Krka National Park: Campsites, Crowds and Waterfalls

Croatia

The bus journey from Split to Sibenik was long and hot. There was no air-con or toilets and the coach seemed to stop every two minutes. The views of the Trogir Coast from the window and its glittering turquoise sea were a good enough distraction for a while as we sped our way to Krka. After some time, Josh read his book while I slept on his shoulder.

I find it so easy to sleep on transport, as soon as the hum of the engine and motion of the wheels begins, I’m nodding off. The best thing about being so small by far as that you can curl yourself up into nooks and crannies and snooze away like a little kitten. I eventually woke up to find that we had reached Sibenik, our first stop on the long journey to Krka.

At the bus station, I guarded our incredible plethora of luggage – I have no idea why Josh needed two large backpacks for himself, he clearly lacks any ability to pack light. Meanwhile, Josh bought tickets from inside the station for our next leg of the trip. The next bus was to Skradin and we only had to wait 10 minutes from our arrival in Sibenik before it departed. This journey wasn’t too long and on arrival we found Skradin to be quite a cute little Croatian town.

There were quite a few restaurants and some market stalls but it was nowhere near as touristy as Split, with most of its tourism focused on its accessible location to Krka National Park, with adverts for ferry trips to the park dotted around.

In the middle of town there was a large grassy area next to a river bank where locals were all swimming and lounging about in the sun. We decided to join them, set up a little spot with our towels and made ourselves a lunch out of our ingredients bought from Split that morning. After Josh took a short dip in the river, we followed the sounds of live jazz playing from down the dusty street. It took a little while searching before we realised that the music was coming from a secluded bar across the river, so we decided to sit in a bar nearby instead and appreciate it from afar as it danced across River Krka.

krka, croatia, park, travel

The bar we settled for was located in a little square, where each building was a different colour: bright yellow, pastel pink and dark brown. The houses were typically mediterranean, with balconies and wooden shutters. From down in the bar, sipping on orange juice and iced coffee, we watched a man standing on his balcony overlooking the town silently and wondered what he was watching or waiting for, or thinking about. I remarked that it seemed to be a predominantly male past-time to overlook the street from a window, or balcony- I had spotted various men doing it over the past couple of days already. Strange…

krka, croatia, park, travel

We finally got a taxi from Skradin to our campsite, a short 10 minutes ride away. The journey took us quite high up into the hills overlooking and looping round the town. I got a spectacular view of the sun setting over Skradin and the river from the window and frantically tapped josh to show him.

The taxi ride was extortionately priced, as taxis generally are, but we were relieved when we finally arrived at our campsite after a long day’s travelling. The campsite was quite small, it boasted a pool and a restaurant near the road, but there was limited space that was suitable to set up camp. The owner -an old, quirky woman- approached us as we hesitantly wandered into the campsite. She was evidently quite drunk, chatting away in half-Croatian and in high humours, taking us to a tiny spot surrounded by other tents to set up our tent.

krka, croatia, park, travel

After she left, we chatted to a Dutch couple who lounged about on their air mattress outside their tent, drinking beer and laughing. I was significantly jealous of both their air mattress and their beer. They told us that they had been on a long road-trip around Europe but had to leave their rented car at the Italian border as most rental companies don’t allow their cars to be taken into Eastern Europe due to high crime rates, which was interesting to find out. We soon had to leave them as there wasn’t enough room to set up our giant three-man tent in the space next to them.

We eventually found a place to set up right next to the fence that separated the campsite from the farm behind it. The ground was incredibly rocky and it was near impossible to hammer the metal nails in. We managed after a lot of struggling and soon we were eating a camp-stove cooked dinner of pasta cross-legged outside out tent on the stone floor, listening to the group of French guys camped next to us joke around and play guitar.

As I got up to shower, Josh told me that he was going to see if he could play some guitar with the Italian guys next to us. “The French guys, you mean?” “No, they’re Italian, their license plate is Italian, duh.” Being quite advanced in the French language I was pretty adamant that they were French unless I had suddenly been gifted with the miraculous pentecostal powers of understanding all languages. But in typical male fashion, my boyfriend didn’t believe me until the French themselves confirmed that they were indeed French. And thus I teased him about it for the rest of the trip.

When back from my shower, the sun had completely set and it was pitch black outside apart from random scatters of light around the campsite from people’s torches and lanterns. We fell asleep pretty soon to the sound of acoustic guitar being played outside our tent and I thought about how much I loved camping.

In the middle of the night my opinions regarding camping drastically changed as Josh had taken the whole sleeping bag for himself and I was left on the cold tent ground with no cover. However, a few minutes of violence resolved the issue and I swiftly took back rightful ownership of the sleeping bag.

We were woken by the sounds of the rooster in the nearby farm screaming ‘cockle-doodle-doo’ in the early morning, a billion times in a row. I couldn’t stop laughing at how similar it sounded to cartoon roosters on TV shows. Cats and dogs only seem to vaguely make ‘meow’ and ‘woof’ noises but roosters genuinely sound like they’re screaming ‘cockle-doodle-doo’ and sleep deprived me found this utterly hilarious in the ungodly hours of the morning. Unfortunately, despite the rooster’s best efforts -and try he did- we fell back asleep and didn’t rewake until 10am.

After getting dressed and a quick breakfast at the campsite restaurant of bread, bread and more bread (in order to successfully to attain our balanced diets) we set off immediately to Krka, bags full of swimsuits and towels.

The main road was dusty and rocky, not at all friendly to my flimsy sandals. Every few minutes a car or van would pass and we’d have to retreat onto the grassy verge. After a while we got sick of walking and stuck our thumbs out to hitch a ride. We were immediately picked up by a couple from Barcelona who were also headed to Krka. It took less than five minutes to drive down the same straight road to Krka’s entrance but saved us probably 30 good minutes of walking. After parking, we said our thank you’s and goodbyes to the couple and went on our way into the park. The entrance fee was reduced as we were students (remember to bring your student cards travelling with you, guys!) and a free shuttle takes all visitors from the entrance down into the depths of the national park.

The coach journey into Krka was a little hair-raising as the driver would rush round the narrow turns, breaking suddenly upon spotting another coach coming in the opposite direction. Then, the two coaches would ever so slowly inch past each other, whilst I looked down the cliff face wondering how far down it was of a drop.

We alighted safely from the shuttle bus and started the walk through the park. The route took us over waterfalls, through the forest of different trees via a little wooden raised path-way. Stopping on a bridge and looking into different pockets of shallow water, at the shoals of bright orange fish, I wondered why it was that they all faced the same way, and changed direction at the same time, like a troupe of dancers.

krka, croatia, park, travel

We finally reached the bathing spot in the park, also where the largest waterfalls are found. There was a restaurant to the right while the river bank was to the left. Every single inch of grass in front of us, up to the edge of the river was covered in towels. It was absolutely swarming with people. Well, being midday, I don’t know how we expected any less but I was a little disappointed to realise that we’d travelled all day across Croatia to visit what seemed like more of an outside swimming bars than a natural wonder.

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We tried to keep our humours up, however. The waterfalls were indeed amazing. You could hear the sound of them from a mile away.

We changed into our swimsuits and hid our bag among some trees on the bank before stepping into the water. It was pretty cold and I had to inch in slowly, my shoulders tense in apprehension. The floor was made up of rocks, uneven and rough. (Bring jelly shoes when you visit!) You had to edge along gently to avoid cutting your foot on a sharp edge and as careful as you were you’d still plunge into the deep water when you stepped off a rock unknowingly. After I while I figured out it was best to float on my front and navigate the floor with my hands instead.

We swam for a while in the fresh water. It would have been nice to swim under the waterfalls but they were restricted to the public. I began to get too cold and we got out to sunbathe, successfully finding a spot on the grass by some miracle. Josh fetched me a crêpe to eat like a good boyfriend and it didn’t take long for us to both fall asleep in the sun.

Waking up, I was tired, confused and a little shivery as the sun had disappeared behind a tree. When I sat up and looked around, I was even more confused to see that the park had considerably emptied. Post-nap disorientation made me panic that the park had shut and we were stranded, but after a few minutes I realised this wasn’t the case.

We got up and packed away quickly to go for a walk through the park. Walking across the bridge and back into the forest, we had to climb quite some incline before we reached the viewpoints, but it was definitely worth it. A deserted River Krka wound its way through the dark green hills into the distance.

krka, croatia, park, travel

The further we climbed up the hill, the more waterfalls we came across. It wasn’t long before we came cross some isolated stone buildings with bright red roofs that looked adorable against the natural backdrop. They looked pretty empty and I wondered what they were used for, or once used for. I imagined a time before the Krka was a national park and a tourist attraction but merely a large green forest; the land curvy with hills, dissected with rivers and waterfalls. I imagined living in that little stone pre-Romanesque house 5 metres from a waterfall and miles from any city noise.

krka, croatia, park, travel

We were pretty hungry after a whole day with no lunch so we headed off pretty quickly, took the coach back to the entrance and began the long walk to the campsite. We passed loads of houses and a scrapyard to our right with a dog attached to a pole by a rope. After a few minutes I spotted the river Krka from afar to the right. I decided to investigate the view further and ran across the grassy verge to the edge of the hill. The dog barked at me as I walked past and seemed pretty angry that I’d dared to enter his territory. The view became more spectacular as I edged closer, to see the blue river curve round the hills, bright red foliage in the foreground. I was absolutely spellbound and took up half the memory on my camera with photos. This is why taking your time travelling is always a good decision. Slow walking allowed me to see things that I’d never see if I’d sped past in a car or bus.

krka, croatia, park, travel

I ran back to Josh -who was getting fed up with waiting- as a car pulled up next to us. An Italian guy got out and asked if the view of the park was good from where I was stood. I told him that it was and Josh took the opportunity to ask if we could get a lift back to our campsite. He agreed and said he’d take some photos before setting off. His partner, also Italian, cleared up the backseat of the car for us and we climbed in. Soon enough, the guy was back and we were on our way. The couple told us that they were on a road-trip around Croatia and would make their way to Plitvice Lakes after spending some time at Krka.

They dropped us off at the campsite by making a small detour on their route, which was lovely of them. We thanked them and wished them well for the rest of their trip before setting off back to our tent. We slept pretty early that night as our coach back to Split was due to arrive before the crack of dawn (too early for our friendly rooster)!

Read More: Check out Evan’s awesome hiking guide of Plitvice Lakes, another of Croatia’s beautiful national parks. 

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41 Comments

  • Reply
    Jen Morrow
    November 1, 2016 at 4:50 pm

    The park looks beautiful! What a gorgeous spot for swimming, in summer only. Sounds too chilly otherwise.

  • Reply
    Delaine
    November 1, 2016 at 5:20 pm

    I didn’t visit Krka National Park, instead I visited Plitvice. Not sure whether I would swim there though … with all that rush, but I’d definitely visit for the views. Sorry that your bus ride wasnt the best. When we visited, we used the Croatian buses thrice & thankfully all of them were good. However, we did take a crappy local bus between Split to Trogir.. Grrrr…. it took forever & it was hot!

  • Reply
    Meg Cale
    November 1, 2016 at 6:39 pm

    The little note about the roosters calling in the morning. It’s the details that make travel writing great. It put a smile on my face, thanks for that.

  • Reply
    Christina from Happy to Wander
    November 1, 2016 at 8:54 pm

    I visited Krka this summer too!! Luckily I went in the early morning so the crowds weren’t nearly as bad as you described. We did have a very different experience though since we did one of those touristy day trips from Split hehe but wow camping sounds like it was quite the experience. Love your Pinterest graphic btw!

  • Reply
    Ivy
    November 1, 2016 at 11:52 pm

    We visited Plitvice instead of Krka last summer but we’ll be going back to Croatia again next spring- Krka is definitely high on the list this time around! Good to know to hide our belongings in the bushes lol I was wondering where people put their stuff when theyre in the water for a dip!

  • Reply
    Joaquim
    November 2, 2016 at 11:45 am

    Wow what a detailed story! I’ll def have to check out the place when I’m around 🙂 thanks for the information!!

  • Reply
    ilive4travel
    November 2, 2016 at 12:49 pm

    It looks like a great park. I didn’t go here when I visited croatia but will add it to my list for next time. The waterfalls looks great 🙂

  • Reply
    Sasha
    November 2, 2016 at 1:13 pm

    I love the story telling in this post, I really felt like I was there with you. It looks absolutely gorgeous, I can’t waiti to visit next summer!

  • Reply
    lydia@lifeuntraveledl
    November 2, 2016 at 2:49 pm

    Throughout my travels I discovered that walking those extra steps can sometimes lead to wonderful places and, in this case, views. The waterfalls are beautiful save for the crowds. 😉

  • Reply
    stace16
    November 2, 2016 at 6:25 pm

    Lol I love the rroosters. such a shame to travel all that way to be stuck in a crowded area! It really kind of sucks but sounds like you had a good time anyway

  • Reply
    Pinay Flying High
    November 2, 2016 at 8:19 pm

    Sounds like a very busy place to be! It reminds me of the beaches in Greece during summer, every inch of the beach have towels on it. It would’ve been nice if you’re able to swim through the waterfalls though but I guess it’s safety issue as well?

  • Reply
    Naomi
    November 2, 2016 at 10:15 pm

    I love your little road trip and adventures! The pictures are really inviting and it makes me wonder if I should include it in my next travel plans! Thanks for the inspiration.

  • Reply
    Nuria Vidal
    November 3, 2016 at 8:55 am

    So inspiring post! Can’t wait to explore Croatia..but maybe doing it in off peak season. Crowds scare me haha!

  • Reply
    Victoria
    November 3, 2016 at 3:40 pm

    Beautiful photos! Croatia is one of my bucket list destinations. I’ll add this picturesque park on my agenda!

  • Reply
    Diana - MVMT Blog
    November 3, 2016 at 4:40 pm

    Wow, Krka looks amazing. I have never sunbathed near waterfalls before and it seems like it would be such a surreal experience. I don’t think I would love the swarms of people, but it sounds like I could probably avoid the crows by going later in the day.

  • Reply
    Gemma
    November 3, 2016 at 5:54 pm

    Your pictures of the waterfalls are gorgeous. I know how disappointing it is to arrive somewhere with insane crowds. It sounds like you still managed to have a good time, though.

  • Reply
    Kim
    November 3, 2016 at 6:02 pm

    That place looks like a dream! So surreal. I really wish I could to go to Europe and see Croatia. I feel like this is place is a hidden gem. By the way, I hate taxis that overcharge too!

  • Reply
    Kathryn
    November 3, 2016 at 6:19 pm

    It looks gorgeous. Pity it was so crowded.

  • Reply
    Gokul Raj
    November 3, 2016 at 7:05 pm

    Nice detailed narration. I had never heard of this place before. The pictures of those waterfalls do look really amazing.

  • Reply
    World Inside My Pocket - Guide to 24 hours in Split: Start of my European Summer Aventure
    November 3, 2016 at 7:53 pm

    […] With our backpacks, new hats and a big bag full of food, we made our way to Split Bus Station, where we bought tickets to Sibenik, the first stop on our journey to Krka National Park. […]

  • Reply
    Jaynie Wall
    November 3, 2016 at 8:16 pm

    Croatia sounds amazing. Your pictures are beautiful. It must have been quite a shock though to arrive at the swimming spot and see it so full of people! You are brave to camp like that. I think I would have to camp a few days and then spend a few days in a hotel just to catch up on my sleep! ha

  • Reply
    Gareth
    November 4, 2016 at 2:52 am

    It’s great to see Croatia opening up as a tourist destination and with parks like this, it really isn’t difficult to see why. As you mentioned, it is a little difficult to get to but all the best things are, aren’t they? The water looks incredibly inviting and those waterfalls really make for a fantastic holiday snap. Also, it seems like a great spot for meeting people from all over the world and that, of course, is one of the great joys of travel

  • Reply
    MARINA
    November 4, 2016 at 7:30 pm

    I feel so guilty that I miss it when in Croatia. I was traveling around Montenegro and flying out from Dubrovnik, so I decided to add both Dubrovnik and Split (with a day trip to Siberik) to my trip, but didn’t have time to reach Krka National Park even if knowing that every single person who visits it just loves it!

    I certainly have to visit Croatia again and spend much more time on my visit around. In any case, congrats for the photos… just made me feel jealous!

  • Reply
    Jen Morrow
    November 4, 2016 at 11:28 pm

    Sounds like quite a journey to get there. Glad you were able to get a ride back to the campsite.

  • Reply
    rc
    November 5, 2016 at 2:53 pm

    Wow, you post makes me want to visit Croatia the soonest or when it’s less crowded. Nonetheless, I think it was quite an adventure!

  • Reply
    Janine Good
    November 5, 2016 at 7:57 pm

    I have wanted to head to Croatia for some time. I hadn’t heard of Krka National Park, but it looks breathtaking. Sounds like you had a great trip even with the bumps along the road and the non sandal-friendly grounds! The views look gorgeous.

  • Reply
    Juliette @ Snorkels to Snow
    November 5, 2016 at 8:40 pm

    What a great story! Love your writing style. Apart from the crowds it must have been nice to find this spot and go for a swim in the cool water. I laughed out loud reading about the roosters! I have had many a trip rudely interrupted by early morning rooster calls.

  • Reply
    ashleigh Crump
    November 5, 2016 at 10:09 pm

    Thank you I enjoyed reading that! Great storytelling and gorgeous pictures, I want to be at that waterfall right now 🙂

  • Reply
    Backyard Photographer Blog
    November 5, 2016 at 11:44 pm

    Wow! Thanks for sharing your story ?

  • Reply
    MakeTime2SeeTheWorld (@VickiLouise86)
    November 6, 2016 at 4:35 am

    The park looks so so beautiful! I can’t believe we missed it when we visited Croatia! It must have been nice to find a spot to swim too and It sounds like you had a great day.

  • Reply
    JM
    November 6, 2016 at 7:14 am

    This place looks really awesome but the waterfalls look reallt astounding. This is considered as an exotic place on Earth and definitely one of the best National Parks.

  • Reply
    Sheri @ A Busy Bees Life
    November 6, 2016 at 10:58 am

    You are a great storyteller! Reading through the post and looking at the pictures I could immediately imagine everything you were writing about and viewing it in my mind from your perspective. The pictures are gorgeous.

  • Reply
    Brianna (@ArchivesofAdv)
    November 6, 2016 at 2:17 pm

    Sounds like a fun adventure! The water in Krka looks amazing! Was it cold to swim in??

  • Reply
    CreativeTravelGuide (@CTGTravelGuide)
    November 6, 2016 at 4:24 pm

    That waterfall and view is just stunning! Thanks for sharing this, I will be putting Krka National Park on my list!

  • Reply
    Danik The Explorer
    November 6, 2016 at 6:30 pm

    Love this post, great read. Love to go camping near those waterfalls. Safe travels 🙂

  • Reply
    World Inside My Pocket - Improvised Travel in Europe: A Blessing or a Curse?
    November 6, 2016 at 8:05 pm

    […] we left so early from Krka, by the time we arrived back in the bus station in Split, it was only about midday. We had the […]

  • Reply
    findinglala306
    November 7, 2016 at 11:47 am

    This spot looks so beautiful. I definitely need to visit.

  • Reply
    Jem
    November 7, 2016 at 7:42 pm

    Hahah! I can relate with dozing off as soon as the engine starts and for being small you can lie down on the coach or train seats.
    Anyway that’s a beautiful place. I have been wanting to see those Croatian falls. Maybe next year.

  • Reply
    Carmen's Luxury Trvl (@carmensluxtrvl)
    November 9, 2016 at 11:09 am

    Loved your narration. What an absolutely beautiful part of the world! Croatia is definitely on my list for 2017.

  • Reply
    Lauren Meshkin @BonVoyageLauren
    November 11, 2016 at 9:57 pm

    What a beautiful place! After reading this and seeing my friends Instagram posts from here… Croatia is a must for me! Thanks for sharing 🙂

  • Reply
    World Inside My Pocket - Croatia Travel Guide: Top Tips and Best Destinations
    December 8, 2016 at 12:47 pm

    […] Two Day Itinerary / Croatia Improvised Travel: A Blessing or a Curse? / Croatia Krka National Park: Campsites, Crowds and Waterfalls / Croatia Whistle-Stop Walking Tour of London (And where to pee for free!) / london […]

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