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How to Get From Zadar to Plitvice Lakes (Local’s Guide)

Trying to figure out the best way to get from Zadar to Plitvice Lakes? I’ve got you covered!

Located in central Croatia, Plitvice Lakes National Park is on everyone’s Croatia bucket list – and trust me, it deserves to be! I’ve been living in Croatia since 2014 and have been traveling to the country my entire life – that’s over 30 years of Croatia travel experience.

I’ve visited Plitvice Lakes more times than I can count, and yet, every time I visit the park, I am blown away by its natural beauty. During my many years of exploring Plitvice, I’ve come to know all of the ways to reach the park, including how to get from Zadar to Plitvice Lakes.

In this post, I’ll break down the top 4 ways you can get to Plitvice Lakes from Zadar, giving you all the information you need to plan your trip. Let’s get started!

Zadar to Plitvice Lakes by Car

My personal favorite, and the most straightforward way to reach Plitvice Lakes from Zadar, is by car.

The quickest route is to take the E71 highway before exiting off on the state road D1 towards Plitvice Lakes. The drive takes about 1 hour and 30 minutes, and along the way, you’ll be treated to beautiful views of the Croatian countryside.

There are tolls along this route, so keep that in mind when planning your journey.

I love traveling by car because it gives you the flexibility to start from Plitvice Entrance 1 or 2, stay at the park as long as you like, and even overnight nearby for a full day of exploring.

If you do decide to spend the night, book Fenomen Plitvice to stay in a cozy cottage just footsteps away from the park!

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A view looking down onto a small curving wooden walkway over blue-green waters surrounded by lush green vegetation with waterfalls flowing through.

Plitvice Day Tours From Zadar

If you don’t feel comfortable driving abroad, or just want a hassle-free experience, then an organized Zadar to Plitvice Lakes tour is the perfect choice for you. You’ll get picked up from your accommodation in Zadar, and from there, all you need to do is sit back and enjoy the ride.

The roads to Plitvice are scenic and winding, and when you’re not behind the wheel, you can fully soak in the beautiful landscapes.

The park is sprawling, and can get very busy in the summertime, making it easy to feel overwhelmed. Having a guide who knows the best way to navigate the trails, pinpoint the best viewpoints, and can handle time management is key.

This small group Plitvice Lakes tour from Zadar organizes everything for you, including transportation, lunch, and a knowledgeable guide. You’ll share this experience with up to 15 other travelers, ensuring that you still get a personalized experience without the feel of a crowded excursion.

To really maximize your experience, book a private tour of Plitvice Lakes from Zadar. Your driver will pick you up at your accommodation, or in front of your cruise ship, and take you on a scenic journey to Plitvice Lakes National Park.

When you arrive, you’ll have the opportunity to walk along wooden pathways, take in panoramic views from high up on the viewpoints, and get up close to the falls all with a guide who knows the park inside and out.

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    Private Transfers From Zadar to Plitvice Lakes

    Want to visit the park and not have to worry driving, parking, or relying on a group tour? Consider booking a private transfer to Plitvice Lakes. A taxi or an Uber from Zadar to Plitvice and back starts at around 150 EUR, depending on the time and season.

    If you still want the comfort and convenience of a private transfer but don’t want to splurge, this small group transfer is a solid option. You’ll be picked up at your hotel in Zadar and taken to Plitvice in an air-conditioned minivan with a small group of fellow travelers.

    Bus From Zadar to Plitvice Lakes

    The most budget-friendly option to get to Plitvice Lakes from Zadar is to take the bus. Croatia does not have a very good train system, but that’s why the bus system is well developed.

    There are several daily departures from the Zadar main bus station, and the journey can last anywhere from 1 hour and 45 minutes to 2.5 hours, depending on the route.

    The Zadar to Plitvice Lakes bus will drop you off near Entrance 1 of the park, leaving you with just a short walk to the ticket booth.

    There are several bus companies that run from Zadar to Plitvice, but I like FlixBus best. They offer the most direct routes and are usually cheaper than the other providers, plus they have free wifi onboard.


    How far iz Zadar from Plitvice Lakes National Park?

    The distance between Zadar and Plitvice Lakes National Park is only 119 kilometers (74 miles).

    How do I get to Plitvice Lakes without a car?

    You can get to Plitvice Lakes without a car by joining a group tour, private tour, taking the bus, or taking a private transfer.

    Is there a bus from Zadar Airport to Plitvice Lakes?

    No, there is not a direct bus from Zadar Airport to Plitvice Lakes. You will first need to get to Zadar’s main bus station, and from there, you can take a bus to Plitvice Lakes.

    Is Plitvice Lakes closer to Zadar or Split?

    Because of its location in the middle of the Dalmatian Coast, Zadar is closer to Plitvice Lakes than Split.

    Final Thoughts

    If you skipped to the bottom, no worries!

    Here are the best ways to get to Plitvice Lakes National Park from Zadar:

    No matter which transportation option you choose, your visit to the park will certainly be one of the highlights of your trip!

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