Krka vs Plitvice: Which Waterfalls Should You Visit?Croatia
I recently learned the most exciting fact that I’ve heard in awhile: Croatia has eight national parks to explore. I can’t wait to get to all of them in the next several years, but there is no doubt that two are more famous than the others in the eyes of international tourists Plitvice Lakes National Park and Krka National Park, and that deciding whether to add Krka or Plitvice to their Croatia itinerary is a decision that a lot of the visitors to the country are forced to make!
Plitvice is the most famous of the two, and holds a UNESCO World Heritage designation, but Krka is also immensely popular with tourists–there are day trips sold on every corner in Croatian tourism destinations to prove it.
Both Krka and Plitvice feature gorgeous waterfalls, amazing photo opportunities, and some incredible views of nature.
I’ll be honest: Jeremy and I both prefer Plitvice to Krka, and while we 100% plan to return there one day (with a stronger camera–sadly our photos of the Plitvice lakes are pre-DSLR and manual shooting), we’re not so sure that we’ll visit Krka again. That being said, Krka is beautiful, and each park has its benefits.
If you need to narrow it down to one park between Krka vs Plitvice, here are some pointers to help with that decision.
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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 from Split according to our guide. Krka National Park is much closer to the coast, and therefore more accessible for day trips.
Krka is also a smaller park, so you won’t feel as though you’re missing much by staying for a day–with the Plitvice Lakes, 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.
… You want to swim.
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. If swimming is a priority for you, Krka is hands down the winner in the Krka vs Plitvice contest.
… You’re looking for something beyond natural sights.
Krka is home to the world’s second-oldest hydro-electric powerplant (second to Niagara Falls), which you can learn about while there. 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!
Shop affordable day trips to Krka National Park here!
Choose Plitvice If…
… You’re looking for a weekend trip.
Jeremy and I spend two full days in Plitvice Lakes National Park, plus one half day on the day that we arrived, and we never grew bored of it.
While plenty of people take day trips to Plitvice, I strongly believe that this is a park better enjoyed with more time to take it in.
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.
If you have your heart set on visiting Plitvice and only have one day to do so, there are day trips available to give you a taste of the park!
… You are looking for the most photo opportunities.
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 far more options as far as places to photograph here, and they are all worthy of the honor.
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.
…. You want to explore a lot of area.
During our 2.5 days in Plitvice, Jeremy and I spent about 14 hours hiking around the lakes, and traveled the main path along all 16 interconnected lakes (we took a couple of detours, as well).
We never ran out of things to see or do–in fact, when we go back, we want to try our hand at some trails that lead away from the lakes.
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.
Don’t visit Plitvice or Krka without travel insurance! We use and recommend World Nomads due to their affordability, ease of purchasing, and the clarity of their contract!
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.
If you have to choose, though, we recommend Krka National Park if you’re more limited on time or interested in swimming in the waterfalls, and Plitvice Lakes National Park if you have a couple of days to dedicate to the trip and are more interested in the hiking and photography opportunities.
What to Pack for Plitvice or Krka
Nalgene BPA Free Tritan Wide Mouth 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 or Krka or Plitvice.
Speedo Vanquisher 2.0 Mirrored 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!
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!
10L Dry Bag — Keep your belongings safe and don’t risk your camera falling in a lake (or getting caught in a rainstorm) with a dry bag.
Small Bills & 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!