heritage site.

By following the tips in this ultimate guide, you’ll be well-prepared for a comfortable and memorable visit to the park. From packing the right gear to exploring the park’s many trails and attractions, you’ll have everything you need to make the most of your autumn adventure.

So why wait? Start planning your trip to Plitvice Lakes National Park today, and experience the magic of Croatia’s natural wonders for yourself.

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