Plitvice Lakes National Park

An aesthetically outstanding natural spectacle of global importance

UNESCO World Heritage

Big waterfall (Veliki slap) and Sastavci waterfalls

Plitvice Lakes is the oldest and largest national park in the Republic of Croatia. With its exceptional natural beauty, this area has always attracted nature lovers, and on 8th April 1949, it was proclaimed Croatia’s first national park. The process of tufa formation, which results in the building of the tufa (or travertine) barriers and created the lakes, is the outstanding universal value, for which the Plitvice Lakes were internationally recognised on 26th October 1979 with their inscription onto the UNESCO World Heritage List.

Sastavci waterfalls, Lower Lakes by Plitvice Lakes National ParkUNESCO World Heritage

Sastavci waterfalls, Lower Lakes

The park is primarily covered in forest vegetation, with smaller areas under grasslands. The most attractive part of the park – the lakes – covers just under 1% of the total park area.

The watercourse from the spring of the White and Black River over 16 cascading lakes to the Korana River transverses numerous barriers and cascades, creating a landscape of remarkable beauty.

Upper Lakes by Plitvice Lakes National ParkUNESCO World Heritage

Upper Lakes

The lake system is comprised of 16 named and several smaller unnamed lakes, cascading one into the next. 

Waterfalls on Lower Lakes by Plitvice Lakes National ParkUNESCO World Heritage

Waterfalls on Lower Lakes

Due to the geological substrate and characteristic hydrogeological conditions, the lake system has been divided into the Upper and Lower lakes.

Prštavci waterfalls on the Upper Lakes by Plitvice Lakes National ParkUNESCO World Heritage

Prštavci waterfalls on the Upper Lakes

The twelve lakes forming the Upper Lakes are: Prošćansko jezero, Ciginovac, Okrugljak, Batinovac, Veliko jezero, Malo jezero, Vir, Galovac, Milino jezero, Gradinsko jezero, Burgeti and Kozjak. These lakes were formed on impermeable dolomite rock, and are larger, with more indented and gentler shores than the Lower Lakes.

View of cave Šupljara, Lower Lakes by Plitvice Lakes National ParkUNESCO World Heritage

View of cave Šupljara, Lower Lakes

The Lower Lakes, consisting of the lakes Milanovac, Gavanovac, Kaluđerovac and Novakovića Brod, were formed in permeable limestone substrate, cut into a deep canyon with steep cliffs. The lakes end in the impressive waterfalls Sastavci, with the Korana River springing under the base of the falls.

Tufa barriers of the Upper Lakes by Plitvice Lakes National ParkUNESCO World Heritage

Tufa barriers of the Upper Lakes

The waters hold the secret to the exceptional value of the Plitvice Lakes—the tufa-formation process in which tufa barriers form and grow. This highly complex process that has created the cascade lake system has not been fully explained to this day, but it is known that it includes a number of physiochemical and biological factors.

Wolf pack (Canis lupus) "Plješevica“ of Plitvice Lakes National Park by Plitvice Lakes National ParkUNESCO World Heritage

Wolf pack

Forests cover ¾ of the Park’s surface area. Alpine beech forests and beech-fir forests are predominant. Among them, the Čorkova uvala virgin forest has special value. Preserved forests are an ideal habitat for numerous plant and animal species. 

They are the home of three large European carnivores: the wolf (Canis lupus), the Eurasian lynx (Lynx lynx) and the brown bear (Ursus arctos).  

Brown bears (Ursus arctos) in Plitvice Lakes National Park by Plitvice Lakes National ParkUNESCO World Heritage

Brown bears

Lynx (Lynx lynx) in Plitvice Lakes National Park by Plitvice Lakes National ParkUNESCO World Heritage

Lynx

 The lynx is the largest cat in Europe. To survive, it needs a spacious and calm habitat, where it can find shelter and food. It is a globally critically endangered species due to strict requirements regarding its habitat, which is gradually disappearing.

Lady’s-slipper orchid (Cypripedium calceolus) by Plitvice Lakes National ParkUNESCO World Heritage

Lady’s-slipper orchid

Lady’s-slipper orchid (Cypripedium calceolus) is one of approximately 60 orchid species in the Park. It is usually found in beech forests. Many call it the most beautiful European orchid.

Waterfall "Velike Kaskade“ and Kaluđerovac Lake, Lower Lakes by Plitvice Lakes National ParkUNESCO World Heritage

Waterfall "Velike Kaskade“ and Kaluđerovac Lake, Lower Lakes

 Every season in the Plitvice Lakes National Park has a special magic -  from spring when all nature awakens…

Plitvice Lakes National Park - Spring edition by Plitvice Lakes National ParkUNESCO World Heritage

Spring

View on Milanovac Lake (part of Lower Lakes) and Kozjak Lake (part of Upper Lakes) by Plitvice Lakes National ParkUNESCO World Heritage

View on Milanovac Lake and Kozjak Lake

…to summer when all the splendour of colour overflows through lakes, waterfalls, forests, … 

Autumn colours on Upper Lakes, Prštavci waterfalls by Plitvice Lakes National ParkUNESCO World Heritage

Autumn colours on Upper Lakes, Prštavci waterfalls

 …through beautiful autumn colours…

Plitvice Lakes National Park - Autumn edition by Plitvice Lakes National ParkUNESCO World Heritage

Autumn

Frozen Big waterfall ("Veliki slap“), Lower Lakes by Plitvice Lakes National ParkUNESCO World Heritage

Frozen Big waterfall (Veliki slap), Lower Lakes

 …until winter which bring silence and whiteness, freezing waterfalls that become beautiful sculptures and works of art by the most skilled sculptor – nature.

Plitvice Lakes National Park - Winter edition by Plitvice Lakes National ParkUNESCO World Heritage

Winter

Wooden trail on the Upper Lakes by Plitvice Lakes National ParkUNESCO World Heritage

Wooden trail on the Upper Lakes

For you to enjoy the Park at its best, Plitvice Lakes National Park offers eight different routes to tour the lake system and four hiking trails. Wooden paths and bridges blending into the natural surrounding will draw you into the colours and tranquillity of the lakes.

Wooden trail passing by Pevalek waterfalls on the Upper Lakes by Plitvice Lakes National ParkUNESCO World Heritage

Wooden trail passing by Pevalek waterfalls (Upper Lakes)

Boat on the biggest lake, Kozjak by Plitvice Lakes National ParkUNESCO World Heritage

Boat on the biggest lake, Kozjak

Your ticket for the Park includes an electric boat ride over the biggest lake, Kozjak and a ride in a panoramic vehicle. 

Rowing boats for rent on the biggest lake Kozjak by Plitvice Lakes National ParkUNESCO World Heritage

Rowing boats for rent on the biggest lake Kozjak

There is another way of exploring the biggest lake, Kozjak on your own – by renting a small rowing boat. Then you can take your time and enjoy the tranquillity of the lake and small waterfalls.

Panoramic vehicle of Plitvice Lakes National Park by Plitvice Lakes National ParkUNESCO World Heritage

Panoramic vehicle of Plitvice Lakes National Park

About Plitvice Lakes National Park by Plitvice Lakes National ParkUNESCO World Heritage



About Plitvice Lakes National Park.

Credits: Story

This exhibit was created by Plitvice Lakes National Park: https://np-plitvicka-jezera.hr/en/
More on Plitvice Lakes National Park and World Heritage: whc.unesco.org/en/list/98
Photos:  Lucija & Rade Jug; Plitvice Lakes National Park Archive; Katja Sabljak 

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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