Plitvice Lakes, Croatia

Lake Locations:

Croatia - Central Croatia -

Cascading waterfalls and tucked-away caves surrounded by lush green forests — the Plitvice Lakes are a wonder to behold. The karst topography of the Plitvice Lakes was created over thousands of years, as flowing mountain waters carved formations in the dolomite and limestone rock. The Plitvice chain includes 16 lakes ranging in elevation from 636 meters (2,087 feet) to 503 meters (1,650) above sea level. Natural travertine dams separate the lakes and create a series of cascading waterfalls along the drop in elevation. The Plitvice Lakes are renowned for their changeable colors, including azure blue, aquamarine, and green. The colors depend on each lake’s minerals, organisms in the water, and the angle of sunlight. Today the lakes are contained within the Plitvice Lakes National Park, one of Croatia’s most popular tourist attractions.

Although the Plitvice Lakes have been around for thousands of years, it has only recently caught the attention of nature lovers around the world. In 1777, a priest, Dominik Vukasovic, was the first to record the lake’s name as Plitvice Lakes. Located between the capital city of Zagreb and the coastal city of Zadar, the lakes today are a protected area. Plitvice Lakes National Park is richly landscaped with deep woodlands that are heavily populated with wildlife. Hiking, wildlife viewing, camping and boating are just a few of the recreational activities that await visitors in Plitvice Lakes National Park.

Plitvice Lakes became Croatia’s first national park in 1949; in 1979 it was added to the UNESCO’S World Heritage list due to its intense beauty. In 1991, Croatia’s war with Yugoslavia took place within the national park; today, this historical event is known as the Plitvice Lakes Incident. The park was retaken by the Croatian Army in 1995, ending the Croatian War. Though the war will never be forgotten, magnificent lake views help fade away the memories of the war, and the Plitvice Lake National Park has become a popular vacation destination once again.

The Plitvice Lakes are divided into the Upper Lakes and Lower Lakes, stretching about five miles long along the elevation descent. The chain begins with Proscansko Lake and ends with Novakovica Brod Lake. Water from Proscansko Lake travels through dug-out canals and enters Ciganovac Lake; this lake is noted for its southern waterfall and collapsed travertine blocks, and empties into the round-shaped Okrugljak Lake. The northwestern end of Okrugljak Lake features Labudovacki Waterfall, which towers over 65 feet tall. Underneath the waterfall is a mysterious cave opening that is no longer accessible as an entrance.

Batinovac Lake is the next lake in the chain and includes a series of small waterfalls. Part of its water flows down into Grabovac Lake, while the rest flows into some smaller lakes to the north — these smaller lakes include Big Lake, Small Lake, and Vir Lake. Galovac Lake is the third-largest of the Plitvice Lakes and has several large waterfalls called Prstavci. The next lake is Milino Lake, where visitors will find a walkway to connect Kozjak Lake with Labudovacka barrier and Poscansko Lake. Following Milino Lake is Gradinsko Lake, Burgeti, and Kozjak Lake. Burgeti is a chain of small shallow lakes divided by travertine barriers. Kozjak Lake is the largest of the Plitvice Lakes and features picturesque Stefanja’s Island. Once past Kozjak Lake, visitors will find the Lower Lakes, which consist of Milanovac Lake, Gavanovac Lake, Kaluderovo Lake and Novakovica Brod Lake. Additional waterfalls, caves and cliffs can be viewed along the Lower Lakes.

Enjoy the Plitvice Lakes beauty while walking along many trails that meander through forest and along lake shoreline. For those who want to enjoy the beauty but do not care for walking, consider taking a tourist train or boat tour to observe the tranquility of the Plitvice Lakes.

Wildlife is abundant around the Plitvice Lakes and observant viewers may spot deer, wolves, wild boar, wildcat and a number of birds including eagles, owls and herons. In the waters of Plitvice Lakes brown trout is plentiful; however, fishing is not permitted. After exploring the Plitvice Lakes and viewing magnificent waterfalls, grab a bite to eat at one of the many snack shops located on national park property. For those that prefer a more formal setting, sit-down dining is offered at several of the restaurants nearby. And after a satisfying meal, continue your stay in several vacation rentals and other accommodations located in Plitvice Lakes National Park and the nearby towns.

Although there are no homes located on the refreshing waters of the Plitvice Lakes, real estate can be found in the surrounding towns of Gospic, Otocac, Rakovica, Smoljanac, Poljanak, Licko Lesce, Grabovac, and Dreznik Grad. In these towns, potential buyers can find their dream home in rural and natural settings and still be in close proximity to the spectacular Plitvice Lakes.

Tourists who see Croatia’s first national park for the first time will not be disappointed. The beauty of the cascading waterfalls along the Plitvice Lakes will enchant visitors and make them want to stay longer. The ever-changing colors of the Plitvice Lakes will ease away stress and allow for visitors to relax while they hike, camp or just enjoy the beauty around them.

Things to do at Plitvice Lakes

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Boating
  • Camping
  • Hiking
  • Waterfall
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Birding
  • National Park

Fish species found at Plitvice Lakes

  • Brown Trout
  • Trout

Plitvice Lakes Photo Gallery

Plitvice Lakes Statistics & Helpful Links

divider

Lake Type: Natural Freshwater Lake, Dammed

Surface Area: 536 acres

Maximum Depth: 151 feet

Spread the word! Share our Plitvice Lakes article with your fellow Lake Lubbers!

Trophic State | LakeLubbers

Trophic State measures the level of algae and nutrients in a lake.

An oligotrophic lake is very clear (blue in color) and does not support much plant or fish life. A hyper-oligotrophic lake is the clearest of all lakes, and is nearly devoid of plants and fish.

A mesotrophic lake is slightly green and supports a moderate degree of plant and fish life. A lake's most desired trophic state is generally this mid-point - the mesotrophic state.

A eutrophic lake is somewhat murky and supports a large amount of plant and fish life. A hypereutrophic lake is clouded with algae, plant life, and fish life. A eutrophic or hyper-eutrophic lake can be difficult to navigate by boat - and is often an unpleasant place to swim.

The use of phosphorus-rich and nitrogen-rich fertilizer on lawns and golf courses surrounding a lake can cause it to become eutrophic or hypereutrophic.


Lakes for Vacation and Recreation

Except as noted, Copyright © LakeLubbers LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Catchment or Drainage Area | LakeLubbers

This is the surrounding area that drains into a lake, including land, rivers and their tributaries. This is also known as the lake's "catchment basin".

Small lakes at the highest peaks of mountains have small drainage areas. The world's oceans have the largest drainage areas.


Lakes for Vacation and Recreation

Except as noted, Copyright © LakeLubbers LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Lake-Area Population | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated number of people who live in a house with a view of a lake, plus those who self-describe the lake as their home, for example: "I live at Smith Mountain Lake."


Lakes for Vacation and Recreation

Except as noted, Copyright © LakeLubbers LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Water Residence Time | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated time that it takes for an amount of water equal to the entire volume of a lake to flow out of - or evaporate from - the lake.

Residence Time can be as short as a few days for fast-flowing small lakes, and can exceed 100 years for slow-flowing large lakes.


Lakes for Vacation and Recreation

Except as noted, Copyright © LakeLubbers LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Completion Year | LakeLubbers

This is the year that a reservoir was first filled to the reservoir's normal elevation - or the year that a natural lake was first dammed. A large reservoir can take more than a year to fill after its dam is first closed.

The Grand Anicut in southern India is generally considered the world's oldest dam that still operates. Grand Anicut was constructed in the second century BC. It now impounds an irrigation network that includes roughly one million acres.

You can find many of the the world's newest reservoirs on LakeLubbers. Many of the world's oldest reservoirs appear on the last page of that list.


Lakes for Vacation and Recreation

Except as noted, Copyright © LakeLubbers LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Water Volume | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated volume of water that a lake contains -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. By this measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal.

You can find many of the the world's largest lakes (by water volume) on LakeLubbers.

Water Volume can be measured in acre-feet, in cubic miles, or in cubic kilometers. One acre-foot is the amount of water needed to cover one acre (43,560 square feet) to a depth of one foot. One cubic mile equals 3,379,200 acre-feet. One cubic kilometer equals 810,713 acre-feet.

1 acre-foot is equal to 325,851 US gallons. Siberia's Lake Baikal contains about 6,276,367,740,000,000 gallons of freshwater - nearly 1 million gallons for every living person on earth.

The other - and more widely used - measure of a lake's size is the lake's surface acreage. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is North America's Lake Superior.


Lakes for Vacation and Recreation

Except as noted, Copyright © LakeLubbers LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Maximum Depth | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated greatest depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. The world's deepest lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal; that lake's maximum depth is estimated at 5,314 feet.

You can find many of the the world's deepest lakes on LakeLubbers. If you select the last page of that list, you will find the (maximum depth of) the shallowest lakes in our database.


Lakes for Vacation and Recreation

Except as noted, Copyright © LakeLubbers LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Average Depth | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated average depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. If the water volume and surface area of a lake are known, an estimate of the lake's average depth can be calculated:

Water volume ÷ Surface Area = Average Depth

Example: 1,000,000 acre-feet ÷ 20,000 acres = 50 feet average depth


Lakes for Vacation and Recreation

Except as noted, Copyright © LakeLubbers LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Maximum Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's highest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can occur during flooding. A lake's highest possible maximum elevation is usually the top of the lake's dam or spillway.

At lakes that include residential development, government regulations usually forbid the construction of homes below a lake's maximum elevation.


Lakes for Vacation and Recreation

Except as noted, Copyright © LakeLubbers LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Minimum Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's lowest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can be reasonably expected to occur. Low lake levels can occur due to deliberate seasonal draw downs for irrigation or impending snow melt, reduced water inflows, drought and evaporation, residential or commercial water demands, and hydropower generation.

Some lakes' minimum and maximum elevations are virtually the same. Lakes that generate hydropower may vary by several feet - according to power demand. Lakes whose primary purpose is to prevent flooding can seasonally vary by 100 feet or more.

When some lakes reach their minimum elevation, their boat ramps may not be long enough to permit boat access - and boats docked on shallow parts of the lake may end up on dry ground. In those cases, kayakers and shore-based anglers may be among the few happy recreational users of the lake.


Lakes for Vacation and Recreation

Except as noted, Copyright © LakeLubbers LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Normal Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's normal water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level. For a reservoir, this water level is also known as "full pond" or "full pool".

You can find many of the world's highest-elevated lakes on LakeLubbers. Lakes with the lowest elevations (known by LakeLubbers) are shown on the final page of that list.


Lakes for Vacation and Recreation

Except as noted, Copyright © LakeLubbers LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Shoreline Length | LakeLubbers

This is the length of the exterior shoreline around a lake - measured at the lake's normal elevation. The shoreline length can be considerably shorter or longer when lake water levels are lower or higher than normal.

A lake with many coves has a much longer shoreline than a lake of similar surface area that is nearly circular in shape.

When known, the shoreline miles that we report in our statistics include only the lake's exterior shoreline, and exclude the shorelines of islands located within a lake's boundaries. In lakes with many islands, those islands' combined shorelines may exceed a lake's exterior shoreline.

You can find many of the world's longest-shoreline lakes on Lakelubbers.


Lakes for Vacation and Recreation

Except as noted, Copyright © LakeLubbers LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Surface Area | LakeLubbers

This is the area (acreage, square kilometers, etc.) of the top surface area of a lake - measured at a lake's normal elevation. The surface area can be considerably smaller or larger when lake levels are lower or higher than normal. North America's Lake Superior is the world's largest freshwater lake by this measure.

The other measure of a lake's size is the lake's water volume. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Lake Baikal in Siberia.

You can find many of the world's largest lakes (acres) on Lakelubbers. There is no widely-accepted minimum surface area that defines a lake. What Lakelubbers describes as a lake, you might call a pond. The smallest lake that Lakelubbers currently includes is Hawaii's 2-acre Lake Waiau.


Lakes for Vacation and Recreation

Except as noted, Copyright © LakeLubbers LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Water Level Control | LakeLubbers

This is the organization that controls water releases or outflows from the lake or reservoir. In the USA, this is often the US Army Corps of Engineers, a power company, a municipal water system, an irrigation district, or a paper manufacturing company. In the case of private or gated lakes, a homeowners' association may be the lake's controlling authority.

Many lakes cross borders, including North America's Great Lakes. The control of such lakes and their coveted freshwater may be amicably shared - or hotly disputed.

"Water wars" continue at many lakes as growing populations and crop irrigation needs compete for the freshwater that lakes contain.


Lakes for Vacation and Recreation

Except as noted, Copyright © LakeLubbers LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Lake Type | LakeLubbers

There are 3 basic types of lakes that are currently included on LakeLubbers. 2 types may be dammed or not dammed, producing 5 classifications.

- A Reservoir is a man-made freshwater lake that is usually created by damming rivers.

- A Natural Freshwater Lake occurs naturally - often by glacial activity - and has a salinity of less than 30 parts per thousand. It may be dammed to produce electricity or for other reasons.

- A Natural Saltwater Lake occurs naturally and has a salinity of more than 30 parts per thousand (ppt). It may be dammed.

"Brackish" water may be categorized as freshwater or saltwater, depending on its salt content (salinity). Oligohaline water has less than 15 ppt of salt. Mesohaline water has 15-29 ppt. Polyhaline has 30-335 ppt.


Lakes for Vacation and Recreation

Except as noted, Copyright © LakeLubbers LLC. All Rights Reserved.