An overview of Croatia train travel in 2022. From is there a train to Dubrovnik, to advice on buying tickets, offers, bringing bikes, pets or cars & routes.
- Croatia train travel – a disjointed network
- Can you go from Zagreb to Dubrovnik by train?
- Split to Dubrovnik by train, or Zadar or Pula?
- Zagreb to Split by train – what you need to know
- Taking a car by train from Split to Zagreb
- From Zagreb to Rijeka
- Ploče to Metković – a rail connection from another era
- Trains in Istria
- Connecting Zagreb and continental Croatia
- International routes – From Budapest to Zagreb
- Trains from Austria, Belgrade, Germany and Switzerland to Croatia
- Can you go by train from Italy to Croatia?
- Buying Croatia train tickets online
- Where to find Croatia train offers and discounts?
- Croatia train travel and bikes – what you need to know
- Are pets allowed on Croatian trains?
- One of the world’s most famous murders took place on a train in Croatia
- Croatia train contact information
One of the many casualties of the breakup of former Yugoslavia was the Croatian rail network. As part of the bigger country, trains from Croatian stations passed logically to stations in the wider network.
Independence brought an abrupt end to some of those connections, and the Croatian network today is disjointed and in three sections. Train stations in Istria connect with Slovenia (and there is a daily service between Ljubljana and Pula). But the Istrian train network connects with Rijeka and the main Croatian network only by bus.
Down in Dalmatia, the picture is even sadder. The port of Ploče finds its train station connecting only with Metković, on the BiH border. Ploče’s trains once went regularly to Belgrade, and from there throughout the region. Those days are long gone, however, and even the connection to Sarajevo was cut in 2016.
Knin used to be one of the busiest stations in the region, but these days it is just a stopping point for the most important rail connection for tourists and locals alike – Zagreb to Split. Zagreb to Rijeka is also of interest, but the rest of the connections are slow and underused.
International connections come mostly to Zagreb, with the likes of Belgrade, Budapest, Munich, Zurich, Vienna and Ljubljana the main hubs.
If only… Dubrovnik used to have a train station, but it has not been in operation since 1976. You can offset your disappointment by reading the fascinating story of Dubrovnik Train Station in its heyday.
If you are looking to get from Zagreb to Dubrovnik the only sensible options are flights (40 mins), bus (a torturous 9 or so hours) or car. The car journey can take 6 hours with a fair wind, but you are advised to plan for more, especially in the season.
Just as many tourist search for Croatia train options from Zagreb to Dubrovnik, so too from Split to Dubrovnik, or Split to Zadar and Pula.
No such connections exist, with the technical exception of Zadar. It is possible to go from Split to Zadar by train, but you will waste a large part of your holiday trying. Just take the bus.
By far the most popular route is from Split to Zagreb. Before the pandemic, the trains ran a couple of times a day on average. There was an overnight route as well, sometimes only during the peak season. At the moment of this writing, in early March 2021, there is only one direct train between Zagreb and Split. It leaves Zagreb at 15:20, arriving in Split around 21:30. From Split, it leaves around 8:30 in the morning and arrives in Zagreb just before 3 pm.
The journey is very pleasant and takes about 6 hours by day. Full details of getting between the two cities by train is in the Zagreb to Split section.
Tired of driving? You can put your car on the train from Zagreb to Split at a very reasonable price. Have a good sleep overnight and wake up refreshed. More details on the seasonal service. In 2021, the service is currently discontinued, and we’ll report here when it returns.
The other main coastal train route from Zagreb is to Rijeka. As Croatia’s largest port, cargo is obviously an important business route.
But Rijeka is both the rail gateway to Istria (albeit with bus connections from Rijeka train station), and also an emerging destination in its own right. In early 2021, as things are slowly picking up, post-pandemic, there is still just one direct connection between the two biggest cities in Croatia every day – leaving Zagreb around 8 am to get to Rijeka before 1 pm, and then leaving back for Zagreb around 2 pm, to arrive around 6:30 pm.
One of my favourite stories of all my time in Croatia was with ‘The Doctor’. The Doctor was one of only two Hajduk fans who went to the 1991 cup final against Red Star in Belgrade, as regional war was breaking out.
It is a fascinating story in its own right (and you can read it here), but it earns its place in the Croatia train section as it highlights how useful the Ploče train connection used to be.
Sadly, no longer. For a while, there was a service from Ploče all the way to Sarajevo. While this was not the quickest train journey in Europe, it was certainly among the most beautiful. That line was discontinued in 2013, and now Ploče connects only with Metković, the border town with Bosnia and Hercegovina.
Another Croatia train casualty of the regional conflict is Istria. Connections to the rest of the Croatian network do not exist, so a bus transfer to Rijeka connects Istrian passengers with the rest of the rail network. Pula and Buzet are connected by daily international train to Ljubljana, however.
Despite its lack of connectivity, Pula train station does offer one quirky claim to fame. It is the only train station to connect to a Croatian island. The tiny island in question is Uljanik, home to those multi-coloured cranes and Croatia’s most troubled shipyard.
Zagreb has much better connections to continental Croatia in terms of number of stations, but the reality is that most of these lines are slow and under-utilised.
I was quite excited to learn there was a train to Zagreb when I moved to Varaždin, for example. Until I found out that the train took twice as long as the bus.
Zagreb is the main international rail hub for Croatia. One of the most popular routes is from Zagreb to Budapest, which takes about 6 hours.
It is a popular daily connection with backpackers, and prices can be as low as 9 euro one way. This is how much I paid from Budapest to Zagreb in March 2018. Find out more about this connection in 2021 on Croatian Rail website.
While being part of former Yugoslavia did not do much for modern Croatia’s internal connections, a previous existence in the Austro-Hungarian Empire did. In addition to the Budapest connection, connections to Munich, Frankfurt, Zurich and Vienna are smooth, and the regular rail link to Belgrade beats sitting on the bus. For the latest timetables and prices, visit Bahn.de.
Of course, if you want to include Croatia in your itinerary taking you everywhere around Europe, Interrail/EUrail will have that option too available on their website.
From Czechia to Adriatic by Direct Train?
For the 2021 season, it was reported that the Czech private provider of rail and bus passenger transport RegioJet will again establish their connection to the Croatian Adriatic coast. In the 2020 season they had the high-season trains from Prague, through Brno, Břeclav, Bratislava, Győr, Budapest and Zagreb all the way to Rijeka. In 2021, they’re expanding their service: after Zagreb, the trains will be split into two compositions in Ogulin, and a section will go towards Rijeka, while the other one will go to Split!
From those two hubs, you can reach 56 destination on the Croatian coast (and Kotor in Montenegro) only by using the company’s bus service, and many more using other means.
Can you go by train from Italy to Croatia?
I fondly remember a train ride from Zagreb to Venice several years ago, but those days are sadly no longer with us. It is possible to connect to Italy by train, via Ljubljana, and the connection will take you to Villa Opicina, a suburb of Trieste. Looking to get from Italy to Croatia? Here is the Total Croatia 2021 guide.
Croatia train tickets can be bought online via the official Croatian Railways website, and there is an English page. You can proceed to your online purchase here.
My experience of the Croatia train scene is that there are always some great discounts on offer. Check the official website for the latest deals, and thank me later.
Bicycles can be transported in the following trains (and the price is 15 kuna):
- Zagreb GK – Sisak – Sunja – Volinja – Zagreb GK
- Zagreb – Novska – (Sisak) – Zagreb GK
- Varaždin – Koprivnica – Varaždin
- Zagreb GK – Novska – Vinkovci – Tovarnik – Zagreb GK
- Zagreb – Križevci – Koprivnica – Zagreb GK
- Osijek – Koprivnica- Zagreb GK – (Rijeka) – Osijek
- Zagreb – Ogulin – Knin – Split
- Zagreb GK – Karlovac – Duga Resa – Ogulin – Moravice – Rijeka – Zagreb GK
- Novoselec – Zagreb GK – Zaprešić – Savski Marof
- Zagreb GK – Varaždin – Kotoriba – Zagreb GK
- Zagreb GK – Velika Gorica – Zagreb GK
Bicycle transport in Zagreb city-wide area
Dugo Selo – Zagreb – Savski Marof – Harmica
Harmica – Savski Marof – Dugo Selo – Zagreb
All you ever needed to know about transporting pets on Croatian trains: the official advice.
By presenting the appropriate veterinary booklet, the transportation of smaller pets, service dogs and guide/help dogs (if it is not forbidden by veterinary, sanitary or other regulations) is allowed.
The following animals can travel on Croatian trains:
a) small tamed animals (dogs up to 30 cm of height, cats and small tame animals) in their transport boxes (bird cages, baskets and other that can pass as hand luggage)
b) small dogs (up to 30 cm high) that can sit on a lap
c) service dogs being led by employees of MUP, HV, hunters or members of the Mountain Rescue Service and registered lifesaving dogs
d) guide/help dogs who are escorting blind people, people with disabilities or their trainers. Based on a valid work card the said person being escorted by a dog has right of free access to public areas designated for passengers (platforms, waiting rooms, offices and similar).
e) other dogs (higher than 30 cm) if they have a veterinary booklet from which the ownership, mark (microchip) and frequency of vaccination is visible. Such dogs must be on a short leash and wearing a muzzle. You can buy train tickets for such dogs at the cash register of the station by showing the veterinary booklet. Dogs without a veterinary booklet cannot board, or sit on the seats.
Any dogs stated under items c) and d) do not have to wear a muzzle and their transport is free. Dogs, which have on the last page of their veterinary booklet under the column Other a note “dangerous dog”, cannot board.
Responsibilities of dog owners
A passenger who brought the dog onto a train is responsible for its behaviour and will compensate for any damage done by the dog to other passengers in the train. For all damages done by the dog, the responsibility lies with the owner (for cleaning after the dog as well). Charges for any damage are in accordance with the provisions of Tariff 103.
A passenger transporting a dog in a sleeping coach must reserve the section for his/her exclusive use, i.e pay for all the beds in the section. The dog must not be placed on the bed. A passenger can bring only one dog aboard the train or one transport box as hand luggage.
Dogs cannot enter the dining coaches.
Transportation of dogs is OK in all types of trains (coaches and trainsets) under the following prices:
a) animals in transport boxes transported as hand luggage and small dogs outside transport boxes are free of charge
b) for larger dogs, the cost is 50% of the second class regular ticket.
In buses driving instead of trains only small tame animals in transport boxes are welcome, as well as dogs under items c) and d).
Vinkovci in eastern Croatia is a fascinating place, and for reasons one might least expect. It is, for example, the oldest constantly inhabited town in Europe. At more than 8,400 years old, it easily beats better known pretenders.
Vinkovci also has an important rail history, but perhaps its most famous rail hour had a dark side.
For it was somewhere between Slavonski Brod and Vinkovci where the most famous train murder of all took place. Murder on the Orient Express, and only Hercule Poirot could come to the rescue. A recent Hollywood production of the novel into a movie resulted in visuals which suggested that there are Alp-like mountains between Slavonski Brod and Vinkovci, but let us assure you that is not true, it’s indeed very flat in the region.
If you have any enquiries, comments or complaints regarding passenger transport services, please call or send them to: +385 1 3782 583 [email protected]
For the latest information on conditions and train schedules, call +385 (0)1 3782 583.
Croatian Railways has a FAQ section on its website, where you can find the latest answers to the most oft-asked questions.