Getting to Croatia from the UK by train

Getting to Croatia from the UK by Train

Whilst travel is still very much at the forefront of many people’s minds – it’s such an enjoyable experience after all, and a great way of expanding your knowledge – attempting to use fewer flights every year to lower your carbon footprint is increasingly becoming a concern. Given that Croatia and the UK are in the same continent – if not quite on the same landmass – and train services across Europe are expanding and improving all the time, travelling to Croatia by train should be very doable – right? Right! Here we take a look at the best ways of getting to Croatia from the UK by train.

Now, undoubtedly, travelling by train is not a quick way of getting from the UK to Croatia. Whilst a flight takes just two or three hours, a train takes considerably longer. Which is obviously something you need to factor into your travels. Having said that, travelling by train is very pleasant indeed. In fact, the journey to Croatia will play a big part of your holiday.

Croatia from the UK by Train – Where can I get to?

Firstly, let’s discuss where exactly in Croatia you can reach by train. Croatia does not have the most extensive train network, and Zagreb is the central hub in terms of train travel. You will – whether you want to or not – be reaching Zagreb on your European train travels from the UK.

Once you have arrived in Zagreb, you can then make it to some destinations on the coast by train. Split is absolutely achievable as an end destination by train, as is Rijeka. Having said that, there are now few train services from Zagreb to Rijeka (but there are many daily buses on this route) so if you wish to continue to Rijeka by train you may need to stay overnight in Croatia’s capital city.

Do also note that it is slower to travel by train from Zagreb to Split or Rijeka than it is by bus. For completeness’ sake, you may wish to make your whole journey from the UK to Croatia by train! But we understand if you make the switch to travelling by bus in Zagreb.

Similarly, once you have reached the coastal cities of Rijeka or Split, you will need to switch to travelling by bus anyway (or possibly ferry if you’re heading to an island resort) to get to your intended endpoint.

The wonderful St Pancras International station in London

Croatia from the UK by Train – What’s the fastest route?

Much like driving from the UK to Croatia, this route involves Paris and a German city!

Overall the fastest route takes about 23 hours from departing London St Pancras International to arriving at Zagreb’s Glavni Kolodvor (the main train station), with two changes of train (and one transfer of train station in Paris) and minimal wait time between trains. However, although this is the fastest train route, you may want to pad it out a bit more to include longer stopovers for a break or a meal in Paris and Stuttgart.

There’s no way of getting around it – you will need to get to London first (if you’re not already in London) to start your journey to Croatia. Whether you choose to travel by train from your home location to London is up to you. (But go on, why not?)

From London, there’s only one way of getting to Europe by train – by Eurostar – and you’d need to take this to Paris Nord station. There are numerous daily connections on this leg of the journey. Journey time: 2 hours and 20 minutes

In Paris, you’ll need to transfer – via Metro – Paris Est station for it is from here that you will be making your onward journey to Stuttgart Hauptbahnhof. Again, there are a number of direct connections from Paris Est to Stuttgart Hbf, but the onward journey to Croatia is in the evening, after 8pm so you need to make it to Stuttgart before then. Journey time: 3 hours and 10 minutes

From Stuttgart Hbf, it’s an overnight sleeper service to Zagreb Glavni Kolodvor which gets you in at 10.39am. Journey time: 14 hours and 10 minutes

Overall, the journey looks like this: London St Pancras – Paris – Stuttgart – Zagreb Glavni Kolodvor for a total journey time of 23 hours and 8 minutes.

The following is how you can make this journey in just over 23 hours:

FromTo…Departure TimeArrival TimeTotal journey time to this point
London St Pancras InternationalParis Nord11.3114.502 hours 19 minutes
Paris EstStuttgart15.5519.048 hours 33 minutes
StuttgartZagreb Glavni Kolodvor20.2910.3923 hours 8 minutes
Zagreb Glavni KolodvorSplit15.1921.4034 hours 9 minutes

As you can see, we’ve also added an option to continue to Split the same day, but this would involve quite a lengthy stop in Zagreb. Perhaps that’s a good thing – some time to stretch your legs after all that time on trains, and a bit of time to explore the city.

Buying tickets

When it comes to purchasing tickets for train travel to Croatia, the fastest route will not likely be the cheapest! This is something to consider when making your decision about which trains to take to get to the country, and your overall itinerary. (After all, attempting to take an earlier train for one leg to save money on a train ticket may just result in you spending more money on your layover!)

Let’s take a look at some example prices for travelling to Croatia from the UK by train with two weeks’ notice in summer – so, travelling on Wednesday 2nd August 2023 for the above-mentioned route that takes 23 hours and 8 minutes.

FromTo…Price for above trainCheapest direct
train on same day
Book tickets on
London St Pancras InternationalParis Nord€224€125Eurostar
Paris EstStuttgart€89.90€69.90Die Bahn
StuttgartZagreb Glavni Kolodvor€111.80€64.80OBB
Zagreb Glavni KolodvorSplit€15.82€14.94Croatian Railways

Let’s take a look at prices if booking two months in advance – so for travel on 19th September 2023:

FromTo…Price for above trainCheapest direct
train on same day
Book tickets on
London St Pancras InternationalParis Nord€111€65Eurostar
Paris EstStuttgart€54.90€41.90Die Bahn
StuttgartZagreb Glavni Kolodvor€29.90€29.90OBB
Zagreb Glavni KolodvorSplit€26.35€26.35Croatian Railways

As well as your travels to Croatia from the UK by train, if you are considering doing a fair amount of other train travel within Europe in the near future you may want to look into getting an Interrail pass. For example, the Interrail Global Pass has a variety of different options ranging from 4 days in 1 month (which would just about get you there and back from the UK to Croatia) for €194 to a 3 months pass for €711.

Take a look at our page on Interrailing in Croatia for more advice on interrail passes and how to make use of them in getting to and travelling around the country.

Croatia from the UK by Train and Ferry

An alternative route to the above is to travel to Italy from the UK by train and then make your way to Croatia by ferry or catamaran. This route isn’t particularly direct and is quite a long journey that would necessitate an overnight stay somewhere in Europe.

The best port to reach in Italy to travel to Croatia by sea depends on your destination – it’s Venice for locations in Istria; Ancona for Zadar or Split and Bari for Dubrovnik.

Let’s take the example of travelling to Split via Ancona. Here’s a possible route:

FromTo…Departure TimeArrival TimeTotal journey time to this point
London St Pancras InternationalParis Nord08.0111.202 hours 19 minutes
Paris Gare du LyonMilan Porta Garibaldi12.4919.4011 hours 39 minutes
overnight in Milan
Milan CentraleAncona14.0517.2433 hours 23 minutes
Ancona (ferry)Split19.4507.0046 hours 59 minutes

All in all, not quick at all! But you can choose to split – no pun intended – the journey somewhere along the way, such as in Paris or Milan.

More info

Our absolute top tip for online research on train travel across Europe (and further afield) would be the fabulous The Man in Seat Sixty-One. As well as discussing routes from the UK to Croatia by train, the website also has plenty of useful information and photos regarding train travel within Croatia. We can’t sing the praises of this website highly enough!

The next excellent website that you need to look at the Die Bahn website. As well as looking up timetable