Skradinski Buk. Part of the traps that form the wtaerfall, surrounded by a lot of green.
Croatia,  National Parks

Krka National Park: Waterfalls, swimming and hiking

Krka National Park has it all: beautiful nature, hiking and swimming opportunities, architectural, historical and archeological sites. We visited the Krka National Park in Croatia on a road trip in 2017 during a hot Summer. So the swimming part was very welcoming to us.

Where is Krka National Park?

Krka National Park is in Dalmatia in Croatia. To be exact in the northern part of Dalmatia, near Lozovac and Skradin. It’s close to Šibenik. From Šibenik to Krka National Park is 15 kilometers, about 20 minutes by car. Zadar is an hour driving with 76 kilometers. Split to Krka National Park is an hour and 15 minutes for 85 kilometers. Rijeka, Zagreb and Dubrovnik are more than 3 hours driving away.

Such a beautiful waterfall
Such a beautiful waterfall

Some facts about Krka National Park

Krka National Park covers 109 km² and is managed by the Public Institute, which falls under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Environmental and Nature Protection. The park is established on January 24th 1985. They receive over 3.5 million visitors a year, that come to see the waterfalls, abbey- and castle ruins and go on hikes and boat rides. Krka is one of the 7 national parks of Croatia.

The river Krka. On the right high, green mountains. On the right a boat docked in the river. On the left and in the middle grass lands.
The river Krka

The heart of the park is the river Krka, which has its origins at the Dinara mountains. From there it runs to the sea in about 72 kilometers, and has made a deep gorge. Almost at the end are 7 waterfalls which is the part that forms the national park. Most visitors come in the Summer months. There’s a limit of 10.000 visitors at the same time, so arrive early in July and August, because the limit is usually already reached at 10am.

Looking down on the waterfalls and people swmming at it and walking on the bridge
Looking down on the waterfalls and people swimming in it and walking on the bridge

Waterfalls

The Krka National Park waterfalls are the main event everyone comes for. The 7 waterfalls in the park are Skradinski Buk; Bilušića Buk; Brljan Slap; Manojlovac Slap; Rošnjak Slap; Roški Slap and Miljacka Slap. The total height of the 7 waterfalls is 242 meters. The waterfalls in the river Krka are all travertine waterfalls. Travertine is a limestone deposit that has been formed over thousands of years.

Looking down on Skradinski Buk
Looking down on Skradinski Buk

The Bilušića Buk is the first of the seven cascades in the river Krka. Manojlovac Slap is in the North of the park, and with a drop of 60 meters the highest waterfall in the river Krka.

Skradinski Buk

Yuri and Paul swimming near Skradinski Buk. Surrounded by other people. In the background the waterfalls flowing down.
Yuri and Paul swimming near Skradinski Buk

Skradinski Buk is the largest waterfall in the Krka National Park Croatia. This is the sight most people recognize from the national park. It’s a picture perfect waterfall with its green landscape and waterfalls that drop down in a crystal clear pond. The pond reflects the waterfalls. What makes the waterfall so imposing is its 100 meters in width and 400 meters in length. The Skradinski Buk consists of 17 travertine waterfall traps that cover a 47 meter height difference. The Skradinski Buk is the largest travertine waterfall system in Europe.

Part of the beautiful Skradinski Buk
Part of the beautiful Skradinski Buk

You can walk around the waterfall in an hour on an easily accessible path with bridges. You get to see the waterfall up front and the 17 traps. Although walkable in an hour, it took us some 3 hours, this includes swimming and walking in the crowds towards the swimming area. Our than 7 year old son could easily do this walk. Beyond the swimming area are stalls that sell dried fruits and nuts. Crowds were less here and for the rest of the path.

Stall with goodies. Next to stairs, people in swimming gear walking down on the left. A woman behind the stall. The stall is a concrete table with a white cloth on it and cups with fruit, some small bottles and lots of cups with a lid.
Stall with goodies

Roški Slap

The second most popular destination in the Krka National Park. Reachable with a hike, by car and with a boat. It’s a series of travertine waterfalls which has 12 traps and at the end makes a 15 meter drop in the lake Visovac.

Visovac island

In the middle of the Krka river is an island. On the drive from Lozovac towards Roški Slap there’s a perfect view on this island. The island houses a museum, a church and the Visovac abbey.

Augustinian monks founded a small abbey here in the 14th Century. Later on the 15th Century Franciscans build further on this abbey. In the 18th Century a whole new abbey was build, which contains parts of the older abbey. The abbey has an library with books and rare manuscripts. Oh. To go through these books must be wonderful. My heart always beats faster from being surrounded by books.

Swimming

A see through on people swimming at Skradinski Buk
A see through on people swimming at Skradinski Buk

Besides admiring the waterfalls everyone comes to swim near the waterfalls. Although these aren’t the only waterfalls you can go swimming near, other examples are the Kravica waterfalls in Bosnia Herzecovinia or the waterfall Sum in Slovenia, it’s still special. At the lower part of the Skradinski Buk you can go swimming in the Summer months. It’s a designated area where you can go swimming, so stick to this. When we were there we saw people go beyond the line in the water.

Bring swimming gear with you, or better yet have it already on. Yuri wore watershoes, these can be handy on the rocky underground. You can get in the water from the sandy banks. Paul and Yuri swam in the water for over an hour, and Yuri actually didn’t want to go out of the water. He had too much fun with it and it was perfect during the hot weather we had.

Yuri and Paul having fun in the water. You can see through the water and see the rocky, uneven underground.
Yuri and Paul having fun in the water

Sadly from January 1st 2021 swimming will be prohibited at the national park, since it’s too damaging.

Hiking and biking

The hike around Skradinski Buk is the most popular hike in the park, but far from the only one. There are 22 trails and 5 viewpoints.

Looking down on Skradinski Buk, People on a viewpoint on the other side of the river.
Looking down on Skradinski Buk

The several viewpoints:

  1. Krnîći Gornji viewpoint
  2. Čikola viewpoint
  3. Visovac viewpoint
  4. Krka monastery viewpoint
  5. Brljan viewpoint

There’s 470 kilometers of bike routes, 14 circular routes of which 5 MTB routes, 3 Road routes and 6 Track routes suitable for family rides.

Tours

Krka National Park offers 3 boat excursions with a guide.

  1. A 2 hour tour to Visovac island. This tour covers a hike on which you visit the 19th century water mills, a boat tour to Visovac island on which you visit the museum, abbey and church. (100 Kuna adults, 4-14 years 70 Kuna.)
  2. A 4 hour boat tour to Roški Slap. A boat tour to Visovac island with a visit to the abbey, museum and church. After that a boat tour and visit of Roški Slap. (130 Kuna adults, 90 Kuna kids 4-14.)
  3. A 2,5 hour tour to the Krka monastery and the early Croatian fortress of Trošenj and Nečven. (100 Kuna adults, kids 4-14 70 Kuna.)

What else is there?

There where lots of fish, water, with fish swimming one way mostly, several sizes.
There where lots of fish

Besides waterfalls the park has numerous lakes due to the many height differences, furthermore there are cliffs, swamps, mangroves and rocks. There are over 1000 different species of plants, 221 bird species, many fish and other animals. In the Summer dragonflies abound. Other interesting destinations in the Krka National Park are the 19th century water mills on the river (on the path around Skradinski Buk), the Oziđana pećina cave, the archeological site of Burnum (an old Roman camp). The park gives educational workshops for kids.

A water mill, Yuri looking what a man is doing. He's placing cement in the mill
A water mill

There’s a Krka app which shows you where you are in the park and provides information on all the attractions.

Entrance

There are 5 entrances to the park: Lozovac, Skradin, Roški Slap/Laškovica, Burnum/Puljane and Kistanje/Krka Monastery.

The Lozovac entrance is the main entrance and is where the biggest bulk of people enter the park. This is the entrance closest to the Visovac island. From here a path walks down towards the waterfalls, that goes through the whole park. During the Summer months busses take visitors down near to the path around Skradinski Buk. The bus ride is included in the entrance fee.

A few traps further from Skradinski Buk. When following the path further this also the waterfall.
A few traps further from Skradinski Buk

From the Skradin entrance the park offers 25 minute boat rides to Skradinski Buk. The boat is included in the entrance fee.

Krka National Park is open year round. Although not everything in the park and not every entrance is open in the winter months. Same goes for boat excursions, boat- and bus transport.

Part of the beautiful Skradinski Buk, a few of the cascades.
Part of the beautiful Skradinski Buk

Opening hours of the park vary from month to month and from entrance to entrance, they can be found here.

Tickets

Krka National Park tickets start at 30 Kuna for adults and 20 Kuna for kids 7-18 years in January, February, March, November and December. Kids under 7 are free of charge. In April, May and October adults pay 100 Kuna and kids 7-18 80 Kuna. In June, July, August and September adults pay 200 Kuna and kids 7-18 120 Kuna. Entrance after 4pm is 150 Kuna for adults and 90 Kuna for kids 7-18 years.

Looking down on the waterfalls, under in the picture waterfall, above that the river, in the middle of the picture mountain with trees and above a sky with a few small clouds. A tree in sight on the right.
Looking down on the waterfalls

There’s a 3 visit ticket available that’s valid 7 days after purchase. In January, February, March, November and December this is 65 Kuna for adults and 45 Kuna for 7-18. April, May and October it’s 230 Kuna for adults and 180 Kuna for kids 7-18. In June, July, August and September it’s 320 Kuna for adults and 200 Kuna for kids 7-18. If only going to Roški Slap, Kistanje, Burnum or Puljane there are lower entrance fees.

Where to stay

We visited Krka National Park while staying at Beach resort Solaris, one of our all-time favorite campsites in Croatia and one of our best family campgrounds in Europe.

Where to eat

There are several restaurants in the park near the entrances. You can also bring a packaged lunch with you and enjoy this with a view on the waterfalls.

Cosette and Yuri at a lookout on the waterfalls. Cosette on the left, Yuri on the right. Behind them you see lots of trees, a bit of the waterfalls and a small part of the bridge with people on it.
Cosette and Yuri at a lookout on the waterfalls

Although the Plitvice Lakes National Park takes the most visitors over Krka National Park,

don’t think you can just skip it after seeing Plitvice lakes. It’s worth its own visit.

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