The Plitvice Lakes are a beautiful set of 16 interlinked lakes connected by travertine waterfalls. They are a UNESCO World Heritage site and one of the must see places in Croatia. If you are coming during peak season, try and do so early in the day to avoid the worst of the crowds as it is a popular tourist spot. Inside the park there are a range of hiking programmes to choose from that range in length between 2hrs – 8hrs.
This is the only available hostel close to the lakes. Thankfully it is a really nice one. They offer a free shuttle to get to and from the lakes which is about 15 minutes away. They offer good internet, a really nicely equipped kitchen and lots of free activities and events to help you meet the other travellers. Very highly rated hostel.
Your other options besides the aforementioned hostels are to either visit the Lakes as a day trip from Zagreb or Zadar, or to look for a cheap AirBnB or similar alternative.
Visiting the Lakes
All entrance prices are available at np-plitvicka-jezera.hr/…/prices/. The standard 1-day entrance price varies between 7€ and 24€ depending on the time of year. There are discounts available for students.
There are two entrances to the park. Entrance no. 1 is at the northern end of the park and is considered the main entrance and the only entrance open in winter. Entrance no. 2 is found next to a group of hotels including the Plitvice Hotel. Entrance no. 2 is great if you would like to visit the upper part of the lakes first.
Zagreb to Plitvice
Buses depart Zagreb for Plitvice very regularly during summer but there are only a handful in winter. Up to date departure times can be found at buscroatia.com/zagreb-plitvice. It takes about 2h 20min to get to Plitvice from Zagreb. You will need to inform the driver that you would like to get off at Plitvice Lakes. You will most likely be dropped off at the north entrance (main entrance).
Zadar to Plitvice
Buses are not quite as regular from Zadar, check the timetable at buscroatia.com/zadar-plitvice. It can take as little as 1hr 30min to travel from Zadar depending on the bus. Your bus driver will most likely drop you off at the south entrance so if you need to go to the north entrance, make sure to let the driver know. In winter, only the north entrance is open.
Bus schedules for when you are ready to depart can be found at buscroatia.com/plitvice-lakes-zadar. It is possible to see everything Plitvice Lakes has to offer during a day trip from either Zadar or Zagreb. You can even start the day in Zagreb, visit Plitvice, and then continue on to Zadar in the evening.