Croatia is home to some incredible national parks, some particularly known for waterfalls. Plitvice Lakes National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is probably the most famous of these. A smaller park, Krka National Park, is arguably a more accessible version of a park filled with waterfalls. During our recent stay in Split, Croatia, we decided to check out what Krka had to offer. From what we understand, the park has some of the best waterfalls in Europe.
How to get to Krka National Park
Krka is easy to reach from Split. You can rent a car – the drive is just over an hour. A public bus is also an option, but depending on the time of year you’re visiting, you might need to make a connection. We’d recommend taking one of the many tours offered. Tour operators along the Promenade in Split display posters of the falls and offer easy day trips. At about 25 Euro, they offer a stress-free round trip private bus to the park.
We met for the tour at 8:30AM, by the golden gate in Split. Many tours, of all sorts, choose this spot as a meeting place – it’s hard to miss the massive statue of Gregory of Nin that sits just outside of the gate. Once our group was gathered, the guides led us through the old city to the cruise port area, where the buses (two for our tour) were waiting. The ride was easy, and we arrived at the lower lake to enter the park via cruise boat, a nice touch.
The tour itself doesn’t include payment for entry into the National Park, so after buying our tickets (100kn when we visited, but it varies depending on the time of year), we went off to explore.
In Krka, swimming is also allowed in the lower pool, so if you visit, make sure you bring your swimming gear, as well as some water shoes – the limestone and calcium that reflect the light and create the incredible blue colors of the lake can be unforgiving to bare feet.
The national park surrounds the Krka river, which supplies the water for the falls. The river water flows over rock formations, falling from one pool to the next.
The park can get busy, particularly inside the main entrance around the area allowing swimming. But it doesn’t take much walking to escape the initial crowds. We hiked up, along dirt trails and raised wooden walkways, discovering new sites around every corner.
As you walk through the park, keep an eye out for plants, especially Croatian lavender. In fact, the park has the second highest concentration of lavender per square kilometer in all of Europe.
Beyond plants, the park hosts plenty of wildlife. River fish float in the crystal waters and shallows of the park, often near the walkways. The fish and ducks that make the river their home will be more than happy to compete with each other for any breadcrumbs you throw in their direction.
In pre-industrial times, the river and the falls were dotted with watermills which ground grain. Today, the mills aren’t operational, but you can see preserved millstones and even a reconstructed mill along the way.
Some of the prime mill spots have been turned into restaurants where you can stop to get a coffee, a snack, or a drink, while gazing at the magnificent waterfalls around you.
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Here are a few additional articles to inspire or help you plan your visit to Croatia (including enjoying some amazing Croatian Cuisine to sample during your visit).