Trenitalia train Trieste to Villa Opicina for Ljubljana
 

Venice to Ljubljana by train, not bus

No reservation needed, it's turn up & go with unlimited availability.  Great scenery - bring a picnic & beer if you like!

Venice to Ljubljana for €23.55

Train service between Trieste & Ljubljana was restored in 2018 with two daily regional trains each way.  In 2021, a third train was added, a classic Austrian EuroCity express between Vienna & Ljubljana that's been extended to/from Trieste.  These trains are the best way to travel between Venice or Trieste and Ljubljana.

It's cheap, comfortable, no prior reservation necessary, can't sell out, just turn up & go.  Much better than a cramped bus.  The trains have air-con, wheelchair-accessible toilets, plenty of luggage space, bicycle spaces, and power sockets at seats, and there are sights to see along the way.

Option 2 is a variation on the direct route, using the historic tram between Trieste and the Slovenian border at Villa Opicina, with 5 or 6 departures per day - the tram is a great experience, but unfortunately it's been temporarily replaced by a bus since an incident in 2016 and has yet to resume.

small bullet point  Option 1, using the Trieste-Ljubljana trains

small bullet point  Option 2, using the historic Trieste tram (still suspended)

small bullet point  Venice & Trieste to or from Lake Bled

small bullet point  Trains from Venice to other European cities

small bullet point  Trains from Ljubljana to other cities

Option 1, Venice & Trieste - Ljubljana by train 2024

A twice-daily regional train started running between Trieste & Ljubljana in September 2018, restoring rail travel between Italy & Slovenia after a gap of several years.  A third train started in 2021, this time a Vienna-Ljubljana EuroCity express that's been extended to Trieste.  This is now the civilised way between Venice, Trieste and Ljubljana.  You can check these times at int.bahn.de.

 Venice & Trieste ► Ljubljana

 

 Ljubljana ► Trieste & Venice    

 Step 1, Venice to Trieste

Mon-Fri

daily

daily

 Step 1, Ljubljana to Trieste

 daily

daily

daily

Regional

Regional

Regional

Regional

EuroCity

Regional

 Venice Santa Lucia depart

06:39

09:39

16:39

 Ljubljana depart:

05:49

14:25

18:47

 Trieste Centrale arrive:

08:44

11:44

18:44

 Trieste Centrale arrive:

08:33

17:16

21:32

 Step 2,  Trieste to Ljubljana

daily

daily

daily

 Step 2, Trieste to Venice

daily

daily

daily

Regional

EuroCity

Regional

Regional

Regional

Regional

 Trieste Centrale depart:

09:03

12:52

19:07

 Trieste Centrale depart:

09:16

17:16

22:06

 Ljubljana arrive:

11:44

15:37

21:57

 Venice Santa Lucia arrive:

11:21

19:21

 23:50*

Read downwards, each column of times is a service you can take. 

* = Venice Mestre, on the mainland.  No onward train to Venice Santa Lucia in central Venice until morning.

Regional = Air-conditioned regional train, 2nd class only, no reservation necessary or possible, fixed price, cannot sell out, sit where you like, turn up & go.

EuroCity = Air-conditioned EuroCity train, Vienna-Ljubljana-Trieste, 1st & 2nd class, seat reservation optional, cheaper advance-purchase fares available if you pre-book, uses comfortable ΦBB (Austrian Railways) EuroCity cars.  Always places available.

There are only 3 trains per day between Trieste & Ljubljana, shown here.  However, Venice-Trieste regional trains run every hour, only the relevant connections are shown here.  Check Ljubljana-Trieste trains at potniski.sz.si, currently only in Slovenian, click Tujina then Italija then Trst.

Alternative route via Villach:  Once a day there's an alternative train service between Venice & Ljubljana via Villach in Austria rather than Trieste.  It's a longer way round but a useful alternative.  See Ljubljana to Venice info here & Venice to Ljubljana info here.

Stop off in Trieste!

The timetable above shows the most suitable Venice-Trieste connection into or out of the Trieste-Ljubljana trains, but Venice-Trieste regional trains in fact run every hour through the day.  So by all means take an earlier train from Venice to Trieste when travelling eastbound or a later one from Trieste to Venice when travelling westbound to give yourself some time in Trieste, a great city that's well worth a stopover.  Indeed, along with Turin I'd say Trieste was one of Italy's most under-rated cities.  You can check train times at www.raileurope.com.

How much does it cost?

How to buy tickets

Route map

Venice to Ljubljana train route map

Click for larger mapGreen = scenic routesReproduced from the European Rail Map with kind permission of the European Rail Timetable people - I recommend buying a copy of the European Rail Map for your travels, www.europeanrailtimetable.eu with shipping worldwide.  More details.

What is the regional train like?

Trenitalia train Trieste to Villa Opicina for Ljubljana   2nd class seats Trieste to Villa Opicina for Ljubljana

Trenitalia regional train at Trieste Centrale.

 

2nd class seats.  Photos courtesy DiscoverByRail.com.

An easy change of train at Villa Opicina

Switching trains at Villa Opicina is easy.  That's the Slovenian train to Ljubljana in the foreground, the Trenitalia train from Trieste in the background, on the same platform.  Courtesy DiscoverByRail.com.

2nd class seats Trieste to Villa Opicina for Ljubljana   Trenitalia train Trieste to Villa Opicina for Ljubljana

Slovenian train.  Photos courtesy DiscoverByRail.com.

 

2nd class on the Slovenian regional train.

What is the EuroCity train like?

The Vienna to Triese train, about to leave Vienna

The EuroCity train from Ljubljana to Trieste starts its journey in Vienna, where it is seen here.  Courtesy of Helmut Uttenthaler.

2nd class seats in an open-plan car   Austrian first class seats

2nd class seats.  One car is like this, the other has 6-seat compartments.

 

1st class seats.  On this train, there's just one section of 1st class open-plan seats like this.

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What's the journey like?

  Prosecco railway station
 

Prosecco station, closed 2012. The sign is no longer readable, but this is it!  Courtesy of Darryl Woodman

Trieste Centrale station

Trieste Centrale, built in 1878.  It replaced an earlier building opened in 1857.  Courtesy DiscoverByRail.com.

Inside Trieste Centrale station   Inside Trieste Centrale station

Inside the wonderful Trieste Centrale.  Courtesy DiscoverByRail.com.

Scenery between Trieste and Ljubljana

The 3-car EuroCity train to Ljubljana & Trieste about to leave Trieste Centrale.  Courtesy Helmut Uttenthaler.

Scenery between Trieste and Ljubljana

The climb up from Trieste towards Villa Opicina, seen from the rear of the Trieste-Vienna EuroCity train.  Courtesy Helmut Uttenthaler.

Borovnica Valley, seen from a Trieste-Ljubljana train

The Borovnica Valley, seen from the Trieste - Ljubljana train. Photo courtesy of Steve Wood.

Pier of old Borovnica Viaduct, seen from a Trieste-Ljubljana train

As the train approaches Borovnica station, you can see the only remaining pier of the old Borovnica Viaduct.  Courtesy of Steve Wood.

Section of old line in the Borovnica Valley, seen from a Trieste-Ljubljana train

Borovnica Valley.  Courtesy of Steve Wood.

Ljubljana station

You arrive at Ljubljana main station, walking distance from all the sights and hotels.

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Option 2, using the historic tram from Trieste to Villa Opicina

This is essentially the same route as option 1, but instead of taking a train all the way from Trieste to Ljubljana, you use the historic Trieste tram (if operating) for the 6km (3.5 miles) between Trieste and the Italian/Slovenian border at Villa Opicina, picking up the train to Ljubljana there.  The tram line isn't marked on the route map above but you can easily imagine it as a fairly direct line from Trieste to Villa Opicina (so a much shorter distance than that taken by the train, which cannot scale the escarpment behind the city).  You don't get to pass through Prosecco station like you do on the train, but the tram is an experience in itself.  It's the only tram in the world that becomes a funicular half way through its journey to climb the steep escarpment out of Trieste to the plateau above the city, with great views over the city and the Adriatic, have your camera ready!  You get up to 6 departures a day this way rather than just two, as there are more trains between Villa Opicina & Ljubljana, in addition to the ones that extend to/from Trieste.

IMPORTANT: THE TRIESTE TRAM IS STILL OUT OF ACTION, REPLACED BY A BUS

The historic tram between Trieste & Villa Opicina had a prang on 16 August 2016 and has been out of action for repairs ever since.  It was due to resume in April 2017 then June then August, then in April 2018, then rumours that it would resume in Spring 2020.  Latest info back in February 2023, repairs are complete and there have been test runs, it now requires official approval.  Resumption has been rumoured as September 2023, but in 2024 it's still not running!

You can still travel this route using the replacement local bus service running every 20-30 minutes for the same price, although now the direct trains are operating there's little point if the historic tram is still out.  Do let me know if you find the tram back in service as there's no easy way to check without going to Trieste.

Bus number 2 runs every 20-30 minutes between Trieste Piazza Oberdan tram terminus and Villa Opicina tram terminus (a short walk from Villa Opicina railway station).  Bus number 4 runs every 20-30 minutes between Trieste Piazza Oberdan tram terminus and Villa Opicina station, saving a walk.

Venice & Trieste Ljubljana

Ljubljana Trieste & Venice

What's the tram ride like?

Tram at Trieste Piazza Oberdam terminus   View over Trieste from the tram at the top of the escarpment

Trieste Piazza Oberdan tram terminal.

 

View over the city as the tram climbs the escarpment.

Trieste-Villa Opicina tram showing the tram buffered up to the drogue for climbing the escarpment   Trieste to Villa Opicina tram at the Villa Opicina tram terminus

Above left, for the ascent of the escarpment the tram couples up to a 'drogue', the only tram in the world to transform into a funicular railway for part of the ride.  Above right, the tram terminus and cafe at Villa Opicina, the Italian border town next to Slovenia.

Villa Opicina tram terminal

Villa Opicina tram terminal.

Train from Villa Opicina to Ljubljana   2nd class seats on the train from Villa Opicina & Sezana to Ljubljana

Slovenian local train from Villa Opicina to Ljubljana.  These trains are modern & air-conditioned with on-board information displays, toilets & ample room for luggage.  Take provisions with you, as there's no catering at Villa Opicina station or on the train.  These trains run up to 6 times a day from Villa Opicina on the Italian side of the border to Ljubljana.  You can check train times at the Slovenian Railways website potniski.sz.si.


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