I Heart Hrvatska: Which Waterfalls? Croatia's Stunning National Parks
Updated: Jan 30, 2020
There are two national parks known for their waterfalls in Croatia, Plitvice and Krka. Get ready to be amazed!
Plitvice is larger and more spectacular. It is in the center of the country. There is now a limit to the amount of tickets that they sell in a day, which is a good thing because this (and Dubrovnik) are the top attractions in the country, so it gets very, very busy. Think Disneyland busy. Buy your tickets online on their website ahead of time. There are bus loads of tourists and school groups there every day, and if you wait I've heard that the only way you can get a ticket is booking with one of the tours. Boo, we aren't tour people, and if you've looked at photos, the park consists of wooden plank paths through the falls and lakes, so when there are a lot of people it's slow going and not great.
Because I like to actually enjoy nature and dislike crowds we have a strategy. We stay up near the lakes the night before, at House Tina, a Rick Steves recommendation that has been on point every time that we have been there. We get up at what for us is an ungodly hour to get to the park as it opens which is 7am (confirm their current hours), and enjoy the park in the morning. We are not naturally morning people but this is well worth it. We are usually heading out of there mid-day when the buses roll in and the mayhem hits, but our morning there was quiet and glorious.
Depending on what gate you get a ticket to (when we were there the pre-sale were only for Gate 1) you can start at the lowest (the BIG waterwall), walk up to the lake ferry, and just keep walking up the path to the top of the park.
Alternately, if you are able to get an early morning entry through Gate 2, grab the first shuttle to the top of the park and walk down, down, down, take the lake ferry, and finish at the big waterfall.
Either way the hiking isn't strenuous, but wear good shoes, the wooden paths are wet and can be a little slippery.
Plitvice Jezera: Say Pleet-vee-seh Yah-zeee-ra
Krka is also very beautiful. It's closer to Split and when we have been it's much less crowded. There are less trails to walk but you CAN actually swim at the base of the Krka falls. Which is rad. And chilly. But worth it.
Either one will be worth your time, but the Plitvice experience is much better if you can plan to be there the night before.