The climate and weather in Plitvice Lakes are determined by its location: situated north of Velebit mountain range, in the heart of Lika region, Plitvice has a continental climate, the one that is very much different then Mediterranean climate around the coast of Croatia.
As the hights of Velebit prevents warm Mediterranean weather to reach the region, Summers here are short and fairly wet, while winters get very cold, freezing and often very snowy.
Spring and Autumn are still cold and can be pretty wet for days and even weeks.
The weather here varies a lot at different times of the year which is exactly what makes this region so beautiful and exceptional in all seasons.
There is no easy and straight answer for what is the best time to visit Plitvice. Absolutely in every season and in any weather, the Lakes are magnificent and breathtaking to visit.
If you can, the best answer to this question would be that you can try to visit Lakes in all four seasons. Of course, not in the same year, but perhaps in several years, you can plan your trip here to see it all – snow, rain and sunshine. Every time I visit Lakes, regardless of what is weather like, I want to come back again and again. The place is just fantastic any time of the year! (See photos of Spring and Autumn in the Park)
Above photo: A friend of mine, visiting Plitvice in mid-March (temperature are around 11°C ) wearing appropriate clothing: good, anti-slippery trainers, comfortable waterproof and breathable trousers, light jacket with several underlayers underneath and hat.
Here is an overview of what to expect in different seasons:
In the summer season, Plitvice can get very hot during the midday when temperatures can rise well above 30 °C (86 °F). Lightweight clothing like T-shirts and shorts are a must as well as hat, sunglasses and sunblock. Evenings get cooler as soon as the sun sets behind the hills and mountains. For that part of the day, the light wind/rain jacket and trousers are essential. Footwear is important: Never ever walk around in flip-flops! They are slippery, easy to trip over and dangerous for walking on the wooded trails. Always wear trainers or even better – hiking boots, no matter what is the temperature or weather like. Sudden showers are not an exception here.
If you’re visiting Lakes in the summer and would like to avoid the high temperature, the best option is to get up early and do most of the sightseeing in the early morning. By the time the sun reaches it hight, you can already be back into the shade of local restaurant enjoying your meal, coffee, cake or ice cream. Late afternoons are also suitable for pleasant strolls along the lakes, waterfalls and cascades.
In spring and autumn weather in Plitvice is very unpredictable. If you are unlucky it can be wet, cold and miserable. If you are lucky it gets mild to chilly during the day and fairly cold in the evenings and nights. In the middle of the sunny day, you can walk around in the short sleeve shirt. As soon as the sun disappears, the temperatures drop to chilly 6 /7 °C even lower, and in the evenings and nights, you need a good duvet and central heating to keep yourself warm.
A warm and waterproof jacket, several layers underneath and good waterproof hiking boots are essential for this time of the year to keep warm and dry. Winter hat and glows are recommended, I would say actually essential too.
Winter in Plitvice is almost always freezing! Snow is falling for most of the winter, the temperatures are very low, average about 0 °C during the day while in the night they drop much below zero for most of the winter. I was there once when night temperature dropped to minus -15 ° C. The appropriate footwear, good, warm not slippery boots are essential. Winter hat, scarf and gloves, winter warm waterproof jacket and trousers, long johns, several layers of shirts and fleece is essential.
The best time to do sightseeing in the winter is in midday – from 10 or 11 am to 3 pm the latest. As soon as the sun sets behind the hilltops, temperatures drop to minus. The air is wet and cold and sometimes difficult to breathe and the icy ground makes it pretty difficult and even dangerous to walk without appropriate gear. But it is lovely- see this video 🙂
Here is an essential list of items you should pack for your visit at any time of the year. For specific season see above: