February 14, 2020 – The Zagreb train to Split may not be the fastest way to travel, but it has many advantages over the bus.
Croatian trains do not have the best reputation in the world. The network itself is fairly disconnected, and big destinations such as Dubrovnik no longer have a train station (although they used to until recently), for example, and Ploce connects only to Metkovic by rail before continuing to Sarajevo and beyond.
And Croatian trains are certainly not the quickest, more than three times slower that the likes of Spain and France, according to this European overview, above.
So why take the train at all?
I love trains, always have, ever since my Interrailing days in my youth, as well as those long, slow overnight journeys in the Soviet Union undercover for MI6. I had a business trip to Split this week and had to leave the car with the family, and I really could not face another 5-6 hour bus journey, so decided to give the train.
Although there are only two Zagreb train departures for Split each day, as well as one overnight, the afternoon departure fitted my plans perfectly – leaving at 15:20 and arriving at 21:26. Just over six hours on the train versus 5-plus on the bus.
When I first came to Croatia, the trains were fairly dated, but there are some new kids on the block these days, and the train was both modern and spotless.
And spacious. With only 6 other people in the entire carriage, I had a table of four all to myself, plenty of time to catch up on the many blogs I need to write for clients, as well as plenty of opportunity to stretch my legs and enjoy the scenery until nightfall came.
And, at just 110 kuna one way, it is significantly cheaper than the bus. I got more than 4 hours of work done before my laptop battery died – sadly there are no plugs available.
There are also no refreshments, but a little forward thinking can overcome that problem.
We arrived, just 10 minutes late, in Split, with me feeling refreshed from the extra space unavailable on the bus, as well as feeling accomplished on 4 hours of work completed. Something that would never happen on the bus, or driving.
And after a successful three days in the Dalmatian capital, the return journey.
I love taking the overnight Zagreb train from Split for a number of reasons. The main reason is time, the one thing I lack most in life. The reality is that commuting between Split and Zagreb takes out a good chunk of the day and is therefore quite inefficient. The night train – also just 110 kuna currently – leaves at just before 10pm and arrives around 6am. It is almost always deserted, and I have never failed to get a whole cabin, such as the one above, to myself. The trains are heated, and apart from a ticket check within minutes of departure, there are no other disturnances, and a sound night of sleep ensues. An early morning coffee in Zagreb and a shower at a friend’s apartment, and a full working day in the Croatian capital awaits.
For more options on how to get from Zagreb to Split, check out the Total Croatia guide.