Plitvice National Park (Plitvička jezera) is a natural wonder that will delight every landscape and nature photographer. With its impressive waterfalls, numerous cascades, turquoise lakes and rich flora and fauna are your subjects here, you’re guaranteed to 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. However with a little bit smart planning and some early starts you can have the place almost to yourself! 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.
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 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. 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).
The best times to photograph the park are: 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 to March), ideally with fresh snowfall and frozen waterfalls.