Driving Dubrovnik to Plitvice Lakes National Park | A Croatia Roadtrip Itinerary

While driving Dubrovnik to Plitvice Lakes National Park in a day isn’t the most ideal, it’s still an obtainable goal. And hey, even if Dubrovnik is five hours away from Plitvice Lakes, that still closer to the lakes than your hometown, so get on it!

Yes, you read that right. Driving Dubrovnik to Plitvice Lakes will take you at least five hours. And, if you plan on stopping along the way (totally recommend) this drive will take even longer.  Make the most of your drive from Dubrovnik to Plitvice Lakes by following along this roadtrip itinerary stopping at the best places for food, scenic shots, and snacks along the way!


READ MORE : 9 Things to do in Dubrovnik 



First Stop : Dubrovnik Bridge  

Okay, don’t let this sudden stop scare you. You will get on the road eventually. But seriously, don’t miss out on this viewpoint! Just past the bridge, you’ll find large parking lot on the left. You can either park in the dirt parking lot just on the right and walk across the highway, or cross over and park in the parking lot on the left. Don’t let the no turning left sign scare you, that’s only meant for semi’s and campers!



Border Crossing : Croatia to Bosnia

[roughly one-hour drive 55km]

You’re going to cross into Bosnia for about 20km before getting back into Croatia. Be prepared for long lines at the border during high season. Rental agencies will try and tell you that you need a green card to cross this border – you don’t. It’s a huge scam! We researched this loads, and didn’t have a green card when we crossed, and had no problem. The border control even looked at our rental paperwork and didn’t say a thing!


Lunch in Bosnia : Laguna Restaurant

[in Neum – the only town in Bosnia you’ll drive through]

Amazing food, extremely cheap prices, and really nice staff. Laguna is the perfect lunch stop! You can’t just drive through Bosnia without doing anything, so you might as well stop here! We had tuna steak, a local pasta dish, and each had two affogatos all for under 23 USD!

{Traveler’s Tip… Navigation on your phone will try and take you up through town and a pointless route. Ignore that! Just past the huge Hotel Jardan, and before the stoplight, there’s a road off to the left of the highway – take that road instead and then follow your navigation to Laguna.. or basically just drive toward the water till you see it!}

{Traveler’s Tip… You can park on the road right in front of Laguna for free. If you park in the parking spaces before or after the restaurant, you’ll have to pay, and chances are you don’t have Bosnian currency on ya!}



Swim in Bosnia

[down the road from lunch]

If you have the time, take a quick dip or sunbathe in the Adriatic Sea from Bosnia! There’s a lovely beach and waterfront just down the road from your lunch stop! Do remember you have a long drive ahead of you still!


Stop at the Fruit Stands

[back in Croatia about 30 minutes/24 km from Laguna]

You probably won’t be hungry after lunch, but be sure to stop at the fruit stands for a snack for later, or for your time at Plitvice Lakes! There are loads of fruit stands to choose from. You’ll pass by quite a few on the opposite side of the road before finding a lone ranger on the right side. Alternatively, if you continue even further, you’ll find 10-20 stands all in a row once you get down the hill. Trust us here, you can’t miss them!

{Traveler’s Tip… Figs or “smokva” in Croatian are a huge hit! We were too early in the season to try them, but late June through July you’ll find some great ones we’re sure. We ate more peaches than we can count when we went at the end of May, but you’ll find loads of options for fresh produce at these stands regardless when you visit!}


New Toll Highway while Driving Dubrovnik to Plitvice Lakes 

[just after fruit stands]

After the fruit stands, you have a long drive ahead of you, most of which is on a toll road. We actually really enjoyed this drive, and from the start of the toll here to the exit for Plitvice Lakes, we only had to pay 124 HRK (about 18 USD). Not too expensive, but definitely something to keep in mind if your budget is tight! Paying the fee is totally worth it though. Even though it’s a fast paced highway, the views are still incredible, and the countless tunnels make you feel like a kid again!

{Traveler’s Tip… Keep on the lookout for the old highway while going through the mountains! It’s crazy to think where the road used to be!}


Stop and Enjoy the Views

[just past Zadar about 2.5 hours from fruit stands]

While the highway doesn’t offer very many places to actually pull over and enjoy the views around you, just past Zadar as you reach the top of the mountain, you’ll get the chance to pull over… Do it! It’s an old run down hotel, that never finished being built. The granite picnic tables and killer views make for a great place enjoy some of that fruit you bought earlier! Wander around this kind of creepy building to stretch your legs before getting back on the road!



Grocery Shop for Plitvice Lakes Picnic

[in Korenica near Plitvice Lakes]

In Korenica there’s the typical Croatian grocery store called Konzum. Stop here and get things like cheese, meat, fruit, and sweets for your time in the national park. Get more food than you think you’ll need, as the sun will really steal all your energy.

{Traveler’s Tip.. There’s a local store just before Konzum, and we stopped there to shop because we like to support the locals, but the workers were actually quite rude to us, so we just suggest going to Konzum instead! Save money, and hopefully be treated better!}

Dinner at Vila Velebita

[about 1 hour from viewpoint, and 20 minutes from main Plitvice Lakes area]

If you’re not going to eat dinner at your accommodation for the night, we highly recommend eating at Vila Velebita. The portions are huge, the staff is super nice, and the atmosphere is great. It’s just off the road near Plitvice Lakes and was super crowded both times we saw it! We ate for under 35 USD – pretty good considering the touristy area and how amazing the food was!

{Traveler’s Tip… Try the Odrezak “vila” (breaded turkey stuffed with ham and creamy cheese) or the Janjetina (lamb on a spit – basically lamb off the spine) both were really tasty!! Portions are quite large, and you have to pay for the bread they bring you!}



Arrive at your Accommodation in Plitvice Lakes

We stayed at Bungalows Korana as it was definitely the cheapest accommodation in the area. But be forewarned here… this is a campground. The bungalows are super cute, but you’ll need your own towel and toiletries, and the sheets are pretty rough! It’s a great place if you have your own tent or campervan, but definitely not nice like other accommodation in the area.

{Traveler’s Tip… Wherever you choose to stay, check if they have a shuttle to and from Plitvice Lakes, and how often it runs.  You have to pay 7 Kuna an hour to park at the lakes, and there’s really not many spaces to park, so check if you can leave the car at your accommodation and shuttle in!}


Extra Info for Driving Dubrovnik to Plitvice Lakes National Park  


Coastal Route

If you don’t want to pay the toll, or if you have more time, we suggest taking the old highway along the coast! We did this for part of our drive south from Zadar and loved it! As far as we understand there’s no toll for this road, and while the speed limit is less than half the new highway speed, you’re driving along the coast, so it’s got to be gorgeous! Omis looks like an absolutely amazing place to spend some time!

Cetina Springs

We ended up spending time in Dubrovnik working on a paper, so we didn’t get the chance to stop at Centina Springs, but if you get out of Dubrovnik early enough, this seems like a good place to break up the drive! You can supposedly drink the water right out of the spring here!

Green Card

We said it early, but it’s worth saying it again. If you are only planning on visiting Neum in Bosnia, or just driving straight through to get to the north of Croatia, you DO NOT need a green card. Car rental companies will try and tell you that you do need one, but it’s not true! Only if you’re crossing at other borders, or going to other countries!

Toll Roads

You can pay the toll in Euro or Croatian Kuna, or simply whip out your credit card and get some points for driving that road! Don’t stress about having Kuna on you for the tolls, there was no problem paying in card, even when we only had a 3 Euro fee!


I think that about covers it for all you need to know driving Dubrovnik to Plitvice Lakes National Park. If you have any questions or have any stops to add, let us know in the comments below.

Enjoy your trip through Croatia!! It’s one of our most favorite countries! And don’t forget to check out our Croatia Page for more travel tips and inspiration on this beautiful country!


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