Plitvice vs Krka

Let’s not stuff about – Croatia is shit hot right now on just about everyone’s bucket list. Aussies in particular are heading here in droves, especially over what we call “winter” in search of hedonistic islands and cheap beer.

Croatia has come a long way in the last twenty years, I’ll give them that. They didn’t come out entirely unscathed from the early 1990’s Balkan wars, but a bid to join the EU on paper has seen an injection of public funding into tourism has certainly worked.

The main Mediterranean coastline that skirts the Adriatic Sea sprawls for a monstrous 1, 773 kilometres – factoring that in with the great exchange rate on the Kuna, and it’s no wonder everyone comes here for a beach holiday. Is there anything else worth seeing?

Absolutely.

Stay long enough, and you will soon here about Croatia’s two famed national parks: Plitvice and Krka. Jurassic Park, with more waterfalls and less dinosaurs. Unfortunately, most people don’t have enough time to cover both – there comes a time where a choice does indeed have to be made.

I spent six weeks in Croatia renting a flat in Split with a dear old friend from North Queensland in late 2017. Being blessed with my $500 Golf to explore – explore, we did.

We gave both parks the respect they duly deserved and devoted a full day to each. Looking back now, they were vastly different experiences – but most people of course, don’t know that. Thus, I’ve got a minor crash course outlined here on the pros and cons of each.

Plitvice National Park

Plitvice is UNESCO World Heritage Listed, and the locals will be the first to tell you that it was Croatia’s first national park (established in 1949). I can tell you first hand, they are proud of this place. The park itself has seven different trail options – some super easy, others not so much. I would 100% suggest closed in shoes, between the Upper and Lower lakes, we (two of the most unfit people you would ever meet) covered 13 kilometres in a day.

  • Tickets can only be booked and paid on the day at the entrance gates, cash or credit card accepted.
  • Panorama train and a boat ride along the winding turquoise streams are included in the ticket price.
  • Dogs are permitted but must stay on their leash.
  • Campsite for tents and RVs available near the park entrance, but no camping within the park itself.
  • Bring a backpack and water, it can get quite remote sometimes.
  • The big one – 100% no swimming.

Price Per Adult

Low Season
55 Kuna or around $12 AUD
1 Jan to 31 Mar
1 Nov to 31 Dec

Shoulder Season
150 Kuna or around $32.50 AUD
1 Apr to 30 Jun
1 Sep to 31 Oct

High Season
250 Kuna or around $55 AUD
1 Jul to 31 Aug

How To Get There
If you don’t have access to a car, there are loads of tours or even public buses from all the major cities in Croatia. By road, you’re looking at around 2.5 hours from Zagreb, 2 hours from Zadar and around 3 hours from Split. This isn’t factoring in traffic or excess over high season, so make sure you give yourself some buffer time!

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Krka National Park

We came SO close to skipping Krka, thinking nothing could top our experience at Plitvice. However, the August sun got the better of us, and we went on a journey of discovery for the waterfalls alone. A natural karst phenomenon (think Ha Long Bay), we found Krka to be frankly a lot easier to navigate but as a whole generally smaller. Being much closer to the coast line (and the tourists) – or maybe because it is indeed slightly smaller – Krka as a whole felt much busier than our last national park experience! The main highlight here is Skradinski Buk – or the big, big waterfall you see on every piece of promo material for Croatia. And yes, you can swim here – but only between 1 June to 30 September.

  • Krka entrance tickets can be booked online in advance or on the day. As of May 2018, a daily visitor limit has been introduced to help preserve the park, so it would be a good idea to be organised if you are coming over high season (June-September).
  • Unlike Plitvice, there are more food and alcohol stands in the actual park itself, so less planning in advance in that department!
  • Dogs are permitted but must stay on their leash, and a muzzle is required if you intend to use the ferries within the park.
  • Campsite for tents and RVs available near the park entrance, but no camping is permitted inside the park itself.

Price Per Adult

Low Season
30 Kuna or around $6.50 AUD
1 Jan to 31 Mar
1 Nov to 31 Dec

Shoulder Season
110 Kuna or around $24 AUD
1 Apr to 30 Jun
1 Sep to 31 Oct

High Season
200 Kuna or around $43.50 AUD
1 Jul to 31 Aug

How To Get There
Same story again, if you don’t have the luxury of having access to a car, the bus will never fail you! Travel time is around 1.5 hours from Split, 1 hour from Zadar, and only around 30 minutes from Sibenik. I wouldn’t attempt this from Zagreb, as you would be looking at around 4.5 hours each way.

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THE VERDICT?

For me, if I had to choose one it would be Plitvice. This may not be the same for every adventurer, but it felt “wilder”. Let me know in the comments if I’m bang on the money, or way off the mark!

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© All text and images by Angela Wallace

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