Natural wonders of Croatia: the fascinating charm of the Plitvice Lakes

Have you ever dreamed of a holiday in Croatia? Then now is the time! Because Croatia is a versatile holiday destination that attracts numerous tourists from all over the world every year and has much more to offer than just historic towns and beautiful beaches.

There is one natural gem that is often overlooked but is definitely worth a visit – the Plitvice Lakes National Park. But why should you definitely plan a day trip to the Plitvice Lakes? The answer lies not only in the impressive nature, but also in the unforgettable experiences that await you. From hikes along the picturesque trails to boat trips on the clear lakes, Plitvice Lakes National Park offers countless opportunities to experience the beauty of Croatia in its purest form.

But that’s not all. To maximise your stay in these magical surroundings, we present you with great holiday accommodation that you can book with Holiday-Sun. Whether it’s cosy holiday homes or comfortable flats, these accommodations not only offer relaxation after a day of exploring, but also an ideal base for your adventures in the national park.

Plitvice Lakes National Park: Croatia's oldest national park

Plitvicer Seen Nationalpark Kroatien

The history of tourism around Plitvice Lakes dates back to 1861, when military officers built the first tourist house with just three rooms. These humble beginnings laid the foundations for the development of Plitvice Lakes into a sought-after tourist attraction. In 1894, the breathtaking natural landscapes attracted thousands of travellers. Finally, in April 1949, the lakes were given the status of the first and oldest national park in Croatia, with comprehensive nature conservation measures being introduced.

The 1960s brought a modern road connection to Plitvice Lakes and marked a significant increase in visitor numbers. Finally, in 1979, UNESCO crowned Plitvice Lakes with inclusion on its World Heritage List. This prestigious honour was awarded to the region for its “exceptional natural beauty and unspoilt production of tufa”.

The unique splendour of Plitvice Lake

Turquoise glistening water surfaces in the sunlight, roaring rapids, spectacular waterfalls and an infinite variety of plants and animals – these are just some of the fascinating features of Plitvice Lakes. The 16 large and small lakes, which are strung together like pearls on a necklace, form a unique natural landscape that is not only the largest, but also the oldest and most famous national park in Croatia.

The Plitvice Lakes extend through a unique climate, which is characterised by the influence of the Adriatic Sea and the mountain air. Protected by proud mountain ranges and the rare phenomenon of travertine barriers formed over thousands of years by limestone deposits, a paradise of unrivalled beauty has been created here. The region continues to harbour all the animal species that existed around the lakes before the influence of man. Many of the plants and animals found here are unique and can only be found in the nature park.

The national park attracts around 900,000 visitors every year, partly due to the fact that the lake and waterfall scenes from Winnetou I and large parts of Winnetou II and III were filmed against this unique natural backdrop in the 1960s. The “Treasure in Silver Lake” actually sank in front of the Plitvice Lakes, and the breathtaking natural backdrop makes the national park an unforgettable location for many visitors.

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Atemberaubende Plitvicer Seen Kroatien

The 16 lakes in Plitvice Lakes National Park

Along a stretch of 9 kilometres, the 16 Plitvice Lakes meander from south to north through the wooded and mountainous landscape. They overcome an altitude difference of over 130 metres between the uppermost and the lowest lake. The characteristics of the lakes vary according to their location, with the twelve larger upper lakes being characterised by a gentle hilly landscape, while the four lower lakes are surrounded by rugged, wildly contoured white limestone cliffs.

The total surface area of the lakes is 2 square kilometres, with the two largest and deepest lakes accounting for almost 80%. The uppermost lake, “Proscansko jezero”, stretches over a length of more than 2100 metres and reaches a depth of up to 37 metres. The largest of all Plitvice Lakes, “Kozjak”, stretches over more than 2300 metres and reaches a depth of up to 47 metres.

The upper lakes:

  1. Proscansko Lake

  2. Ciginovac Lake

  3. Okrugljak Lake

  4. Batinovac Lake

  5. Large Lake

  6. Small Lake

  7. Vir Lake

  8. Galovac Lake

  9. Milinovo Lake

  10. Gradinsko Lake

  11. Buk Lake

  12. Kozjak Lake

The lower lakes:

  1. Milanovac Lake

  2. Gavanovac Lake

  3. Kaluderovac Lake

  4. Novakovica Lake

In addition to numerous cascades and small waterfalls, the two largest waterfalls are particularly worth seeing.

However, the water area of the lakes actually makes up less than 1% of the national park. In order to sustainably protect the rich flora and fauna, almost 300 square kilometres around the lakes have been declared a protected zone.

Veliki Slap - The Great Waterfall

Veliki Slap, also known as the Great Waterfall, rises majestically from the lower lakes and is undoubtedly a highlight of any hike through the national park.

Here, the Plitvice stream plunges over imposing 78 metre high cliffs and Veliki Slap is proud to be the largest waterfall in Croatia.

Galovacki Buk - The Galovac Waterfall

At the Galovac waterfall, the water cascades down to an impressive depth of around 25 metres, creating a picturesque sight in the lake of the same name.

This waterfall, part of the upper lakes, sits enthroned above Lake Kozjak and blends harmoniously into the impressive landscape.

Plitvicer Seen Kaskaden der Natur

The best time to visit the Plitvice Lakes

As Plitvice Lakes are one of Croatia’s top attractions, it can get a little crowded at certain times of the year. The months of July and August are particularly busy. To avoid the crowds, we recommend visiting from June to September. In the high season, it is advisable to book day tickets in advance and arrive at the national park early in the morning.

In spring and summer, the park is lush green and full of life, perfect for long hikes and explorations along the freshwater landscapes. In autumn, the park is transformed into a sea of red, yellow and orange leaves, a unique atmosphere for a whole day in nature.

Winter envelops the park in a magical silence, especially if you have the opportunity to see it covered in snow. The snow-covered landscape gives the park a fairytale atmosphere, although some hiking trails may be closed due to uncertain weather conditions.

A feel-good atmosphere for people and nature

The unique climate of the Plitvice Lakes is largely characterised by their proximity to the coast – only about 50 km away as the crow flies – and the impressive altitude of between 370 and almost 1300 metres. These special geographical features create an exceptional climate, influenced by the mild Adriatic coastal climate and bordered by the imposing “Velebit” mountain range. The result is a pleasantly temperate mountain climate.

Summers in the national park are sunny but not excessively hot, which makes them ideal for guests who do not tolerate high temperatures well. Spring and autumn are short and tend to be rainy, but offer ideal conditions for relaxed hikes and sporting activities. Nature in the park is particularly beautiful at this time of year.

Winter sets in from November and lasts until March, often characterised by cold and abundant snow. In December and January, the lakes are usually covered in ice, creating a fascinating winter backdrop

Plitvice Holzweg und Wasserfälle

Travelling to the Plitvice Lakes

The remarkable location of Plitvice Lakes makes the national park easily accessible from any region and transforms it into an unforgettable holiday destination. Whether you are staying in our holiday home Istria, a holiday home Dalmatia or a holiday home Kvarner Bay, the national park is easily accessible by rental car from any of our holiday homes and should definitely be on your Croatia bucket list

The legends surrounding the Plitvice Lakes

The Plitvice Lakes not only reveal their natural beauty, but also captivating legends that will make your visit an even more exciting experience.

The legend of the Black Queen

Lake Prošćansko is associated with the “Legend of the Black Queen”. The “Prošnja” legend tells the story of a period of drought in the region. The inhabitants asked the magical queen for help, and she responded by creating the Plitvice Lakes. Lake Prošćansko was the first lake she created. The lakes are each separated by travertine barriers created by the deposition of limestone in the water. The continuous outflow of water from the lakes over the barriers into the next lake also forms a chain of waterfalls.

The legend of the Gavanovo treasure

The lower lakes are located in a permeable limestone gorge. A walkable promenade connects the Gavanovac and Kaluđerovac lakes. Lake Gavanovac is named after the treasure of Gavanovo, which is said to still be hidden somewhere in the lake.

The legend of the wise monk and the Šupljara cave

The legend of the wise monk says that the monk lived in either Šupljara or Golubnjača Cave. According to historical accounts, people used to come to Plitvice Lakes to visit the monk and ask him for advice.

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