Taking trains in Europe is a long-held romantic travel notion, but in Croatia the trains aren’t as likely to live up to the dream. The rail network isn’t as extensive in Croatia as it is in some other European countries, and although Croatia has been investing in its infrastructure in recent years, the biggest improvements are in the highways instead of the rail lines. As a result, bus travel in Croatia is often the best and most cost-effective way to get around.
Still, if your itinerary calls for transporting yourself between two cities that are on a rail line in Croatia, then that’s absolutely an option. You just might want to compare the duration of the trip on the train vs. the bus – the bus is often the faster option. The older rail network means that most of the trains are the type that are considered the “slow train” in countries that have high-speed rail lines.
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Croatia’s train company is Croatian Railways, and it connects almost all of the main cities in the country – including Zagreb, Split, Rijeka, Varazdin, and Osijek. Dubronik is the most notable city that’s not on the rail network, so if you’re headed that far south you’ll need to look into flying, taking the bus, or renting a car.
There’s no definitive rule for when the train is better or the bus is better, but for any route that’s served by both it never hurts to check both schedules and prices to see which suits your travel style and budget best.
Here’s a map of the Croatia rail network, to give you an idea of where it goes: