Lake Bled in Slovenia is 162 miles (260 km) from Croatia's famous Plitvice Lakes National Park. Despite being in two different countries, seeing these popular sights is doable in one trip. Traveling by rental car takes about 3.5 hours, and is the fastest and most convenient option. Private transfers are available as well, though you’ll need to switch cars in Ljubljana.
Regional and private buses are reliable options but require at least one connection. It’s best to use a combination of the two. For example, it’s faster to take a regional bus from Lake Bled to Ljubljana, then hop on a private bus to Croatia’s capital, Zagreb. Once in Zagreb, you have more options. You can stick to the private company, or opt for a regional bus from there. Depending on connection times, this route will take about 6-8 hours. Otherwise, the private company Flixbus offers an 11-hour overnight bus with one connection in Zadar in the morning.
The train is an additional option, but only from Ljubljana to Zagreb. Buses and private transfers can get you to-and-from the capital cities. In total, this journey will also take 6-8 hours.
If you have the time to include Croatia’s famous coastline in your trip, this 8-day tour might interest you.
By Rental Car
Duration: 3.5 hours
The drive from Lake Bled to Plitvice Lakes National Park is straightforward and scenic. Once out of Bled, you’ll follow the major highways E61/A2 through Ljubljana until you reach Novo Mesto, a great place for a meal or coffee. Along the way, you’ll enjoy views of the Kamnik–Savinja Alps and the Slovene countryside.
From Novo Mesto, you’ll follow Road 105 until the Croatian border where the road changes into D6. Keep in mind that you’ll have to stop at the border to show your papers, which may require an additional fee from your rental car company. The border crossing shouldn’t take long—only about 10 minutes or so—but it can be longer depending on the time of day and season.
Eventually, you’ll connect to the E65/E71 highways and join D42 all the way to the lakes. If you’d like to visit Zagreb along the way, you can stick with the A2 highway and switch to E70 at the border. If you prefer multi-lane highways, this route is a great alternative as it only adds 10 minutes to your journey time.
Other interesting stopping points include Karlovac—home to the Croatian War of Independence Museum—and the picturesque village of Rastoke with its scenic mills and waterfalls.
By Private Transfer
Duration: 4 hours
Private transfers are also an option, but it would be difficult to find a company to take you all the way to Plitvice Lakes National Park. It’s best to take one transfer from Lake Bled to Ljubljana, then another to the park. This would require some additional time to make the switch.
Duration: 6-7 hours
The bus is a budget-friendly alternative, but is less convenient. The fastest route requires two connections: one in Ljubljana and the other in Zagreb. You can take the regional bus from Lake Bled to Ljubljana, then transfer to the private company, Flixbus, which offers numerous departures to Zagreb. Once in Zagreb, you can continue with the same company or opt for the regional bus. Private transfers are also available and give more flexibility.
If taking the regional bus from Zagreb, keep in mind that there are two stops at Plitvice Lakes National Park. These tips will help you avoid the crowds at the first entrance and fully embrace your time in the park.
By Train (+ Bus or Private Transfer)
Duration: 6-8 hours
After arriving in Ljubljana by bus or private transfer, you can catch one of the five daily train departures to Zagreb. Once in Zagreb, you’ll switch to another bus or private transfer. Note that the bus and train stations are not connected, requiring a short 5-minute taxi or 15-minute walk. Depending on connection times, this route takes about 6-8 hours to complete.