Plitvice Lakes and Waterfalls: The 20 Most Beautiful Sights

Plitvice Lakes

Unique nature reserve in Croatia with 90 waterfalls and 16 lakes

The Plitvice Lakes in Croatia are magical. The national park contains 90 waterfalls and 16 lakes. And the waterfalls are not only beautiful but also special. The subsoil consists of travertine, a striking white rock of lime. This is wilderness in Croatia and home to European wolves and brown bears.

These lakes are among the most beautiful natural areas in the world. The main attractions are dozens of waterfalls and numerous lakes. And Plitvice is beautiful in all seasons.

Numerous pictures of Plitvice Lakes can be found online. And with reason. The green of the shrubs and beech trees contrasts sharply with the clear water and the light-coloured rocks. In real life, the mix of colours is even more special. Especially in the early morning when the light is soft. And it is nice and quiet because most tourists come here after ten o'clock.

Waterfalls, Lakes and Caves

The remnant is a long ribbon of lakes connected by waterfalls. In addition, the water has carved out various caves in the landscape. Which you can explore on foot. Swimming is prohibited here. The water is the crown jewel of the park, hence.

Remarkable is the rock that is visible everywhere. This area is also known for its hot springs. As a result, there is a quite an amount of calcium carbonate in the water. Which provides the light colour in the rocks. And if you look closely, you will see many irregularities in the stones.

This is caused by twigs, leaves and other material that falls into this water and later digests. If you look at the bottom of a lake, you will see it. Among the many fish that also live on it. You actually see the special process in action. These are the sights of the Plitvice Lakes.

One of the waterfalls in Plitvice National Park. ©Corno van den Berg

The lakes of Plitvice are subdivided for convenience into the upper lakes, which are called Gornja, and the lower lakes: Donja. They are all remarkably clear lakes where the water flows from one lake into another. You can visit both. In fact, the best tip is to visit both because they are very different.

Tips for the Lower Lakes

The Lower Lakes of Plitvice can be visited in two ways. You can partially walk over the water via a wooden footpath. But there are also various viewpoints from the edge of the forest. Where you can take perfect pictures of the lakes, the wooden decking and the various small and large waterfalls. This is also the busiest part of the park.

Jezero Milanovac

The largest Lower Lake is Jezero Milanovac. This lake is approximately 470 meters long, 50 to 90 meters wide and in some places 18 meters deep. If you look closely you can see countless trout swimming here, the water is so clear. They often come to the side to see if there is something to eat.

Veliki Slap Waterfall

Veliki Slap is the most famous waterfall of Plitvice. You can find it near the lakes in the lower part. This waterfall is 78 meters high and is a lot smaller in summer than, for example, in spring. The waterfall can also be seen well from the edge of the forest, where most photos are also taken.

Tips for the Upper Lakes

The lakes in the upper part are less popular and therefore quieter. Here you have various hiking trails, including a lovely winding path along numerous water pools. The further you walk, the fewer tourists you will encounter. In the end you come to a few quiet lakes where you can have a good picnic.

Veliki Prstavac Waterfall

Veliki Prstavac Waterfall at Plitvice Lakes. ©Corno van den Berg

The Veliki Prstavac Waterfall is the second highest, but arguably the most beautiful. Here the water pours down through countless streams. You can get close to the water, so you can see how the water also nourishes the countless plants that grow here.

Hiking at Plitvice Lakes

If you like to hike, you can eat your heart out at Plitvice. In addition to countless hiking trails through the forests around the lakes, gangways have been constructed at various waterfalls. So you can really walk along the 'living water'. But here's more to see. The history of the famous natural park is quite easy to dissect.

For thousands of years, the water of the Korana River has flowed through this hilly landscape, especially through the lower parts of the hills. Slowly the various lakes have arisen. In addition, the water has found its own way in countless places. As a result, waterfalls have arisen over the years.

Tips for the Best Trails

There are several routes around the Plitvice Lakes. These are also the places where you can take good pictures of, for example, the gorge, the largest waterfall, the wooden hiking trails and more. Do you have any tips yourself? Do let me know.

Hiking around Plitvice Lakes. ©Corno van den Berg

Best Time to Visit Plitvice

Spring

Spring is a wonderful time for Plitvice. You can see various flowers in bloom. Both in the moist forests and on the side of the lakes. Think of orchids, as well as other plants and flowers. It is best to go early in the morning. It is then wonderfully quiet, making the atmosphere perfect.

Summer

In summer it gets very crowded in Plitvice with tourists. Especially after ten o'clock, you sometimes walk in a row along the waterfalls, which makes the experience a lot less. The park opens at seven. That's the best time to go. It is cooler and ideal for photos. Start in the popular part; the Lower Lakes. And when it gets busier, walk to the Upper Lakes.

Autumn

Less known is that the trees in Plitvice also change colour in autumn. This gives the park a completely different look. Think brown, yellow and green leaves. A delicious mix and ideal for photos.

Winter

Another special moment is the winter when there is often snow. But keep in mind that it can be difficult to get to the lakes. In addition, the paths are often not kept snow-free, so you have to make your own way.

And if you make a video, you get a kind of rest therapy at home. The tranquillity then splashes off your screen, with the rippling of the water as film music. Great for when you later want to escape from the busy life.

Read more about Plitvice in Winter in Snow and Ice 

Visit Plitvice Lakes

The Plitvice Lakes are located south of Zagreb (about two hours drive) and north of Zadar (also about two hours drive). Plitvice is located in the province of Lika-Senj close to the village of Plitvička Jezera. The park was placed on the UNESCO World Heritage List of Protected Natural Areas in 1979. The Croats call it “Croatia's green heritage”.

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