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World Heritage Site

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Plitvice Lakes

Plitvice Lakes

Plitvice Lakes National Park comprises 16 lakes that are known for their scenic beauty and distinctive colours, ranging from azure to green, grey or blue.

The Plitvice Lakes lie in a basin of karstic rock, mainly dolomite and limestone, which has given rise to their most distinctive feature. The lakes are separated by natural dams of travertine, which is deposited by the action of moss, algae and bacteria. The colours change constantly depending on the quantity of minerals or organisms in the water and the angle of sunlight.

The site has been on the World Heritage List in Danger from 1992-1997, as a result of the so-called 'Plitvice Lakes Incident' and its consequences, which in March 1991 was the start of bloody Croatian War of Independence and Freedom.

Map of Plitvice Lakes


  • Natural

Visit November 2016

Plitvice Lakes National Park already became a World Heritage Site in 1979. It was among 6 sites from Yugoslavia that were inscribed that year, sites which now lie in 4 different countries (the others were Ohrid, Kotor, Split, Stari Ras and Dubrovnik). Plitvice is one of those ‘golden oldie’ Eastern European tourist destinations, like the Wieliczka Salt Mine or the Postojna Caves. One wonders if there comes a time when nobody will go there anymore. But it still attracts over one million visitors a year. I visited in early November - so what is Plitvice like out of season?

November 2016

I had stayed overnight in a town nearby, which allowed me to be present at the Lakes at 8.30 a.m. A November trip proved to be rewarding financially rightaway: no parking fee is required at this time of year, and the cost of an entrance ticket is cut in half to 55 kuna (about 7.30 EUR). This gives unlimited access to the various park entrances for one day, plus free transportation on the ferry across the largest lake and the shuttle buses. Quite good value I think.

The park has two main entrances. I first drove to Entrance 2 (which lies somewhat half way the Upper and Lower Lakes). This parking lot turned out to be closed, so I returned to Entrance 1. While in summer queues of an hour or more are not unheard of, the only other visitors this morning fitted in the one bus and some 10 cars that were at the parking. From Entrance 1 it’s only a short walk to the highlight of Plitvice: the big waterfall and its associated travertine pools. If you have only one hour to spend at the park, I would suggest to take Entrance 1 and make a short dash down to this spectacular section. From the viewpoint it looks like a rather complex jigsaw puzzle. It includes a system of waterfalls and pools, crossected by a boardwalk.

November 2016

The disadvantage of starting at Entrance 1 is that the rest of the park isn’t as spectacular. Mind you - it is still interesting enough and one can spend easily 4-5 hours hiking the trails. I did a combination of hike C and K: K is the only circuit that can be done fully on foot, while all the others involve some form of park transport. I did take the ferry across the main lake – I believe I had read beforehand that it doesn’t run in the low season, but it does (once an hour). The cafeteria near the dock was open too. There were some 60 people aboard, including a large group of Asian tourists. The latter stayed on board until stop P1, so their tour skipped the Upper Lakes which are accessible from stop P2.

I hiked all the way up, along the smaller waterfalls that feed the Upper Lakes. Trails all around the lakes are well-maintained and easy to navigate. Near the top lies a shuttle stop, where I hopped on a tourist train-like vehicle to take me down to the middle section again. By that time it was around 12.30, and there were many more people around than earlier in the morning. Most visitors seem to come in groups – Asians, but also locals from maybe Zagreb or other cities nearby.

November 2016

This first Saturday in November was blessed with dry and fairly mild weather. Scenery wise it would probably have been better to visit a week or two earlier to enjoy the fall foliage – almost all trees had lost their leaves by now. But it was a pleasure to walk around relaxed, the many boardwalks are no fun when there are droves of people crossing or stopping to take yet another selfie. The Plitvice Lakes are an undisputed WHS, although I found the scenery fairly similar to Jiuzhaigou (which is bigger and has higher mountains – IUCN also stated in Jiuzhaigou’s evaluation that its “landscape attractions exceed those of … Plitvice Lakes WHS”).

Community Reviews

ech wel, NL 20.09.16

This is my first review on this website so it seemed logical to start with my first (knowingly) visit of a WHS. I still rank it as one of the best I have ever been. It's a site with a real "Wow-factor". At least it was for me. Since than I've been looking for more.

We made the trip in september 2010 from a holidayresort in the town of Pula. It’s about a 2 hour drive from there to Plitvice. A tour still vivid in our memory because of the route TomTom told us to drive. Along the tourist coastline the roads are perfectly fine but we found out that the same couldn't be said about the small paths leading through lovely burt down, war-torn villages a bit further in land. It was 15 years after the war but it seemed there was still a lot of repairwork to do. It made us quiet for a while but that soon changed when we were in the park.

Plitvice with its wonderful lakes and waterfalls is fantastic! I remember how surprised we were to see such an unspoiled piece of nature. We would have expected this on a far, far away island in the deep ocean but not in (our) industrialized Europe. Being raised in the city we had a very limited worldview I quess.

We were brought up the hill by a shuttle bus and as soon as we were dropped off we started admiring the landscape in awe. Crystal clear water was running down the hill in a lush green environment. In the magical blue and green coloured lakes plenty of trout was swimming. It was like a fairytale and we were constantly looking around trying to spot a fairy or troll. If these fantasy creatures do exist, we figured, this would be the place where they would be living.

All in all we spent a very pleasant day in the park and, on the way back to our car, we were complimenting ourselves that we had finally done something usefull. Instead of yet another day at the beach we had enriched ourselves with something special. A natural wonder. A WHS. We agreed to this more often and with that satisfying smile on our faces we started the car. It was the end of our beautiful day.

Whatever we tried the car refused to do what it was supposed to do. Not the best of moments in a fast darker getting forest with nobody around. On top of that we found out that our phones were nearly empty. "and honey, where did you leave the telephone number of the carhelp? Me, I thought you had it!"

I will spare you the rest but till this day it is one of those stories which comes up every now and than. We did make it back though. Thrilled of the adventures we experienced we started to look for more sites to visit. It was the start of a long quest.

Read more from ech wel here.

Clyde Malta 07.05.14

Plitvice Lakes by Clyde

I visited this great natural WHS in April 2014. I spent 3 days here and it was worth it to have more time to visit at leisure. The entrance to the national park costs 14.50e (if you stay at one of the hotels inside the park this entrance fee will be valid for all your stay) allowing you to use the boat trips from one side to the other of the largest lake or else use the electic vehicles that take you from one entrance to the other. I didn't use the latter since I had ample time and decided to hike instead. The trails are really pretty and allow you to observe the abundant flora and fauna of the park. There are ladders that are placed on puddles so that you can easily walk the trail without wetting your shoes. However, good hiking shoes would be advisable. I visited both the upper lakes and the lower lakes and both are extraordinary. However, if I had to choose one, I'd go for the lower lakes with the big waterfall (Veliki Slap) and the "walk on water trails". The highlights of my visit were the panoramic views from above the Sulpjara Cave and just opposite the big waterfall with all the rainbows. Plitvice Lakes National Park is definitely one of the best natural WHS I visited in Europe.

Hubert Austria 20.11.12

Plitvice Lakes by Hubert Scharnagl

The Plitvice Lakes National Park in the Dinaric Mountains is the largest and best known national park in Croatia. In total, the park comprises about 300 square kilometres, mostly primeval beech and fir forest, and is the refuge of bears, wolves and lynx. However, we've not seen any of these shy animals, except for the bear in the park logo. Like most tourists, we visited the area around the lakes, which is only a small part of the entire park. This landscape is called the "land of the falling lakes". At a length of 8 km, two larger and fourteen smaller lakes are lined up like pearls on a string. The lakes are connected by cascades and waterfalls and separated by natural barriers of travertine. It is a breathtakingly beautiful landscape: the water is crystal clear and shimmers blue and turquoise, beeches grow close to the shore, and everywhere is lush greenery.

We started our tour at the southern park entrance, which lies midway between the upper and lower lakes. First, we hiked north along the eastern shore of the largest lake (Kozjak jezero). The area of the four lower lakes are in a canyon-like landscape, our guide book described it as the most beautiful part of the park. The trail leads uphill along the ridge of the canyon to the big waterfall (Veliki slap) with a height of 78 metres. We had wonderful views of the lower lakes (photo) and the northern part of the park. Then we walked down to the bottom of the canyon. The trail back leads close along the lakeside, we walked on wooden footbridges and well paved paths.

The second part of our tour led south along numerous small lakes and pools to the upper large lake. We came past countless watercourses, cascades and waterfalls, it's an awesome scenery. There are trails on both shores and footbridges inbetween. Often, we walked back and took an alternative route in order to capture all beautiful views and scenic details. Most notable is the Galovac waterfall with 25 metres in height. I liked this middle section even better than the first part of our tour. The last of the upper lakes (Proscansko jezero) is less attractive, also beautiful, but it looked like many other mountain lakes I've visited before. So we did not continue our hike along the lakeside, in favour of a delicious picnic.

In total, we spent the whole day in the park. It was a warm, sunny weekday in June 2006, perfect for our tour, the park was not too busy. Most guide books recommend not to visit on weekends in summer, when the area around the lakes is very crowded.

The park can easily be explored by foot, there is a network of hiking trails and wooden footbridges around the lakes. The height difference between the lowest and highest lake is 130 meters. Shuttle buses run between the upper lake and the entrances and there are also electric boats that take visitors from one end of the largest lake to the other.

We stayed at the Hotel Jezero, one of the three hotels near the southern park entrance. The décor and atmosphere had the charm of the 50's, quite pleasant. But the large dining room was not to our taste. We preferred one of the taverns along the National Road, where we enjoyed a barbecue with suckling pig. In Croatia, they seem to have a passion for barbecue, not the best place for vegetarians.

The Plitvice Lakes are at the National Road D1 and can easily be reached by car. There are also buses from Zadar (about 150 km). The lakes are definitely worth a visit, even for people who are generally not fans of natural WHS.

Klaus Freisinger Austria 27.06.09

These lakes in central Croatia are justly famous for their natural beauty and wildlife. A classic karst landscape, the lakes are separated by dams and waterfalls. You can walk among the lakes on relatively narrow and slippery wooden trails. The area is really beautiful, unfortunately, when I visited there, it was cold and pouring (and it was mid-June). So maybe I'll get the chance to visit the lakes again in better weather sometime in the future.

Marco, Holland 09.08.06

My first trip to Croatia, and my friend Domenic took me to Plitvicka. We spend the night in his van in Slunj, where I got a bit of a preview of the area.

My knowledge about the park was zero when I arrived and I was in for a big surprise.

People say "it is the most beuatiful area in the whole of Kroatia", and afterwards I admit had to agree, eventhough I did not see the rest of the country.

Now I look out to seeing the movie of Winnetoe and the treasure of the Silver lake, just to get a bit back of that one wonderful day I spent there; saturday 10 June 2006, a great day, thanks a lot; Dado, Maja and Bagi!

Jon Grunstad, USA

About late May of 2003

I arrived by bicyle, bus and train to the park with the help of a pretty moslem woman and her french speaking Swiss girlfriend. We met while sitting at an isolated woodside intersection, while waiting for the local bus. The park is deeply shaded and wild in appearance. Most board walk trails are not signed in english. It takes a good 5 to 8 hours to view/travel the main riparian paths. there is a short boat trip involved. Walking is easy and cool. The region is a very safe one for travelers. Hotels are full service and expenses are low to moderate.

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Site Info

Full name: Plitvice Lakes National Park

Unesco ID: 98

Inscribed: 1979

Type: Natural

Criteria: 7   8   9  

Link: By Name By ID

Site History

  • 2000 - Extended To include a further 10,020 ha (catchment area)
  • 1997 - Removed from Danger list 
  • 1992 - In Danger Due to hostilities in neighbouring villages
  • 1979 - Inscribed 


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