In most European countries, train is the main form of public transportation, this is not the case in Croatia, due to a limited railway network. When travelling to Croatia, you could choose between several transportation options. Taking the train is one of those, although probably not the most popular one.
Even though the country has a limited railway network, especially when compared to countries like Austria and Germany, you can still reach some of Croatia’s bigger cities. Majority of the Croatian routes originate from Zagreb. From there, the traffic is mostly directed toward eastern parts of the country, most notably Slavonia region. And if you’re planning to travel to the coast, then the two most common routes are to Split and Rijeka.
One of the advantages of travelling Croatia by train is certainly the scenery, which is something to behold of, especially when travelling to coastal destinations.
International train routes are also focused on Zagreb, the country’s capital. However, there are also some train lines from Slovenia going to the Istria region. The only train carrier and operator in the country is Hrvatske Željeznice (HŽ Passenger Transport), which services all the domestic and international routes. Croatian railway infrastructure is modest. However, there are plans and promises of upgrading the rail network and acquiring new trains, with new railroads and routes throughout the country. Train tickets can be purchased online, as well as in the offices at train stations and in some cases directly on trains.
Croatian Train types
InterCity (IC) are the most commonly used national / regional trains. They connect several larger Croatian cities, and operate on routes like Zagreb – Rijeka, Zagreb – Osijek and Zagreb – Cakovec.
InterCity Nagibni (ICN) are regional day trains travelling on route Zagreb to Split, and vice versa. These tilting trains run on specific railroads, and are faster than most conventional ones.
EuroCity (EC) are fast passenger trains travelling between European cities. They have to meet certain criteria regarding speed and comfort. As for the state traffic, there are 4 EuroCity trains with scheduled departures: one on route Zagreb – Graz – Vienna, Mimara train on route Zagreb – Villach, and two trains named Opatija and Ljubljana, connecting Rijeka and Ljubljana.
Urban / suburban trains – are the ones operating in the greater Zagreb suburban area. These trains connect the capital with several neighboring towns, distanced within 50km from the city.
Night trains in Croatia
Currently, the only night train in Croatian national traffic is the one connecting Zagreb and Split. Besides regular cabins, you can also reserve sleeping cabins, plus the transportation of vehicles is also possible. Note that travel time on this night train is much longer than on the usual day train. As for international routes – EuroNight (EN) train named Lisinski operates on routes Zagreb – Munich and Zagreb – Zurich. In June 2020, an additional night train was introduced, on route Prague – Rijeka, but note this is currently only a seasonal line.
Interrail pass allows European residents travelling to specific destinations within a certain time period. This is a great opportunity for anyone planning to explore Croatia and it’s capital Zagreb, as well as coastal cities like Split, Zadar or Sibenik. Interrail Croatia Pass is valid for 3-8 days within a month. Non-European passengers can opt out for Eurail Pass, which has similar benefits like Interrail Pass. For more information about the Pass and where to go in Croatia with it, make sure to visit our guide to Interrail Pass in Croatia.