06 March 2011

Krka National Park & Skradin

Twenty minutes from Šibenik and under 40 minutes from Zadar, Krka National Park is home to the second most amazing waterfalls in Croatia and probably the entire region (Plitvice takes the pole position, but is nowhere near as convenient to the coast). The entrance is equally enchanting - by boat from the riverside quai in Skradin into the park itself. What other national park do you enter like that? The main falls of Skradinski Buk are probably the best known natural feature in the park, but the Roski Slap waterfalls, as well as the river itself, are also quite cool. Along with its natural heritage, Krka also offers cultural heritage in the form of several monasteries, a number of medieval fortresses, and even some Roman ruins. Visovac island sits in the middle of the Krka river; the boat trips from Skradinski Buk to Roski Slap include a stop here at the Franciscan Monastery of Our Lady of Mercy, which dates to 1445 and still has (young!) monks roaming about. Much further up the Krka river is the Orthodox Holy Archangel Monastery, first mentioned in written records in 1402, and containing a library of considerable wealth. The best preserved of the medieval ruins in the park is the fortress of Klučica, dating to the 13th century and abandoned since the mid-1600s. The Roman ruins of Burnam round out the cultural offerings of Krka; this former military outpost dates to the 1st century AD and consists of various arches and the remains of an amphitheathre (ok, its not Pula, but....). You can easily do Skradinski Buk, the watermills, and have a quick dip in a few hours, but for a more interesting day throw in an additional boat trip up to Visovac and Roski Slap.

The very small town of Skradin is the perfect launch point for your entry to the national park. Although only a few kilometres upriver from the Adriatic, the atmosphere of Skradin is distinct from that of the coast. That; however, does not stop it from having a rather busy marina that has reportedly been used by Bill Gates on his two visits to Krka National Park. That's not so surprising given the size of the yachts you see here, along with a quaint pedestrian-zone centre with its churches, the requisite square, a river quai, and a bevy of cafes and restaurants. Stop by the Skradin Tourist Board on Trg Mala Gospe for more information on local sites, as well trails for biking, hiking, and the like.

Alante Wine & Tapas Bar
Jointly opened by the proprietor of the Bibich winery, Alen, and his friend Ante (and hence the name), this is a great spot to try a glass of a variety of wines produced by Bibich and to grab what might be best termed a Dalmatian twist on tapas. Located caddy-corner from Hotel Skradin, you should certainly stop by.

Rokovača 7
+385 (22) 771 081
With 70 seats on the terrace overlooking the marina on the Krka River, the humble entrance belies the surroundings for your dinner at Skala. The editor was particularly impressed with the beefsteak with pasta and truffles as well as the pasta with truffles and scampi, although the traditional grilled fish and steaks are good as well. Pet friendly (at least for terrace dining). To get there, walk from the clock tower towards Bonaca restaurant; Skala is about 20 meters further down.

Hotel Skradinski Buk
Burinovac bb
+385 (22) 771 771
There are a number of pensions in Skradin, but if you are going to be arriving late it may be easier just to book this basic but clean hotel online. With parking and located on the edge of the pedestrian zone, you are well placed to wander the heart of town and to hop your boat into the park. Some rooms have balconies, so ask. Doubles run from 56 to 89 Euros (with breakfast) depending on the season. Oh, and Alante is just across the street, which is very convenient if you decide to try one too many varieties of wine.

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