We were lucky to have the time to fit both National parks into our itinerary, but if I had to pick one? I think I’d pick Krka. Or maybe Plitvice. Screw it, I’ll take them both…
Plitvice is an iconic destination, a UNESCO World Heritage Destination and probably on a lot more people’s travel wish lists. But with that comes bigger crowds, and there have recently been a number of incidents reported with visitors who have not respected park rules/park etiquette and have been injured as a result. There also seemed to be a LOT of large tour groups, causing bottlenecks at key viewpoints and making for a much more lengthy walk around the lakes. Sometimes you feel as if you have to quickly take a photograph and move on so that the next person can do the same, rather than just taking the time to enjoy being there and being mindful of the stunning beauty around you.
Krka seemed a lot more laidback, with ample space for relaxing – even around the trails themselves there are plenty of spots where you can rest awhile. At Plitvice, once you are on a trail there is little opportunity to do this. I’d also recommend more sturdy footwear for Plitvice as some of the wooden boardwalks are in need of a bit of maintenance and can be a bit slippy and uneven in the lower areas. Krka trails are much more “light-footwear”-friendly.
We were luckier of course with the weather at Krka – bright and sunny, compared to a little dull and drizzly at times at Plitvice. If you are staying in one place at a base, you can probably afford to be a little more choosy when you go, and plan it around the weather; we however had limited time in Zadar so we had to pick a day and go with it whatever the weather – or risk missing out altogether. Geography may play a part in the weather – Plitvice is across the mountains, in a more temperate region than Krka, which is closer to the coast.
Plitvice is of course spectacular, and no single scene at Krka (for me) beat either that first glimpse of the Great Waterfall, or the amazing panoramic view of the falls from above. But at Krka you feel like you are closer to the action, with the trails winding across the tops of the falls before winding their way back down to Skradinski Buk. And of course, there’s the swimming! Strictly forbidden at Plitvice, the great advantage at Krka is being able to swim in the lower lake – although there are restrictions which prevent you from swimming under the falls themselves.
The lower lakes trail at Krka can be done in an hour, and if time is at a premium you can probably fit in a walk and a swim in half a day. A full day would allow you to explore the upper lakes and Visovac island too, as well as being able to relax a lot more. Plitvice really requires a full day to explore all parts of the park – and two days if you have the luxury (a 2- day pass is available, saving 40% on two single day passes). The E65 makes both parks relatively easy to access, but Krka is closer to major coastal towns such as Zadar, Split, Sibenik and the Makarska Riviera.
It’s a tough pick. Like choosing your favourite child. Do you pick the beautiful, popular one, or the (also beautiful) fun one? Nope, I’ll take them both please Croatia.