Krka vs Plitvice: Which Croatian Waterfalls Are Best?

Ready to admire some epic waterfalls in Croatia’s national parks… but not sure whether to choose Krka or Plitvice?

As two of the best-known national parks in Croatia, both Plitvice Lakes National Park and Krka National Park feature gorgeous waterfalls, amazing photo opportunities, and some incredible natural views.

Croatia is one of our favorite countries in the world to visit, and the natural beauty that is part of what makes the country so special is on full display in Krka and Plitvice.

I’ll be honest: we prefer Plitvice Lakes National Park to Krka National Park, for reasons we’ll outline here, but we’ve tried to keep this Croatia waterfall guide as unbiased as possible, and absolutely love both parks!

If you need to narrow it down to one park and are having trouble deciding between Krka vs Plitvice, here’s how to choose!

Plitvice Lakes National Park Croatia postcard view from above with lakes in the center surrounded by trees, a must-see on your 10 day trip to Croatia!

Krka vs Plitvice: What’s the Perfect Croatian National Park for You?

Choose Krka If…

… You’re looking for a day trip.

While day trips to Plitvice are sold in Zadar, Split, and other areas on the upper half of Croatia’s coast, it is very far inland–about 3.5 hours each way from Split, to be exact.

Krka National Park is much closer to the coast, and therefore more accessible for day trips.

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Krka is also a smaller park, so you won’t feel as though you’re missing much by staying for a day.

In Plitvice Lakes National Park, on the other hand, a day (or really a half-day by the time you drive there and back) is barely time for a taste of what it has to offer.

Book your day trip to Krka National Park today!

waterfalls in krka national park, how to choose krka or plitvice waterfalls croatia

… You want to swim in the waterfalls.

Krka allows you to swim in front of its largest waterfall, which is part of the reason for its popularity.

You can easily pass an entire day lounging around in the clear water and taking snack breaks at the nearby ice cream stand!

In Plitvice, you cannot swim anywhere in the national park, but there are locations a short drive outside the borders of the park itself that are supposed to have beautiful swimming holes.

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If swimming is a priority for you, Krka is hands down the winner in the Krka vs Plitvice contest.

2022 Update: Unfortunately, swimming in Krka’s main waterfalls (as pictured at the top of this blog post) is now forbidden.

However, there are still other beautiful places to swim in Krka National Park!

clear water in krka national park with purple flowers in foreground, plitvice or krka national park

… You’re looking for something beyond natural sights.

Krka is home to the world’s second-oldest hydroelectric powerplant (second to Niagara Falls), which you can learn about while there.

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Krka also has a small “village”, complete with a working blacksmith and loom, demonstrating how the communities that were settled on the river lived before the Industrial Revolution.

The mill and washing machine are both working and powered by the water of the river–they are quite impressive!

view of traditional stone watermill in krka national park croatia waterfall park

Choose Plitvice If…

… You’re looking for a weekend trip to Krka or Plitvice.

We have now visited Plitvice Lakes National Park twice, spending multiple days there on each trip, and we still feel like we have more to explore there.

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While plenty of people take day trips to Plitvice, and that’s completely understandable if you have limited time in Croatia, we absolutely believe Plitvice is worth at least a one-night stay if you can spare one.

Turquoise lake with small waterfalls as seen in Plitvice Lakes National Park Croatia, an important part of any 10 day Croatia itinerary!

If you have even more than two days, you’ll have an opportunity to explore the trails that lead away from the lakes themselves into other parts of the park, and also have the opportunity to explore surrounding areas outside of Plitvice itself.

The area surrounding Plitvice is rural, and swimming holes, horseback riding, and more are available.

Short on time but still hoping to visit Plitvice Lakes National Park?

These popular day trips will give you a quick taste of what Plitvice has to offer!

From Zagreb | From Zadar | From Split

Kate Storm and Jeremy Storm standing in front of a waterfall when visiting Plitvice Lakes National Park Croatia

… You are looking for the most photo opportunities when deciding between Plitvice vs Krka.

While Plitvice can get crowded, it’s also enormous–especially around the Upper Lakes, you can find isolated places to take photos (getting an early start or sticking around until after the tour groups leave can help with this, as well).

There are simply far more options as far as places to photograph in Plitvice vs Krka National Park, and they are all worthy of the honor.

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If you’re looking to visit Plitvice for photography purposes, make sure you show up at the crack of dawn–as soon as the park opens, you’ll want to race inside.

Also consider visiting Plitvice during the offseason, when crowds will be lower: fall and winter photos of Plitvice Lakes National Park definitely don’t have the Instagram-famous summer look to them, but they are magical in their own way.

Veliki Slap as seen from across the gorge near Entrance 1 to the Plitvice Lakes Croatia

…. You want to explore a lot of different trails.

With 16 interconnected lakes to explore, plus trails that loop above and beyond them, there is no shortage of places to explore in Plitvice Lakes National Park.

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Krka has only one trail that is directly near the waterfalls–we walked it (very slowly) in 45 minutes, and the views were nothing compared to those we found wandering around the Plitvice Lakes.

If you’re hoping to hike close to the lakes for hours at a time, Plitvice is the clear winner in the Krka vs Plitvice showdown.

Kate Storm in a pink dress twirling on a boardwalk when visiting Plitvice Lakes Croatia. Trees surround the boardwalk and water is running under it.

Krka or Plitvice: The Final Decision

So, which park full of amazing Croatian waterfalls should you visit? Both!

Really, if you have the time while in Croatia, don’t bother choosing between Krka vs Plitvice–seeing both parks would not be a waste of your time, and they are both unforgettable destinations.

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If you have to choose, though, we recommend Krka National Park if you’re more limited on time or interested in swimming in Croatian waterfalls.

If you have a couple of days to dedicate to the trip and are more interested in the hiking and photography opportunities, Plitvice Lakes National Park is the Croatia waterfall park for you.

Path made of wooden planks in Plitvice Lakes National Park that is built over a turquoise lake

What to Pack for Plitvice or Krka National Park

Swim Goggles — If you’re visiting Krka National Park, it’s an extra bonus to be able to open your eyes when swimming in all of that beautiful water!

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Towel — If you’re visiting Krka and swimming, keep in mind that towels won’t be available.

Either bring your own or prepare to be wet for awhile!

Dry Bag — Keep your belongings safe and don’t risk your camera falling in a lake (or getting caught in a rainstorm) by bringing a dry bag along on your trip to Plitvice or Krka National Park.

main waterfall croatia park krka national park

Small Bills and Coins — Because no visit to a Croatian National Park (especially in the summer) is complete without picking up at least one Ledo ice cream bar from one of the many carts found around the parks.

Ledo is Croatia’s national ice cream brand and is among the best ice cream we have ever tasted!

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Sunscreen — Because a sunburn is probably not the look you’re going for in your photos from Croatia’s waterfalls!

Reusable Water Bottle — Keep these beautiful parks safe and resist bringing more plastic into them!

A reusable water bottle is perfect for hiking with in either Krka or Plitvice National Park.


photo of people swimming waterfalls croata, red text reads krka vs plitvice
About Kate Storm
Image of the author, Kate Storm

In May 2016, I left my suburban life in the USA and became a full-time traveler. Since then, I have visited 50+ countries on 5 continents and lived in Portugal, developing a special love of traveling in Europe (especially Italy) along the way. Today, along with my husband Jeremy and dog Ranger, I’m working toward my eventual goal of splitting my life between Europe and the USA.

19 thoughts on “Krka vs Plitvice: Which Croatian Waterfalls Are Best?”

  1. Hi again,
    Received your email that you are now in Thailand and will be heading out. So glad to once again know that all is going well. Your blogs are impressive and so interesting. Even got GP involved in reading and enjoying them. Stay well. Sending lots of love.
    Grandma Harriet

    Reply
  2. Nice comparison! I went to Plitvice but not Krka and I was pretty disappointed to miss Krka. Mostly I really wanted to swim in those amazing waterfalls! I’m happy to know I got to see the one you’d most recommend. 🙂

    Reply
    • You definitely chose the right one in my book! The swimming is a pretty great benefit to Krka, though–at Plitvice it took a lot of self-control not to touch the water! I’ve heard that there are great places to swim in the Plitvice area right outside the national park, so we plan to hunt them down on our next visit.

      Reply
  3. Have you heard of Rastok, it is part of the Plitvice river network but approximately 30 minutes north of the National Park and is a village built on a network of waterfalls. Went last year from Australia and is. Amazing. The Krka falls is also part of a beautiful river network and consist of of a waterfall called Roski fall. It has a beautiful little restaurant serving wine, prosciutto and cheese set amongst the trickling falls.

    Reply
  4. Thanks for the advice Kate on Krka vs Plitivice, this has really helped make my mind up and on our next visit we will be visiting Krka, mainly due to the traveling time as we are only there for 7 nights and want fit as much as we can in.

    Reply
    • Glad to hear it, Gina! Hope that you have an amazing time in Croatia–it’s one of our favorite countries of all time!

      Reply
  5. Hello, I will travel with two little girls (2 & 4) so I guess my better choce should be Krka, shorter way from split, not that long walks, and the bath in the lake, sounds more relaxing than plitvice for my family, we take strollers for the kids, what do you think?

    Reply
    • Hmm–truthfully, I think strollers will be tough in either destination. The walk to the pools in Krka isn’t too long, but it isn’t paved or anything, just a dirt path. Plitvice does have wooden planks that might make it easier for strollers, though it’ll be tough to battle the crowds with them. I’m sure your girls will be blown away by either!

      Reply
  6. Hi, Kate! Great post. I’m planning a 4-5 days trip to Croatia (coming from Italy and Slovenia) and really want to visit Krka. The date is around september 10. Do you think the weather would be nice to swim? Also, I might rent a car in my way from Zagreb, can I get to the park directly by car o should I leave it in a nearby town? (I’ve read Skradin is an option, but don´t know if it’s safe as I will be carrying my baggage).

    Reply
    • Hi Carolina! Depends on the year, of course, but mid-September is typically still swimming season in Croatia! We were there mid-September just last year and it definitely still felt like summer in all ways.

      In your case, with the luggage, I’d consider storing it somewhere other than your car if possible, if not, the general rule of thumb is just to make sure absolutely nothing is showing (so put it in the back and make sure the cover conceals it completely, basically–hope that makes sense). As far as I know, there’s nowhere to park in the park itself, Skradin is an option and I think there’s another parking area with a shuttle as well!

      Reply
  7. We just got back from Croatia and spent a day at both KRKA and Plitvice. I’d give KRKA a 3/10 and Plitvice a 10/10. Plitvice had free bathrooms, better signage, more waterfalls close to the parking, was about 1/3 as crowded, better walking paths, better food, free parking. I couldn’t believe I spent $30 a person at KRKA and then had to pay to use the bathroom. If would have only done Plitvice if I had known how much better it is.

    Reply

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