Plitvice Lakes National Park is located in central Croatia, roughly between Zagreb (80 mi/129 km north of the park) and Zadar (70 mi/113 km to the south). The easiest way to get to Plitvice Lakes National Park is by private transfer or rental car, as this allows you to set your own schedule.
There are also direct bus connections to the park from Zagreb, Zadar, and Karlovac, making it possible to make this an easy day trip from these cities. Buses stop at both of the park's main entrances: Entrance 1 and Entrance 2. Note that the park's three hotels are all located at Entrance 2 (but there are many other accommodation options outside the park). Traveling to Plitvice Lakes National Park by train is not an option because rail services are very limited in Croatia.
Nature lovers will be tempted by this eight-day tour of Croatia that takes in Plitvice Lakes National Park as well as Krka National Park. Other stops include the coastal cities of Zadar, Split, and Dubrovnik and the Dalmatian islands of Hvar and Pakleni.
Duration: 2 - 2.5 hours
Many travelers try to squeeze in a visit to Plitvice Lakes National Park as part of a day trip from Zagreb. Direct buses are frequent, with up to 10 departures throughout the day. Traveling by bus is a convenient way to travel to the park since the journey is only slightly longer (30 minutes) than by car.
Duration: 1.5 - 2 hours
It's easy to make a day trip to Plitvice Lakes National Park from Zadar, with a distance of only 73 miles (117 km) between the two destinations. The drive takes 1.5 hours, and the most convenient way to get there is by private transfer or rental car if you want to set your own schedule. But making the trip by bus is also an easy option, and only slightly longer (15 minutes) than by car. There are up to nine daily bus services on this route from Zadar's main bus station to the park.
Duration: 3 - 7.5 hours
Rovinj is too far from Plitvice Lakes National Park to make a day trip viable. Traveling to the park by car via a private transfer or rental car is the quickest way to make the journey and will take three to four hours. It's also possible to make the trip by bus, but this will require a change of buses in Karlovac, and the total travel time, including transfer times, could take up to 7.5 hours.
Duration: 6 - 13.5 hours
Traveling from Dubrovnik to Plitvice Lakes National Park will take up a good part of the day. Making the trip by private transfer or rental car is the quickest way to get to the park: a journey that should take 5 to 6 hours. There's only one direct bus a day from Dubrovnik to the park, operated by Globtour, which takes 9.5 hours.
Another option is to travel to Split, Šibenik, or Zadar and change buses for one of the frequent bus services heading to Plitvice Lakes National Park. Once you factor in transfer times, the total trip can take up to 13.5 hours.