The two main national parks in Croatia are Krka, known primarily for the giant waterfall you can swim in, and Plitvice, known for the bright blue lakes and winding footpaths. As I’ve now visited both, I thought I’d weigh in on the subject. I’ve already written about Plitvice here, so this will mainly be focused on Krka and my thoughts on which park I preferred and why.
I stayed in Šibenik because it was within easy reach of Krka, being only a 45 minute bus ride away. The bus took me to Skradin (which was actually my first preference to stay but there were no hostels – and I’m quite thankful for that now because I loved Šibenik – read the letter about Šibenik here), and then I had to get a boat over to the park. The boat ride was beautiful and peaceful and then we arrived right in the thick of the action. Straight away you are dropped amongst the sun-worshippers and bathers under the famous waterfall. Honestly, my first impression was that it was very very busy, over-touristy and not very natural at all. Having said that, the waterfall was impressive, the water was milky blue and beautiful and I could see it’s charm and why it attracts these masses of people.
I decided to first of all go for a walk around the park. I followed the crowds more than the trails because they weren’t that clear. I was told there was only one route around the park but I came to a ‘junction’ many times and just chose one way or another. The walk was busy and only took about an hour which disappointed me because I would’ve liked to have seen more. What I did see were lots of waterfalls cascading into one another, sharp reflections of the nature in the water and lots of bright blue clear pools, like I had seen in Plitvice.
After the walk I spent the rest of the day swimming and lounging on the grass next to the waterfall. It was quite peaceful despite the hoards of people swarming everywhere. I didn’t do much swimming near the waterfall and instead went under the bridge to the other side which was quieter and deeper. I actually wish I’d done some research and figured out what else I could’ve done, like go to the island with the church on it. Forgive me, I don’t know the name. I think it’s possible to explore more of the park with a bike or, better still, a car. It was a nice relaxing day though.
So, which is better? I would say, based on my experiences, Plitvice. The sheer amount of people in Krka really put me off and it felt far too much like any old tourist attraction rather than a natural park. This may have been to do with timing as I stayed overnight very near the Plitvice Lakes which meant we started walking at 9 and finished at 1, whereas in Krka I started at 10:30. The length of the walk in Plitvice was also much more desirable for me. It felt like a decent walk where I explored a large area, but in Krka it was too short and not much information was given. I think this is because the majority of people just want to swim. Even with aesthetics, I think Plitvice is just prettier. I would love to return to Plitvice out of season and see it dressed in Autumnal oranges or even covered in snow.
Both are worth a visit – Croatia really does have some of the most stunning nature I’ve ever seen! Try to avoid July and August though because the prices shoot up as I discovered in Krka. I would always advise to try and stay nearby and start your day trip as early as possible to beat the crowds. I believe any place is nicer when you remove half of the people.
If you’ve been, which one was your favourite?
Hope this was helpful!