If Plitvice Lakes park isn't convenient, try Krka National Park, another land of lakes and waterfalls that's an easy day trip from Split or Sibenik. As another karstic terrain, the national park is full of porous rock through which the Krka river has carved lakes, cascades and caverns. It's a truly remarkable site and one of Croatia's eight national parks.
Things to See and do in Krka National Park
About 2/3 of the course of the Krka river is part of the national park which includes most of the river lakes and the two richest waterfall systems: Roski slap and Skradinski buk.
Skradinski buk is the largest travertine cascade system in Europe with 17 steps up to 400 metres wide. It is the highlight and most impressive part of Krka park. It is also the most visited. Although the Krka waterfalls were formed the same way as those in Plitvice, the amount of water is much greater. About 55 cubic metres a second flows down Skradinski buk, an amount that is four times greater after a strong rainfall.
Visovac Lake and Monastery
As the Skradinski buk barrier grew, 13 kilometres of the Krka river were flooded up to the foot of the Roski slap system. This area is called Lake Visovac and there's a 14th-century island monastery, the Visovac Monastery in the middle. The best feature is that, unlike Plitvice Lakes, you can swim in the lower lake.
Roski slap rises 27 metres in a series of shallow steps or "necklaces". The falls can be stunning depending upon the water flow which is generally less in summer.
The national park has opened 14 cycling routes from demanding mountain routes to less-demanding family-friendly trekking routes. Routes are circular and take in lookout points with stunning views. Note that there are no bicycle rentals so you'll need to come with your own. It's probably most convenient to sign up for a bicycle tour. National park admission is not included in the price.
The Krka river is rich in fish with 17 different fish species including a species of trout that can only be found here. Marsh birds find it an appealing habitat. Depending on the season, you may find heron, duck, goose, crane, sandpiper, snipe, water rail and warblers. In the gorges there are rare eagles, falcons and owls.
Whether visiting individually or via an organised tour, be prepared for crowds. The park has not yet found a way to manage high visitor numbers, especially around Skradinski buk, the most popular area of the park.
There are two main entrances, Skradin and Lozovac, plus three smaller entrances.
From Lozovac, a park bus takes you to the entrance to the trail system around Skradinski. From Skradin, take a short boat ride to Skradinski buk and then explore the falls by wooden walkway. Both the boat and the bus are included in the admission price.
The park is partly visited on foot, as walkways take you around the lower falls, and partly visited by boat but it takes some planning to visit the entire park as the boat up to Roski Slap leaves by appointment only. Here's my experience trying to get a Krka Park boat. Boats to Skradinski buk leave every hour in season but from Skradinski buk there are only one or two boats a day that go further up the falls to Roski Slap or Lake Visovac.
Travel tip: Contact the National Park Office before you arrive and try to get the boat schedule so you can visit the entire park.
Beginning in 2017, the park limited visitors to Skradinski buk. If there are more than 10,000 visitors already at Skradinski buk, visitors will be directed to other areas of the park. Off-season is not a problem but in the summer it's best to buy tickets in advance at the National Parks webshop. Note that online tickets are only available for Skradinski buk.
The park is an easy 1/2 hour drive from Sibenik, on Croatia's central Dalmatian coast and there are regular daily buses from Sibenik if you don't have a car.
There is no accommodation within the forested area but the main village in Krka National Park is Skradin where there is plenty of accommodation.
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