An overview of Croatia train travel. 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

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 come 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 Ploce finds its train station connecting only with Metkovic, on the BiH border. Ploce’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.

Can you go from Zagreb to Dubrovnik by train?

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.

Split to Dubrovnik by train, or Zadar or Pula?

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. Take the bus.

Zagreb to Split by train – what you need to know

By far the most popular route is from Split to Zagreb. Trains run a couple of times a day on average, with an overnight route as well, which is sometimes only in the season.

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.

Taking a car by train from Split to Zagreb

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.

From Zagreb to Rijeka

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. Look out for train travel to Rijeka to increase when it assumes its role as European City of Culture in 2020.

Ploce to Metkovic – a rail connection from another era

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 due, as it highlights how useful the Ploce train connection used to be.

Sadly, no longer. For a while, there was a service from Ploce all the way to Sarajevo. While this was not the quickest train journey in Europe, it was certainly among the most beautiful. That line discontinued recently, and now Ploce connects only with Metkovic, the border town with Bosnia and Hercegovina.

Trains in Istria

Another Croatia train casualty of the regional conflict is Istria. Connections to the rest of the Croatian network do not exist, however, and 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.

Connecting Zagreb and continental Croatia

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 Varazdin, for example. Until I found out that the train took twice as long as the bus.

International routes – From Budapest to Zagreb

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.

Trains from Austria, Belgrade, Germany and Switzerland to Croatia

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.

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, but only with onward bus connections from the Slovenian capital to Trieste. Looking to get from Italy to Croatia? Here is the Total Croatia 2019 guide.

Buying Croatia train tickets online

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.

Where to find Croatia train offers and discounts?

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.

Croatia train travel and bikes – what you need to know

Bicycles can be transported in the following trains (and the price is 15 kuna):

  1. Zagreb GK – Sisak – Sunja – Volinja – Zagreb GK
  2. Zagreb – Novska – (Sisak) – Zagreb GK
  3. Varaždin – Koprivnica – Varaždin
  4. Zagreb GK – Novska – Vinkovci – Tovarnik – Zagreb GK
  5. Zagreb – Križevci – Koprivnica – Zagreb GK
  6. Osijek – Koprivnica- Zagreb GK – (Rijeka) – Osijek
  7. Zagreb – Ogulin – Knin – Split
  8. Zagreb GK – Karlovac – Duga Resa – Ogulin – Moravice – Rijeka – Zagreb GK
  9. Novoselec – Zagreb GK – Zaprešić – Savski Marof
  10. Zagreb GK – Varaždin – Kotoriba – Zagreb GK
  11. 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

Are pets allowed on Croatian trains?

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, handicapped people 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).

One of the world’s most famous murders took place on a train in Croatia

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.

Croatia train contact information

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.

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