A short and simple answer is they are BOTH beautiful places! but as tourist you have to make many choices based on time, money and own’s personality and I hope our experience and the pictures below will make it easier to pick.
Krka Park is famous for the waterfalls disposed in steps and for the diversity it offers: a Ethnic small village, a hydroelectric power plant, the Visovac church in the middle of a small island and the Roman Burnum. You’re also allowed to swim near the main waterfalls, very appealing in hot summer days! Plitvice is nature at its best: crystal quiet waters and then streams and curtain-like waterfalls, the caves and the fauna and THE 16 TURQUOISE LAKES. It’s a UNESCO site and swimming is not allowed but it is for the better, to keep it as pristine and unaltered as possible. You walk in here like into a museum of natural wonders and everywhere is so beautiful and well preserved.
Bottom line is we loved Plitvice more than Krka.
PLITVICE – from beautiful to WOW, breathtaking!
The costs and how much time?
On the Plitvice website you find complete info for prices and the types of trails. We got here on 31st Aug, last day of peak season, so we paid the full ticket price of 180KN (24EUR) for K trail. There are transfers between different points inside the park – boat, trains – included in the entrance fee. If you arrive with your car, the parking is not included in the ticket and costed us 1EUR/hour.
A whole day is OK to see the area with the Lakes. We arrived by car from Zagreb heading to Zadar, around 11 a.m. and left around 6 p.m. in the afternoon. However the park is huge, and when we were documenting about it, many were advising a two days stay to take it slow and explore much more and it would have been without a doubt relaxing and beautiful.
There are two main entrances: E1 closer to the Lower Lakes and E2 not too far by car, closer to Upper Lakes. E1 was the first in our way so we stopped here.
There are A to K types of trails, depending on how much time you have and how much you want to see. Some trails start from E1, some from E2, but no matter what entrance you are at, based on the ticket you chose, they’ll take you to the correct starting point.
E1 is said to be more crowded, so have that in mind if you don’t have too much time at your disposal. We took the K trail, the longest one, but with option to start from E2 because it’s the recommended tour, taking you gradually from beautiful to WOW, amazing. At E2 you’ll check first the upper lakes, with the low and clear water and then gradually as you get to lower lakes and closer to E1, you have the canyons, and caves and then spectacular deep turquoise lakes and the big waterfalls which are the best sights in the whole park in my opinion.
Hit and miss
There were really no misses for the visit. Apart from being crowded and soooo expensive, which we were expecting from the start, the trails are well indicated, well kept and organized, and we left with the feeling that we did not lose precious time searching and not finding the things we wanted to see.
The place is soooo good, it’s almost unbelievable! The clearest still water contrasting with the karstic white walls, the logs from trees trapped under the water like an insect inside a natural amber stone, the caves and the vegetation and then the countless waterfalls are a true wonder of nature. And then all those fishes that swim in banks near the alleys! My English vocabulary is really poor in metaphors so I think my description is not doing justice to the lakes, but I’m sure the pictures will show better what I mean.
KRKA National Park
The costs and how much time?
Krka Park used to be less expensive than Plivice, but lately got a lot of fame and today is almost as expensive as Plitvice. On their website you also find all useful information for prices, entrances, types of trails and timetable. We arrived on 3rd September so at least here we didn’t pay the highest rate for the All terrestrial locations ticket.
Krka is not so vast as Plitvice, but be assured you need a whole day as well. The main area has the Skradinski buk waterfalls, the most famous ones and where you can swim, also the Jaruga Hydroelectric Power Plant, one of the oldest in the world and a small but beautiful Ethno village. Other areas have the Visovak monastery in the middle of a small island, or their other famous waterfall Roski slap.
We arrived in the park at 1PM and while it was ok for the main area, we lost the last boat to Visovak monastery at 16:30 and only managed to get to Roški waterfall taking our own car.
As said above, if you plan to see the Visovak monastery too and also get to Roski waterfall, you should allocate a whole day. We first visited Sibenik town that day, which is really beautiful and I recommend it but after that we were on the rush in the park.
We stopped at Skradin entrance where you take a boat to get to the Skradinski Buk main area. There are free parking places here so don’t get tricked like we did: when approaching the entrance, you first pass near some paid parking places where they told us all the other parking lots are paid and already full. But it was not true, there was a lot of place in the others lots FREE.
Hit and miss
The Skradinski Buk waterfall is great and you can swim near it and get cooled in hot summer. We did not do it: lack of time and waaaaay too many people. The miss was that we din’t go to Visovac monastery.
We got to Roski slap however, the other big waterfall, but we just could not find that spot to see all of it from above. We were asking left and right but no one was offering correct directions!!! The park here is really nice but because we had a looong drive to get here and did not see the main thing, we really felt it was not well explained so not all that worth it.