Ljubljana's Dragon Bridge

The Dragon Bridge, Ljubljana.  Ljubljana is a wonderful city, easy to reach from the UK without flying, by train

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London to Ljubljana by train

It's easy, safe & comfortable to travel from the UK to Slovenia by train.  Take a morning Eurostar to Paris & TGV to Stuttgart or Zurich, then snooze your way to Ljubljana by overnight sleeper train - waking up to some great scenery!  Or travel from London to Munich by Eurostar & high-speed TGV, stay overnight in a hotel, then take a scenic ride through the mountains of Austria next morning, arriving in Ljubljana after lunch.  This page explains the routes, train times, fares & how to buy tickets.

small bullet point  London to Lake Bled & Ljubljana

small bullet point  London to Koper

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

small bullet point  Hotels in Ljubljana & Slovenia

On other pages

small bullet point  Trains from Slovenia to other European cities

small bullet point  Trains from other European cities to Slovenia

small bullet point  Venice & Trieste to/from Ljubljana by train

small bullet point  Venice & Trieste to/from Lake Bled by train

small bullet point  General information about European train travel

small bullet point  Starting from other UK towns & cities

small bullet point  Taking your bike    Taking a dog    Luggage

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

small bullet point  Travel insurance, mobile data, VPN & other tips

small bullet point  Ljubljana station guide

Route map:  UK to Slovenia by train

Route map:  London to Ljubljana & Lake Bled by train


Useful country information

Train operators:

SZ (Slovenske Zeleznice) potniski.sz.siEurostar 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:

+386

Currency:

£1 = approx 1.15 euros  Check current exchange rates

Tourist information:

www.slovenia.info also see www.sloveniaforyou.com   Recommended guidebooks

Accommodation:

Find a hotel in Ljubljana or Slovenia

Visas:

UK citizens do not need a visa to visit Slovenia.

Page last updated:

12 September 2023.  Train times valid 11 Dec 2022 to 9 Dec 2023.


London to Lake Bled & Ljubljana

small bullet point  Option 1, London-Paris by morning Eurostar, Paris-Stuttgart by TGV, Stuttgart-Ljubljana overnight by sleeper train - fastest & most time-effective.

small bullet point  Option 2, London-Paris by morning Eurostar, Paris-Zurich by TGV-Lyria, Zurich-Ljubljana overnight by sleeper train - also fast & time-effective.

small bullet point  Option 3, London-Paris by morning Eurostar, Paris-Munich by TGV, overnight hotel, a scenic Munich-Ljubljana ride next day - if you prefer daytime trains + hotel.

small bullet point  Option 4, London-Paris by morning Eurostar, Paris-Milan by TGV, overnight hotel, train to Venice, Trieste & Ljubljana next day - the Italian route...

small bullet point  Option 5, afternoon Eurostar, Nightjet sleeper to Austria, morning in Salzburg or Vienna, afternoon EuroCity train to Ljubljana - well worth considering.

small bullet point  Option 6, London-Amsterdam via the Harwich-Hoek van Holland ferry, train to Munich, sleeper to Ljubljana - the ferry alternative!

Option 1, Eurostar to Paris, TGV to Stuttgart, sleeper to Ljubljana

This is the fastest & most time-effective option, London to Ljubljana in comfort in less than 24 hours.  You'll experience two of Europe's best high-speed trains, Eurostar and France's famous TGV, then an excellent Croatian sleeper train either in an economical couchette or a private sleeper.

London ► Bled & Ljubljana

Ljubljana & Bled ► 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 Stuttgart

      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. Stuttgart to Ljubljana

 on the Lisinski

In a

seat:

In a couchette

In the sleeping-car

6-berth

4-berth

3-berth

2-berth

single

 One-way per person from:

€29

€49

€59

€69

€89

€129

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

Or use an Interrail pass

Have your trip arranged 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 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.

A Eurostar e320 train at London St Pancras   Eurostar e320 first class seats

Eurostar e320 at Paris Nord.  More about Eurostar.

 

1st class:  Standard Premier or Business Premier.

Eurostar e320 2nd class seats   Eurostar e320 cafe-bar

Standard class.  Larger photo.

 

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

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

In Paris it's an easy 7 minute 500m 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 320 km/h (199 mph), 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.  Paris Gare de l'Est station guide.

TGV Duplex at Paris Gare de l'Est

TGV Duplex at Paris Est. These impressive 320 km/h double-deck trains link Paris with Stuttgart & Munich.

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 1 near the door indicates 1st class, a 2 indicates 2nd class.

3. Stuttgart to Ljubljana on the sleeper train Lisinski  Watch the video

This modern Croatian sleeper train is a pleasure to travel on, whether in the privacy of your own sleeper or in economical couchettes.  The air-conditioned sleeping-car has 10 compartments with washbasin, each of which can be used as 1, 2 or 3 berth, with toilets at the end of the corridor.  Compartments convert to a private sitting room for evening or morning use.  A light breakfast with tea or coffee is included in the sleeper fare.  The couchette car is also modern & air-conditioned with 4 & 6 bunk compartments, ideal for families.  Couchettes convert from bunks to seats for evening or morning use.  Ljubljana station guide.

The 'Lisinski' sleeper train from Munic to Zagreb, boarding in Munich

Above, the air-conditioned Croatian sleeping-car to Ljubljana & Zagreb at Munich Hbf.  The Croatian couchette car is the next vehicle to the right.  See the Croatian sleeper video.

Sleeper compartment in the Croatian sleeping-car from Munich to Zagreb   Sleeper compartment in the Croatian sleeping-car from Munich to Zagreb   4 or 6-berth couchettes on train from Munich to Zagreb

1, 2 or 3 bed sleeper.

 

Set up as a single-berth.

 

4 or 6-berth couchettes. 360Ί photo.

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Option 2, London to Ljubljana using the sleeper from Zurich

This is also fast and time-effective.  It's very similar to option 1, but instead of TGV Paris-Stuttgart and Croatian sleeper train Stuttgart-Ljubljana, you taka a TGV-Lyria to Zurich and Croatian sleeper train Zurich-Ljubljana.  There are two minor disadvantages compared to option 1:  First, departure from London is a little earlier in the morning with an identical arrival time in Ljubljana.  Second, you need to cross Paris by taxi or metro from the Gare du Nord to the Gare de Lyon, whereas in option 1 it's just a 7 minute walk from the Gare du Nord to the Gare de l'Est next door. 

London ► Lake Bled & Ljubljana

Ljubljana & Lake Bled ► London

How much does it cost?

How to buy tickets

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 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.

A Eurostar e320 train at London St Pancras   Eurostar e320 first class seats

Eurostar e320 at Paris Nord.  More about Eurostar.

 

1st class:  Standard Premier or Business Premier.

Eurostar e320 2nd class seats   Eurostar e320 cafe-bar

Standard class.  Larger photo.

 

One of two cafe-bars, 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-LyriaParis Gare de Lyon station guideZurich HB station guide.

TGV-Lyria train from Paris to Switzerland, at Paris Gare de Lyon

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

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

The cafe-bar on the upper deck in car 4, serving tea, coffee, soft drinks, wine, beer, snacks & microwave-style hot dishes...

 

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

TGV Lyria first class, upper deck   A TGV-Lyria train from Paris to Switzerland

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

 

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

3. Zurich to Ljubljana by Croatian sleeper train

The Zurich to Zagreb sleeper train boarding at Zurich HB

The Zurich-Ljubljana-Zagreb sleeper train boards at Zurich HB as the sun sets on a summer day.  That's the Croatian couchette car on the right, the Croatian sleeping-car on the left.

Sleeper compartment in the Croatian sleeping-car from Munich to Zagreb   Sleeper compartment in the Croatian sleeping-car from Munich to Zagreb   4 or 6-berth couchettes on train from Munich to Zagreb

1, 2 or 3 bed sleeper.

 

Set up as a single-berth.

 

4 or 6-berth couchettes. 360Ί photo.

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Option 3, London to Ljubljana with overnight stop in Munich...

If you prefer daytime trains with an overnight hotel stop to sleepers, this is the option for you.  Travel from London to Munich by train on day 1, stay overnight in a comfortable hotel near Munich Hbf, then take a lovely scenic ride from Munich through the mountains of Austria into rural Slovenia next day.

London ► Lake Bled & Ljubljana

Ljubljana & Lake Bled  ► London

How much does it cost?

How to buy tickets

How to buy tickets by phone

Let Railbookers arrange it for you

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 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.

A Eurostar e320 train at London St Pancras   Eurostar e320 first class seats

Eurostar e320 at St Pancras.  More about Eurostar.

 

1st class:  Standard Premier or Business Premier.

Eurostar e320 2nd class seats   Eurostar e320 cafe-bar

Standard class.  Larger photo.

 

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

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

In Paris it's an easy 7 minute 500m 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 320 km/h (199 mph), 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 320 km/h double-deck trains link Paris with Stuttgart & Munich.

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 1 near the door indicates 1st class, a 2 indicates 2nd class.

3. Munich to Ljubljana by train

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 train from Villach to Ljubljana and Zagreb.  The scenery along this route is superb, taking you from the Bavaria through the Austrian Alps, into Slovenia and along the Sava river to Croatia.  Sit back with a glass of red, catch up on your reading and enjoy the views.  Ljubljana station guide.

A railjet train about to leave Munich Hbf

A railjet about to leave Munich Hbf.

Business class seats on a railjet train   Railjet restaurant car

Business class.  About.

 

14-seat restaurant & bar counter.

Business class seats on a railjet train   Economy class seats on a railjet train

First class.

 

Economy class.

Scenery in the Austrian Alps between Munich & Ljubljana   Lesce-Bled railway station

Through the Austrian Alps...  Clinging to the mountainside high in the Austrian Alps, the train snakes along between snow-capped mountains, wonderful.

 

Lesce-Bled station in Slovenia, reached not long after crossing the Slovenian border.  The train follows the pretty river Sava.

The EuroCity train 'Sava' from Munich to Ljubljana, Zagreb & Belgrade   2nd class seats on the Munich-Ljubljana-Belgrade EuroCity train

The EuroCity train Sava from Villach to Ljubljana & Zagreb.  This is a Slovenian air-conditioned coach.

 

Some 2nd class seats are also arranged 2+1 abreast, the same as 1st class!

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Option 4, London to Ljubljana via Venice

You can also travel from London to Ljubljana via Paris, Turin or Milan, Venice & Trieste.

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Option 5, Eurostar, Nightjet sleeper to Austria, then EuroCity train

This is slower than other options because of the time spent between trains in Vienna or Salzburg.  But with a half day at leisure in those cities and high-quality trains throughout, this is an option worth considering.  Perhaps I should show this as two options, but they're so similar I've decided to show them together:  3 times a week you can take Eurostar to Brussels, make an easy same-station change onto an excellent Austrian Nightjet sleeper train overnight to Vienna, then take a scenic afternoon EuroCity train to Ljubljana.  And 3 times a week you can take Eurostar to Paris, make an easy change involving a 7-minute 500m walk between Paris Nord & Paris Est onto an equally excellent Austrian Nightjet sleeper train to Salzburg, then take a scenic afternoon EuroCity train to Ljubljana.

London ► Ljubljana Mondays, Wednesdays & Fridays

London ► Ljubljana Tuesdays, Fridays & Sundays

Ljubljana ► London Tuesdays, Thursdays & Sundays

Ljubljana ► London Mondays, Thursdays & Saturdays

How much does it cost?

 1. London to Paris or Brussels by Eurostar

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

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

 

 2. Paris or 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...

€39.90

€49.90

€59.90

€89.90

€109.90

€159.90

€99.90

€129.90

€179.90

 

 3. Vienna or Salzburg to Ljubljana

 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

  • If you buy tickets at www.thetrainline.com you can buy all your tickets together in one place, in plain English, international credit cards accepted and fares shown in multiple currencies. There's a small booking fee.  Anyone from any country can use www.thetrainline.com.

    Do a dry run first to check prices and availability for each stage before booking for real.

  • Step 1, go to www.thetrainline.com and book the Eurostar from London to Paris or Brussels (and back, if returning) using the train times on this page as a guide.  Add this to your basket.  Never allow less than an hour in Brussels when connecting with a sleeper train.

  • Step 2, now book the Nightjet sleeper train from Paris to Salzburg or Brussels to Vienna (and back, if returning) at www.thetrainline.com, looking for the direct train with 0 changes.  Add to basket and check out.

  • Step 3, now book from Salzburg or Vienna to Ljubljana (and back, if returning) at www.thetrainline.com, add to basket & check out.

  • Booking usually opens up to 6 months ahead, but often less than this, read more about when bookings open.  Fares are dynamic like air fares, so book early for the cheapest prices and avoid busy days such as Fridays or Sunday afternoons.

    You print your own tickets.  After booking you can use the Eurostar Manage Booking system to select an exact seat on Eurostar.

Another way to buy tickets

  • You can of course book direct with the operators without any booking fees, though this means more work.  In all cases you print your own ticket, or can in some cases show it on your phone.

  • Step 1, book the Eurostar at www.eurostar.com.

  • Step 2, book the Nightjet sleeper & Salzburg/Vienna-Ljubljana train at the Austrian Railways website www.oebb.at.

How to buy tickets by phone

  • You can book the Eurostar, Thalys and Nightjet train by phone with a number of UK agencies, including Deutsche Bahn's English-speaking telesales line on 00 49 (0)30 311 68 29 04 (lines open 08:30-20:00 Monday-Friday, 09:00-13:00 Saturday & Sunday UK time, 1.5% fee for phone bookings).  Click here for a list of agencies and more information on how to book.

What's the journey like?

1. London to Paris or Brussels by Eurostar

Eurostar trains link London & Paris in 2h20, London & Brussels in 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 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 guide Brussels Midi station guideIn Brussels, I recommend the Pullman Hotel bar as your VIP waiting room.

A Eurostar e320 train at London St Pancras   Eurostar e320 first class seats

Eurostar e320 at St Pancras.  More about Eurostar.

 

1st class:  Standard Premier or Business Premier.

Eurostar e320 2nd class seats   Eurostar e320 cafe-bar

Standard class.  Larger photo.

 

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

2. Paris to Salzburg or 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 lounge with complimentary refreshments.  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. Salzburg or Vienna to Ljubljana

The EuroCity train 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.  Salzburg-Ljubljana is direct, Vienna-Ljubljana involves a change at Maribor.  Ljubljana station guide.

EuroCity train Croatia from Vienna to Zagreb

Leaving Vienna on the Croatia.

 

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 Vienna-Ljubljana route takes you over the Semmering Railway.  Shortly after calling at Vienna Neustadt, the 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 6:  Via the Harwich-Hoek van Holland ferry

The ferry alternative!  It's a great option if you live in East Anglia, 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 ► Ljubljana

  • Day 1, travel from London to Amsterdam overnight by Stena Line Rail & Sail.

    You leave London Liverpool Street at 18:45 Mondays-Fridays, 19:36 Saturdays or 20:00 Sundays by direct train to Harwich International.

    You leave Cambridge at 19:47 Mondays-Saturdays or 19:45 on Sundays by direct train to Harwich International.

    At Harwich, the station is right next to the ferry terminal and you walk off the train into the terminal, check in at the Stena Line desk and walk straight onto Stena Line's luxurious overnight superferry Stena Hollandica to Hoek van Holland.

    All passengers travel in cosy private cabins with en suite toilet & shower & satellite TV.  Deluxe Comfort class & Captains class cabins are also available, and there's free WiFi in the lounges, restaurants & bars on 9 deck.  You can get on board the ferry around 9pm, have a late dinner in the restaurant and settle into your cabin.

    The ferry sails at 23:00 and arrives at Hoek van Holland at 08:00 Dutch time next morning. 

    This is an integrated train & ferry service, see the Stena Line Rail & Sail page for full details, photos & travel tips.  The special fare from London is valid from any Abellio Greater Anglia station, for example Norwich, Cambridge, Romford, Ilford, Ipswich.

    Next morning, take the frequent metro train from Hoek van Holland Haven to Schiedam Centrum and a Dutch Intercity train from Schiedam Centrum to Amsterdam Centraal arriving 10:25.  See the Stena Line Rail & Sail page for full details.

    At Amsterdam Centraal, have a coffee at the delightfully retro Cafe 1e Klas.

  • Day 2, travel from Amsterdam to Stuttgart on ICE trains, leaving Amsterdam Centraal at 12:38, changing at Frankfurt (Main) Hbf & arriving Stuttgart at 18:08.  The ICE trains have a restaurant car, power sockets at all seats & free WiFi.

  • Day 2, travel from Stuttgart to Slovenia by sleeper train Lisinski, leaving Stuttgart Hbf at 20:29 and arriving Lesce-Bled 07:22 & Ljubljana 08:09.

    The Lisinski has an excellent air-conditioned Croatian sleeping-car (1, 2 & 3 bed compartments with washbasin), a modern air-conditioned Croatian couchette car (4 & 6 berth compartments) and ordinary seats (not recommended).  Watch the Croatian sleeper video.

Ljubljana ► Harwich, Cambridge & London

  • Day 1, travel from Slovenia to Stuttgart by sleeper train Lisinski, leaving Ljubljana at 22:08 or Lesce-Bled at 22:49, arriving Stuttgart Hbf 08:37.

     The Lisinski has an excellent air-conditioned Croatian sleeping-car (1, 2 & 3 bed compartments with washbasin), a modern air-conditioned Croatian couchette car (4 & 6 berth compartments) and ordinary seats (not recommended).  Watch the Croatian sleeper video.

  • Day 2, travel from Stuttgart to Amsterdam on ICE trains, leaving Stuttgart Hbf at 09:51, changing at Cologne Hbf & arriving Amsterdam Centraal at 15:29.  The ICE trains have a restaurant car, power sockets at all seats & free WiFi.

  • Day 2, travel from Amsterdam to London overnight by Stena Line Rail & Sail.

    You leave Amsterdam Centraal at 18:35 by Dutch intercity train to Schiedam Centrum and change onto the frequent metro to Hoek van Holland Haven.  At Hoek, the metro station is next to the ferry terminal.  Check in at the Stena Line desk at least 45 minutes before sailing time, then walk up the gangway onto the luxurious Stena Line superferry Stena Britannica and sail overnight to Harwich in a cosy private cabin with shower, toilet & satellite TV.

    The ferry sails from Hoek van Holland at 22:00 and arrives at Harwich International at 06:30 next morning (day 3), UK time.

    In the morning (day 3), take a train from Harwich to London Liverpool Street arriving around 08:54 or from Harwich to Cambridge, arriving 09:42 (10:39 Sundays).  See the Stena Line Rail & Sail page for full details.

How much does it cost?

  • London or any Greater Anglia station to Hoek van Holland starts at £62 per person each way, plus cabin.

    Cabins start at £34 for a single berth cabin or £45 per cabin for a 2-berth, and are compulsory on the night sailing.  For full details of fares and cabin types and costs, see the Stena Line Rail & Sail page.

    Hoek to Schiedam by metro costs around €4.  Schiedam to Amsterdam by train costs €17.20.

  • Amsterdam to Stuttgart starts at €37.90 each way in 2nd class or €69.90 in 1st class.  Fares vary like air fares, so book ahead.

  • Stuttgart to Ljubljana by sleeper train starts at €49.90 with a couchette in 6-berth, €59.90 with a couchette in 4-berth, €69.90 with a bed in a 3-bed sleeper, €89.90 with a bed in a 2-bed sleeper or €129.90 with a bed in a single-bed sleeper all to yourself.  Fares vary like air fares, so book ahead.

How to buy tickets

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

What's the journey like?

Step 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.

Step 2, Amsterdam to Stuttgart 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

Proper china, metal cutlery.  I recommend the Erdinger Weissbier!  See current month's menu.

 

Restaurant car:  This is the small 12-seat restaurant area on an ICE3M.  Larger photo.

Step 3, Stuttgart to Ljubljana by sleeper train  Watch the video

This modern Croatian sleeper train is a pleasure to travel on, whether in the privacy of your own sleeper or in economical couchettes.  The sleeper used to run Munich to Ljubljana & Zagreb, but is extended to run Stuttgart-Munich-Ljubljana-Zagreb from 11 December 2022.

The 'Lisinski' sleeper train from Munic to Zagreb, boarding in Munich

Above, the air-conditioned Croatian sleeping-car to Ljubljana & Zagreb.  It has 10 compartments with washbasin, each of which can be used as 1, 2 or 3 berth, toilets at the end of the corridor.  Compartments convert to a sitting room for evening or morning use.  A light breakfast is included in the sleeper fare.

The Croatian couchette car is the next vehicle to the right, also air-conditioned with 4 & 6 bunk compartments, ideal for families.  Couchettes convert from bunks to seats for evening or morning use.

Sleeper compartment in the Croatian sleeping-car from Munich to Zagreb   Sleeper compartment in the Croatian sleeping-car from Munich to Zagreb   4 or 6-berth couchettes on train from Munich to Zagreb

1, 2 or 3 bed sleeper.

 

Set up as a single-berth.

 

4 or 6-berth couchettes. 360Ί photo.

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London to Koper

London Koper

  • Travel from London to Ljubljana as shown above.

  • Trains link Ljubljana with Koper five or six times daily, journey time 2½ hours, fare €9.  No reservation is necessary, just buy a ticket at the station and hop on.  If you arrive in Ljubljana off the EuroCity from Munich, a train leaves Ljubljana at 15:42 arriving Koper at 18:13, 2nd class only.  For other options, see int.bahn.de or potniski.sz.si.

Koper ► London

  • Trains link Koper with Ljubljana five or six times daily, journey time 2½ hours, fare €9.  No reservation is necessary, just buy a ticket at the station and hop on.  You can check times at either int.bahn.de or potniski.sz.si.  Allow plenty of time for connections at Ljubljana, at least an hour.

  • Travel from London to Ljubljana as shown above.

Fares & how to buy tickets

Buy tickets and check fares from London to Ljubljana as shown above.  then simply buy a Ljubljana to Koper ticket at the station when you reach Ljubljana.

Regional train from Ljubljana to Koper   Inside these Slovenian regional trains

...The train to Koper, at Ljubljana.  Most trains to Koper are modern, air-conditioned regional trains like this.

 

Inside, these modern regional trains have comfortable seats, air-conditioning and information displays...

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Ljubljana - Trieste & Venice

There's a clever way to travel between Venice, Trieste & Ljubljana that's frequent, cheap, historically interesting and very scenic, and with two Slovenian trains a day now extended one stop across the border into Italy, it's easier than ever.  For details, see the Venice to Ljubljana page.

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Lake Bled - Trieste & Venice

There's also a cunning, cheap and scenic way to travel from Venice or Trieste to Lake Bled in northern Slovenia, via Gorizia and Nova Gorica, where Italian and Slovenian railway stations are just a few kilometres apart.  For details, see this page...

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Guidebooks

Amazon logoYou should take a good guidebook, even in the age of the internet.  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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European 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 at www.amazon.co.uk (UK addresses) or www.europeanrailtimetable.eu (shipping worldwide).  More information on what the European Rail Timetable contains.

Rail Map Europe is the map I recommend, covering all of Europe from Portugal in the west to Moscow & Istanbul in the east, Finland in the north to Sicily & Athens in the south.  Scenic routes & high-speed lines are highlighted.  See an extract from the map.  Buy online at www.europeanrailtimetable.eu (shipping worldwide) or at www.amazon.co.uk (UK addresses).

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Hotels in Ljubljana & Slovenia

There are relatively few places near the station, so try somewhere towards (or in) Ljubljana's lovely old town.

I've stayed at the Best Western Premier Hotel Slon myself, it's 13 minutes walk from the station, see walking map.  The City Hotel (is just 8 minutes walk, see walking map.  Both are great choices.

The excellent Hotel Slamic is 11 minutes walk from the station with great reviews, but a little further from the old town than the other two, see walking map.

For something relatively inexpensive in the old town, try the Hotel Emonec, excellently located in the pedestrianised area, 13 minutes from the station, see walking map.

For something luxurious, the 5-star art nouveau-style Grand Hotel Union is in the old town and comes complete with swimming pool.  It's 10 minutes walk from the station, see walking map.

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

Booking.com is my favourite hotel booking site and I generally use it to book all my hotels in one place.  I've come to trust booking.com's review scores, you won't be disappointed with any hotel that scores 8.0 or more.  Crucially, booking.com usually lets you book with free cancellation, which means you can confirm accommodation risk-free before train booking opens and/or you can hold accommodation while you finalise your itinerary and alter your plans as they evolve - a feature I use all the time when planning a trip.  I never book hotels non-refundably!

Tip:  It's sometimes worth comparing prices across multiple hotel booking sites:  HotelsCombined.com compares hotel prices on Booking.com, Hotels.com, Expedia, Agoda & many others.  If there's not much in it, I prefer to keep all my bookings together at www.booking.com, but it's sometimes worth checking!

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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Railbookers logoHolidays to Slovenia by train

Railbookers can custom-make a flight-free holiday to Ljubljana & Zagreb, or indeed a train-based tour of Eastern Europe, 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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Travel insurance & other tips

 

Staysure travel insurance

 

Columbus Direct logo

Always take out travel insurance

You should take out travel insurance with at least £1m or preferably £5m medical cover from a reliable insurer.  It should cover trip cancellation and loss of cash & belongings up to a reasonable limit.  These days, check you're covered for covid-19-related issues, and use an insurer whose cover isn't invalidated by well-meant but excessive Foreign Office travel advice against non-essential travel. An annual policy is usually cheapest even for just 2 or 3 trips a year, I have an annual policy with Staysure.co.uk myself.  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, I get a little commission if you buy through these links, feedback always welcome.

UK flag  www.staysure.co.uk offers enhanced Covid-19 protection and gets 4.7 out of 5 on Trustpilot.

UK flag  www.columbusdirect.com is also a well-know brand.

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

 

Maya.net logo

Get an eSIM with mobile data package

Don't rely on WiFi, download an eSIM with a European mobile data package and stay connected.  Most newer mobile phones can download a virtual SIM including iPhone 11 & later, see device compatibility list.  There's no need to buy a physical SIM card!  Maya.net is a reliable eSIM data retailer with a 4.5 out of 5 Trustpilot rating and a range of packages including unlimited data.

 

Curve card

Curve card

Get a Curve card for foreign travel

Most banks give you a poor exchange rate then add a foreign transaction fee on top.  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 money you spend on your Curve card 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 Curve app for iPhone or Android.  2. Enter your details & they'll send you a Curve MasterCard - they send to the UK and most European addresses.  3. Link your existing credit & debit cards to the app, you can link up to two cards with the free version of Curve, I link my normal debit card and my normal credit card.  4. Now use the Curve MasterCard to buy things online or in person or take cash from ATMs, exactly like a normal MasterCard. Curve does the currency conversion and puts the balance in your own currency onto whichever debit or credit card is currently selected in the Curve app.  You can even change your mind about which card it goes onto, within 14 days of the transaction.

I have a Curve Blue card myself, it means I can buy a coffee on a foreign station on a card without being stung by fees and lousy exchange rates, just by tapping the Curve card on their card reader.  The money goes through Curve to my normal debit card and is taken directly from my account (in fact I have the Curve card set up as payment card on Apple Pay on my iPhone, so can double-click my phone, let it do Face ID then tap the reader with the phone - even easier than getting a card out).  I get a little commission if you sign up to Curve, but I recommend 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.

 

Express VPN

Get a VPN for safe browsing.  Why you need a VPN

When travelling you may use free public WiFi which is often insecure.  A VPN encrypts your connection so it's always secure, even on unsecured WiFi.  It also means you can select the geographic location of the IP address you browse with, to get around geoblocking which a surprising number of websites apply.  See VPNs & why you need one explainedExpressVPN is a best buy with a 4.7 out of 5 Trustpilot ranking which I use myself - I've signed up as an ExpressVPN affiliate, and if you go with expressvpn.com using this link you should see a special deal, 3 months free with an annual subscription.  I also get some commission to help support this site.

 

Anker Powerrbank

Carry an Anker powerbank

Tickets, reservations, hotel bookings and Interrail or Eurail passes are often now held on your mobile phone.  You daren't let it run out of power, and you can't always rely on the phone's internal battery or on being near a power outlet.  I always carry an Anker powerbank which can recharge my phone several times over.  Buy from Amazon.co.uk or Buy from Amazon.com.

Touring cities?  Use hill walking shoes!

One of the best things I've done is swap my normal shoes for hill-walking shoes, in my case from Scarpa.  They're intended for hiking across the Pennines not wandering around Florence, but the support and cushioning for hiking works equally well when you're on your feet all day exploring foreign cities.  My feet used to give out first and limit my day, now the rest of me gives up before they do!

 


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