Plitvice Lakes National Park photography guide
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Plitvice Lakes National Park (Plitvička jezera) is a natural wonder that will delight every landscape and nature photographer. Numerous waterfalls, cascades, turquoise lakes and rich flora and fauna are your subjects here and you will return home with a diverse portfolio of nature shots.
Because of its beauty and convenient location between Croatia’s capital, Zagreb, and the Adriatic coast, Plitvice lakes NP is one of the most visited sites in the region. It can sometimes be frustrating photographing when the park is at its busiest and almost impossible to use a tripod. However with a little bit smart planning and some early starts you can have the place almost to yourself!
Most popular Plitvice Lakes National Park photo spots
Plitvice Lakes NP is already under a heavy burden due to too many visitors. On certain days there are more than 10k visitors in a single day which is an overload for this small national park. Let us photographers not contribute to this burden and limit our impact to a minimum. It is not difficult to respect the rules of the park; stay on the designated tracks, don’t litter, don’t put yourselves in danger by climbing for better views and don’t fly drones (the park is a no fly zone). Also showing patience when the park is busy goes a long way.
Late spring to early summer (May, June) when there is plenty of water and the nature is lush green. There are also many water insects and flowers - both great subjects for macro photography.
Autumn (mid October) when the trees are in full colour. It’s actually hard to predict when this will happen as it can vary each year. In autumn there is also a better chance of mists for moody atmosphere.
Winter (December - March), ideally with fresh snowfall and frozen waterfalls.
Plitvice Lakes National park is divided into Upper lakes (Entrance 2 at hotel Jezero) and Lower lakes (Entrance 1 at Rastovača). The dividing point is Lake Kozjak, one of the largest lakes in the park.
The lower lakes are situated in a deeper canyon and sunrise/sunset photography is not ideal. It is possible to get some decent shots if the clouds get some colour, but don’t count on gentle, warm sunlight on the water. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t go there early or stay late - you’ll enjoy time in the park with hardly any visitors plus photographing long exposures without stark sunlight is much easier. You might also catch early morning mists which are great for creating a moody atmosphere.
The upper lakes lie in a more open area. Morning light can be particularly beautiful and is often accompanied by mists. The best time to visit the upper lakes is with the first boat in autumn - this is usually timed to coincide with sunrise and you will be one of just a few visitors for at least an hour. Sunsets are less interesting and most of the year the boats/trains stop operating well before this happens. There is more distance to cover at the upper lakes but I suggest focusing on the area between lake Galovac and P2 boat station.
It is worth learning how boats and tourist trains operate within the national park. The upper lakes, for example, are only accessible from ST3 (train) or P2 (boat) stations and there are operating hours. For travel between the upper and lower lakes I recommend taking either a boat or tourist train as it’s quite a distance to cover.
Tickets can be purchased at any official entrance to the park: Entrance 1 (Rastovača), Entrance 2 (at hotel Jezero) and Entrance 3 (Kozjačka Draga). Please note that Entrance 3 only opens at 9AM. You can purchase a 1 or 2-day ticket. If staying at one of the hotels operated by the park authorities, purchase a 1-day ticket and get the hotel staff to stamp it as it will then be valid for the duration of your stay.
Recently the park started to sell tickets online and there has been a discussion about limiting the number of visitors per day. To make sure you get a ticket on your planned dates we suggest you book one online.
Ideally plan to start your day early, photograph the upper or lower lakes, take a rest during the busiest hours and go back into the park later in the afternoon once the majority of tour groups have left. There are no set closing times but you need to take into account the operating hours of the boats and tourist trains. I’ve been in the park before sunrise and after sunset many times and have never had problems with the park rangers (as long as you have a valid ticket).
Official website of the National Park
Additional information in photographing Plitvice National Park
How to photograph nature responsibly
Best option for transfers between airports and cities in the region
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