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Plitvice Lakes and Rastoke Day Trip from Zagreb

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Plitvice Lakes and Rastoke Day Trip from Zagreb

Are you looking for the perfect day trip from Zagreb? Why not visit two of the most stunning natural locations in Croatia – Plitvice Lakes and Rastoke? This day trip is the perfect way to immerse yourself in the natural beauty of Croatia.

Plitvice Lakes and Rastoke are two incredibly beautiful locations in Croatia, located on the outskirts of Zagreb. These two locations have become increasingly popular with visitors looking to experience nature in its most pure form, while still being close enough to enjoy a day trip without having to stay away overnight. Here, we’ll provide you with an overview of Plitvice Lakes and Rastoke, while giving you some advice on how to make the most of your day trip and planning your route around the sites.

About Plitvice Lakes and Rastoke

Plitvice Lakes is a national park located in the Lika region of Croatia. The park has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979, and as such it is a protected area. The lakes within the park lie at different heights, connected by waterfalls and small rivers. It is one of the most visited natural tourist sites in Croatia, and a favourite amongst nature photographers and adventure seekers.

Rastoke is a village located near Slunj in central Croatia, about 2 kilometres away from Plitvice Lakes. It is known for its cascading waterfalls and traditional style wooden houses that look like they’re straight out of a fairytale. The village is really picturesque and it is a great way to unwind after exploring the nearby national park of Plitvice Lakes.

How to Get to Plitvice Lakes and Rastoke

The best way to get to Plitvice Lakes and explore both locations is by rented car, as it gives you flexibility and it is the quickest option if you want to visit both places in one day. You can pick up a rent-a-car from Zagreb Airport or Downtown Zagreb, and make your way to Plitvice Lakes via the A1 motorway. The drive should take about two hours.

If you don’t want to drive, you can also take a bus from Zagreb Main Bus Station. The bus runs multiple times a day, and takes about 2 hours and 30 minutes to reach the Plitvice entrance gate.

Once you arrive to the entrance gate of Plitvice Lakes, you can either walk or take the park’s shuttle buses to explore the national park. If you want to visit Rastoke afterwards, you can either walk (40-minute walk) or drive/take a taxi (10-minute drive).

Exploring Plitvice Lakes

There are two routes you can take when exploring Plitvice Lakes; Upper Lakes route (6.5 kilometers) and Lower Lakes route (4 kilometers). If you want to make the most out of your visit, we recommend taking both routes as each one gives you amazing views of the cascading waterfalls and lush nature. Remember to bring appropriate shoes as parts of the walking routes tend to be slippery and steep.

It can get extremely hot in Plitvice Lakes during summertime, so bring sunscreen, water and a cap. Also, wear light clothing during summer – some attractions get very crowded during peak season.

Upper Lakes Route

If you’re starting on the Upper Lakes route, it’s best to start early in the morning as it gets extremely busy during peak season. The route usually takes 3-4 hours, depending on how fast or slow you walk.

The walk begins with wooden bridges which will lead you past Upper Lake Kozjak and across some smaller lakes, while taking in all the scenery along the way. After walking for about an hour between Upper Lake Kozjak and Lower Lake Prošće, you will be at the highest part of your route at 950 meters above sea level. Here you get an incredible view over the entire National Park, so make sure you take some amazing pictures.

The next part takes you across some of the smaller lakes and through some tunnels until you reach Big Waterfall. Big Waterfall is by far one of the primary attractions of Plitvice National Park – here, you get an incredible view of where all the lakes are interconnected by countless waterfalls and rapids along your path.

After walking alongside more lakes and through more tunnels, you will reach Lower Lake Kozjak – the biggest lake within the national park. Here, visitors have access to boat rides which will take them directly to one end of Lake Kozjak to begin their journey back up the mountain – which is where your original path began 8 kilometers ago.

Lower Lakes Route

If you’re starting your journey on the Lower Lakes path, then it’s best to begin at 9 o’clock in the morning as well – although not as crowded as the Upper Lakes Route, this path also gets busy during peak season so it’s best to get there early. The path is about 4 kilometers long and takes most people 2-3 hours depending on how much time they spend exploring each stop along their path.

The start of your journey will take you past small lakes until you reach Galovački buk falls, a 100 meter long waterfall where you will be able to take some incredible pictures. After passing by more lakes and smaller cascades, you will soon see Veliki slap which is 84 meters tall – one of the tallest waterfalls in Croatia!

This Lower Lakes route will then take you past Galovac cascade where you can find plenty of local wildlife like rare birds, endemic trout fish species and even bears if you’re lucky! The route will then take you through more picturesque scenes until it ends up at Čorkova uvala where your journey back up begins – here there are plenty of small cafes and souvenir shops where you can take a break before walking back up again.

Once your Upper Lakes or Lower Lakes routes are complete, why not stop by Rastoke village before heading back?

Exploring Rastoke

Rastoke is just a 10-minute drive from Plitvice entrance gate but if you want you can also take a brisk 40-minute walk there instead. It’s best to visit Rastoke Village just before sunset so that you can catch some amazing views over the cascading waterfalls when darkness start to set in – definitely something that no traveller should miss!

Once here, explore the streets of Rastoke village; everything from traditional music being played live by local musicians, traditional wooden houses that look like they’re straight out of a fairytale storybook, old mills with it’s grinding stones still intact – all of this just goes by show that this little village has been truly untouched by modern civilization during all these years.

In Rastoke Village there’s plenty to see; whether it’s taking a cruise down Slunjčica river in one of their traditional wooden boats, understanding what it was like to work with an old blacksmith forge or just immersing yourself in the local culture with grab-a-beer cafes open every evening – there’s something new around every corner in Rastoke Village!


A day trip from Zagreb is an amazing way for travelers to experience natural beauty at its best – both Plitvice Lakes National Park and Rastoke Village are truly hidden gems waiting to be explored! Exploring Plitvice Lakes involves taking both Upper and Lower Lakes routes – taking time off at each stop along these routes enables travelers to appreciate what an incredible natural location they’re visiting. Thereafter stopping by Rastoke Village for some sunset vibes will create memories that will last a lifetime! If you’re looking for more information on booking this activity, why not check out GetYourGuide’s Plitvice Lakes Tour from Zagreb.

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