This piece of Paradise is considered one of the most beautiful National Parks in Europe. Now a UNESCO Heritage site, its also one of the most popular tourist spots in Croatia. The stunning park is made up of 16 lakes with water ranging from clear to turquoise. The lakes are connected by waterfalls and surrounded by woodland. Springtime means the waterfalls are at their most impressive, autumn means glorious colour and winter means spectacular landscapes.
Most of the one million plus annual visitors are happy with a day visit. Its a popular tour from Zagreb and Zadar but ideally, with your own transport or public bus, you should consider staying a night or two in the area. By sleeping locally, you can get to the gates early and enjoy the park before the crowds arrive. And there will be crowds!! We had the pleasure of visiting the park in August – absolutely the worst time for a visit!
Entrance fees vary depending on the season. All tickets (except during winter) include transportation within the park. This includes buses and boats which you will probably avail of if you are just there for the day.
I robbed the following piece from my own post about our Croatian road trip Zadar to Pula – a 2 week trip
As you plan your trip and read advice about the park you’ll become more and more bogged down… ‘’’ which entrance!! where to start!! which direction – clockwise or anticlockwise!!
The main thing is …. GET THERE EARLY... the rest doesn’t matter…
We arrived at Entrance 2 at about 7.45 a.m. There was already a queue so we did what most others did … one hopped out of the car and joined the queue while the other went off to park. There was only one ticket window in operation but another opened at 8.00 a.m. and the information booth opened 2 more a short time later. This sped things up considerably which meant that in early August which is probably pretty much high season, we were holding our tickets at 8.15 a.m….. Not bad!
We walked about 10 minutes to the entrance / bus stop. That’s where it gets really frustrating! We waited for about 1 hour for a bus. One left at 8.30 a.m., another at 8.50 a.m. and then 3 came together at 9.20 a.m. I’m only supplying these minute details so that you come prepared for delays … even early in the morning.
Despite the crowds at the bus stop, they set their own pace and dispersed once we arrived at the upper lakes. While a few photographic hot spots were busy, there was a sense of calm throughout the morning. By early afternoon we had reached the lower lakes and it was another world – visitors had arrived by the busload from Zagreb and Zadar and the boardwalks were almost impassible in spots. We had a quick look at the main attractions and left.
Despite the crowds the park is absolutely worth a visit – but if you can avoid high season then lucky you!
Its 8.00 am and already there are queues.
The park is divided into the Upper and Lower Lakes – try and make enough time to visit both.
Routes are well marked.
Once off the bus, people disperse. There is a mixture of trails and boardwalks. At the upper lakes, there is no sense of crowds as we amble along.
Be prepared for clear water and stunning scenery.
The volume of water reduces over the summer – the falls must be amazing in springtime!
The ferries are frequent and an enjoyable part of the experience.
There are food options if you haven’t brought a picnic.
You will have a wonderful day – even in August!!
Location – about 130 km from Zagreb and Zadar
Opening Hours – 7.00am – 8.00pm
Duration – allow 4-6 hours at least
Swimming is not permitted in the park
On the night before our visit, we stayed at House Pribic in Rudanovac which is about a 20 minute drive from the park. The room was clean and tidy and we were given a welcome drink. There’s plenty of parking and restaurants close by.
Food and Drink
We had made a reservation at Bistro Vila Velebita which was just down the road from our accommodation and had good reviews. We left it until about 8.30p.m., thinking the crowds and bus groups en route home from the park might have already eaten and left. The place was jammed!! They had no knowledge of our reservation so we had to join the queue outside but we actually only waited a few minutes for a table. We had trout and pork – big portions. Good buzz about the place – worth a visit.