Note: This is a guest post by Amanda Castillo aka The Wondering Lotus.
Croatia is famous for its gorgeous islands, medieval architecture, beautiful beaches, and cute coastal towns. But beyond that, along the Krka River in central Dalmatia is Krka National Park, home to some of the most beautiful waterfalls in Croatia.
Krka National Park is only 1.5 hours away from Split and Trogir and just an hour from Zadar. Hence, it makes the perfect day trip. You can rent a car, take a guided tour or even use public transportation to reach the park. In this guide about visiting Krka National Park, you will find all the details you want to know before going.
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About Krka National Park in Croatia
The Park itself is large – about 142 square kilometers or 55 square miles; however, on a day trip, you can still see all of the highlights and immerse yourself in the magnificent natural beauty surrounding you. It’s easy to spend the day exploring all these facets and learning about Croatian culture and history. There is something for the whole family to love. It is also an excellent stop for solo travelers looking to be one with nature. With exceptional hiking trails and cycling paths, this is optimal for a lover of the outdoors.
Proclaimed a National Park in 1995, Krka has become one of Croatia’s most-visited National Parks. It is a long, narrow park extending along both sides of the Krka River. Several archeological sites found in the Park’s vicinity go as far back as Roman times.
There are several distinctive ecosystems in the Park, with over 850 types of plants, more than 200 species of birds, as well as 18 species of fish and bats. Krka also has the second-highest density of lavender in Europe and the first-ever hydroelectric power station in Europe that is still in use and visible while you are in the park.
But the best things to see, and what Krka is most known for, are the Krka waterfalls. These are formed of tufa: sedimentary layers of limestone. This makes Krka National Park very similar to the more famous Plitvice Lakes National Park, also a UNESCO World Heritage site in Croatia.
Skradinski Buk waterfall
The main waterfall in the park is the famous Skradinski Buk: the most majestic of all of the park’s waterfalls. It is the most picturesque and highly Instagrammable place, often called the Krka waterfall. Skadinski is known for its massive size, clear waters, and gorgeous pool at the bottom of the falls, surrounded by beautiful green lusciousness. A total of 17 cascades flow into the base, creating magnificent natural pools, and approximately 500,000 liters of water run through all of them every second. Unfortunately, as of 2021, it is now closed at the falls for swimming, but it is still the main attraction in the park.
I recommend visiting these falls first and then making your way around the park. As the day progresses, crowds increase, and you don’t want to miss the perfect shot of the Buk. There is a trail that offers a short walk around the waterfalls of about two kilometers long (1.2 miles) with informational signs along it. There are also some restored watermills and what’s left of an 1895 hydroelectric plant nearby. You can take an excursion boat from here to Visovac Island.
You can get to Skradinski Buk by taking a boat (April to October only) from Skradin entrance. Another option is to hike: a 3.4-kilometer trail (2 miles) leads there from Skradin entrance.
Roški Slap waterfall
Roški Slap is 22.5 meters (74 feet) high and has lots of smaller cascades as well. It’s about 36 kilometers (22 miles) from Skradinski Buk, so you’ll have to drive or take a boat excursion to get there. Nearby, you can see some very pretty restored water mills. From Roški Slap you can take a tour boat to Krka Monastery and to two medieval forts as well.
There are also five other waterfalls in the park, but these two are easiest to reach.
Other things to see in Krka National Park besides waterfalls
Visovac, pronounced Vee-so-vatz, is a tiny island inside Krka National Park. If you are on a tour, it may be outside your timeline to visit Visovac Island. Still, if time permits, it is definitely worth it and a great added adventure to your Krka day trip.
The island is also known as Mother of God Island. When you arrive, head to the uniquely beautiful 15th-century Franciscan Monastery of Our Lady of Mercy with the Church of Our Lady of Visovac. It houses a fantastic library and one-of-a-kind 17th-century artwork. In addition, it has the most epic views, specifically views of the Croatian King Petar Svacic monument.
From Stinice, you can take a 5-minute boat trip here. From Skradinski Buk or Roški Slap you’ll need to take a two-hour excursion boat. The island is also reachable from the Brisbane area in Stinice or Remetic, which costs 50 kunas. Fun fact: the boats to Visovac are run by the Monastery, and on Sundays, they are free. The easiest option is from Skradinski, inside Krka National Park, and is 100 kunas roundtrip.
The Krka Monastery dates to the 15th century, perhaps earlier. Next to it is a Byzantine church. You can get here with your own car or as part of a boat tour from Roški Slap waterfall. Note that it is closed from November to March.
This large amphitheater was part of a Roman military camp. Today you can see a bit of the command building (an arch) and what remains of the amphitheater. Nearby is a pretty waterfall called Manojlovac, the tallest in the series of waterfalls on the Krka River.
The only way to get to the amphitheater or the waterfall is by car.
Some tips for visiting Krka National Park in Croatia
Whenever you decide to go to Krka, start your day early to cover as much of the park as possible. Inside the park are various pathways that allow viewing the waterfalls and getting around quickly.
While on the convenient loop track that takes around an hour, you will come across an abundance of species in the park, from birds to fish and other critters. The loop track is such a nice added touch to the park since you don’t have to worry about getting muddy or traversing through wild plants to see things.
There are also handicap-accessible and stroller paths for convenience.
The park offers various boat excursion options. If you want to see both main waterfalls and Visovac Island, take the four-hour excursion starting at Skradinski Buk.
Unfortunately, swimming in the falls is no longer an option. However, there are nearby places to take a dip, and if you are on a group tour during the summer months, the tour will often stop somewhere to swim after the park.
Make sure to bring water, your camera, and a swimsuit for this adventure. There are a snack kiosk, bathrooms, and changing stations inside the park. I recommend a water bottle (there is a station to refill in the park), wearing comfortable shoes, sunblock, and a hat if you plan to visit during the summer months.
Be sure to bring the Croatian currency, kunas, as the park does not accept credit cards.
Another good idea, as always when traveling, is bringing a power bank with you, especially when you’re snapping pictures all day!
If you’re planning to visit Dubrovnik, probably the most popular destination in Croatia, read about how to escape the crowds of Dubrovnik before you plan your trip.
Getting to Krka National Park in Croatia
I recommend an organized Krka National Park tour when visiting. This takes the stress away and allows you to enjoy the sites and scenery along the way in the comfort of a big bus with AC. Most tours include transportation, hotel pick up and drop-offs, a guide, the boat ride down the Krka River, and the entrance fee to the park. Tours are also very reasonable, adding to the appeal of making it onto your Croatia itinerary. Expect this to be an all-day outing of around 10 hours between the drive, visiting the park, and making other stops along the way, including lunch in a small town before disembarking. Still, it is totally worth visiting.
If tours are not your cup of tea, you can take public transportation from Split, but this is a little more adventurous and time-consuming. If you take a bus from Split to Skradin Station, you can take a ferry to the main entrance of Krka. A bus ticket will cost you €15.
Renting a car is always an option, if you’re visiting Krka as part of a road trip around Croatia. However, between April and October, you’ll have to leave your car at the Lozovac entrance, which is the main entrance for cars and buses, and where parking is free. You can also park near the Skrandin entrance, but there you’ll have to pay for privately-owned parking. The other three entrances have free parking. From the Lozovac entrance, after buying your ticket to the park, take a shuttle bus to Skradinski Buk, then a boat to other parts of the park from there. Alternatively, take a short hike – less than a kilometer – to Skrandinski Buk waterfall from Lozovac.
There are five different Krka National Park entrances: Skradin, Lazovac, Roški Slap, Burnam, and Krka Monastery. I recommend starting at the Skradin entrance unless you’re driving. Purchase your entrance ticket at the ticket office; it also includes the boat ride along the Krka River.
Where to stay near Krka
The best places to find hotels are in the town of Skradin or near the Lozovac entrance. The map below is centered on Skradin. Zoom out a bit to see other accommodations around the park, but keep in mind where the five entrances are.
You can pay your admission fees at any of the entrance gates. The ticket price varies depending on the time of year you plan to visit. June to September is considered the high season, costing €40 for adults and €28 for children aged 7 – 18. The shoulder season in April, May, and October is when the price drops to €20 and only €15 for children. The winter months are when it is the coldest. However, the Park is still open during this time. November – March prices are €7 for adults and €4 for children. Children under the age of 7 have free entry throughout the year.
Alternatively, save time entering the park by buying your ticket online ahead of time.
Best time of year to visit the park
I visited Krka in late May, and it was absolutely perfect. The crowds were not overwhelming, nor was the heat, so it was optimal timing, making exploration significantly more fun. The park offers plenty of shade throughout; however, the areas without shade can heat up depending on the time of year you are there. I can only imagine the peak season in the summer months when it is sweltering. However, if you don’t mind the heat and have a cute parasol for shade or a fan to refresh yourself with, the summer months are spectacular, and the park is in full bloom. Although you can no longer swim in the waterfalls, as I mentioned, there are options outside the park with areas to swim in and cool off after trekking around.
During the winter months, the park is also exceptionally beautiful as layers of snow often transform the park into a winter wonderland. Layer up, and take advantage of this if you happen to be visiting in the winter. No matter the time of year, visiting Krka National Park is worth it!
Final thoughts about Krka National Park in Croatia
Krka is such a treat to visit when you’re in Croatia. Waterfalls alone are a natural mood enhancer, let alone being surrounded by natural beauty in this wondrous country. So, besides being beautiful to look at, it is also good for your mental health. It is so much more than just walking around a park and taking a few pictures. I hope this post has convinced you to add Krka National Park to your Croatia getaway!
About the author
Amanda is a California girl with a passion for life, travel and creating value out of everything! Blogging about all things travel, lifestyle and inspiration. Her website, The Wondering Lotus Lifestyle, was created with the goal to contribute to the world in a unique way that brings more smiles and memories to last a lifetime. A full blown lover of life, she also enjoys practicing SGI Buddhism, spending time with her family, friends, dog Charlie and catching a flight whenever possible. Check out her Instagram too.
My travel recommendations
- Skyscanner is where I always start my flight searches.
- Booking.com is the company I use most for finding accommodations. If you prefer, Expedia offers more or less the same.
- Discover Cars offers an easy way to compare prices from all of the major car-rental companies in one place.
- Use Viator or GetYourGuide to find walking tours, day tours, airport pickups, city cards, tickets and whatever else you need at your destination.
- Bookmundi is great when you’re looking for a longer tour of a few days to a few weeks, private or with a group, pretty much anywhere in the world. Lots of different tour companies list their tours here, so you can comparison shop.
Other travel-related items
- Get a Priority Pass if you fly a lot so that you can use airport lounges while you wait for flights. Plan your visits around meals and/or drink times and it’s definitely worth the investment!
- I’m a fan of SCOTTeVEST’s jackets and vests because when I wear one, I don’t have to carry a handbag. I feel like all my stuff is safer when I travel because it’s in inside pockets close to my body.
- Airalo is an e-sim card. You buy it through an app and activate it when you need it. I tried it on my trip to Thailand and it worked just like any other sim card, but without my having to fuss with physical cards.
- I use ExpressVPN on my phone and laptop when I travel. It keeps me safe from hackers when I use public or hotel wifi.