If you are visiting Croatia for the first time you probably ask yourself how far is Zagreb from Plitvice Lakes National Park. As Croatia is a pretty small country, distances between places are fairly small. The distance from Zagreb to Plitvice Lakes National Park is just under 129 kilometers, starting from the very center of Zagreb.
It takes just under 3 hours by bus from Zagreb to Plitvice. There are about ten buses that are running daily from Zagreb to this popular visitor destination. The ticket prices are about 100 HRK one way which is about 12 Euro.
All buses leave from Zagreb’s main bus station which is located in Avenija Marina Drzica street in the city’s downtown (GPS 45.803849, 15.993311) – see the below map.
The journey itself is pleasant, especially in the warmer periods of the year when roads are clean and dry. If you can choose your place, try to sit on the left side of the bus as that side, in my opinion, offers better views over the countryside and rivers that you will pass by.
As far as comfort is concerned, buses in Croatia are fairly comfortable, most of them are air-conditioned, and some of them have free wi-fi, so the journey was, at least for me, always fun and enjoyable.
However, in winter months, when temperatures are low and can reach -10 C, roads can be slippery and/or frozen, in combination with foggy weather conditions it can be hazardous so under these conditions journey time takes much longer.
Timetables change according to season meaning in the winter months, which is a low season, there are usually about 8 to 9 bus departures a day, while in summers, the number increases to up to 15 a day. The earliest departure from Zagreb is usually at 6:30 am arriving at Plitvice Lakes bus station at 8:45 am. The latest departure is at 7:15 pm in the high season (or 5:30 pm in the low season) arriving at 9:30 pm (or 7:30 pm) at Plitvice. The journey duration is between 1 hr 50 minutes and 2 hrs 40 minutes, depending on the bus route.
How much is the bus from Zagreb to Plitvice Lakes? Prices for a one-way ticket are from 6 to 12 euros, depending on the route and bus company. Child tickets are cheaper and for a return ticket, you get about a 20% discount.
If you are arriving in Zagreb by plane and would like to travel directly from the airport to Plitvice, take the airport bus to the town. It will take you to the main Zagreb bus station, the same one from where you can change and take a bus to Plitvice Lakes. This is a pretty straightforward and very popular journey so buses tend to get filled up pretty quickly, especially in the high, summer season. Therefore, if you know your arrival date, I would recommend buying your bus ticket in advance to avoid disappointment. Get it here
It takes 2 1/2 hours to drive from Zagreb to Plitvice. In the summertime, it is very pleasant to drive while winter roads can be slippery and/or frozen so under these conditions the driving time takes longer.
You can also take Uber to get you from Zagreb town center or from the Airport, see details here or a private day tour, see details here
The shortest driving route between these two places is mapped below. It shows the driving route from Zagreb via Karlovac to Plitvice Lakes National Park Entrance 1 and 2. It is a fairly straightforward route, just follow directions to Karlovac and once you arrive at the outskirts of the town, make sure you take the right turn towards Plitvice – have a look:
Here is a video of my recent drive on this route: