Preface: If you can, I would highly recommend visiting them all. However, if people are on a budget, you’ve got a certain amount of time in a place etc. All of the National Parks Below can be visited from the city of Zadar, on Croatia’s coast.

Plitvice Lakes National Park

  • Stunning (look at the photos below for proof)
  • Very accessible for walking around, mostly flat ground with a few stairs and a bus back when you reach the end of the park
  • Easy and cheap to get to from Zadar – public bus there and back
  • You go through one of the lakes on a boat
  • Boardwalks around and through the lakes – you’re able to get really close to the water
  • Cafe near the entrance
  • Very touristy during peak season. I queued as I was walking round in July.
  • buses from Zadar can get very crowded. I spent the bus ride back sat on the stairs of the bus.
  • No swimming in the national park
  • One route round – no choice as to where you go (or how fast you walk if there are that many people)

Overall, Plitvice had the best water colour and the best landscape views.

Krka Waterfalls National Park

  • Several routes round – you can choose where you go
  • Beautiful waterfalls
  • A lot less people than Plitvice once you get through the entrance (at first appears busier but it really wasn’t)
  • More walking around than Plitvice (positive or negative I suppose, but I quite liked the walking)
  • Had some old mills and houses that you could look at to learn about lifestyle and culture
  • Waterfalls were a lot fuller than the few at Plitvice
  • Again, no swimming (legislation from 2021)
  • The waterfalls not as tall as the one at Plitvice
  • Not as many lakes as at Plitvice

Overall, Krka was the best park to have a walk around and learn about the traditional culture in a beautiful landscape.

Pictures of Krka

Kornati National Park

Kornati is a bit different to Plitvice and Krka – it’s an archipelago of islands off the coast of Zadar

  • Boat all the way through – it’s lots of different islands
  • Very varied day – I went from climbing up to see fortresses on one island to swimming in a salt lake at the top of another island
  • Full day activity
  • Easy access from Zadar (you can book boats near the Posdrav Suncu)
  • Very pretty
  • Unique national park
  • Mostly food, drink etc are included in price of trip
  • Quite expensive to pay for the full day boat ride
  • A lot of people on a boat – can feel a bit touristy as opposed to self-exploration
  • You can’t choose exactly what you do/where you stop off

Overall, Kornati is the best for a varied day out.

To be quite honest, I don’t think I could pick a favourite. I loved them all and I didn’t get bored of them in the slightest. And if you’re in Zadar for a week (or even a couple of days less) you can definitely fit them all in. Check out What to do for a week in Zadar, Croatia for a break-down of my itinerary and more recommendations.

If you’re off to Croatia, have a look at these articles too!

Food Checklist for Zadar
Dubrovnik – What, Where and Why you should go

Kornati National Park, Croatia