A two-decade (1989-2008) time series of lake phyto-and zooplankton, water characteristics and climate in 17 Danish lakes was analysed to examine the long term changes and the effects of lake restoration efforts. The analyses of the pair-wise correlations across time series revealed a strong synchrony in climatic variables among the lakes. A significant, but weak increase in air temperature was observed and resulted in a corresponding increase in surface water temperature only in summer. Lake physico-chemical variables had weaker synchrony than climatic variables. Synchrony in water temperature and stratification was stronger than lake chemistry as the former is mostly affected by atmospheric energy flux. Synchrony in the taxonomic richness of the plankton groups and phytoplankton biomass was apparent, to a similar degree as observed for lake chemistry. The synchrony and the temporal trends in lake chemistry and plankton were more pronounced for the lakes with strong re-oligotrophication. Phytoplankton biomass decreased and plankton richness increased in these lakes, with a shift from Chlorophyta dominance towards more heterogeneous phytoplankton communities. Notably, a widespread significant positive trend in plankton richness was observed not only in lakes with strong re-oligotrophication but across all lakes. The widespread increase in plankton richness coincided with widespread decrease in phosphate and total nitrogen concentrations, as well as with the trends in climate indicating a likely joint effect of nutrient reduction and climate in driving lake plankton. However, temporal changes and synchrony as well as the recovery of richness and composition of lake plankton more coherently corresponded with the nutrient loading reduction across the Danish landscape, while the role of climate control of the lake plankton was less pronounced.