Dubrovnik and Plitvice Lakes National Park, two of Croatia's most popular destinations, are 268 miles (432 km) apart—a long journey by local standards. The quickest way to travel between them is by car, a trip that will take 5 to 6 hours and crosses the border with Bosnia and Herzegovina twice along the way.
There's also one direct bus a day, which takes around 10 hours, and other bus routes with connections in Split, Šibenik, and Zadar.
This 14-day tour of Croatia takes in many of the country's best highlights, including Dubrovnik and Plitvice Lakes National Park as well as the Dalmatian cities of Zadar, Trogir, and Split.
By Private Transfer or Rental Car
Duration: 5 - 6 hours, more with stops
The best way to travel from Dubrovnik to Plitvice Lakes National Park is by car: not only is this the fastest way to make the trip, but also the option that offers the most flexibility. Private transfer is a convenient alternative; for details, contact your local travel specialist.
From Dubrovnik, head north on the scenic D8 Jadrana Magistrala coastal road. After about 40 miles (64 km), you'll reach the border crossing into Bosnia and Herzegovina. You'll need to show your passport twice: on entering the country and upon exiting and re-entering Croatia 5.5 miles (9 km) miles later.
The road then becomes the E65 toll highway. Follow it to Zadar and then continue on the E71 to Gornja Ploča (Exit 13). From here take the D1 to Plitvice Lakes National Park. The total travel time will depend on the state of traffic on the roads and at the border crossings.
There are many scenic stops to consider making on the way, one is the seaside town of Makarska. Makarska is about 90 miles (153 km) from Dubrovnik and there is plenty to do here for a quick stop or longer visit. One option is a hike in Biokovo Nature Park which provides easy access to some great views of the surrounding areas plus an opportunity to stretch your legs. Another option is exploring Makarska Old Town and Kacic Square. During the summer months, Kacic Square is often bustling with local festivities and musical performances.
Other places to stop include the city of Split famous for its UNESCO-designated Diocletian's Palace, the historical center in Trogir, or the old town of Zadar. Two good restaurant options in Zadar are Trattoria Mediterraneo and Pet Bunara, located minutes from each other in Old Town Zadar. If you decide to head into Old Town Zadar, it's best to first find parking along the city walls, as you're mostly not able to drive into the heart of the Old Town.
Duration: 9.5 hours – 13.5 hours
Traveling by bus is a budget-friendly way to get around Croatia. However, getting from Dubrovnik to Plitvice Lakes National Park is time-consuming and potentially tedious. There's only one direct bus a day operated by Globtour, a trip that takes 9.5 hours.
Another option is to travel to Split, Šibenik or Zadar, from where there are frequent direct bus connections to Plitvice Lakes National Park. Depending on timetables and connection times, the total trip could take up to 13.5 hours.