How To Get From Zadar To Plitvice Lakes (& Plitvice Lakes To Zadar)

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Post author Mate

Written by our local expert Mate

Mate is Croatian and owns a transport company in the Balkans, he has visited over 30 countries. He is an expert on all things transportation as well as food and wine.

One of the most commonly asked questions is how to get from Zadar to Plitvice Lakes. Thankfully, this is easily done, and the travel time between the two is only a couple of hours.

Croatia Travel Blog_Things to do in Croatia_How to Get from Zadar to Plitvice Lakes

Croatia is packed with destinations, cities, towns, and natural wonders that will excite even the most seasoned traveler. You’ll need to know the various transportation options to see what this beautiful country offers. Thankfully, a well-connected road network and loads of options make this super-easy.

One of the most commonly asked questions is how to get from Zadar to Plitvice Lakes. This is a piece of cake; the travel time between the two is only a couple of hours. 

Zadar is an old city on the Dalmatian Coast, bursting with things to see and do and many historical sites to explore. You will find a laid-back, authentic way of life here, making the ideal base to explore the region.

Travel Tips First Time to Croatia - Zadar Croatia Travel Blog
Zadar Old Town

While in Zadar, it’s a great idea to head out and explore the natural and historic sites in the region. Plitvice Lakes National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, should be on top of your list. Croatia’s most popular national park is located in the heart of the country and is famous for its chain of interconnected lakes with stunning waterfalls.

So, how do you get from Zadar to Plitvice Lakes?

Zadar To Plitvice Lakes By Car

The quickest way by far is to drive; the journey will take you just under two hours. Do bear in mind that during the summer months, you will probably find that many other people have the same idea as you, e.g., let’s head out and explore!

Hiring a car in Zadar is simple. You will be able to shop around and find the best deal for you, and you must always ensure that you carry your international license and travel documents with you. You can take your time and stop along the way as you please.

The journey gets more and more scenic as you approach the park. There are tolls along the way, so keep this in mind before you set off. You will take the E71 to the D1 road before heading towards the D23 to your final destination. The route is signposted as you get closer, so it’s not a challenging route to follow. To head back to Zadar, you reverse the instructions.

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Private Transfer From Zadar To Plitvice Lakes

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If you want to head out for the day and don’t want the hassle of finding your way around, how about booking a private transfer from Zadar to Plitvice Lakes? A Plitvice Lakes transfer allows you to sit back, relax and enjoy the experience of the journey.

You’ll be picked up from your hotel, and you can settle back knowing your driver is knowledgeable and experienced. They will get you safely to where you need to be and back again! Contact Octopus Transfers for your private transfers to Plitvice Lakes NP, starting from 140 euro.

Bus From Zadar To Plitvice Lakes

PLITVICE LAKES - Day Trips From Split

If you want to catch the bus rather than drive yourself, you have three main options. You can either book your ticket online or head to the bus station in Zadar to reserve your seat. The journey by bus takes no more than 2 hours and 15 minutes.

The main bus companies that operate this route are Bus Prijevoz Knezevic, Bus Croatia, and Bus Globtour. Bus Prijevoz Knezevic is the quickest option, which takes 1 hour 40 minutes, and the walk from the bus station to the park is just a few minutes.

This one is the most frequent of the services on offer. Bus Croatia requires you to take the bus to Kozino, which takes just 15 minutes and operates once daily. Then, you’ll go onward to the park, taking 2 hours and 10 minutes overall. Finally, you can choose to go with Bus Globtour. That trip takes around 2 hours and 15 minutes and runs twice daily.

Group Tour From Zadar To Plitvice Lakes

Several tour companies offer guided tours to Plitvice Lakes National Park, relieving the stress of getting around. You will pay a bit more for the experience (roughly 65 Euros per person, excluding the park entrance fee), but guided tours are, as the name would suggest, totally guided. This means that you get the experience of a guide. Most of them last around the 8-hour mark.

You will be picked up from your hotel, and guides are also usually bilingual. Your tour will include breakfast, an optional lunch (typically extra), and transportation. You will be met by a guide at Plitvice Lakes, who will take you to the key sites of the lakes.

Whatever transport option you choose when traveling from Zadar to Plitvice, you won’t be disappointed with your visit to what’s arguably Croatia’s best national park.


Comments (10)

  1. My daughter and I are arriving in Zagreb on Sept 12 and will be driving down to Dubrovnik, returning back to Zagreb on Sept 20, via air. We would like to see both Plitvice and Krka National Parks and then head to Split and down the Dalmation Coast. What is your recommendation on how to best see both parks? Thank you.

  2. We will be going to Plitvice Lakes National Park, in September and will be spending one full day there. We are staying over night so we will get up early. What is the best route to see everything. We are staying near Entrance 1 but can go to Entrance 2 if that will give us the best route to see everything early with out crowds for the first hour or so. Thanks for recommending a route.

  3. Im travelling solo(no car) & plan to go from Zagreb to Plitvice to Split and make a night stopover to see splitvice.
    How easy it is to get from any accomodation to the lake and take the bus to split after that?

  4. Hi there, I am staying in Zadar, then heading up to Zagreb after. We would like to visit the lakes but was hoping to do this enroute to Zagreb so as to avoid coming back and forth. Is there any luggage locker facilities at the lakes? If not, would you recommend driving instead? (We drive on Right hand side!) thanks!

  5. Thank you for all your travel tips love your website found last night and haven’t stop looking into everything you have post and I’m so excited to traveling to all of these places.
    Leaving Rome on April 7th and flying to Split renting car for Dubrovnik staying for 2 nights then heading back up to Split for one night then up to Zadar for one night and go to the Plitvice national park then maybe hiring a driver to take us to Venice for 2 nights then one night in Florence taking train down to Sorrento for three nights then back to Rome and heading back home. Just wondering if this is a good itinerary.

    1. Your itinerary sounds exciting but also quite packed, especially considering the distances you plan to travel vs actual enjoyment time. L

      Split to Dubrovnik (2 nights): Good for exploring Dubrovnik – but why not just stay in Split?
      Back to Split (1 night): This is a long drive back; consider if it’s necessary to really drive there and back
      Zadar (1 night): Brief stay; might feel rushed, if you skip Dubrovnik you’d have more time here
      Plitvice National Park: Great choice, but time here seems limited.
      Drive to Venice (2 nights): Long drive; hiring a driver is a good idea.
      Florence (1 night): Very brief. What can you see?
      Sorrento (3 nights): Good duration for relaxation and exploration.
      Hope that helps.

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