Croatia is known for its beautiful national parks ! I could visit two of them: Plitvice and Krka. Two parks with lakes and waterfalls!
Plitvice lakes national park
I dreamed of visiting this park so much that it was my first visit to Croatia, I was so impatient!
Practical information and access
This is a UNESCO heritage park located 250km from Split (where I landed); 120km from Zadar or 150km from Zagreb approximately. I preferred to rent a car to arrive the day before (accommodation in Bed&Breakfast not far away) and not be pressed for time on D-Day. But there are also buses that go there from Split in particular (but inevitably this leaves much less time in the park). You should also know that the car park is paying (10kunas/hour) and quite shady. Please also note that it is unfortunately not allowed to swim there…
Having only one day planned in the area, I booked my entrance ticket in advance to be sure that it was not sold out. It costs 300HRK (almost 40E) anyway!
I advise you to look at which route you want to do because they do not all start at the same place (2 parking lots in Plitvice). I opted for route H which starts at car park 2 and which allows a good walk as well as the crossing by boat of the large lake.
You will find toilets and stands (food, drink) at the start, halfway and on the way back. I advise you to stop there each time and to have a good amount of water on you especially for the end of the course which climbs well!
From the car park, it takes about 15 minutes to arrive at the start of the journey. Which is done by shuttle… I hadn’t seen it, a little disappointing to start with that, but the journey is not particularly scenic. The big disadvantage is that everyone arrives at the same time at the start of the walking path…
We follow a landscaped path, mainly in wood. Namely that you can only walk 2 abreast so it’s not easy to overtake the groups taking pictures… But then it disperses and you’re a little quieter on the way. Everything is well indicated (letter of the route) so no risk of getting lost!
We pass near a lot of lakes more or less large. Nature is queen here so some are sometimes masked by “weeds”. This part of the route is downhill. At the bottom there are very pretty waterfalls (and of course it’s busy to take pictures…)
It took me 2 hours to get to the boat pier for the crossing. There is a boat every 30 minutes, I was lucky one was leaving when I arrived. You have to show your ticket to access it so keep it!
After the crossing, a large picnic area is available with a few stands. I took a sandwich, water and a sweet drink. I hesitated to stop but I did not regret having more water for the 2nd part of the journey! Be careful if you take the boat in the other direction, there is a long line in full sun. The majority of people arriving via car park 1.
The second part of my journey is, in my opinion, the prettiest. So if you have less time, don’t hesitate to enter by car park 1 is made a quick journey on this side. The color of the lakes is more impressive there than during the first part! On the other hand more people and less shade…
That’s from this side that you can see the great waterfalls. They are impressively high but the setting is not that beautiful (lots of wild grass at the foot, you can’t even see the lake in which the waterfalls fall).
Then it climbs to go up near entrance 1 where I take a shuttle to the starting point. And there clearly without water under 34° it would have been difficult! The height allows for superb views of the lakes 😍).
After the shuttle there is the same 15 minute walk to connect the car park. But this time it seemed endless! In all, I took 5 hours (I validated my parking ticket exactly 1 minute before starting the 6th hour!).
Krka national park
Practical information and access
This park is much more easily accessible as it’s close to Split (100 km). Tours or bus rides are easily found if you don’t have a car. Since 2021 it’s no longer possible to swim there, no need to bring your swimsuit…
There are two possible entrances to this park. One starts on foot and ends at the big waterfalls (entrance to Lozovac). The other starts by boat and the starting point is these waterfalls (entrance to Skradin). Certainly the rest of the park is less grandiose so some recommend the first option to end up “the highlight of the show” but the boat crossing is to be done in my opinion!
I opted for the start in Skradin (departing by car from Sibenik), be careful in 2022 you had to book your ticket (with time for the boat) the day before at the latest. Having no idea of the time I would need, I did not book a return boat (10 kuna extra) thinking of returning on foot (3 hours I believe). Finally once there I was so hot that I didn’t feel like walking back, I was able to take the next boat (without paying extra) without any problem.
The arrival in Skradin is quite confusing because there are advertisements for parking lots everywhere so I had a doubt about the direction to take. But you have to go to the village, there is a large car park (8 kunas/hour) near the pier. Before getting on the boat I bought two bottles of fresh water, one to pour into the water bottle (to keep it fresh longer) and one to drink from the start. For information, there are local stands all along the route and something to buy to eat halfway through..
Boat trip and Skradin Falls
When I boarded the boat, I wanted to sit close to the edge in order to make the most of the crossing. There were only places left in the sun. I take my troubles patiently, telling myself that once they’re gone, the air will refresh me. I did well because in the end I was in the shade for a large part of the trip! Small fright however, while taking pictures in the sun while waiting for the start, my phone overheated! And didn’t want to open the photo app anymore… So I placed it near my cool bottles along the way 😅.
The crossing takes half an hour, not long enough to get off the boat when you’re at the top! Next to the pontoon, a small turtle had come to bask!
There are then a few steps before arriving at the superb waterfalls of the park! There are a lot of people on the pontoon but I was still able to take the photos I wanted and I was often offered to take my picture too. Then going up the circuit, you can see the small waterfalls upstream.
Other parts of the park
The rest of the park is a little less “feeling”, but I still enjoyed the short walk. Note that once you have climbed behind the waterfalls, it is possible to take a boat to go to the island of Visovac (with a monastery) but it is a good extra cost (100KRK) and also 3 hours more! So I didn’t do it… I continued the shaded walk with a few small water points, mini waterfalls, etc. Going down we arrive at a point of view on the big waterfalls below. It’s really very nice! Then we cross some waterfalls allowing to take a picture in front of which leaves good memories!
I then went by car to a superb point of view on the famous island, superb!