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Plitvice Lakes: Day Trips and Tours from Zadar

Plitvice Lakes is Croatia’s most popular national park, with plunging waterfalls and terraced emerald pools that have graced the cover of many a travel magazine. The 16 interconnected lakes are hidden away in lush woodlands which are home to deer, boars, and even bears.

Whether you want to spot wildlife, hike along the trails, or photograph the cascades, a day trip to Plitvice Lakes from Zadar will be the highlight of your vacation.

How to get to Plitvice Lakes from Zadar?

Plitvice Lakes National Park is 73 miles from Zadar, and can easily be accessed by road.

From Zadar to Plitvice Lakes by car

It’s quick and convenient to travel to Plitvice Lakes by car. You need to head northeast on the E71 highway, before coming off at Gornja Ploča and taking the D1 to Plitvice.

There is paid visitor parking at both entrances to the park.

From Zadar to Plitvice Lakes by bus

The only public transport between Zadar and Plitvice Lakes is the bus. Between April and October, seven daily buses run between 8 AM – 11 PM.

The journey to Plitvice Lakes from Zadar bus station lasts up to 2 hours 50 minutes depending on which route is taken.

Guided tour to Plitvice Lakes from Zadar

Taking a Plitvice Lakes day trip from Zadar is your easiest option. The tours offer hotel transfers or will pick you up from a pre-arranged meeting place in the city. Having an expert local guide means you will get the best out of your experience. There are options to explore the park independently too.

How much does the entrance ticket to Plitvice Lakes cost?

Tickets for Plitvice Lakes National Park should be purchased online in advance, at least one day before arrival. Unsold tickets are available to buy on the day at the park entrance, but availability isn’t guaranteed. Advance purchase is particularly recommended during peak season.

Adult ticket prices are as follows:

  • January, February, March, November, December: 80 HRK (€10)
  • April, May, October: 180 HRK (€24)
  • June – September: 300 HRK (€40)

During the summer, if you arrive after 4 PM the ticket price falls to 200 HRK (€27).

Children under 7 years go free, and there are discounts available for young people aged 7 – 18 years, as well as students.

What is the typical itinerary of a day tour to Plitvice Lakes from Zadar?

Usually, Plitvice Lakes day trips from Zadar start with a pick up from your hotel or central city meeting point. You’ll then enjoy a 73-mile scenic drive in an air-conditioned minivan or coach to the national park entrance. The journey takes around two hours.

On arrival at the park, it’s time to explore, either with a guide or by yourself. You can hike along the forest trails and wooden boardwalks beside the waterfalls during this fun Plitvice Lakes jaunt. There are options for boating around the lakes too.

After your visit, you will be driven back to Zadar.

What kind of tours are available to go to Plitvice Lakes?

Guided tours to Plitvice Lakes from Zadar

Plitvice Lakes day trips are a relaxing way to see this UNESCO World Heritage Site in style. Your knowledgeable guide will take you along the most scenic trails, stopping at all the best spots for views and photos.

You will get up close to waterfalls and learn about the geological formation of this popular beauty spot. Some Plitvice Lakes day tours include a boat excursion.

Shuttle transfer without guide to Plitvice Lakes from Zadar

This is a return transfer without a guide, giving you the chance to explore at your own pace. You will travel in a comfortable air-conditioned vehicle, with plenty of time in the park to hike the trails and bridges connecting the waterfalls. After your adventure, you will return to Zadar.

Private tour to Plitvice Lakes from Zadar

A private day trip to Plitvice Lakes is the ultimate way to discover this jaw-dropping national park. Travel in an exclusive vehicle and enjoy a bit of flexibility when it comes to the schedule.

Some tours provide personal guides while others give you free rein to roam independently on arrival at Plitvice Lakes.

Private tour to Plitvice Lakes with return to Zagreb

For those traveling from Zadar to Zagreb, a stop at Plitvice Lakes can easily be incorporated into this one-way transfer. You will journey by mini-coach and enjoy door-to-door transportation.

Your mid-way stop at Plitvice Lakes is self-guided, giving you time to explore at leisure.

Private day tour to Plitvice Lakes plus Rastoke Village from Zadar

This private Plitvice Lakes excursion also takes in the unusual village of Rastoke, which is known as the “small lakes of Plitvice”. This historical settlement has been built around some local cascades, with spectacular streams running throughout the village.

How much does a tour to Plitvice Lakes from Zadar cost?

All Plitvice Lakes day tours include transfers, either from your hotel in Zadar or a pre-agreed meeting point. Park entrance fees are not included unless mentioned.

Small group guided day tours to Plitvice Lakes from Zadar start at €65 per person.

The shuttle transfer without a guide costs €10 per person, or €60 including the park entrance ticket.

Private Plitvice day trips are priced from €229 for up to four participants. Some tours include a guided excursion in the park. If you want to travel on to Zagreb instead of returning to Zadar, expect to pay around €240.

The private Plitvice Lakes trip that includes a visit to Rastoke Village is €430 for up to three travelers and includes a tour guide.

What will you see and do in Plitvice Lakes?

There’s plenty of things to enjoy in Plitvice Lakes National Park, and you could easily spend a couple of days exploring. Hikers will love trekking along the forest trails, taking in the best scenery, and stopping at the major landmarks in both the Lower and Upper Lakes areas. Here are some of the unmissable sights:

Lower Lakes

There are four lakes in the lower part of Plitvice, all dotted along a wide canyon and separated by dramatic limestone cliffs. Highlights include the eye-catching travertine cascade and the Sastavci waterfall. There are several hiking trails and boardwalks to cross in this part of the park.

Veliki Slap

This will be the high point of your Plitvice Lakes day trip, quite literally! Found at the end of the Lower Lakes area, Veliki Slap is Croatia’s tallest waterfall, with the cascade plunging down 78 meters. To reach the falls, take Trail A. This 3.5-kilometer hiking path is easy underfoot and suitable for all visitors. It begins at Entrance one in the Lower Lakes Area and you’ll enjoy views of several other waterfalls along the way.

Upper Lakes

This is where you’ll find those iconic wooden walkways that take you across turquoise lakes and alongside raging waterfalls. Some of the best views in the park can be found here from the hiking routes. Trail H is one of the most scenic routes and incorporates a leisurely boat ride across Lake Kozjaka to break up the 8.9-kilometer trek.

When is Plitvice Lakes National Park open over the year?

Plitvice Lakes National Park is open every day throughout the year, and you can enjoy the trails during all seasons.

The entrance to the Upper Lakes is closed between November and April but the Lower Lakes remain open.

What are the opening times?

The opening times for Plitvice Lakes National Park are as follows:

  • Spring: 8 AM – 7 PM
  • Summer: 7 AM – 8 PM
  • Fall: 7 AM – 7 PM
  • Winter: 8 AM – 4 PM

Last entry into the park is two hours before closing time.

When is the best time to visit Plitvice Lakes?

You can take a day trip to Plitvice Lakes from Zadar at any time of year, with each season offering a different experience. Summers are warm with lush vegetation for great photos, but this is when the park is most crowded.

Come in spring for wildflowers and to see the cascades in full flow or choose fall for a spot of leaf-peeping and fewer visitors. Meanwhile, winter at Plitvice Lakes is magical, with snow and solitude beckoning adventurous travelers.

Are there any tours to Plitvice Lakes from other cities in Croatia?

Yes, there are other tours departing from several other cities in Croatia

Aidditionally, there are tours inside Plitvice Lakes National Park.

Travel tips

  • Book your Plitvice Lakes day tour from Zadar in advance as tickets can sell out, especially in peak season.
  • Wear comfortable footwear with sturdy soles. The trails and walkways in the park can be difficult to navigate in sandals or flip-flops.
  • Take sunscreen to prevent burning in the heat of the day.
  • There are food stalls at the park entrance if you want to buy lunch, with lots of local specialty snacks on offer.
  • You can’t swim in Plitvice Lakes National Park so leave your swimming gear behind.