Magnolia blossom in Zagreb
 

Magnolia blossom in the lovely city of Zagreb.  Croatia is fabulous, from Adriatic islands to wineries & olive groves in Istria.  No flight needed!

 

Route map:  London to Zagreb, Bled, Split, Rijeka by train

The rail way to Croatia!  London to Zagreb in 24 hours...

UK to Croatia by train in 24 hours...

Take a mid-morning Eurostar to Paris, a 200 mph double-deck TGV Duplex to Munich, and an excellent Croatian sleeper train overnight from Munich to Zagreb, arriving next morning.  Or take Eurostar & TGV Duplex to Munich, stay the night in a hotel and take a wonderful scenic ride next day through the mountains across Austria, into Slovenia and along the pretty River Sava to Zagreb.  The choice is yours.  It's safe, civilised, comfortable & affordable and unlike a flight, a truly memorable travel experience.  This page is a guide to booking train travel to Croatia, with train times, fares & how to buy tickets...

COVID-19 update Trains are running between the UK & Croatia.  Eurostar is running a much-reduced service, check times online.  Beyond Paris & Brussels, there are some service reductions, but train service is much closer to normal.  See COVID-19 travel information.

Train times, fares & tickets

small bullet point  London to Zagreb

small bullet point  London to Split & Dubrovnik

small bullet point  London to Korcula, Hvar, Vis, Brac

small bullet point  London to Rijeka

small bullet point  London to Istria:  Porec, Rovinj, Pula

small bullet point  Visiting the city of Zagreb

small bullet point  Suggested hotels in Zagreb, Split & Croatia

small bullet point  Useful country information: currency, dial code...

small bullet point  Holidays to Slovenia & Croatia by train not plane

small bullet point  Trains from Croatia to other European cities

small bullet point  Trains to Croatia from other European cities

Train travel information...

small bullet point  General information about European train travel

small bullet point  Taking your bike    Taking your dog    Luggage 

small bullet point  Travel insurance, Curve card & VPN

small bullet point  Buying UK train tickets to connect with Eurostar

Route map...

Route map:  London to Zagreb, Bled, Split, Rijeka by train


large bullet pointUseful country information

Train operators:

HZ (Hrvatske Zeljeznice) ww.hzpp.hr Eurostar times & fares   All-Europe train times

Railpasses:

Beginner's guide to European railpasses    Buy a rail pass online

Time zone:

GMT+1 (GMT+2 from last Sunday in March to last Saturday in October).

Dialling code:

+385

Currency:

£1 = approx 8.5 Kuna  Check current exchange rates

Tourist information:

Croatia: www.htz.hr & www.croatiatraveller.com    Recommended guidebooks

Accommodation:

Find a hotel in Croatia, Slovenia or Bosnia

Visas:

UK citizens do not need a visa to visit Croatia or Slovenia.

Page last updated:

28 November 2020.  Train times valid 13 December 2020 to 11 December 2021.


large bullet pointLondon to Zagreb

Which route to choose?

Croatia's capital city, Zagreb, is a wonderful city to visit, and it's the hub for trains to Split for onward ferries to Adriatic islands such as Hvar or buses to Dubrovnik.  It's straightforward, safe & comfortable to reach Zagreb by train from the UK.  Here are three good options, two using Eurostar, one using the Harwich-Hoek ferry:


Option 1:  Eurostar to Paris, TGV to Munich & sleeper train to Zagreb...

This is the most time-effective option, London to Zagreb in comfort in less than 24 hours. 

Important:  Until 10 July 2021, major engineering works are closing the Karawanks Tunnel between Austria & Slovenia, and the Munich-Zagreb sleeper is cancelled.  Use option 2 instead, as the Zurich-Zagreb sleeper is still running.

London ► Zagreb

Zagreb ► London

How much does it cost?

Each train is ticketed separately, so add up the price for each leg of the journey.

 1. London to Paris

     by Eurostar...

 From £52 one-way, £78 return 2nd class.

 From £115 one-way, £199 return 1st class.  Child fares 

 

 2. Paris to Munich

      by TGV Duplex...

 From €39.90 each way in 2nd class

 From €69.90 each way in 1st class.

 Limited availability, book in advance to get these fares.

 

 3. Munich to Zagreb

 on the Lisinski...

In a

seat:

In a couchette

In the sleeping-car

6-berth

4-berth

3-berth

2-berth

single

 Saver fare one-way, from:

€29

€49

€59

€69

€89

€129

 Saver fare return, from:

€58

€98

€118

€138

€178

€258

Saver fare = Advance-purchase fare, price varies, no refunds, no changes to travel plans.

Berths are sold individually, so one ticket means one bed.  The other beds in your compartment will be sold to other passengers.  For sole occupancy, simply book 1 ticket in a 1-berth sleeper or 2 tickets in a 2-berth sleeper or 4 tickets in a 4-berth couchette & so on.

How to buy tickets...

How to buy tickets by phone...

Let Railbookers arrange it as a package...

What's the journey like?

1. London to Paris by Eurostar...

Eurostar trains link London & Paris in 2h20, travelling at up to 300 km/h (186 mph).  There are two bar cars, power sockets at all seats and free WiFi.  Standard Premier and Business Premier fares include a light meal with wine (or breakfast, on departures before 11:00).  There's a 30-minute minimum check-in (10-minutes for business premier) as all border formalities are carried out before you board the train.  More information about Eurostar including check-in procedureSt Pancras station guide Gare du Nord station guide.

Eurostar e320   Eurostar e320 first class seats

A Eurostar e320 at St Pancras.  More about Eurostar.

 

1st class:  Standard Premier or Business Premier.

Eurostar e320 2nd class   Eurostar e320 cafe-bar

Standard class seats.  Larger photo.

 

One of two cafe-bars, in cars 8 & 9.  Larger photo.

2. Paris to Munich by TGV Duplex...   See the video guide

In Paris it's an easy 10 minute walk from the Gare du Nord to the Gare de l'Est for the TGV to Germany.  Sit back with a glass of red and enjoy the ride - book an upper deck seat for the best views.  The train is equipped with power sockets for laptops & mobiles at all seats in both classes, and a cafe-bar serves drinks, snacks & microwaved hot dishes.  The train soon leaves the Paris suburbs behind and speeds across a vast wide open plateau of woods & farmland at up to 200mph, past picturesque French villages of the Champagne region.  An hour or two later, the train leaves the high-speed line and slowly meanders through pretty wooded hills, the countryside eventually flattening out towards Strasbourg.  On leaving Strasbourg, look out for Strasbourg cathedral on the left with its famously missing second tower.  Minutes afterwards you rumble across the river Rhine into Germany, before heading on to Stuttgart & Munich.  Paris Gare de l'Est station guideMunich Hbf station guide.

TGV Duplex at Paris Gare de l'Est

TGV Duplex at Paris Est. These impressive 200 mph double-deck trains link Paris with Nice, Marseille, Munich, Barcelona & Switzerland...

TGV Duplex cafe-bar   TGV Duplex upper deck 2nd class seats

Cafe-bar on upper deck in car 4, serving tea, coffee, soft drinks, wine, beer, snacks & microwaved hot dishes.

 

2nd class seats on the upper deck.  There's a mix or tables for 4 and unidirectional seating.  360Ί photo.

First class on board a TGV Duplex   An TGV Duplex at Paris Est.

1st class on upper deck, a club duo on the left, a club quatre on the right.  360Ί photo.

 

A TGV Duplex.  The red near the door indicates 1st class, pale green indicates 2nd class.

3. Munich to Zagreb on the sleeper train Lisinski...  Watch the video

This modern sleeper train is a pleasure to travel on, whether in the privacy of your own sleeper or in economical couchettes.  There's time for dinner in Munich before boarding at a local restaurant, try www.augustinerkeller.de at Arnulfstrasse 52, to the north side of Munich Hbf.

The 'Lisinski' sleeper train from Zagreb to Munich, at Zagreb main station   Sleeper compartment in the Croatian sleeping-car from Munich to Zagreb

The sleeping-car on the Lisinski:  The modern air-conditioned Croatian sleeping-car of the Lisinski from Munich to Zagreb has 10 compartments with washbasin, each of which can be used as a 1, 2 or 3 berth room, with toilets at the end of the corridor.  Above left, the sleeper arrived at Zagreb.  See larger sleeper photo.

4-berth couchettes on Munich to Zagreb train   Couchette car on Munich to Zagreb train, at Munich

The couchette car on the Lisinski has modern air-conditioned 6-berth and 4-berth compartments.  Above right, the westbound train is seen boarding at Zagreb. See 360Ί photo.

Scenery between Ljubljana, Zagreb & Belgrade

Wake up to scenery like this between Ljubljana & Zagreb, along the river Sava...

Watch the video: By sleeper to Zagreb...

This video was taken on the Zurich to Zagreb sleeper, which is identical to the Munich-Zagreb sleeper and takes the same scenic route between Ljubljana & Zagreb.

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Option 2:  Eurostar to Paris, TGV-Lyria to Zurich, sleeper to Zagreb...

This is similar to option 1, but instead of TGV to Munich and Croatian sleeper train from Munich to Zagreb, you taka a TGV-Lyria to Zurich and Croatian sleeper train from Zurich to Zagreb.  There are two disadvantages of this option compared to option 1:  First, you need to cross Paris by taxi or metro from the Gare du Nord to the Gare de Lyon, in option 1 it's a 10 minute walk from the Gare du Nord to the Gare de l'Est next door.  Second, with this option you leave London around the same time, but arrive in Zagreb a couple of hours later.  There's one advantage, you can board the sleeper in Zurich much earlier, for a 20:40 departure, whereas in Munich you have to wait up for a late-night 23:20 departure.  There's also lovely scenery in the morning on the way to Zagreb along the Sava river, you won't regret those extra 2 hours!

Until 10 July 2021 this option has a major advantage over option 1:  The Zurich-Zagreb sleeper used in this option is still running, merely diverted via Maribor to avoid the Karawanks Tunnel, with just a little extra journey time.

London ► Zagreb

Zagreb ► London

How much does it cost?

Each train is ticketed separately, so add up the price for each leg of the journey.

 1. London to Paris

     by Eurostar...

 From £52 one-way, £78 return 2nd class.

 From £115 one-way, £199 return 1st class.  Child fares 

 

 2. Paris to Zurich

      by TGV Lyria...

 From €29 each way in 2nd class

 From €79 each way in 1st class.

 Limited availability, book in advance to get these fares.

 

 3. Zurich to Zagreb

 by sleeper train...

In a

seat:

In a couchette

In the sleeping-car

6-berth

4-berth

3-berth

2-berth

single

 Saver fare one-way, from:

€29

€49

€59

€69

€89

€129

Saver fare = Advance-purchase fare, price varies, no refunds, no changes to travel plans.

Berths are sold individually, so one ticket means one bed.  The other beds in your compartment will be sold to other passengers.  For sole occupancy, simply book 1 ticket in a 1-berth sleeper or 2 tickets in a 2-berth sleeper or 4 tickets in a 4-berth couchette & so on.

How to buy tickets...

How to buy tickets by phone...

What are the trains like?

1. London to Paris by Eurostar...

Eurostar trains link London & Paris in 2h20, travelling at up to 300 km/h (186 mph).  There are two bar cars, power sockets at all seats & free WiFi.  Standard Premier & Business Premier fares include a light meal with wine (or breakfast, on departures before 11:00).  There's a 30-minute minimum check-in (10-minutes for business premier) as all border formalities are carried out before you board the train.  More information about Eurostar including check-in procedureSt Pancras station guide Paris Gare du Nord station guideHow to cross Paris by metro or taxi.

Eurostar e320   Eurostar e320 first class seats

A Eurostar e320 train at St Pancras.  More about Eurostar.

 

Standard Premier/Business Premier.  Larger photo.

Eurostar e320 2nd class   Eurostar e320 cafe-bar

Standard class seats.  Larger photo.

 

One of two cafe-bars, in cars 8 & 9.  Larger photo.

2. Paris to Zurich by TGV-Lyria...

All TGV-Lyria trains are now 320km/h (199 mph) double-deck TGV Duplex like the one shown below.  TGV-Lyria trains have 3 classes:  Standard class (2nd), standard premiere (1st class) and business premiere (1st class with hot meal & drinks included in the fare).  There's a cafe-bar car selling drinks & snacks.  There are power points for mobiles & laptops at all seats in all classes.  Lyria is a consortium of the French and Swiss national railways.  More information about TGV-Lyria.

TGV-Lyria to Geneva at Paris Gare de Lyon

TGV-Lyria TGV Duplex train at Paris Gare de Lyon. More information about TGV-Lyria

TGV Duplex cafe-bar   TGV Duplex upper deck 2nd class seats

Cafe-bar on upper deck car 4, serving tea, coffee, soft drinks, wine, beer, snacks & microwaved hot dishes...

 

2nd class seats on the upper deck.  There's a mix or tables for 4 and unidirectional seating.  360Ί photo.

First class on board a TGV Duplex   A TGV-Lyria Duplex at Paris Gare de Lyon

1st class on the upper deck, with a club duo on the left, a club quatre on the right. 360Ί photo.

 

A TGV-Lyria for Geneva, boarding at Paris Gare de Lyon.  You enter on the lower deck, with 9 stairs up to top deck.

3. Zurich to Zagreb by sleeper train..  Watch the video

This modern sleeper train is a pleasure to travel on, whether in the privacy of your own sleeper or in economical couchettes.  There's time for dinner in Zurich before boarding at a local restaurant, try the Brasserie Federal inside Zurich HB.

The 'Lisinski' sleeper train from Zagreb to Munich, at Zagreb main station   Sleeper compartment in the Croatian sleeping-car from Munich to Zagreb

Croatian sleeping-car:  The modern air-conditioned Croatian sleeping-car from Zurich to Zagreb has 10 compartments with washbasin, each of which can be used as a 1, 2 or 3 berth room, with toilets at the end of the corridor.  Above left, the sleeper arrived at Zagreb.  See larger sleeper photo.

4-berth couchettes on Munich to Zagreb train   Couchette car on Munich to Zagreb train, at Munich

The couchette car has modern air-conditioned 6-berth and 4-berth compartments.  Above right, the westbound sleeper train boarding at Zagreb. See 360Ί photo.

Scenery between Ljubljana, Zagreb & Belgrade

Wake up to scenery like this between Ljubljana & Zagreb, along the river Sava...

Watch the video: Zurich to Zagreb by sleeper...

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Option 3, Eurostar to Brussels, Nightjet sleeper to Vienna, EuroCity train to Zagreb...

This is arguably most comfortable option as the Nightjet offers some deluxe sleepers with en suite shower & toilet, and all interchanges are easy same-station changes.  You also get a morning free in Vienna, although for that very reason it's slower than options 1 & 2.  This route is unaffected by the Karawanks tunnel work.

London ► Zagreb Mondays, Wednesdays & Fridays

Zagreb ► London Tuesdays, Thursdays & Sundays

How much does it cost?

 1. London to Brussels by Eurostar

 From £52 one-way, £78 return 2nd class.

 From £115 one-way, £199 return 1st class.  Child fares 

 

 2. Brussels to Vienna

 by Nightjet sleeper train

 one-way per person per bed...

In a seat

In a couchette

In the sleeping-car

6-berth

4-berth

3-berth

2-berth

1-berth

3-berth

+ shower

2-berth

+ shower

1-berth

+ shower

 Fares start at...

€39

€49

€59

€89.90

€109.90

€159.90

€99.90

€129.90

€179.90

 

 3. Vienna to Zagreb

 by EuroCity train...

 From €29.90 each way in 2nd class

 From €49.90 each way in 1st class

On the sleeper train, berths are sold individually, so one ticket means one bed, the other beds in your compartment will be sold to other passengers.  For sole occupancy, simply book 1 ticket in a 1-berth sleeper, 2 tickets in a 2-berth sleeper, 4 tickets in a 4-berth couchette & so on.

How to buy tickets...

How to buy tickets by phone...

What's the journey like?

1. London to Brussels by Eurostar: 

Eurostar trains link London & Brussels in just 2 hours, travelling at up to 300 km/h (186 mph).  There are two bar cars, power sockets at all seats and free WiFi.  Standard Premier and Business Premier fares include a light meal with wine (or breakfast, on departures before 11:00).  There's a 30-minute minimum check-in (10-minutes for business premier) as all border formalities are carried out before you board the train.  More information about Eurostar including check-in procedureSt Pancras station guide.  Brussels Midi station guideIn Brussels, I recommend using the Pullman Hotel bar as your VIP waiting room.

Eurostar e320   Eurostar e320 first class seats

A Eurostar e320 at St Pancras.  More about Eurostar.

 

Standard Premier/Business Premier.  Larger photo.

Eurostar e320 2nd class   Eurostar e320 cafe-bar

Standard class seats.  Larger photo.

 

One of two cafe-bars, in cars 8 & 9.  Larger photo.

2. Brussels to Vienna by Nightjet See the Nightjet guide... 

This is an Austrian Railways (ΦBB) Nightjet train, with sleeping-car, couchettes & seats.  The sleeping-car has 1, 2 & 3 bed compartments with washbasin, plus three deluxe compartments with 1, 2 or 3 beds with private shower & toilet.  The sleeper berths come fully made up with sheets and duvets, all sleeper passengers get mineral water in the evening and a light breakfast served in their compartment next morning.  Towels & toiletries are provided, including shampoo and shower gel in the deluxe sleepers.  In the more economical couchettes, you can book a couchette in a cheaper 6-berth compartment or a less-crowded 4-berth compartment, each provided with sheet, blanket, pillow & small bottle of water, and couchette passengers get a tea or coffee in the morning.  When waiting for the northbound sleeper train in Vienna, if you have booked a sleeper you can use the ΦBB first class lounge with complimentary drinks.  More pictures & information about Nightjet trains.

The Nightjet sleeper from Brussels to Vienna at Brussels

On 20 January 2020, the inaugural Nightjet left Brussels for Vienna, the first scheduled sleeper train to leave Brussels in 16 years.  Above, that inaugural train is seen ready to leave Brussels Midi on 20 January - naturally, the Man in Seat 61 was on board!

Nightjet deluxe 2-berth sleeper   Nightjet deluxe sleeper in day mode   Nightjet deluxe sleeper toilet & shower   Nightjet standard (economy) sleeper

Deluxe sleeper.  Each compartment can be used as a 1, 2 or 3-bed room.  Larger photoVideo of deluxe room

 

The same deluxe sleeper in evening/morning mode with beds folded away, seats folded out.  Larger photo.

 

Deluxe rooms have a compact shower & toilet, towels & hair/body wash provided.  Larger photo.

 

Standard sleeper set up as 2-berth, washstand open.  It can be used as a 1, 2 or 3 berth.  Larger photo.

6-berth couchettes   4-berth couchettes   Couchette car on Brussels-Vienna sleeper

6-berth couchettes...

 

4-berth couchettes...

 

Couchette car on the Brussels-Vienna Nightjet...

3. Vienna to Zagreb by EuroCity train: 

The EuroCity train Croatia has comfortable air-conditioned Austrian cars, some with classic 6-seat compartments, some with open-plan saloons, and an Austrian restaurant car serving snacks, drinks and meals.

The Croatia train from Zagreb to Vienna

Zagreb to Vienna on the Croatia:  This is the northbound Croatia boarding in Zagreb...

 

1st class open-plan seating as used on the Croatia.  1st class seats in 6-seat compartments are also available.

 

2nd class compartment as used on the Croatia.  Seats in open plan cars are also available...

Austrian restaurant car   Meal in an Austrian restaurant car on a Munich-Verona train

The elegant restaurant car.  See larger photo.

Dinner with wine on board...

Scenery from the train on the Semmering Railway

The Semmering Railway...  Shortly after calling at Vienna Neustadt, the Vienna-Zagreb train travels over the 41km (25 mile) Semmering Railway, opened in 1854 and now a UNESCO World Heritage site.  You'll get these great views southbound in summer when it's light in the evening, and all year round from the northbound train.  Read more about the famous Semmering Railway at en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Semmering_railway.  Sadly, this slow, curvaceous and steep section of line will be by-passed in the mid-2020s when the new Semmering Base Tunnel opens, though this could save up to 90 minutes.

More scenery on the Semmering Railway   More scenery on the Semmering Railway

The train snakes its way over the Semmering Railway, summiting near Semmering itself at 898m (2,946 feet) above sea level.

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Option 4:  By daytime trains, with overnight stop in Munich...

This option takes longer than the others, but you may prefer daytime travel with a hotel stop rather than using a sleeper, and best of all you get to see rather than sleep through all that wonderful scenery through the mountains across Austria and along the pretty River Sava from Slovenia to Zagreb.

London ► Zagreb

Zagreb ► London

How much does it cost?

How to buy tickets...

How to buy tickets by phone...

Let Railbookers arrange it as a package...

What's the journey like?

1. London to Paris by Eurostar...

Eurostar trains link London & Paris in 2h20, travelling at up to 300 km/h (186 mph).  There are two bar cars, power sockets at all seats and free WiFi.  Standard Premier and Business Premier fares include a light meal with wine (or breakfast, on departures before 11:00).  There's a 30-minute minimum check-in (10-minutes for business premier) as all border formalities are carried out before you board the train.  More information about Eurostar including check-in procedureSt Pancras station guide Gare du Nord station guide.

Eurostar e320   Eurostar e320 first class seats

A Eurostar e320 at St Pancras.  More about Eurostar.

 

1st class:  Standard Premier or Business Premier.

Eurostar e320 2nd class   Eurostar e320 cafe-bar

Standard class seats.  Larger photo.

 

One of two cafe-bars, in cars 8 & 9.  Larger photo.

2. Paris to Munich by TGV Duplex...   See the video guide

In Paris it's an easy 10 minute walk from the Gare du Nord to the Gare de l'Est for the TGV to Germany.  Sit back with a glass of red and enjoy the ride - book an upper deck seat for the best views.  The train is equipped with power sockets for laptops & mobiles at all seats in both classes, and a cafe-bar serves drinks, snacks & microwaved hot dishes.  The train soon leaves the Paris suburbs behind and speeds across a vast wide open plateau of woods & farmland at up to 200mph, past picturesque French villages of the Champagne region.  An hour or two later, the train leaves the high-speed line and slowly meanders through pretty wooded hills, the countryside eventually flattening out towards Strasbourg.  On leaving Strasbourg, look out for Strasbourg cathedral on the left with its famously missing second tower.  Minutes afterwards you rumble across the river Rhine into Germany, before heading on to Stuttgart & Munich.  Paris Gare de l'Est station guideMunich Hbf station guide.

TGV Duplex at Paris Gare de l'Est

TGV Duplex at Paris Est. These impressive 200 mph double-deck trains link Paris with Nice, Marseille, Munich, Barcelona & Switzerland...

TGV Duplex cafe-bar   TGV Duplex upper deck 2nd class seats

Cafe-bar on upper deck in car 4, serving tea, coffee, soft drinks, wine, beer, snacks & microwaved hot dishes.

 

2nd class seats on the upper deck.  There's a mix or tables for 4 and unidirectional seating.  360Ί photo.

First class on board a TGV Duplex   An TGV Duplex at Paris Est.

1st class seats on upper deck, a club duo on the left, a club quatre on the right.  360Ί photo.

 

A TGV Duplex.  The red near the door indicates 1st class, pale green indicates 2nd class.

3. Munich to Zagreb by train...

Now for a real treat.  Sit back with a glass of red, catch up on your reading and enjoy the views...  This is actually two trains, a smart modern Austrian Railjet train with restaurant car from Munich to Villach on the Austrian/Slovenian border, then a comfortable air-conditioned Slovenian & Croatian EuroCity train from Villach to Ljubljana and Zagreb.  After leaving the Munich suburbs the train snakes through pretty Bavarian scenery to Salzburg, past churches and picturesque villages.  Just before arriving at Salzburg, look to your right as you cross the River Salzach for great views of Salzburg citadel.  Soon after Salzburg, the train enters the Austrian Alps proper, climbing through vast mountains.  Look out for the magnificent fortress at Werfen (although the train doesn't call here), perched on its hilltop on the right hand side, guarding the approaches to Salzburg along the Salzachtal valley.  You make a quick & easy change of train across the platform at Villach, the Croatian train will be waiting for this connection.  After entering Slovenia, the scenery flattens out, and the train snakes along the pretty river Sava all the way into Ljubljana.  Beyond Ljubljana, the train continues to follow the river Sava, passing through a beautiful river gorge between mountains, a real treat.  Beyond Zidani Most the valley widens into a plain, and you cross the border into Croatia at Dobova and soon arrive in Zagreb's impressive central station, a palace of a building, right in the centre of the city.

A railjet train about to leave Munich Hbf

A railjet about to leave Munich Hbf...

Railjet train at Vienna Hbf   Railjet train standard class

Railjet is Austrian Railways premier train...  More photos & information about Railjet trains

 

Economy class, in open saloons with large windows.  Some seats around tables, most unidirectional.

  Premium class seats on the Munich-Vienna RailJet train   Railjet restaurant car

Railjet first class, with black leather seats...

 

Business class...

 

The restaurant...

Scenery in the Austrian Alps between Munich & Ljubljana

Through the Austrian Alps...  Clinging to the mountainside high in the Austrian Alps, the railjet snakes along between snow-capped mountains, absolutely wonderful.  There's a quick cross-platform change of train at Villach onto a Slovenian & Croatian train called the Sava...

  2nd class seats on the Munich-Zagreb train

...and along the Sava river in Slovenia.  Now across the border in Slovenia, the EuroCity train runs along the pretty River Sava all the way to Ljubljana & Zagreb...

 

Comfortable seats:  The 2nd class seats in the Slovenian cars are arranged 2+1 abreast, the same as 1st class!

Scenery between Ljubljana & Zagreb

More lovely scenery along the Sava between Ljubljana & Zagreb...

The EuroCity train 'Sava' from Munich to Ljubljana & Zagreb  

The EuroCity train Sava, arrived at Zagreb.

 

Scenery along the Sava between Ljubljana & Zagreb.

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Option 5:  Via the Harwich-Hoek van Holland ferry...

This is the ferry alternative, a great option if you live in East Anglia.  It's the route to use if Eurostar fares are expensive or if you want to avoid the Channel Tunnel, for example if you suffer from claustrophobia.  I don't recommend the Dover-Calais route because of poor train/ferry connections, the Stena Line rail & sail service via Harwich & Hoek van Holland is the one to use as it has co-ordinated timetables and integrated ticketing, see the Stena Line Rail & Sail page & watch the video.

London, Cambridge & Harwich ► Zagreb

Zagreb  ► Harwich, Cambridge & London

How much does it cost?

How to buy tickets...

Alternatively, stay in Munich & take a daytime train next day...

What's the journey like?

1. London to Amsterdam by train & ferry... 

A train takes you from London's Liverpool Street station directly to the ferry terminal at Harwich.  You walk off the train, into the terminal, get your boarding card & cabin key at the Stena Line check-in desk and walk straight onto the overnight ferry to Hoek van Holland.  The superferry Stena Britannica is the largest ferry of its kind in the world.  All passengers travel in private cabins with shower, toilet & satellite TV.  There's free WiFi in the public areas on 9 deck.  The journey from London to Holland is explained in detail on the Stena Line Rail & Sail page See the video...

 

Captain's Class cabin on the Harwich-Hoek ferry with double bed, complimentary minibar with sparkling wine, tea & coffee making facilities, hairdryer.  Larger photo.

 

Boarding the Stena Britannica at Harwich.  She's a floating hotel to Hoek van Holland, with easy rail connections on either side of the Channel.  Restaurants, bars, shop, kennels, cinema...

Metropolitan restaurant on the Stena Line ferry  

Dinner before bed?  Metropolitan ΰ la carte restaurant.

 

Standard outside cabin.  Larger photo.  360Ί photo.

2. Amsterdam to Duisburg & Duisburg to Munich by ICE...

ICEs are German Railways' premier trains, with 1st & 2nd class, a bistro-restaurant car, power sockets at all seats & free WiFi.

ICE3 at Amsterdam Centraal

An ICE3M to Frankfurt at Amsterdam.  More information about ICE...

2nd class on the Frankfurt-Brussels ICE3M train   1st class on the Frankfurt-Brussels ICE3M train

2nd class seats on an ICE3M.  Larger photo.

 

1st class seats on an ICE3M.  Larger photo.

Erdinger Weissbier on the Frankfurt-Brussels ICE train   Restaurant car on the Frankfurt-Brussels ICE3M train

Food is served on proper china with metal cutlery.  I recommend the Erdinger Weissbier!  See current month's menu.

 

Restaurant car:  This is the small 12-seat restaurant on an ICE3M.  ICE3 classes 403 & 407 have a larger restaurant area.  Larger photo.

3. Munich to Zagreb by sleeper train Lisinski...  Watch the video

This modern sleeper train is a pleasure to travel on, whether in the privacy of your own sleeper or in economical couchettes.  There's time for dinner in Munich before boarding at a local restaurant, try www.augustinerkeller.de at Arnulfstrasse 52, to the north side of Munich Hbf.

The 'Lisinski' sleeper train from Zagreb to Munich, at Zagreb main station   Sleeper compartment in the Croatian sleeping-car from Munich to Zagreb

The sleeping-car on the Lisinski:  The modern air-conditioned Croatian sleeping-car of the Lisinski from Munich to Zagreb has 10 compartments with washbasin, each of which can be used as a 1, 2 or 3 berth room, with toilets at the end of the corridor.  Above left, the sleeper arrived at Zagreb.  See larger sleeper photo.

4-berth couchettes on Munich to Zagreb train   Couchette car on Munich to Zagreb train, at Munich

The couchette car on the Lisinski has modern air-conditioned 6-berth and 4-berth compartments.  Above right, the westbound train is seen boarding at Zagreb. See 360Ί photo.

Scenery between Ljubljana, Zagreb & Belgrade

Wake up to scenery like this between Ljubljana & Zagreb, along the river Sava...

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Visiting the city of Zagreb...

Zagreb is a wonderful and much under-rated city, so don't rush through in haste to reach the Adriatic resorts!  It's small enough to walk around, but with more of a big-city feel than Ljubljana in neighbouring Slovenia.  The station is an impressive landmark in its own right, a palatial building which opens onto a succession of grand park squares, with the main town square (Ban Josip Jelačić) 5-10 minutes walk from the station and the old town two minutes walk behind that.  You'll find tourist information online at www.zagreb-touristinfo.hr, or there's a tourist office on the near right-hand corner of the main city square.  Hotels in Zagreb Map of Zagreb.

Zagreb station    

Zagreb main station:  A palace?  Just Zagreb's main station (Glavni Kolodvor) where you arrive from London.  It opens onto spacious green squares leading to the old town, a 10 min walk.

 

Stroll or sit in a cafe along the pedestrianised Ivana Tkalčićeva in the old town.

 

The noon-day gun tower, which you can climb for great views over the city.

   

Market day in Zagreb's busy main square, Ban Josip Jelačić.

 

Old town churches, from the gun tower.

 

Magnolia blossom in the square facing the station.  The best way to arrive in this city really is by train!.

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large bullet pointLondon to Split & Dubrovnik

Option 1, London to Split & Dubrovnik by train...

London Split, Dubrovnik

Dubrovnik, Split London

Fares & how to buy tickets

Zagreb to Split by ICN train...

Traveller Francis Meylan reports:  "The journey to Split was fascinating and very scenic.  It was a modern diesel train with a free cup of coffee (though no food).  Single track but recently re-engineered and was very smooth despite climbing and very many bends, tunnels, and so forth.  The track went across high embankments and on ledges on valley sides.  It wasn't particularly fast and I can see why.  Every country station had a uniformed station master standing to attention as the train went past!  Many of the country stations were in ruins and there were obvious signs of war damage, walls pock marked with bullet holes.  We could see several minefields marked off.  In Knin the front of the large Austro-Hungarian-style town hall was riddled with bullet holes. Towards Split the landscape is very dry, limestone I think, and very rocky.  If you took the Sleeper would miss all this!

An ICN train Zagreb at Split station   1st class seats on the fast tilting ICN train from Zagreb to Split

The daytime trains to Split:  These fast, tilting, air-conditioned ICN trains link Zagreb & Split once or twice a day through great scenery.  Above right, first class seats on the train to Split.  below left, second class seats.  You can now buy tickets online at www.hzpp.hrExterior photos courtesy of Gareth Davison.

2nd class seats on the tilting ICN train from Zagreb to Split   ICN train to Split at Zagreb station
Scenery seen from the Zagreb-Split train

Scenery between Zagreb and Split seen from the train...  Photo courtesy of Pαraic Maguire.

Zagreb to Split by overnight sleeper...

The overnight train from Zagreb to Split has a modern air-conditioned sleeping-car with 1, 2 & 3-bed compartments with washbasin - of the same sort that run Munich & Zurich to Zagreb.  See larger sleeper photo...

3-bed sleeper on the Zagreb-Split overnight train   Refurbished sleeping-car on the Zagreb-Split overnight train

Option 2, London to Italy by train, ferry to Dubrovnik, Split or Zadar...

Ancona to Split ferries in Split Harbour   Deluxe cabin onm Ancona to Split ferry

Ferries in Split Harbour...  Above right, a deluxe cabin on the Blue Line ferry (although Blue Line is sadly no longer operating), which even features an en suite jacuzzi...  Photos courtesy of Andrew Leo.

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large bullet pointLondon to Hvar, Korčula, Vis, Brač

London to Split by train, then ferry to Hvar, Korčula, Vis, Brač...

This is the fastest & most frequent option.  Runs daily, all year round.

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large bullet pointLondon to Rijeka

London Rijeka

Rijeka ► London

Fares & how to buy tickets

The afternoon train from Ljubljana to Rijeka, about the leave Ljubljana   The afternoon train from Ljubljana to Rijeka, about the leave Ljubljana

The train to Rijeka...  This is the 15:10 to Rijeka, about to leave Ljubljana.  At the front is a modern air-conditioned EuroCity car, the other two cars are older.  On this occasion, it's waited a few minutes for the late-running EuroCity Sava to arrive from Munich, with connections from Paris, Amsterdam & London...

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large bullet pointLondon to Istria

London to Porec, Rovinj, Pula

Istria, land of olive oil, wineries and truffles, was once part of the Venetian empire, and after a spell with the Austro-Hungarians it was again part of Italy between the wars.  Even today, the dual-language place names and road signs reveal it's Italian heritage.  For Istrian tourist information, see www.istra.hr.  Now part of Croatia, Istria can be reached overland from the UK in a couple of ways.

Option 1:  By train from London to Ljubljana, then train to Pula... 

Option 2:  By train from London to Rijeka, then bus to Porec, Rovinj, Buje, Motovun, Pula... 

This is another reliable all-year-round way to reach Istria, as daily mainline trains run to Rijeka and Rijeka is a hub for regular buses serving destinations all over Istria.  First, travel from London to Rijeka as shown above.  On arrival in Rijeka, walk out of the station and turn right.  The bus station is 2 minutes walk straight down this main road, you can't miss it.  Every couple of hours, buses link Rijeka with the historic coastal town of Porec, delightful picturesque Rovinj, and the wonderful roman remains in Pula.  The main bus company is www.autotrans.hr, you can easily buy bus tickets when you get to Rijeka.

Option 3:  By train to Venice, then fast ferry to Porec, Rovinj or Pula... 

This option operates from April to October, and is a great option as it combines Venice with Istria. 

First, travel from London to Venice as shown on the London to Italy page.  For example, travel by Eurostar & TGV to Switzerland, stay the night there, then travel through the Alps to Milan and Venice next day.  The choice is yours. 

Venezia Lines (www.venezialines.com) operate ferries from Venice April-October on various days of the week to Porec, Rovinj (Rovigno in Italian) Umag and Pula (Pola in Italian).  The Venice-Porec ferry crossing takes 2½ hours.  Start by checking the days the ferries operate at www.venezialines.com.  On days when a 17:00 ferry sails from Venice you can leave London in the afternoon on day 1, spend most of day 2 in Venice, and arrive in Porec or Rovinj in the evening of day 2!

Rovinj, Istria   Church tower, Porec   Roman arch, Pula

Rovinj:  The picturesque seaside town of Rovinj.  The church tower looks very like St Marks in Venice, showing Istria's Venetian history...

 

Porec:  You can climb the UNESCO-listed church tower in Porec...

 

Pula:  The Roman arch, Pula.  The famous Irish writer James Joyce taught English in the building on the left 1904-5.

Venezia Lines fast ferry at Rovinj   Bus at Porec bus station

www.venezialines.com link Venice & Istria, April-October.  Why not combine a visit to Venice with Istria?

 

Buses link Rijeka with most destinations in Istria, www.autotrans.hr.

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large bullet pointHolidays to Croatia by train

Railbookers custom-made holidays & tours to Slovenia & Croatia by train...

Railbookers can custom-make a flight-free holiday to Croatia with train travel, transfers & hotels all arranged for you, for however long you like, leaving on any date you like.  If you tell them what you want, they'll advise you on the best trains, routes & hotels and sort it all out for you.  They get a lot of repeat business and a lot of recommendation by word of mouth!

UK flag  UK call 0207 864 4600, www.railbookers.co.uk

US flag  US call free 1-888-829-4775, see website.

Canadian flag  Canada call free 1-855-882-2910, see website.

Australian flag  Australia call toll-free 1300 971 526, see website

New Zealand flag  New Zealand call toll-free 0800 000 554 or see website.

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large bullet pointEuropean Rail Timetable & maps

Thomas Cook European Timetable -  click to buy onlineTraveller's Railway Map of Europe - buy onlineThe European Rail Timetable (formerly the Thomas Cook European Timetable) has train & ferry times for every country in Europe plus currency & climate information.  It is essential for regular European train travellers and an inspiration for armchair travellers.  Published since 1873, it had just celebrated 140 years of publication when Thomas Cook decided to pull the plug on their entire publishing department, but the dedicated ex-Thomas Cook team set up a private venture and resumed publication of the famous European Rail Timetable in March 2014.  You can buy it online with worldwide shipping at either www.stanfords.co.uk or www.europeanrailtimetable.euMore information on what the European Rail Timetable contains.

A Traveller's Railway Map of Europe covers the whole of Europe from Portugal in the west to Moscow & Istanbul in the east, Finland in the north to Sicily & Athens in the south.  On the back are detailed maps of Switzerland, Benelux & Germany, plus city plans showing stations in major cities.  Scenic & high-speed routes highlighted.  Buy it online for £14.50 + postage worldwide (UK addresses £2.80) at www.stanfords.co.uk/Continents/Europe-A-Travellers-Railway-Map_9789077899090.htm or (in the Netherlands) for €13 + €5.50 postage from www.treinreiswinkel.nl.

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large bullet pointRecommended guidebooks

You should take a good guidebook.  I think that the Lonely Planets and the Rough Guides are easily the best for the independent traveller.  Both guides have plenty of background historical and cultural information, plus lots of practical information.  You won't regret buying one of these guides..!

Click the images to buy at Amazon...

My own book, an essential handbook for train travel to Europe based on this website called "The Man in Seat 61", was published in June 2008, and is available from Amazon.co.uk with shipping worldwide.

Rough Guide Slovenia - click to buy at Amazon Lonely Planet Slovenia - click to buy at Amazon Lonely Planet Eastern Europe - buy online at Amazon

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large bullet pointHotels in Zagreb & Croatia

Recommended hotel in Zagreb: The Esplanade Hotel...

Book a room at the venerable & historic Esplanade Hotel If you can possibly afford it - it's not even expensive by western standards.  Built in 1925 for Orient Express passengers stopping at Zagreb.  It's perfectly located, next to the station and an easy walk from Zagreb old town.  With art deco features, it's the top choice!

For something slightly cheaper, but still close to Zagreb's main station with good or great reviews, try the Palace Hotel, also a historic building with art nouveau features.  I can also recommend the more modern Central Hotel.

Suggested hotels in Split...

For something special if your budget will stretch, try the Murum Heritage Hotel, set in part of Roman emperor Diocletian's palace, right in the centre near the port & city museum.  For something cheaper, but still in that same central historic area, try the Sleep Split Hotel or the ID Regal Residence, both with great reviews.

Find hotels at Booking.comMy favourite hotel search site: www.booking.com

www.booking.com is my favourite hotel booking site and I generally prefer booking my hotels all in one place here.  You can usually book with free cancellation - this allows you to confirm your accommodation at no risk before train booking opens.  It also means you can hold accommodation while you finalise your itinerary, and alter your plans as they evolve - a feature I use all the time when putting a trip together.  I never book hotels non-refundably.  I have also come to trust their review scores - you won't be disappointed with anything over 8.0.

Tip:  It can pay to compare prices across multiple hotel sites:  HotelsCombined.com is a price comparison site which compares hotel prices on Booking.com, Hotels.com, Expedia, Accor, Agoda and many others.  Though if there's not much in it, I prefer keeping all my bookings together in one place at www.booking.com.

Other hotel sites worth trying...

www.tripadvisor.com is the place to find independent travellers' reviews of all the main hotels.

Backpacker hostels...

www.hostelworld.com:  If you're on a tight budget, don't forget about backpacker hostels.  Hostelworld offers online booking of cheap private rooms or dorm beds in backpacker hostels in Paris and most other European cities at rock-bottom prices.

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large bullet pointTravel insurance & VPN...

 

Columbus direct travel insurance

 

Confused.com logo

Always take out travel insurance...

Never travel without travel insurance with at least £1m or preferably £5m medical cover from a reliable insurer.  It should also cover trip cancellation and loss of cash & belongings up to a reasonable limit.  An annual multi-trip policy is usually cheapest even for just 2 or 3 trips a year, I have an annual policy myself.  However, don't expect travel insurance to bail you out of every missed connection, see the advice on missed connections here.  Here are some suggested insurers, Seat61 gets a little commission if you buy through these links, feedback is always welcome.

UK flagIn the UK, reliable insurers include Columbus Direct.

UK flag

If you have a pre-existing medical condition or are over 65, see www.JustTravelCover.com - 10% discount with code seat61.

UK flagYou can use www.confused.com to compare prices & policy features across major insurance companies.

UK flag

 Australian flag New Zealand flag  Irish flag    If you live in Australia, New Zealand, Ireland or the EU, try Columbus Direct's other websites.

 US flag If you live in the USA try Travel Guard USA.

 

Curve card

Get a Curve card to save on foreign transaction fees...

Banks often give a poor exchange rate, then charge a currency conversion fee as well.  A Curve MasterCard means no foreign transaction fees and gives you the mid-market exchange rate, at least up to a certain limit, £500 per month as I write this.  The balance goes straight onto one of your existing debit or credit cards.  And you can get a Curve card for free.

How it works:  1. Download the app for iPhone or Android.  2. Enter your details & they'll send you a Curve MasterCard - they send to most European addresses including the UK.  3. Link your existing credit & debit cards to the app.  4. Now use the Curve MasterCard to buy things online or in person or take cash from ATMs, just like a normal MasterCard. Curve does the currency conversion and puts the balance onto whichever of your debit or credit cards you choose.  You can even change your mind about which card it goes onto, within 14 days of the transaction.

I use a Curve Blue card myself - I get a little commission if you sign up to Curve, but I'm recommending it here because I think it's great.  See details, download the app and get a Curve card - they'll give you £5 cashback through that link, too.

 

Express VPN

Get a VPN for safe browsing.  VPNs & why you need one explained...

When you're travelling you often use free WiFi in public places which may not be secure.  A VPN means your connection to the internet is encrypted & always secure, even using unsecured WiFi.  In countries such as China where access to Twitter & Facebook is restricted, a VPN gets around these restrictions.  And lastly, you can select the geographic location of the IP address you browse with, to get around geographic restrictions which some websites apply - for example one booking site charges a booking fee to non-European visitors but none to European visitors, so if you're not located in Europe you can avoid this fee by browsing with a UK IP address using a VPN.  VPNs & why you need one explained ExpressVPN is a best buy and I use it myself - I've signed up as an ExpressVPN affiliate, and if you go with expressvpn.com using the links on this page, you should see a special deal, 3 months free with an annual subscription, and I get a small commission to help support this site.

 


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