Traveling by train is not as popular in Croatia as bus travel. However, depending on your destination, it can be an easy and cheap method of traversing the country.
Many recent infrastructure and equipment updates have substantially improved the experience on many routes.
Train travel in Croatia is led by Croatian Railways called HŽ (Hrvatske željeznice). They maintain the railway infrastructure and manage the public, passenger, and freight train transport in Croatia.
In this post, we’ve cover:
- Insider tips
- Discounts on travel
- Travel reservations
- Other services
- Car transport
- Travel routes
- Train timetable
- Where to buy tickets
The facts are these…
How to travel by train in Croatia including discounts
Train travel is mostly an inconvenient means of getting around within Croatia. In most cases, it takes significantly longer than buses and cars.
[Read: Traveling by bus in Croatia]
However, trains provide more space and comfort while traveling. On the train, you can stretch, take a walk through the cars, or meet new people. I met some of the dearest people in my life while traveling by train. Long-haul trains usually have a restaurant wagon where you can get refreshments.
Smaller Croatian villages and municipalities usually lack train lines during the night and sometimes even during the day. If you are traveling to a smaller place, be sure to check the timetable in advance. Otherwise, you might get trapped in the village for some time. This can be inconvenient if it happens at night and you don’t have anywhere to sleep over.
On some routes, only old trains without air conditioning are used. During hot summer days, it can be unbearable if there are too many people on the train. Be sure to bring water and wear light clothing.
Some older trains are pretty noisy, so don’t be surprised if you barely hear the person you’re speaking to on the phone. On the other hand, during the winter, you could freeze because sometimes the heating doesn’t work.
“New” modern trains run on all main routes within the country. They are equipped with air conditioning, and are much quieter, faster, and more comfortable. There are also faster tilting trains called nagibni vlak that ride on some routes (for example, Zagreb-Split).
Most people in Croatia travel by bus for long-distance trips. Trains are a good option for shorter trips and intercity transport. If you prefer to travel by train, we provide a detailed guide below on how to do so within Croatia.
What to do if the train is late in Croatia?
Unfortunately, trains in Croatia are often late. This can be very frustrating, especially if traveling to work, an important meeting, or taking an exam. Sometimes trains are late only several minutes, but sometimes they can be late more than an hour.
If you have to switch to another line during your travel, keep this in mind and always leave some extra time between your connections. You don’t want to be late for another carrier (bus, plane, or boat). Otherwise, your might need to completely reorganize your travel plans.
[Read: Boat travel in Croatia]
If you need to switch to another train line and your train is only a few minutes late, the second train you have to switch to will usually wait for it. However, this is more common for routes within smaller villages since they often depend on each other, and local residents must switch trains often.
If you have to switch to a route going a different direction, they won’t wait for you. If you are already late, ask the staff on the train for advice. They will tell you what to do and which option is best for you. Croatians call the train staff kondukter, which means conductor.
HŽ provides a 20% discount for round-trip train tickets on long-haul trips. A one-way trip must be longer than 50 kilometers. This discount is available to all passengers.
Many Croatian counties, cities, and municipalities give student subsidies for HŽ train tickets. You can check the list here.
Groups of at least 6 persons up to 20 years of age who travel between Croatia, Slovenia, Serbia, and Austria can get a 70% discount on train tickets.
HŽ often offers discounts for traveling from Zagreb to Rijeka, Pula, Split, Šibenik, and Zadar. For more details, track their pages.
Travelers who travel to Daruvarske toplice can get a 40% discount for second-class train tickets.
Travelers can also get a 15% discount for spa tickets and accommodation with breakfast upon presentation of train tickets at the spa entrance.
View more information on this discount here.
Travelers who travel to the spa center Stubičke toplice within the hotel Matija Gubec in Stubičke Toplice can get a 40% discount for first and second-class train tickets.
Travelers can also get a 20% discount for spa tickets upon presentation of train tickets at the spa entrance.
View more information on this discount here.
You can get a 10% discount via the Cammeo mobile application for trips that start or end at railway stations in Zagreb, Osijek, Varaždin, Rijeka, Split, and Vinkovci.
Cammeo mobile application is available for:
You must use the code HZPP20.
HŽ offers a 10-20% discount for staying in certain hotels in:
- Osijek – View more here
- Split – View more here
- Zagreb – View more here
- Varaždin – View more here
- Vinkovci – View more here
Members of HAK (Croatian Car Club) can get a 30% discount on return trips on trips longer than 25 kilometers.
View more information on discounts for HAK members here.
Below are discounts available for an unlimited number of tickets:
- Children up to the age of 6 accompanied by adults can travel free of charge – View more here
- 50% for children between the ages of 6 and 12 accompanied by adults – View more here
- 20% for two-way travel – For trips longer than 50 kilometers
- 30% for Croatian nationals between the ages of 12 and 26 (K-33J card) – View more here
- 50% for students – View more here
- 25% for high school students, college students, young Croatian nationals, and young foreign nationals (EYCA, hi.euro, ISIC-SCHOLAR, and ISIC-STUDENT cards) – View more here
- 50% for Croatian nationals above the age of 60 with permanent residence in Croatia
- 75 – 100% for people with disabilities and their companions – View more here
- 30 – 50% for announced and organized groups on trips longer than 25 kilometers – View more here
- 40 – 50% for family travels for at least 3 and a maximum of 10 persons – View more here
- 30% for journalists on trips longer than 25 kilometers – View more here
- 60% for two-way travel – for travelers traveling to Hungary (the child pays half the price of the adult traveler) – View more here
- 70% for youth groups – for transit between Croatia, Slovenia, Austria, and Serbia youth groups (at least six people) have a discount of 70% for one-way and return journeys up to 20 years of age – View more here
What does it mean to be discounted with an unlimited number of tickets?
That simply means you can come for a few minutes before the train starts and buy a ticket for that train, even though the train is completely sold out (in which case you will have to stand inside the train).
Trains in Croatia do not require a reservation. During certain times of the year, reservations will not even be needed.
However, it often happens that the train is too full, so some people have no place to sit. This usually happens on shorter trips. If this occurs, give your seat to an elderly person or pregnant woman.
If you want to secure a place near the window from the train, you can book a place in advance. It is also recommended to make a reservation when traveling longer distances. Long-distance trips are often booked as well, especially during summer.
For example, if you travel from Zagreb to Split, the journey may take between 6 and 8 hours. Make a reservation to ensure you won’t be left without a seat, especially if traveling at night. We also recommend making a reservation for travel outside of Croatia.
You can carry your bicycle in:
- All trains as luggage
- Certain trains with a section for storing bicycles
The one-way ticket price for bicycle transport is 15 kuna.
View more information on the transportation of bicycles here.
HŽ offers transportation of smaller pets, service dogs, and guide/help dogs. You must possess a pet passport.
Transportation is free of charge for:
- Animals in transport boxes transported as hand luggage
- Small dogs outside transport boxes
The ticket price for larger dogs is billed at 50% of the second-class regular ticket price.
View more information here.
Excursion and party trains
HŽ has annual excursion trains that drive to different events and places in Croatia. They usually leave Zagreb early in the morning and return at the end of the day.
There are also so-called “party” trains that drive to:
- Beograd in March
- Split in July
- Sarajevo in October
Other available special offers include:
- Easter train for kids
- Christmas train for kids
- Field trips
- Graduation trips
- Shorter journeys and tours of the railway station for children
- Train lease for business events (conferences, seminars, team-building trips)
View more details on destinations of excursions and party trains, and other special offers here.
Transport tickets for passengers and vehicles with the presentation of traffic permits are purchased at the ticket offices in Zagreb, Split, Varaždin, Osijek, Vinkovci, and Slavonski Brod.
Because of the limited number of vehicles that are accepted for the carriage, it is necessary to buy tickets in advance. Only valid and registered vehicles whose height does not exceed 155 cm are accepted. The car can be loaded an hour and a half before the train departs.
In Zagreb, the vehicles embark at the entrance east of the building of the Croatian Post at the Branimir Branka bb, and in Split at the entrance to the parking lot between the railway and bus station.
Croatian Railways has improved its international ties by train.
There are currently rail links between Zagreb and Budapest, Vienna, Munich, Frankfurt, Zurich, Ljubljana, Belgrade, and Sarajevo. There are also two international trains from Rijeka to Ljubljana. From Ljubljana, you may connect further to Munich (connecting to Zagreb train) and Vienna.
Several border trains have been introduced, such as Đurmanec – Celje, Čakovec – Ormož, and Beli Manastir – Magyarboja.
During the summer season, there are also lines between Zagreb, Split and Prague, Bratislava, and even Moscow, as well as trains between Pula and Ljubljana. There is also a tourist train traveling only on Saturdays on the Čakovec – Lendava route.
The railway timetables regularly change and are updated on the first Monday in December each year. Changes are usually negligible. However, it is good to track changes because this is Croatia, after all, and anything can happen.
View the map of all train stations in Croatia here.
View the map of all train routes in Croatia here.
You can check the train timetable online here.
The timetable for all train lines in Croatia is available to download here.
Timetable for city train lines for the relation Harmica – Savski Marof – Zagreb GK – Dugo Selo is available to download here.
Timetables for Zabok, Zlatar Bistrica, Gornja Stubica, Krapina, Ludina, Križevci, Karlovac, Velika Gorica, and Sisak are available to download here.
Train tickets can be bought:
- At HŽ railway stations
- Online with a 5% discount on all online purchases
- Via mobile application
- At Tisak
View our other transport guides
- Bus travel in Croatia
- Boats and ferries in Croatia
- Full list of airports in Croatia
- Guide on driving in Croatia including highways, tolls, gas stations, car washes, and parking
- How to get to and from Dubrovnik Airport
- How to get to and from Pula Airport
- How to get to and from Rijeka-Krk Airport
- How to get to and from Split Airport
- How to get to and from the Zadar-Zemunik Airport
- How to get to and from Zagreb Airport
- Public transport by bus in Dubrovnik
- Public transport in Osijek
- Public transport in Pula
- Public transport in Rijeka
- Split’s bus system (Promet)
- Šibenik’s public bus system (ATP)
- Zadar’s public bus system (Liburnija)
- Zagreb’s public transportation system (ZET)
Please note: All information provided by Expat in Croatia is only for the purposes of guidance. It does not constitute legal or financial advice in any form. For legal advice, you must consult with a licensed Croatian lawyer. For financial advice, you must consult with a licensed Croatian tax advisor or accountant. We can recommend one if you contact us.