It is no exaggeration to conclude that Plitvice Lakes represent one of the best known and most beautiful symbols of Croatia, despite the uniqueness and picturesque nature of the long Croatian coast, attractive Croatian mountains and the indisputable beauty of numerous areas in lowland Croatia. The Plitvice Lakes are a unique mix of natural beauty, and arguably the most beautiful national park in Southeast Europe. The lakes form a terraced series, with water descending from one lake to another across large and small cascades, creating a symphony of natural beauty. The surface of the lakes is 191 hectares, and the surface of the entire national park 19,200 hectares. The cascade of Sastavci 40 meters high is arguably the most beautiful cascade of Plitvice. The lakes are surrounded by the massifs of Plješivica and Mala Kapela; the highest elevation is 1280 meters, and the lowest 417 meters. There are 16 large lakes and several small lakes with over 40 cascades in the Plitvice lake series. At the edge of the national park, along the state road passing through the area, there are hotels, inns and various catering facilities. Entry tickets must be purchased in order to enter the park area.
The starting points for a tour of Plitvice Lakes are two main entrances to the national park, located along the state road Zagreb – Split. Park visitors can use a network of forest trails and wooden bridges. The trails are not marked with standard hiking trail markings, but they are well prepared for visits and offer plenty of opportunities for exploration of the area. The most attractive sight is the approach to the Sastavci cascade in the lower lake series – it is possible to come so close to the base of this cascade to end up refreshed from the intense water spray.
Visitors eager to enrich their tour of Plitvice Lakes with an interesting hiking climb are recommended to try the ascent to the peak of Oštri Medvjeđak. The first tourist trails leading to Medvjeđak were built back in the 19th century, and today's markings mostly follow the routes of these ancient trails. The first trail in the area was built in 1894, and it took hikers to the peak of Tupi Medvjeđak. In 1900, the Royal Forestry Administration built a forest path from the hotel that existed in the area back then to the peak of Oštri Medvjeđak. The starting points for a climb to Medvjeđak are parking lots opposite to two entrances to the Plitvice Lakes National Park on the state road Zagreb – Split. The markings lead to the peak from both Entrance 1 (Rastovača) and Entrance 2 (Hladovina). The path from Entrance 2 is somewhat shorter, more beautiful and easier for orientation. The climb requires one hour and 30 minutes of hiking.