During an excursion along Croatia’s twinkling Adriatic Coast one winter afternoon, I concurred with astronauts who’ve professed Croatia to be the bluest place on earth.
Along with our friend, Damir, we’d left our home away from home within Diocletian’s Palace in seaside Split, and headed northwest on a day trip. We had plans to stop at Krka National Park, the risotto and yachting town of Skradin, and finally the island village, Primošten.
By day’s end, I’d add a postscript to the astronauts’ claim: Croatia’s coastline and rivers aren’t simply brilliantly blue, rather they’re a magnificent blend of teal, turquoise, and aquamarine hues.
As the best excursions often do, our trip along the coast had developed spontaneously. Thinking that we’d been bored and looking for things to do in Split, Damir contacted us and said we must visit Krka before we left Croatia. Since the weather hadn’t cooperated for Damir to prepare his boat for the summer season, we accepted his offer, knowing he was also eager to get out of town.
During the warmer months, Damir is a spearfisher who leads daring excursions out to the Croatian islands near Split. We haven’t yet been on Damir’s boat, but we’ve watched the footage of him plunging deep under the sea, speargun in hand, catching octopus, squid and fish, which he and his guests then grill for a summer feast.
Waterfalls, Fantastic Flora, Fauna & Hydropower at Krka National Park
Our first stop was Krka National Park, one of Croatia’s eight national parks. It’s endowed not only with fantastic waterfalls and scenic pathways, but also with the Roman ruins at Burnum, and Visovac Island, which is crowned by a Franciscan Monastery. We’d only get to see the latter two sites in images. However, we did get a chance to explore the Skradinski Buk waterfall and the neighboring forested area for several hours. Along the way, we spied lizards, ducks, cranes, and butterflies. We learned that Krka was the site of the first hydroelectric power station using alternate current in Croatia. Krka opened in 1895, just two days after Niagara Falls’ hydroelectic plant began operations. There is also speculation that along with Diocletian’s Palace and the Klis Fortress, Krka served as a filming location for season 4 of the Game of Thrones.
As we strolled, we marveled at spiders who’d chosen to spin their webs over the gusty spots around the raging waters. Since Damir usually visits the national park during the summer months, he kept expressing astonishment at the volume of water rushing through the park. This dramatic winter melt-off, coupled with the fact that we virtually had the 27,000 acre (109 km2) park all to ourselves, further convinced us that off-season travel is the way to go.
Strolling Skradin & Soaking up the Sunshine in Primošten
Bidding farewell to Krka National Park while simultaneously promising to return, we stopped in to the town of Skradin. To locals it’s perhaps best known for its Skradinski Rižot, or 12-hour Risotto, which was prominently featured on Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations travel show. Since the veal and ham culinary masterpiece really takes 12 hours for the town’s men to whip up and we hadn’t made advance reservations, we didn’t get to sample it. I’m also a ‘selectarian’ meat eater, and even though Damir and his friend told me it was worth abandoning my selectarian ways for this dish, I thought I’d defer until a future visit. Perhaps they can make a vegetarian or poultry-packed version then? :)
Skradin’s almost eeringly-quiet cobbled lanes wound past perfectly-manicured storefronts as well as some awaiting polishing. Since Skradin and the nearby city of Šibenik saw fighting during the Homeland War in the 1990s, we also spotted some structures pockmarked by artillery rounds. Damir mentioned that Skradin has recently gained fame on the celebrity front by attracting Microsoft founder Bill Gates during his summer vacations. A stroll along the marina where fishermen patiently untangled their nets, and an ascent to the town’s fortress capped off our visit to the sleepy but picturesque town.
On the way back to Split via a coastal highway, we paused in Primošten, the kind of town that would feel at ease modeling for a travel guide cover. Once a true island town connected only to the mainland via a drawbridge, Primošten’s tiny skyline features a bell-tower, and Old Town buildings that are crammed into a gently-sloping hill. With Damir’s mother’s freshly-baked golden donuts in his backpack and one of his favorite cafés just moments away on foot, we sauntered to the shore and soaked up the late-afternoon sunlight before winding past the city’s famed vineyards and returning to Split.
By then, I was thoroughly relaxed, meditating about what was prettier — driving along the glorious coastline or seeing it from space.
I think it could easily be a toss-up.
Have you visited Croatia’s Dalmatian Coast, or any of the country’s national parks? If so, what are your favorite spots? If you haven’t been to Croatia, what coastal areas or national parks around the world are your favorites?
Video of This Experience:
Where in the World?
- If you’ll be in the Split area and also want to do a day-trip similar to this one (or go island hopping, sailing or spearfishing with Damir) you can reach him through Opcija Tours. Shawn and I have also traveled to neighboring Dalmatian towns via bus, and found the mass transit network to be very good, but we wouldn’t have been able to make it to all three of these spots in one day, had we not had our friend to drive us there. (Thanks again, Damir!)
- Krka National Park is open year-round, but exhibitions and boat schedules vary, based upon the season. Between April and October, the park offers a free bus service which takes visitors from the entrance to the Skradinski Buk Waterfalls. From April to November, the park also transports visitors via boats. See the Krka National Park website for more details.
- Visit the Skradin Tourist Board or Primošten Tourist Board websites for more information.
- Shawn and I have spent two winters in Split, finding accommodation in apartments that would be packed during the summer months, but are practically empty during winter. During our first 2.5 months there, we stayed at the lovely Kaleta Apartments (affiliate link), which are located within Diocletian’s Palace. Our studio apartment (called the ‘Diocletian’s Suite’) featured much character, including Roman brickwork embedded into our wall, and overhead views of Split’s Old Town streets. Owners Novica and Negri were thoughtful citizen ambassadors too. Two years later, we returned to Split, staying in the charming Varoš neighborhood, which is known for its quirky stone homes adorned with hunter-green shutters and flower boxes. For those 2 months, we stayed in quaint studio apartments at the Guesthouse F (affiliate link). We especially enjoyed our tiny terrace and the kindness of our hosts, Anja and Miro. One of Guesthouse F’s apartments was originally a horseshoe maker’s workshop, which previously belonged to Anja’s grandfather. Shawn and I dubbed it the ‘horseshoe cottage’.
- Do you need more planning inspiration for your trip to Croatia? This link contains an index of all my posts from Croatia.
Photography & text © Tricia A. Mitchell. All Rights Reserved. My husband, Shawn, created the video.
54 thoughts on “Shades of Blue: Krka National Park, Skradin & Primošten, Croatia”
Stunning pictures. I feel like you really captured the essence of this place. The blues were fantastic, but so were the greens and pinks, and silvers. I couldn’t help thinking, I d like to be that cat– free to wander around here as I like. :)
Glad you enjoyed them, and thank you, Juliann. Stunning Mother Nature made taking them a breeze.
You’re right about the lucky cat. Many of the felines that we’ve seen in the region didn’t seem to be as pampered as that one. The views of the Croatian islands from her peaceful perch are extraordinary. Since you seem to be ever on the go, where is your next business trip taking you? :)
I’m looking forward to visiting Sibenik, Krka NP, Skradin and Primosten next month – your article was very timely! Re: your comment about Primosten being “kind of town that would feel at ease modeling for a travel guide cover”, it is on the front cover of Lonely Planet guide, 3rd edition. Or did you already know that? Love your blogs, keep them coming!
Jon, I’m glad I could deliver just at the right time. :) Funny about the Lonely Planet cover; I haven’t perused that guidebook, but now you’ve got me wondering if perhaps I subliminally mentioned that? :) Stay tuned for Šibenik, as I’m in the midst of crafting a post this week. It’s certainly another Dalmatian gem, which at least during our March visit, was relatively visitor free. Will be curious to hear how your adventures unfold in Dalmatia, and thank you for your ever-thoughtful comments!
No, I’ve never visited this part of the world, but I’d love to, one day :)
We travelers do tempt each other with destinations, don’t we Marianne? :) We’re actually likely heading to Spain in a few months, though a bit farther north (Bilbao area). Looking forward to tapas and sunshine!
OOHHH yes we do, Tricia :)
They have great tapas in the north of Spain, too – especially San Sebastian (where they’re known as pintxos). Hope you get chance to visit the Guggenheim museum in Bilbao. Even if you don’t do inside, it’s well worth a walk around the outside for the artistic value alone!
Marianne, please keep the recommendations coming! Indeed, the Guggenheim Museum and San Sebastian are on our list, as is a road trip to Bordeaux. Do you have any other personal favorites in the area?
Santander is lovely – great beaches. Or how about a trip to Santiago de Compostela – at the end of the Camino walk?
Marianne, we’ll definitely have to research Santander; thanks for the pointer. We actually visited Santiago de Compostela a few autumns ago, making us want to do the Camino someday. Have you walked any sections of it?
Sadly, no – but it’s on my list! ;)
So amazing! It’s like I’m actually there!! Very descriptive!
Glad you felt as though you had a virtual journey to this lovely part of the world, TenaciousM. :)
Truly stunning shots of the Falls, Tricia! I think you were lucky with the weather because I have a friend who went early in the season and it poured. Fabulous to have the place to yourselves like that because I think it’s probably rather hectic in Summer. Love the ice blue of the Falls, and the aqua surrounding the kayakers. :)
Jo, it’s a pity that your friend encountered unpleasant weather at Krka. We encountered our share of grey days along the Dalmatian Coast – including a deluge of rain on the island of Hvar, which is renowned for its sunshine. Our Croatian friends thought there were far too many rainy days, but having lived in Germany, I was pleased with how much sunshine we were able to soak up during winter.
Have you ever kayaked? Having seen the gorgeous kayaking scenery in these spots, I’d love to try it sometime. What a great upper-body workout it would offer. Hope you and your loved ones had a wonderful Easter yesterday.
Another wonderful Sunday morning air chair travel experience. Your water photographs are breath-taking. So magnificent!!
Virginia, the friend who took us to these magical waterfalls, and who goes there regularly during the summer months, was even amazed by the springtime volume of the water. I also enjoyed learning more about how some aspects of domestic life centered around the mill – for washing laundry, milling flour, etc.
Happy belated Easter to you. :)
Croatia is an amazing country – we flew into Split and drove down the coast to Cavtat and then island-hopped our way back up. We didn’t venture north of Split and it looks as though we missed a lot. Your photographs show just how stunning the scenery is there; beautiful. Need to re-visit!
Suzanne, the drive along the coast is a stunner! I’m curious which islands you hopped to, and which most spoke to you?
We’ve only been to Hvar, falling in love with Stari Grad, but we are eager to see some of the lesser-visited ones the next time we visit.
Korcula was lovely and our first stop from the mainland then on to Hvar and finally Vis. Long time ago now and distant memories but the trip as a whole left lasting impressions. Ston and Cavtat on the mainland were great stops too.
Suzanne, sounds like a wonderful itinerary. Ston and Cavtat keep popping up on our radar too, and certainly Vis and Korcula are high on our list. Thanks for providing more incentive to get back to Croatia. :)
What a magnificent country! You added great details, as usual.
Annette, glad you enjoyed the virtual visit to Croatia. It’s certainly easy to delight in all the glorious details there. :) Thanks for joining along.
I just adore and love the way you see “my” Croatia, Tricia. Krka national park is not bragged about as often as Plitvice and yet it’s so stunning to match any beauty of nature in Croatia and worldwide. Will be reblogging this one too as it’s “turn” comes amidst my political and current affairs posts roll on
I’m happy to hear that we’re portraying it in a way that makes Croatians proud, Ina. :) Thanks for broadening our reach by sharing the tales with your readers.
You’re so welcome, Tricia … I’m one of your blog’s stalkers :D Just superb
Ina, I’ll take that as a very kind compliment; thank you! :) Glad to hear that you enjoy the tales.
Love them – thank YOU! XX
What a jewel of discovery you have experienced, those waterfalls are amazing and look so powerful and refreshing. As always a beautiful post, Tricia. Are you currently in Oberammergau and enjoying lovely spring views of the Alps? Happy Easter to you, Frohe Ostern!!
Greetings Cornelia, our friend had to chuckle when he saw how excited we were before we even made it to the main waterfalls – the park is that enchanting. Yes, we’re currently in Oberammergau, and enjoying wintry views; the snow doesn’t want to seem to acquiesce. Thankfully, there are colorful Easter trees to cheer up the landscape, and we have a few emerging tulips now. :) How are you celebrating this Easter weekend, presumably with warm weather and California sunshine?
Finally, thanks for your kind words about the post; they’re most appreciated!
Hi Tricia, so the easter eggs turned into snoweggs? Sorry to say that we had beautiful sunny weather on Easter Sunday. I baked the traditional “Osterzopf”, it might be called “Easter Bread” ,but it’s not really bread, it’s more like a “Hefezopf”, probably only Shawn would love it. So I made double recipes to share it with friends and neigermanyhbors. Please wave at the beautiful mountains for me. Happy Easter to you “Frohe Ostern”, in Germany there is also Ostermontag, another holiday on Monday to celebrate Easter. Did you get to see any Osterfeuer or attend to any early morning masses in one of the wonderful churches? Sending you sunshine form California.
Cornelia, I’m happy to hear that you had an enjoyable Easter and that you were able to share a slice of home with friends in the form of your Osterzopf bread. I was feeling a bit under the weather on Easter Sunday, so that kept me from popping into service at the local church, which is usually so festive with its musicians.
The next Bavarian cultural event that we’re looking forward to, weather permitting, is the Maibaumaufstellen in nearby Farchant. Have you attended one before – perhaps you even twirled around the May Pole as a child? :)
What a beautiful place. Another to add to my list.
Carol, we all have a way of tempting each other with new destinations, don’t we? :) Krka’s certainly a worthwhile destination. If you can, add it to your visit-in-the-off-season list.
We usually try to stay away in the busy times. It’s much nicer that way.
Agreed; I know we’re fortunate to have such flexibility in travel planning at the moment, but it does make a big difference visiting a place when there are less visitors. Aside from enjoying the more quiet atmosphere, we like being able to engage with the locals more. :)
Away from Krka NP and Šibenik, I was reading The Art of Wine vineyard trip reports the other day and the article referred me to Trip advisor and/or the AoW website. So I clicked the link and lo and behold, there was a picture of you, clutching a (largeish ;)) glass of plavac Mali, or similar.
After Šibenik, I have a few days in Trogir, so will ‘commute’ into Split, to see the Diocletian palace, the Mestrovic gallery, Marjan hill and sample some wines and cheeses with them. Will raise a glass to you. Zivjeli.
That’s funny, Jon. I was caught red-handed, eh? :) Sounds like a fabulous itinerary. The Meštrović Gallery and Archaeological Museum were my favorites in Split, and I regret I didn’t have my camera with when we visited the former. We also enjoyed a Valentine’s Day hike to see Marjan’s hermit caves & small churches. Of course we hiked up there on other days just to take in the splendid views.
Did I mention before that we spent 2 months in Trogir last winter? If you get in a mood for pizza or Dalmatian peka, the pizzeria (Pizzeria Mirkec) underneath our Trogir apartment has great food. Since I’m gluten free I didn’t get to partake in the pizza, but the peka was really nice. Živjeli to you too, enjoy the wine & cheese, and of course, greetings to Srdjan! We look forward to having more of the ‘crowd pleaser’ with him the next time we’re back in Split.
I’ve never been in this part of Croatia, but I’m very impressed by your article…you’ve taken beuatiful shots, too!I love your reportages :) Have a nice week!Cris
That’s kind of you to say, Cris. Thank you. While Plitvice National Park seems to get the most attention, we thought Krka was pretty spectacular – especially since we were able to roam through the park at a time of year when there aren’t many visitors. It made for a relaxing, beautiful daytrip, so if you return to Croatia sometime soon, keep it in mind. Coincidentally, you went to the similarly-named Krk, didn’t you? :)
What a complete and incredible story your photos and words share…what a magical place. The first photo I find incredible, the power of the water nestled next to the house, almost like a flash flood and goes so well with the perspective of the 5th shot. And then there is the serenity of the kayaking & old fishermen practicing their trade…this is how I like to see & visit places. See all the different moods and enjoy. Great post.
Randall, I guess I’m tempting you to visit Croatia with every post, eh? :) I think this day’s excursions highlight what make Croatia special: a perfect blend of outdoor activities, traditional culture, and history.
Your mention of these fishermen also brings to mind an interesting point some acquaintances have made about the fate of traditional practices as more countries join, or contemplate joining, the European Union. From Macedonia to Croatia, some have said that fishing, and even the neighborhood production of food or liqueur are being more tightly regulated. I haven’t read enough about the topic, but I do wonder how it’ll impact local production of traditionally-made goods. On the flip side, these same acquaintances have mentioned various benefits (e.g. safety, health & sanitation, etc.) Here’s hoping there will be a good balance between regulation and preservation. And finally, thanks for your thoughtful comments! Hope you had a wonderful weekend. :)
It has been on my list for so long, and I am still stunned I haven’t packed my bags and headed out already :-) Outdoor/Culture/History, to combine those three is rare, a treasure to absorb fully. Cheers!
What a gorgeous place – and what a powerful waterfall at Krka. You have really captured the beauty of the place in these photos. And it seems like you have had a fantastic trip.
Otto, I’m happy that I conveyed my sense of enthusiasm for these spots. :) Though it’d be refreshing to visit during the summer when people swim around the falls, I was excited to see the volume of the water during the spring. Thanks for reading, and hope you’re having a great weekend.
What a beautiful part of the world. Thanks for sharing these wonderful scenes with us.
Darlene, we feel fortunate to have been able to tiptoe to many of the world’s beautiful corners, and so it’s a joy to share them with others. Here’s hoping our stories might inspire others to get to some of these spots too. :)
Wonderful photos, Tricia!
Glad you enjoyed them, Naomi. Of course, it goes without saying that Mother Nature made snapping in these spots a breeze. Thanks for dropping by. :)
Did you know that there is a picture of the Primosten Vineyards in the lobby of the UN building in New York ?
We’d heard that once before, but haven’t seen it for ourselves. The vineyards are beautiful and historic – it’s no wonder they’re featured so prominently at the UN! :)
Another couple of hidden gems that I’d like you to google. Rastoke, Varazdin, Murter island , Vodice at dawn and Telascica on long island.
Dani, hvala for your recommendations. While we’re now living in Malta, I could see us returning to Croatia again someday soon. The destinations you’ve shared here look like they offer a beautiful blend between nature, culture, and history.