Split is among the most popular destinations for Interrailers during the summer. Thanks to its beautiful old town and vibrant night life the city is buzzing with locals and tourists day and night. Split is also an important transportation hub. It is the southernmost railway station on the Croatian coast (since there are no more passenger trains to Ploce). From there you can reach many destinations in Croatia and its neighbouring countries by bus or ferry. Split is the terminus of the railway line from Zagreb. Besides trains during the day you will also find night trains. Here you will find a short guide about how to travel from Zagreb to Split by night train with information about tickets, reservations and types of accomodation.
Night train from Zagreb to Split
Croatian Railways HZPP operate the night train from Zagreb to Split and return. During the summer season from April 28 to October 28 the train runs daily. During the rest of the year, the train runs on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. The return service from Split to Zagreb runs daily from April 29 to October 29 and on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays during the rest of the year.
The southbound train leaves Zagreb gl kol (central station) at 23:05 and arrives in Split at 06:48 the following morning. The northbound train departs in Split at 21:44, and arrives in Zagreb quite early at 05:47. You can find the detailed schedules for both trains on the railcc website: 821 Zagreb – Split | 820 Split – Zagreb
During the summer, Croatian Railways are offering a special deal for their trains from Zagreb to Split: a one way ticket costs only 120 HRK (instead of the 208 HRK regular fare). This special offer is only available locally at a ticket office or onboard the trains. You can’t buy these tickets online or at ticket machines. The night train conveys regular 2nd class cars (six seats per compartment), couchette cars (six bunk beds) and a sleeping car (three bed compartments). Online tickets including reservations are available at rail.shop/hzpp, however reservations for the sleeping car and reservations for passholders (Interrail, Eurail) are only available at stations.
The couchette and sleeper cars were fully booked on our trip, but you can usually still get reservations on the day of departure. Still, I would recommend to get reservations a few days in advance if possible.
OUr trip from Zagreb to Split
We started our Interrail trip in Graz, taking the evening Eurocity train to Zagreb. The train was scheduled to arrive at 22:42, leaving us with enough time to buy tickets for the night train which leaves Zagreb at 23:05. I already had bought reservations for the couchette car at the station in Graz (10€ per person, not available online). Due to construction works along the line and border and custom controls our train was delayed and arrived at Zagreb central station at around 22:55. We needed to run!
Two of us went directly to the night train that was already standing at another platform. Meanwhile my friend and I were running to the ticket office but it was closed already. So we had to look for an ATM instead. Luckily we found one directly in the main hall. We quickly withdrew some Kuna and then ran to the platform where our friends were already waiting for us. We boarded our couchette car that was already full of other Interrailers. Interestingly our six-bed compartment was already fully occupied – something was wrong…
buying tickets onboard the train
We showed our reservation to the conductor and he talked to some of the guys in our compartment – it turned out that they didn’t have reservations so they had to leave and find a place in the 2nd class cars. Finally we could make ourselves at home in the compartment which wasn’t easy with all our luggage. Meanwhile the train had already left Zagreb so we could enjoy the fresh breeze coming through the open windows. After a few minutes the conductor started to check tickets. We could easily buy our tickets from him at the special price of 120 HRK per person (as mentioned above).
Now that this was done we could prepare to go to bed. The toilets were reasonably clean and in a good shape compared to other night trains on the Balkans. There was even an extra lavatory where you can brush your teeth and deal with your contact lenses. Unlike many other night trains we didn’t get any water though, so don’t forget to take some with you! For our bunk beds we got some blankets made out of the thinnest material I’ve ever seen. But hey, the sheets and beds were clean and it was a warm night so that wasn’t something to worry about.
BEautiful journey to Split
I was sleeping very well and woke up at about quarter to six. Normally I wouldn’t wake up that early but I knew that there are many scenic views on the journey down to Split. The train has to cross the rugged hills of the Dalmatian mountains, climbing a steep incline with the sound of the diesel loco adding to the spectacle. Finally the train plunges down to sea level and you can already see Split in the distance.
As we were approaching the suburbs of Split we packed our bags and got ready to leave the train. With about 15 minutes delay the train arrived at Split station at about seven in the morning. The platform was full of Interrailers with large backpacks and sleepy eyes. It was quite warm already and you could almost feel the vibe of holidays and relaxation. I had a quick look around the station – there are lockers, ticket machines and ticket offices available. The station is located adjacent to the bus station and the ferry port. From here it takes just about ten minutes to get to the Riva, the central promenade just outside the old town. Since we couldn’t check into our appartment straightaway we started our day with a coffee and burek in one of the cafes on Riva.
More information and pictures about the railway line from Zagreb to Split in another blog post (German only): The Lika Line