Plitvice or Krka National Park?

The first thing that comes to people’s mind when thinking of Croatia are the beautiful beaches and walled cities of the coast but the country has beautiful national parks inland as well.  Plitvice National Park is easily the most famous but Krka National Park seems to be getting a lot of attention lately as well, we visited both after leaving Drubrovnik.  Both parks have amazing waterfalls and winding paths that take you right on top of the blue-green water.  But which should you visit?  Take a look at the photos below but spoiler alert, my answer is both!  Also, view more photos on my photography site.

Plitvice is the more famous of the two parks, photos of its beautiful waterfalls are all over Pinterest.  But we heard Krka is much less crowded AND you can swim in the pool at the bottom of Skradinski Buk.  We arrived a little after 9am and the parking lot didn’t have many cars which seemed like a good sign.  It’s a 20 minute walk to the actual pools from the parking lot (a shuttle is available) and we walked immediately to the paths.  I really wanted to get shots before too many people were around but already there were groups of people walking through sticking their giant ipads in the way of my shots.  Another issue I didn’t consider was the vibration from people walking ruining slow shutter-speed shots.

But the small falls along the walkway were beautiful and there were some quiet times when we let groups pass us.  We planned our loop so we’d end up at the largest waterfalls and pools at the bottom of Skradinski Buk.  By the time we made it to this pool the crowds had arrived and the pool was filled with people.  I took a series of shots so I could later edit out all the people and took some from the bridge but gave up with there being too many people (and more ipad photographer…..)  If you’re planning on going to Krka I’d say just enjoy the falls and swimming, consider photography a bonus if you happen to be there when it’s not too crowded.  Definitely arrive right when it opens (8am most days,) tour buses started arriving by 10am from Dubrovnik.

The next day we went to nearby Plitvice National Park.  Plitvice opens at 7am and after the experience at Krka we decided to get there right when it opened which was a great idea!  No swimming is allowed at Plitvice so no need to wait for the afternoon heat here.  The park suggests several itineraries depending on how much time you have, we went for loop ‘C’ which took about 5 hours.  It took us past dozens of falls and included a boat ride (another benefit of getting there early is not waiting for the boat, I hear it can be over an hour wait later in the day.)

The falls at Plitvice really are incredible and have to be seen in person to really experience.  Plitvice in particular gets really crowded (take a look at the photo below with the crowds of people that really could ruin your experience.)  Krka is much smaller so even though fewer people are there, when two tour buses show up it sends a wave of people through the park and is super annoying.

But which park should you visit?  Both of course! If it helps you decide, I have many more shots on my photography site here:

The details:  The official sites for Krka National Park & Plitvice National Park have all the operating hours and prices.  There are tours offered to both of these parks from Split, Dubrovnik and other major tourist cities but it’s absolutely worth renting a car so you can get there early.  Both parks have on-site parking.

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