Visiting Krka National Park makes for a wonderful change of scenery from the gorgeous Croatian beaches.
While the Krka waterfalls may not be as famous as the ones in Plitvice Lakes National Park, they certainly are impressive in their own right. Skradinski Buk Falls and Roski Slap Falls may be the star attractions but the natural beauty of Krka National Park doesn’t end there. A Krka National Park tour or individual visit allows you to discover the Croatian hinterland beyond the waterfalls as well.
All it takes is a day trip from Split, Sibenik, or Zagreb to explore Krka National Park’s many natural delights.
Are you ready to experience Krka National Park for yourself as part of your Croatia itinerary? Then this is the only travel guide you need to plan your trip!
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About Krka National Park
The 72.5 km (45 mi) long Krka river forms the heart of this 109 km2 (42 mi2) national park. It spills over several series of travertine terraces, creating the most mesmerizing waterfalls. As a result, Krka National Park is a haven of biodiversity.
Well over a thousand species and subspecies of plants have been identified around the Krka river beds. Among both the endemic and endangered flora are several orchid species.
The fauna is just as rich. Many amphibians, reptiles, and insect call Krka NP home. It’s also one of the richest ornithological areas in Croatia. The golden eagle and peregrine falcon are just some of the unique birds you might spot in Krka National Park. In addition, the Krka River is also home to a unique and abundant fish population.
Along with its natural delights, Krka National Park also comprises several medieval fortresses and archeological sites.
Where is Krka National Park?
This natural playground is located in northern Dalmatia, in the Šibenik-Knin county, and near the historic city of Šibenik.
Depending on your itinerary, you could head there individually or as part of a guided or private tour.
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How to get to Krka National Park from Split?
Depending on where you stay in Split, the drive to the Krka waterfalls from Split takes around one hour.
If you don’t plan on driving yourself, then you may find your pick in this selection of Krka tours from Split:
- Krka Waterfalls Tour with Boat, Swimming & Free Time
- Krka, Roški Falls Swim & Šibenik Day Tour
- Krka National Park Private Full-Day Trip
How to get to Krka National Park from Šibenik?
The drive to the Krka waterfalls from Šibenik takes less than 20 minutes. While it’s a nice drive, there’s a more scenic way to reach Krka National Park from Šibenik and that’s by boat.
The boat ride along the Krka-Channel is a scenic experience along protected natural sites such as Prokljan Lake all the way to the Skradin entrance. Here are some options:
- Krka Waterfalls Half Day, Private Tour
- Private Krka Waterfalls Tour with Wine Tasting
- NP Krka Private Boat Experience
How to get to Krka National Park from Zadar?
The drive to the Krka waterfalls from Zadar takes just about an hour.
If you don’t plan on driving yourself, then you may find your pick in this selection of organized Krka waterfalls day trips:
- Krka Waterfalls Day Tour (Entrance Fees Reserved)
- Krka Waterfalls, Food & Wine Tasting Tour
- Krka Waterfalls National Park – Day Tour (Ticket Included)
Where to stay near the Krka waterfalls?
A visit to Krka National Park takes anywhere between 3 hours and a full day, depending on the number of attractions you’re planning on seeing.
Staying near Krka National Park is perfect if you’re looking to spend a day or two exploring the area. The following hotels and holiday homes are located close to the two main park entrances (and some of them even come with an outdoor swimming pool):
But since a day is usually plenty to experience the Krka Falls and sights, you might just as well stay in Šibenik (or Zadar or Split) and take a day trip from there. Here are some amazing places to stay in Šibenik:
Krka National Park tickets and opening times
The Krka National Park ticket price varies by season. A standard ticket is priced at €20 (around $22) during spring and €40 (around $44) during high season. You can check the latest entrance fees here and the cost of boat excursions here. Tickets can be bought on the official website.
Children up to the age of 7 can enter Krka free of charge. As for the boat excursions, children up to the age of 4 can join free of charge.
Click here for an up-to-date overview of the Krka National Park opening times.
Krka waterfalls and more places to see in Krka National Park
When you visit Krka as part of your, everything is arranged for you. But when you plan an individual visit, it’s important to put some thought into your planning. The area is vast, after all. So, which entrance to Krka National Park should you choose? Where to enter Krka National Park depends on which sites you plan on visiting and in what order.
Let’s zoom in on each of Krka National Park’s attractions. For your convenience, we’ll also mention the corresponding entrance(s) to Krka National Park per item.
Skradinski Buk waterfalls
The most popular attraction of Krka National Park can be found in the river’s lower course. Skradinski Buk – buk being the Croatian word for cascade – is the spectacular result of river water spilling over 17 travertine steps over a length of 800 m (0.5 mi) and with an elevation of 45.7 m (150 ft). This majestic waterfall is up to 400 m (0.25 mi) wide.
When you visit Skradinski waterfalls, a beautiful winding wooden trail leads you to several viewpoints. Note that the Skradinski Buk trails are meant for one-way counterclockwise traffic.
Best park entrances to visit Skradinski Buk waterfalls
Two entrances lead to Skradinski Buk: the Lozovac entrance and the Skradin entrance. Here’s a detailed of how to get to Skradinski Buk from both.
Lozovac entrance to Skradinski Buk:
The Lozovac entrance is Krka National Park’s main entrance. If you haven’t purchased your tickets online, you can still do so here. We were able to get our tickets in high season, mid-July, without queuing. Parking is free of charge at this Krka Park entrance.
From the entrance, you can either take the bus or hike your way to the Krka river bank. We opted for the hike. The 875 m (0.54 mi) gravel trail is studded with rocks and can be slippery in some places. There’s no shade on this part of the walking trail.
When you reach the road, head towards the information center and bus stop on your left. That’s where the Skradinski Buk experience begins. A wooden loop trail meanders around the trees and traverses the Krka river islet by islet. This 1900 m (1.18 mi) loop trail is beautifully shaded by abundant foliage.
After your visit to Skradinski Buk, you can either close the loop or head to the pier for a boat transfer to Skradin town. There’s a ticket counter here as well. The boat leaves the pier every hour on the half-hour according to the following schedule:
- April: 9.30 am to 5.30 pm
- May: 9.30 am to 6.30 pm
- June, July & August: 9.30 am to 7.30 pm
- September: 9.30 am to 6.30 pm
- October: 9.30 am to 5.30 pm
- November to March: no service
Skradin entrance to Skradinski Buk:
The Skradinski Buk waterfall can also be visited from Krka National Park’s Skradin entrance. Parking here is paying and it’s cash only. In Skradin, you can purchase your ticket and hop on the boat towards Skradinski Buk, where you can start the Skradinski Buk loop trail from the bridge.
Do note that the boat only sails from April to October. It leaves the Skradin Pier every hour on the hour according to the following schedule:
- April: 8 am to 4 pm
- May: 8 am to 5 pm
- June, July & August: 8 am to 6 pm
- September: 8 am to 5 pm
- October: 8 am to 4 pm
- November to March: no service
An alternative option is to hike or cycle your way from Skradin to Skradinski Buk. The ticket counter for pedestrian and bike traffic can be found on Skradin Bridge.
Watermills & ethno village
Throughout history, the power of the Krka river was used for economic purposes. The now restored watermills once milled wheat for the entire Dalmatian region. The original mills date from the Middle Ages but over time, they have been rebuilt on several occasions.
The water mills at Skradinski buk and Roški slap, which can be visited today, date back to the 19th century. You can watch a demonstration of the milling process and visit the ethnographic collection on display.
Other old trades, such as forging and weaving, are also represented in the ethno village and provide insight into how local communities lived before the Industrial Revolution.
Roski Slap waterfalls
About halfway along the Krka River is another mesmerizing waterfall: Roski Slap – slap being the Croatian word for waterfall. Just upstream from the actual waterfall is a series of travertine cascades nicknamed Necklaces. Right after passing the Necklaces, the river water reaches Roski Slap where it spills into Visovac Lake.
This beautiful phenomenon takes place over a length of 650 m (0.4 mi) and with an elevation of 25.5 m (837 ft). Right before Roski Slap, the river opens up resulting in the impressive 450 m (0.28 mi) wide waterfall.
Climb the 517 steps of the wooden stairs next to the Roski Slap viewpoint to reach the prehistoric Oziđana Pećina cave.
Best entrances to visit Roski Slap waterfalls
Roski Slap is easily accessible by car and parking is available on both river banks. From there, you can access Krka National Park and purchase tickets for the boat excursion to Visovac Island and the Krka monastery. Note that no boat service is organized from November up until March.
An alternative way to visit Roski Slap (and Visovac) is by boat from the Skradinski Buk pier near the Lozovac entrance. Again, boat service is only available from April to October.
This picturesque island in the middle of the Krka river seems to come straight out of a storybook.
In 1445, the Franciscan monastery of the Mother of Mercy and the church of Our Lady of Visovac were constructed on Visovac Island. To this day, Franciscan monks welcome visitors on Visovac island which is also known as White Rock.
Inside the monastery museum you’ll find true historic gems such as the smallest book in the world. It’s a prayer book containing the Our Father prayer that measures just 3,5 by 3,5 mm (0.14 by 0.14 in).
If you don’t plan on visiting this small island, then the hilltop viewpoint in Stinice offers the most scenic view over this idyllic island. It’s also the starting point of a popular Krka National Park hike to Roški slap and the Oziđana Pećina cave.
Regrettably, we only got to see Visovac from the river banks at dusk. There was no more boat service at that time. But it looked so picturesque that we’d love to visit this small island as part of our next Croatian escape.
The best entrance to visit Visovac
For a visit to Visovac, you could drive to either river bank hamlet (Stinice and Remetić) and hop on the ferry to the island. Or, if you happen to visit on a Sunday, you can catch a free ride with the monks who call this little island home.
You can reach Stinica via the D33 in the direction of Drnis. From there, follow the signs to the Pakovo Selo, Kljuc, Drinovci, and finally Stinica.
On the Krka riverbank, in a haven of green tranquility, lies the 16th-century spiritual center of the Serbian Orthodox monks. An educational walking trail leads along the arcade-lined inner courtyard, the museum, and the church.
Visitors are also allowed access to the Byzantine-style catacombs that date back to the Roman era and can be found under the church.
The best entrance to visit the Krka monastery
The Krka monastery is easily accessible by car from Kistanje. It has its parking lot and its own Krka National Park entrance.
Another option, which is available from April to October, is to join the boat excursion from Roski Slap to the Krka Monastery.
More Krka waterfalls
Five more Krka waterfalls can be found in the river’s upper course. The most majestic one, and the tallest waterfall in Krka National Park, is Manojlovac falls. Over a length of 500 m (0.31 mi), the river water drops almost 60 m (197 ft).
All five of these upstream waterfalls are located near the next attraction on this list.
Burnum archeological site
The Burnum Roman military camp dates back to the 1st century AD. Many of the original artifacts can be found on display Burnum Archaeological Collection in the Krka Eco Campus in Puljane. But the most impressive remains that can be visited at this site are the arcades of the military command building and the only preserved Roman military amphitheater in Croatia.
The best entrance to visit the Burnum archeological site
The archeological site is located upstream in Krka National Park and can only be reached by car. It has its own entrance.
FAQ about visiting Krka National Park
Now that you know the lay of the land, we’ll answer some final questions to help you finalize your Krka National Park planning.
What’s the best time to visit Krka National Park?
Krka National Park is a year-round destination and will look different throughout the seasons.
Every season has its charm but the very best time to visit is during spring. It’s when the vegetation is in bloom, when the beautiful waterfalls are more abundant, when boat excursions are available to hop from one attraction to the other, when the temperatures are pleasant and when the summer crowds are yet to arrive.
A different experience is to be expected during autumn and winter. There’s no boat service at that time of year. While it’s permitted to drive your car inside the park during low season, you’ll still be missing out on some of the attractions.
Is Krka National Park the same as Plitvice Lakes National Park?
No, it’s not. Both Plitvice Lakes and Krka are Croatian national parks and both feature multiple waterfalls in a verdant setting. But they’re different parks at different locations. While both are stunning in their own right, there are some differences.
As mentioned in the first part of this article, Krka National Park is located in the Dalmatia region, close to popular Croatian cities such as Split and Zadar. Dubrovnik is about 3.5 hours away by car.
Plitvice Lakes National Park is located in the Kvarner region, and more in particular in the Licko-Senjska county. It’s located closer to the Croatian capital of Zadar and the popular vacation region of Istria. Dubrovnik is a little under 5 hours away by car.
Another difference is the size: As mentioned, Krka National Park covers an area of 109 km2 (42 mi2) while Plitvice Lakes National Park covers an area of just under 300 km2 (115 mi2).
Finally, Plitvice Lakes National Park has been recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage site while Krka National Park hasn’t.
Which is better: Krka waterfalls or Plitvice lakes?
We visited both national parks during the same 10-day family vacation, in high season and in the summer heat. Both counted as highlights of our Croatia itinerary.
In our opinion, Plitvice Lakes has a more spectacular setting than Krka. We loved the mesmerizing emerald waters, the wooden walkways that line the river, and the rowing boats that allow visitors to escape the crowds. The wooden walkways in Krka National Park don’t line the river but traverse it from islet to islet and the vegetation is so thick that you can’t see much of the beautiful surroundings in between viewpoints.
When it comes to waterfalls, though, we found the main waterfall at Plitvice Lakes National Park, Veliki slap, to be a bit underwhelming. Okay, it was summer and therefore not the best season to chase waterfalls. But still, it didn’t compare to Skradinski Buk, the main waterfall in Krka National Park.
Also, the pedestrian bridge that serves as the main viewpoint over Skradinski Buk is much more spacious and comfortable than the cramped viewpoint at Veliki Slap. In general, we found the Krka waterfalls to be less tall but far more abundant than the Plitvice waterfalls.
Again, this is our personal opinion and you may have a different point of view. And let’s not forget that weather, crowds, and timing all have their impact on the experience.
How much time do you need in Krka National Park?
It all depends on how many sites you plan on visiting.
If you’re short on time, then go for the star attraction: Skradinski Buk. On a quiet day, you could complete your visit at about 2h30 from the Lozovac entrance. If you visit Skradinski from the Skradin entrance, then make it 3h since it involves a 25-minute boat transfer each way. This quick visit does mean that you’ll be missing out on the water mills, the ethno village, and all other tourist sites.
For a more relaxed visit that includes more highlights, you’ll be spending over half a day in Krka National Park. Make it a full day if you plan on including more hikes or a dip in the Krka river. In this scenario, head to Skravinski Buk first because that’s the busiest attraction in Krka National Park.
Can you still swim at Krka National Park?
You might have seen images on the web of people bathing at Skradinski Buk. Well, that was a different time. We hate to break it to you but swimming is no longer allowed in Skradinski Buk.
But that doesn’t mean that the Krka river is entirely off-limits. You can still swim in Kra National Park’s designated areas such as Roški Slap and Stinice. We also noticed a beautiful beach in Skradin, near the boat pier. Do note that swimming is only allowed during the summer months, from 1 June to 30 September, and when circumstances allow it.
What to pack for Krka National Park?
Any visit to a Croatian attraction in summer requires water and lots of it. It was so hot when we visited the Krka waterfalls in mid-July that even the shade from the trees didn’t offer much relief. This brings us to those other summer essentials: a hat and sunscreen.
If you plan on hiking beyond the Skradinski Buk loop trail, then make sure to wear good hiking shoes. My sneakers weren’t a match for the stones on the path from the Lozovac entrance to the Krka riverbank.
There’s a handful of restaurants in the park but the food offer is limited. Plus, Krka National Park makes for a dreamy picnic location so why not make it a memorable one?
Entrance tickets to Krka National Park can be paid for by credit card. But, at the Skradin parking office, we could only pay in cash. So, just to be on the safe side, do bring some cash for small expenses and tipping.
Our experience visiting the Krka waterfalls
We loved our time in Krka National Park. Granted, we should have taken more time to see more of the area than just Skradinsku Buk, the watermills, and Visovac island (it was dusk by the time we got there). We’d love to see Roski Slap and the Krka Monastery as well one day.
The parts of Krka National Park that we did get to see enchanted us. The shaded walking trails, abundant vegetation, and travertine waterfalls all come together and create a truly idyllic setting.
On one hand, it may be a pity that swimming at Skradinsku Buk is no longer allowed. But on the other hand, if this is what it takes to protect this unique environment, then it’s just a small price to pay. Krka National Park is a beautiful place to visit.
When will you visit the Krka waterfalls? We’d love to hear all about your Croatia travel plans in the comments!