Interrailing is certainly a popular way of exploring the countries of Europe, especially with young backpackers and adventure seekers! Of course, interrailing is suitable for all ages – who doesn’t love travelling by train, watching beautiful landscapes and countrysides go past, all while you’re in comfort – far more comfort than a bus or car? But is interrailing in Croatia possible, and how best can you explore Croatia whilst interrailing?
Is Interrailing in Croatia possible?
Yes, absolutely. But…
That’s our honest answer.
Why? What’s wrong with travelling by train in Croatia? Well, nothing! The main issue is that the train network in the country is not as extensive as the bus network. Think of Croatia’s capital city, Zagreb, as being the central, only hub of the train network, and almost all train routes spidering out from there. There are very, very few routes along the coast in Croatia, for example. And some big towns don’t even have rail services to them – this is famously so the case with Dubrovnik!
The road network is excellent in Croatia, especially the country’s motorways. This means that even if it’s possible to travel by train on a particular route, travelling by bus may well be quicker. For example, if travelling from Zagreb to Split the quickest train takes just over 6 hours (others take 8 hours), whilst the fastest bus takes 4 hours and 50 minutes. Zagreb to Rijeka takes 4 and half hours by train, whilst it is a speedy 2 hours 15 minutes by (the fastest) bus. (And, in fact, since the motorway opened far fewer train services operate on this route.)
As we’ve also mentioned, there’s very, very few train services along the Croatian coastline. For almost any route that you’ll be travelling here, you’ll be going by bus. (Or by ferry/catamaran, of course.)
BUT, but but…there’s a certain romance to travelling by train, isn’t there? Being able to travel in relative comfort, with all members of a travelling party being able to relax, read, play card games, maybe even enjoy a glass of wine or a beer. (Unlike a car with a chosen driver.) So despite what we’ve said above, don’t let us put you off making some journeys in Croatia by train!
Certainly, if you’re travelling around Europe and have included Croatia in your itinerary, you may well have made your journey into Croatia by train. If that’s the case, you may indeed want to continue your rail fun in Croatia.
Interrailing in Croatia – Croatia Pass
It is possible to buy a Interrail Croatia Pass if you’re largely concentrating your travel just in this country. Depending on which option you go for, a Croatia Pass will allow you to travel by train on 3, 4, 5, 6 or 8 days in one month. (You can make as many journeys as you like on those days.) A second-class 3-day pass costs €59 whilst the 8-day one costs €132; first-class passes are also available. These prices are for a standard adult pass – discounted versions are available for those under 28 or over 60 years old.
Do note that these prices are for Interrail passes which can only be used by European residents. Residents of other countries must buy Eurail passes which are slightly more expensive. See the Eurail Croatia Pass for more details.
The Croatia Pass only allows for travel on trains (it may sound obvious, but passes do sometimes allow for travel on other modes of transport in other countries!). Some intercity Croatian train routes (e.g. Zagreb – Split; Zagreb – Rijeka) require additional seat reservations. You can do this through the Interrail website.
Interrailing in Croatia – Global Pass
The grand-sounding Interrail Global Pass is in fact for journeys across 33 countries in Europe – including Croatia. This is suitable if you’re planning on doing a considerable amount of travelling throughout Europe.
There are assorted global passes – anything from passes that allow for 4, 5, or 7 days of travel in 1 month to those that allow for 15 or 22 days or 1, 2 or 3 months of continuous (every day) travel. To provide an example on prices, a pass that allows for 4 days of train travel in 1 month costs €185, whilst the three month pass costs €677.
Once again, these prices are for European residents. Non-European residents must instead opt for the Eurail Global Pass.
Best routes for interrailing in Croatia
The most likely cross-country routes that you’ll be utilising an Interrail pass in Croatia will be:
Zagreb to Rijeka
To help you reach the northern part of the Croatia coast; from Rijeka, you can easily make it over to Opatija (note: Rijeka – Opatija is also possible by train), Istria or even the island of Krk by bus. From Rijeka, you can also use catamaran routes to Losinj, Cres, Rab or Pag.
The Zagreb to Rijeka service stops in the town of Karlovac which may also interest some travellers.
Pula to inland Istria
It’s possible to travel by train from Pula to Buzet in the Istrian interior; stops along the way include Vodnjan and Pazin.
Zagreb to Split
Obviously, you’ll be heading to Split to spend some time there exploring the wonderful sights of Croatia’s second largest city! But Split has excellent transport connections, so from here you can then move on to the Dalmatian islands such as Brac, Hvar, Vis, Korcula or Mljet by catamaran or ferry. Alternatively, you can also make you way up (e.g. to Zadar or Sibenik) or down (to Dubrovnik) by bus. (Travel by Dubrovnik by catamaran is also possible.)
Split to Sibenik
Split to Sibenik takes between 1 hour 30 minutes to 3 hours by train (depending on which train you take) and involves a change of train in Perkovic.
Zagreb to Varazdin
There are numerous direct trains per day to the interesting baroque city of Varazdin in Northern Croatia that’s well worth visiting.
Zagreb to Eastern Croatia
There are regular daily trains to Osijek and Vinkovci if you’d like to explore this part of Croatia.
Interrailing your way to Croatia
If you’re travelling around Europe by train, there are a number of different routes which will lead you to Croatia – however, almost all international train routes will see you arrive in Zagreb. (Which is no bad thing, of course.) Wherever you’d travelling from, the Die Bahn website is an excellent resource for looking up Europe-wide train timetables.
It’s possible – although a lengthy journey – to travel from Trieste to Zagreb by train, via Ljubljana.
Alternatively, you could make your way over to Ancona by train on Italy’s Adriatic coast and then take a ferry to Split.
There are numerous daily trains from Ljubljana to Zagreb; train is an easy way of travelling between these two capital cities.
It is also possible to travel from Ljubljana to Rijeka or Opatija on Croatia’s coast.
There are a number of direct trains from several Austrian cities to Zagreb – these include services from Graz, Salzburg, Vienna and Innsbruck.
You can travel by train from Munich, Frankfurt and Stuttgart to Zagreb.
All details about interrailing in Croatia and in Europe can be found on the official Interrail website.
Timetables for train routes within Croatia can be looked up on the Croatian Railways website.