South-East Europe roadtrip: Stop #6 – Krka and Plitvice Lakes

A view at Skradinski buk waterfall in Krka National Park.

Croatia is not only about impressive historical cities, phenomenal beaches or viewpoints from which you can admire the picturesque views. Croatia has also unique and very rich nature. Therefore after visiting some of the most beautiful Dalmatian cities, we went to see two very famous Croatian National Parks: Krka and Plitvice Lakes.

Krka National Park

Just like Plitvice Lakes, for nature lovers Krka National Park is one of the most famous places in Croatia. Located in northern Dalmatia, Krka National Park was established in the area of Krka River where several tributaries of the river merge together, creating canyons and limestone barriers. Krka National Park is a picturesque land where you can see many of the smaller and larger waterfalls, of which the highest is 52 meters high. We’re really nature lovers, so we wanted to see those waterfalls and gorges.

A map of recreational path around Krka National Park.
A map of recreational path around Krka National Park.

We got to the park from Lozovac village side. The cashier told us that there’s a bus going down to the river every 15 minutes, so we don’t have to go on foot. We waited about half an hour, but didn’t regret it. Apparently the distance from parking lot to river bus stop was only 800 meters, but the road is very narrow, winding and quite steep.

When we got to the river, one of the park employees briefly talked about the history of the National Park, the river and its characteristic locations, and in several words described each of the routes open to the public. We chose the educational path, which length is approximately 1900 meters. This very charming route, leading through many wooden crossings and bridges, has a lot of view points from which you can admire the river. The peaceful stroll took us no more than 1,5 hour and we really enjoyed the views. Many bridges go over limescale barriers or close to cascades and gorges on the river. There were very few tourists, and very dense and rich vegetation made us feel like we were walking in the woods.

Dawid standing on a wooden bridge, looking at river in Krka National Park.
A pathway in Krka National Park

Without any doubts the most spectacular place in the Park is Skradinski buk waterfall. Being 46 meters high, it’s located at the confluence of the rivers Krka and Cikola. Numerous cascades create an amazing show of water vigorously flowing over rock shelves. Close to the base of the waterfall there’s a swimming pool for people who want to cool down. We didn’t try it – mainly because the water in the river was really cold (no surprise there, because it was already October). Not far from the waterfall we could see the remains of the former hydroelectric power station on the river Krka. Tourist leaflet stated that this power station was launched two days after the start of Nicola Tesla power plant at Niagara Falls. After taking few photos, we passed another wooden bridge and headed for the exit. We walked on steep and very slippery steps to the top, where we found a park with some benches to take a rest, and it had a really good viewpoint on the river. We took a while to rest and admire the views, and then we walked to catch a bus to the park exit.

Plitvice Lakes National Park

We guess that almost everyone who was going on holiday to Croatia at least once heard something like – “… and be sure to visit the Plitvice Lakes!”. Located in the northern part of the country, near the border with Bosnia and Herzegovina, Plitvice Lakes National Park is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Croatia. T most picturesque part is the 16 karst lakes connected by numerous waterfalls and cascades, that made Plitvice Lakes one of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

We also heard a lot of – “go there, it’s really worth it!”. We’ve seen many beautiful photos from the park on the internet. We read how spectacular the waterfalls and cascades are and that picturesque wooden walkways are accessible for tourist. We really wanted to sleep in a tent in the park, so we were driving very fast to get there before closing.

A top view at a wooden pathway, cascades and lakes in Plitvice Lakes National Park.
Plitvice Lakes in the mist

Sadly, shortly after we left the Krka National Park it started drizzling. We were hoping that the weather will improve on the way to Plitvice, but then it just started raining intensively. So we gave up our plan of sleeping in a tent and stopped in the first village that was close to the park, to look for a room for the night. Not the first, not the second, but the third house that we tried, had a reasonably priced room for us. The room was cold, bathroom terribly small – but at least it didn’t rain on our heads. Additionally, the owner suggested us the best routes for sightseeing Plitvice.

The weather in the morning didn’t encourage us to explore. Although the rain had stopped, the fog was so thick that we’ve seen only the first 200 meters of a field that was just behind the house. But we didn’t drove all the way here just to sleep in a cold room. We were one of the very first tourists at the ticket office. We thought – “great, it will be less crowded – we’ll have more room to take pictures”. In fact, other tourists weren’t a problem that day – we even walked some parts completely alone. The problem was the dense fog…

A view at a wooden pathway surrounded by water plants, with waterfall in the background in Plitvice Lakes National Park.
Plitvice Lakes in the mist

We’ve heard waterfalls and cascades, but couldn’t see most of them . We couldn’t find the emerald lakes that we saw in the pictures – they looked more like a gray with various shades of green. The fog was thick, we started to get wet, and wooden walkways were very slippery – some of them were even closed for the tourists that day. When we got to the boat stop on Lake Kozjak (from which small ships cruise across the lake), we had the impression that the number of people willing to embark, far exceeds the maximum number of passengers allowed.

Even though the weather was not doing us any good, we were able to see some very beautiful places and take some interesting pictures. Of course, we would like to see Plitvice Lakes in a much better aura – maybe if we’ll visit Croatia in the future we’ll come here again. Being almost all wet, we returned to the car and headed towards our last stop – Bratislava.

 

Practical tips

  • Parking by the Krka National Park is free when you come from Lozovac side entrance, and paid from Skradin.
  • The entrance to the Krka National Park is paid. A ticket for an adult in high season (from 1 June to 30 September) costs 110 HRK (16 USD) and is valid for the whole day. From Lozovac side entrance there’s a bus running in the summer season, that takes tourists to the river. After the season it’s possible to enter with your own car.
  • There are cruise ships sailing in Krka National Park – some example routes are: from Skradin to one of the entrances (just next to the swimming pool), or from Skradin to the island on the lake Visovac. Ticket prices depend on the route.
  • Parking at Plitvice Lakes National Park is paid. Prices vary – depending on the parking lot (there’s couple of them), and usually start at a rate 7 EUR per hour.
  • Ticket prices for Plitvice Lakes National Park depend on the month of the visit. From 1 November to 31 March the entrance costs 55 HRK (8 USD) per adult. In the low summer season, i.e. from 1 April to 30 June and from 1 September to 31 October, the price of the ticket is 110 HRK (16 USD). During the summer high season the entrance to the park costs 180 HRK (27 USD).

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