Plitvice Lakes National Park
Croatia's #1 National Park is Plitvice Lakes
The Plitvice Lakes National Park was included on UNESCO’s World Heritage List in 1979. The lake system is composed of 16 cascading lakes of different sizes separated by tufa barriers (through the natural process of travertine barrier disposition) which are the park’s key phenomenon: they are constantly changing color from turquoise to green, grey, or blue. Now they form part of a great symphony of lakes, waterfalls, and an ecologically valuable forest filled with wildlife.
And when we say symphony, we mean it! The highest waterfall of Plitvice Lakes is between 68 and 78 m tall. It powerfully erodes the rock and forms a semicircular amphitheater, which is an impressive audiovisual experience and makes it one of the most visited falls.
Visitors to Plitvice Lakes National Park can enjoy a number of activities: a ride on an electric boat and panoramic train, long walks, rowing, and even skiing and biking for the more active guests.
The Plitvice Lakes National Park is located along the road connecting Dalmatia and the capital, Zagreb. It was founded in 1949 as Croatia’s first national park to protect an area that extends over 296.85 square kilometers (73,350 acres).
It offers visitors seven different routes to tour the lake system and four hiking trails. The park is open to visitors year-round. All visitors are required to follow the instructions listed on the information panels, to keep on the marked trails, and to leave no trace of their visit such as litter, or marking/devastating nature in any form. Learn more about Croatia’s #1 National Park.
1. The Lower Lakes
There are 4 lakes that we referred to as Lower Lakes and they are divided by limestone barriers. The visitors are offered numerous trail options that can last anywhere from 45 minutes to up to 3 hours. The offered trails will take you to stunning natural landscapes and provide great panoramic views of this part of the National park.
Amazing sightseeing spots situated along the walking trails near the water, above the canyon of the Lower Lakes or in the woods of the Upper Lakes, are places where you can take a deep breath and admire the beauty of nature even more. Taking photos in this stunning and almost unbelievable natural atmosphere is a wonderfully enjoyable experience.
2. The Upper Lakes
Take a stroll across the winding wooden walkways and explore wonderful sites that nature shaped around the 16 lakes that are situated in this part of the national Park. The crystal-clear water, numerous azure ponds and mesmerizing waterfalls make a breathtaking scene.
3. Big Waterfall
Veliki Slap is the highest waterfall in the Plitvice Lakes National Park and in Croatia. It is situated at the very end of the Lower Lakes and represents one of the most popular sites in the park. The waterfall gets almost completely frozen in the winter forming a lovely giant ice sculpture.
Imagine taking a picture at the foot of the biggest waterfall in Croatia, surrounded by exquisite natural scenery and a refreshing water mist on your face. The Big Waterfall, with a total height of 87 meters, is located in Plitvice Lakes National Park. It is one of the must-see sights which you are sure to remember for a long time.
4. Ćorkova Valley
The forests take up to three quarters of the park’s surface and numerous educational trails offer a great insight into this wonderful ecosystem. Ćorkova uvala is a primeval forest situated in the northwest corner of the park. This hike takes you through wonderful sites of virgin forest and mountain meadows that make wonderful viewpoints.
5. Barać Caves
Barać caves are a famous natural attraction situated 6km from Village Rakovica and approximately 20m from the Plitvice Lakes National Park. The caves are a part of a protected natural habitat and were first opened to the public in 1892. A visit to the caves presents a unique opportunity to discover the extraordinary world of this speleology site, its unique geological formations and interesting archeological findings.
6. Cave Šupljara
The characteristics of karst relief are visible on every corner of Plitvice Lakes National Park, where 32 caves and 82 pits have been discovered by now. Cave Šupljara lures in all the visitors who explore the Lower Lakes of the Park. It is a cave tunnel 68 meters long which has been specially protected under the category of geomorphological nature monuments since 1964. Speleological objects are extremely important for many rare and protected species. Just walking near the cave decorations that have been created for thousands of years is a unique experience in itself.
7. Sastavci Waterfalls
There is a story behind the power of the water in the theatrical natural scenery of the place called “Sastavci”, situated in the canyon of the Lower Lakes of the Park. In this spot, the water from 16 Plitvice Lakes and the water from the Big Waterfall unite and form the Korana River, a beautiful karst river 134 km long, which is a part of the Black Sea basin. Watching the birth of a river engulfed in loud waterfall sounds is one of the natural wonders you can experience during your visit to Plitvice Lakes National Park.
Hiking around the wonderful nature of the park provides a great opportunity to relax and recharge while enjoying the surrounding breathtaking views. Explore the dense forests, green meadows and picturesque river oasis that are abundant in the park on any of our four hiking trails. This is pure joy for all those who are attracted to hiking through the beautiful beech forest, resting in the shade and listening to the sounds of nature while enjoying the impressive view of the Plitvice Lakes landscape. There are educational signboards on all hiking trails, which are great for learning more about the rich forest ecosystem of this unique area.
2. Kayaking on Mrežnica River
If you are up for an active day on the water, kayaking on Mreznica River is a great activity to take part in. Enjoy the amazing scenery and the emerald waters. Swim and paddle on one of the clearest rivers in this part of Europe.
3. Horseback Riding
Horseback riding presents a great opportunity for both beginners and experienced riders to explore the wonderful landscape of the area. Learn more about the horse-riding activity and these noble animals. Let them take you on a relaxing ride round the intact nature surrounding the ranch.
4. Cycling Around the Park
There is fantastic cycling at both the southern and northern edges of the national park. Currently, cycling is not a permitted activity inside the national park. We include bicycling in our list though because it is such a terrific way to explore a lot of diverse scenery in this area. The network of marked cycling trails is suitable for everyone with interest in this activity. Grab a bike and explore the hidden gems of the area.
5. Rowing a Wooden Boat on Kozjak Lake
Have you ever tried rowing in a wooden boat surrounded by the beautiful scenery of a national park? In the very heart of Plitvice Lakes National Park, you can explore the biggest Plitvice Lake, Kozjak, by moving across the lake using your own strength. Not to mention how romantic it can be if you decide to share this experience with your significant other. For all those who opt for an easier boat ride, there are panoramic electric boats which peacefully sail on Kozjak Lake as well.
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Plitvice, Croatia FAQs
It’s open to visitors year-round, and there’s no one season that is better than the other. Summer offers the power of water and the might of the diving cascades. In autumn, the entire palette of that season is reflected in the lakes, in all of its hues. In winter, you are privy to the cascades frozen in ice. And in spring, everything is budding and colors are vivid.
This area is large and under heavy environmental protection, so we do not recommend privately-run visits. Check out our tours that include Plitvice Lakes NP, or reach out for a custom trip that we can help you plan for the best possible visit to the area!
Did you know...
The lakes are characterized by highly diverse trends of the characteristic hydrological indicators—mean annual water levels, discharges, and tufa barrier growth.
The surrounding forests are home to many mammals and birds, as well as 72 endemic plant species and 1275 other plant species.
And yes! Historical evidence of life around this area reaches far back into ancient history.
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