Scenery from the train to Belgrade
 

Scenery between Ljubljana & Belgrade as you travel to Serbia & Montenegro comfortably by train. No airports, no flights.

To Belgrade & Montenegro's Adriatic coast by train...

It's easy to travel by train all the way from London or Paris to Belgrade in Serbia,  Podgorica, Bar or Budva in Montenegro or Skopje in Macedonia.  Leave London mid-morning, travel via Paris and either Zagreb or Budapest, and you'll be in Belgrade by early evening the next day, with modern high-quality air-conditioned trains throughout, see the video guide.  It's safe, scenic & comfortable, too.  It can cost little more than flying, yet it's a memorable travel experience not a soulless flight.  This page explains how to plan, book and make a train journey from the UK to each of these countries.

Train times, fares & how to buy tickets...

  London to Belgrade & Novi Sad (Serbia)

  London to Podgorica, Bar, Budva, Kotor (Montenegro)

  London to Skopje (Macedonia) & Pritina (Kosovo)

  Video guide, London to Belgrade by train

  Trains to Belgrade from other European cities

  Trains from Belgrade to other European cities

  Belgrade station facilities

  How to book trains in Serbia

  Visiting the city of Belgrade

  Hotel Moskva - the recommended hotel in Belgrade

  Belgrade to Bar on Marshal Tito's deluxe private train

  General European train travel information

  Luggage   Taking bikes   Taking dogs

  Useful country information - visas, currency, time zone, dialling codes

  Hotels & accommodation

 Route map:  London to Serbia & the Balkans by train...

Route map:  London to Serbia by train

Sponsored links...

 

 

 


Useful country information

Train operators:

Serbia: ZS (Zeleznice Srbije) & ZCG (Zeleznice Cme Gore), www.serbianrailways.com

Macedonia:  MZ (Makedonski Zeleznici), www.mz.com.mk.  Montenegro:  www.zcg-prevoz.me.  Kosovo:  www.trainkos.com

Eurostar times & fares.  All-Europe online train times:  www.bahn.de

     

Railpass:

Beginner's guide to European railpasses    Buy a rail pass online

Time zone:

GMT+1 (GMT+2 from last Sunday in March to last Saturday in October).

Dialling code:

Serbia +381, Montenegro +382, Macedonia +389

Currency:

1 = 125 Serbian Novi Dinar = 73 Macedonian Denar. 

Montenegro uses the euro, 1 = 1.18   Currency converter

Hotels:

Find a hotel anywhere in Eastern Europe

Tourist information:

Tripadvisor Serbia page   Tripadvisor Montenegro page   Tripadvisor Macedonia page

Check www.fco.gov.uk for advice on visiting Serbia or Macedonia.

Page last updated:

5 December.  Train times valid 14 Dec 2014 to 13 June 2015.


London to Belgrade & Serbia

Which route to choose?

It's easy, fast & comfortable to travel by train from the UK to Serbia, and there's a choice of routes and departures.  Whichever option you choose, by all means stop off on the way, each train is ticketed separately so it costs no more to spend an extra day in Paris or Munich or Budapest en route.


Option 1:  London to Belgrade via Paris, Munich & Budapest

This is usually the best option.  It's comfortable and time-effective with good quality trains throughout, and it can all be booked online as shown below.

London ► Belgrade

Belgrade ► London

How much does it cost?

Each train is ticketed separately, so add up the price for each leg of the journey.

 1. London to Paris

     by Eurostar...

 From 34.50 one-way, 69 return 2nd class.

 From 97 one-way, 195 return 1st class.  Child, youth, senior fares 

 

 2. Paris to Munich

     by TGV...

 From 39 (34) each way in 2nd class

 From 69 (59) each way in 1st class.

 The price varies, book in advance to get these fares, full-price 139.

 

 3. Munich to Budapest

     on the Kalman Imre...

In a

seat

In a couchette

In the sleeping-car

6-berth

4-berth

3-berth

2-berth

single

 Savings fare one-way, from:

29 (25)

49 (42)

59 (49)

69 (59)

79 (67) 

139 (118)

 Savings fare return, from:

58 (50)

98 (84)

118 (98)

138 (118)

158 (134) 

278 (236)

 Full fare one-way:

114

131

136

146

161 

211

Savings fare = Special cheap fare, book in advance, limited availability, no refunds, no changes to travel plans. 

Normal fare = fully flexible, refundable, buy any time.

Berths are sold individually, so one ticket means one bed.  The other beds in your compartment will be sold to

other passengers.  For sole occupancy, simply book 1 ticket in a single-berth sleeper or 2 tickets in a 2-berth

sleeper or 4 tickets in a 4-berth couchette and so on.

 4. Budapest to Belgrade

     by train...

15 one-way or 26 return in 2nd class.

This is a permanently-available special offer which you can buy on the day at Budapest or Belgrade stations or online at the Hungarian railways website www.mav-start.hu for one-way or return journeys starting in Budapest.  Not available through UK agencies.  No 1st class offers.

How to buy tickets online...

  Hungarian Railways e-ticket collection point
 

You can now book trains from Budapest to Belgrade online at the Hungarian Railways website www.mav-start.hu.  To collect tickets, look for these blue e-ticket collection machines at Budapest Keleti station.  Location of internet ticket collection machines at Budapest Keleti station

  • This method can be used by anyone from any country.  First note down what trains on what dates you want to book, using the train time information above.  Bookings open 90 days before departure (just 60 days for the Budapest-Belgrade train), you can't buy tickets before reservations open.  Hotel accommodation can be booked before booking your trains risk-free if you use a site such as www.booking.com with free cancellation.

  • Step 1, go to the German Railways website www.bahn.de and using the train times on this page as your guide, book the TGV train from Paris to Munich & back.  You may get a self-print ticket, or they will send tickets to any country.

  • Step 2, still on www.bahn.de, now book a sleeper or couchette from Munich to Budapest on the direct overnight sleeper train with 0 changes, looking for the cheap Savings fares.  Your simply book online and print out your own ticket in .PDF format using your PC printer.  Easy!  Make sure you select the type of couchette or sleeper that you want.  I recommend registering when it asks you before completing the purchase, so you can easily retrieve any bookings.

  • Step 3, book the Eurostar from London to Paris & back at www.eurostar.com.  By all means take an earlier Eurostar outward or a later one returning if it has cheaper seats available.

  • Step 4, now go to the Hungarian Railways website www.mav-start.hu, click 'EN' top left for English and run an enquiry for Budapest to Belgrade (Beograd).  When the search results appear, enter your date of birth in the format YY.MM.DD and click 'Tickets and Prices'.  Then click 'Further information;' and finally click 'Open'.  You pay online and collect your ticket from the self-service machine installed at Budapest Keleti station.  You can book very cheap 2nd class tickets this way, but cannot book 1st class tickets.

  • Alternatively, UK residents can try booking the train from Budapest to Belgrade & back at www.loco2.com (or the relevant Rail Europe website in your own country if you're not in the UK).  If an error message appears when trying to add this ticket to your basket, don't worry, just book this part of the journey by phone with German Railways' UK office on 08718 80 80 66 (lines open 09:00-20:00 Mon-Fri, 09:00-13:00 sat & Sun).  If they have any problem booking the westbound Belgrade to Budapest train, either just buy it at the station when you reach Belgrade or try arranging it through the Wasteels office at Belgrade by emailing wasteels@eunet.yu as explained in the section below.

How to buy tickets by phone...

  • If you prefer to buy tickets by phone, call Deutsche Bahn's UK office on 08718 80 80 66 (lines open 09:00-20:00 Monday-Friday, 09:00-13:00 Saturday & Sunday, no booking fee, 2% credit card fee), or www.europeanrail.com on 020 7619 1083 (lines open 08:30-17:30 Mon-Fri, 09:00-13:00 Saturday, 35 booking fee, but their staff can be more familiar with booking journeys like this). Click here for a list of agencies and other useful information on how to buy European train tickets.

  • If you have any difficulty making the return train reservation out of Belgrade, you can enlist the help of the Wasteels agency in Belgrade station, see the 'booking trains in Serbia' section below.

Custom-made train travel + hotel arrangements...

  • If you want a custom-made trip with train travel, hotels & transfers all arranged for you, contact Railbookers.  Tell them what you want and they'll advise you on the best trains, routes & hotels and sort it all out.  They get positive reviews and look after their customers very well.

      UK call 020 3327 0761, www.railbookers.com

    US & Canada call free 1-800-408-3280, www.us.railbookers.com.

      Australia call toll-free 1300 971 526, www.railbookers.com.au

      New Zealand call toll-free 0800 002 034 or see website.

What's the journey like?

London to Paris by Eurostar:  See the Eurostar page.

Paris to Munich by TGV Duplex...      Watch the video guide

Sit back with a glass of red and enjoy the ride - book an upper deck seat for the best views.  The train has power sockets for laptops & mobiles at all seats in both classes, and a cafe-bar serves drinks, snacks & microwaved hot dishes.  First class passengers on this route are given a simple but tasty meal box with a small bottle of beer or wine served at their seat, included in the fare.  The train soon leaves the Paris suburbs behind and speeds across a vast wide open plateau of woods and farmland at up to 200mph, past picturesque French villages of the Champagne region.  After an hour or two, the train leaves the high-speed line and slowly meanders through pretty wooded hills, the countryside eventually flattening out towards Strasbourg.  On leaving Strasbourg, look out for Strasbourg cathedral on the left with its famously missing second tower.  Minutes afterwards you rumble across the river Rhine into Germany, before heading on to Stuttgart and Munich.

TGV Duplex at Paris Gare de l'Est   Upper deck second class on board a TGV Duplex.

TGV Duplex at Paris Est. These impressive 200 mph double-deck trains link Paris & Munich, a relaxing journey with reading book & glass of wine.  Book an upstairs seat for the best views...

 

2nd class seats on TGV Duplex upper deck.  There's a mix of unidirectional seating and tables for 4 like this...

First class on board a TGV Duplex   An TGV Duplex to Munich at Paris Est.

1st class seats on the upper deck, with a 'club duo' on the left, a 'club quatre' on the right.

 

A TGV Duplex.  The red near the door indicates 1st class, pale green indicates 2nd class.

Munich to Budapest by sleeper train Kalman Imre...  Watch the video

Cosy & inviting, this is the modern air-conditioned Hungarian sleeping-car of the Kalman Imre at Munich Hauptbahnhof...  The sleeping-car has 10 compartments with washbasin, each of which can be used as a 1, 2 or 3 berth room, with toilets at the end of the corridor.  The fare includes a light breakfast of coffee, juice & croissantWatch the Hungarian sleeping-car video.  There's time for dinner in Munich before boarding, I recommend the typically Bavarian Mongdratzerl restaurant located inside the Hauptbahnhof, open until late.

The sleeper train to Budapest   Sleeper compartment in the Hungarian sleeping-car from Munich to Budapest

The Kalman Imre, about to leave Munich...

 

2-berth sleeper...

6-berth couchettes on train to Budapest   4-berth couchettes on train to Budapest   Couchette car on the Kalman Imre to Budapest

6-berth couchettes...

 

4-berth couchettes

 

Hungarian couchette car at Munich

Budapest to Belgrade by air-conditioned EuroCity train...

The train to Belgrade uses modern air-conditioned Serbian coaches.  There may be a refreshment trolley, but I'd take your own supplies.  The train travels sedately across the Great Hungarian Plain to the border at Kelebia where passports are checked.  Shortly afterwards it arrives at the Serbian border point, Subotica, where where it's the Serbians' turn.  Subotica is the location for much of the action in Graham Greene's novel Stamboul Train.  If you thought the train was slow in Hungary, wait till you get into Serbia!  Again, you're crossing the great Pannonian Plain, past an occasional pheasant or deer, although wooded hills appear (and the train speeds up a bit) as you approach the Serbian capital.  You enter Belgrade over a long steel girder bridge spanning the river Sava, with two modern illuminated road suspension bridges to your right.  The rail bridge opened in 1883, and originally linked two countries, the Austro-Hungarian empire on one bank, and Belgrade in Serbia on the other.  Below left, a Budapest-Belgrade train is pictured about to leave Budapest.  Below right, 2nd class seats.

Serbian air-conditioned coach   1st class seats in a Serbian air-conditioned train

Option 2:  London to Belgrade via Paris, Munich & Zagreb...

This is also a good option, very similar to option 1 but instead of catching the Hungarian Munich-Budapest sleeper then a train to Belgrade you take the Croatian Munich-Zagreb sleeper then a train to Belgrade, which in fact gets you to Belgrade half an hour earlier.  However, this route usually works out a little more expensive than option 1, if only by 20 or so, and the Munich-Zagreb & Zagreb-Munich trains have to be booked by phone, they cannot usually be booked online.

London ► Belgrade

Belgrade ► London

How much does it cost?

Each train is ticketed separately, so add up the price for each leg of the journey.

 1. London to Paris

     by Eurostar...

 From 34.50 one-way, 69 return 2nd class.

 From 97 one-way, 195 return 1st class.  Child, youth, senior fares 

 

 2. Paris to Munich

      by TGV Duplex...

 From 34 one-way, 68 return in 2nd class

 From 53 one-way, 106 return in 1st class.

 Limited availability, book in advance to get these fares.

 Full fare 81 one-way, 142 return.

 

 3. Munich to Zagreb

 on the Lisinski...

In a

seat:

In a couchette

In the sleeping-car

6-berth

4-berth

3-berth

2-berth

single

 Savings fare one-way, from:

29

49

59

69

79

139

 Savings fare return, from:

58

98

118

138

158

278

Savings fare = Advance-purchase fare, price varies, no refunds, no changes to travel plans.

Berths are sold individually, so one ticket means one bed.  The other beds in your compartment will be sold to other passengers.  For sole occupancy, simply book 1 ticket in a 1-berth sleeper or 2 tickets in a 2-berth sleeper or 4 tickets in a 4-berth couchette & so on.

 3. Zagreb to Belgrade

      by day train...

 44 each way.

How to buy tickets online...

How to buy tickets by phone:  UK call 0844 248 248 3...

Custom-made train travel + hotel arrangements...

What are the trains & journey like?

London to Paris by Eurostar:  See the Eurostar page.

Paris to Munich by TGV Duplex...      Watch the video guide

Sit back with a glass of red and enjoy the ride - book an upper deck seat for the best views.  The train has power sockets for laptops & mobiles at all seats in both classes, and a cafe-bar serves drinks, snacks & microwaved hot dishes.  First class passengers on this route are given a simple but tasty meal box with a small bottle of beer or wine served at their seat, included in the fare.  The train soon leaves the Paris suburbs behind and speeds across a vast wide open plateau of woods and farmland at up to 200mph, past picturesque French villages of the Champagne region.  After an hour or two, the train leaves the high-speed line and slowly meanders through pretty wooded hills, the countryside eventually flattening out towards Strasbourg.  On leaving Strasbourg, look out for Strasbourg cathedral on the left with its famously missing second tower.  Minutes afterwards you rumble across the river Rhine into Germany, before heading on to Stuttgart and Munich.

TGV Duplex at Paris Gare de l'Est   Upper deck second class on board a TGV Duplex.

TGV Duplex at Paris Est. These impressive 200 mph double-deck trains link Paris & Munich, a relaxing journey with reading book & glass of wine.  Book an upstairs seat for the best views...

 

2nd class seats on TGV Duplex upper deck.  There's a mix of unidirectional seating and tables for 4 like this...

First class on board a TGV Duplex   An TGV Duplex to Munich at Paris Est.

1st class seats on the upper deck, with a 'club duo' on the left, a 'club quatre' on the right.

 

A TGV Duplex.  The red near the door indicates 1st class, pale green indicates 2nd class.

Munich to Zagreb by sleeper train Lisinski...   Watch the video

This modern sleeper train is a pleasure to travel on, whether in the privacy of your own sleeper or in economical couchettes.  There's time for dinner in Munich before boarding, I recommend the typically Bavarian Mongdratzerl restaurant located inside the Hauptbahnhof, open until late.

The 'Lisinski' sleeper train from Zagreb to Munich, at Zagreb main station   Sleeper compartment in the Croatian sleeping-car from Munich to Zagreb

The sleeping-car on the Lisinski:  The modern air-conditioned Croatian sleeping-car of the Lisinski from Munich to Zagreb has 10 compartments with washbasin, each of which can be used as a 1, 2 or 3 berth room, with toilets at the end of the corridor.  Above left, the sleeper arrived at Zagreb.

4-berth couchettes on Munich to Zagreb train   Couchette car on Munich to Zagreb train, at Munich

The couchette car on the Lisinski has modern air-conditioned 6-berth and 4-berth compartments.  Above right, the westbound train is seen boarding at Zagreb. See panorama photo.

Scenery between Ljubljana, Zagreb & Belgrade

Wake up to scenery like this between Ljubljana & Zagreb, along the river Sava...

Zagreb to Belgrade by air-conditioned train...

2nd class seats in a Serbian air-conditioned train   The train from Belgrade to Zagreb & Zurich, about to leave Belgrade

This is a comfortable air-conditioned Serbian train, with modern 2nd class seats - there's no 1st class.  There's no restaurant car, so take a picnic and some beer or wine with you.  Above right, the Belgrade to Zagreb train about to leave Belgrade.  Above left, 2nd class seats.

Video guide:  London to Belgrade by train...

The video shows what a train ride from London to Belgrade is like.  There's a slight variation from the journey shown above, the video shows a journey by TGV from the Gare de Lyon to Zurich, then Croatian sleeping-car to Zagreb, instead of a TGV from the Gare de l'Est to Munich, then Croatian sleeping-car to Zagreb, but the sleeping-car is identical to the Munich-Zagreb one and you see the same wonderful scenery between Ljubljana & Zagreb.

 

Option 3:  London to Belgrade by daytime trains with hotel stops...

This takes longer than using a time-effective sleeper train, 3 days & 2 nights instead of 2 days & 1 night, but if you prefer daytime scenery and hotels to sleeper trains this is the route for you, with overnight stops in Munich and Zagreb.

London ► Belgrade

  • Day 1:  Travel from London to Paris by Eurostar, leaving London St Pancras at 10:25 (11:01 on Saturdays) arriving Paris Gare du Nord at 13:47 (14:17 on Saturdays). It's a 10 minute walk from the Gare du Nord to the Gare de l'Est.

  • Day 1:  Travel from Paris to Munich by 200 mph double-decker TGV Duplex, leaving Paris Gare de l'Est at 15:25 and arriving Munich Hauptbahnhof at 21:36.  Cafe-bar available.

  • Spend the night in a hotel in Munich.  Try the Sofitel Munich Beyerpost or Eden Hotel Wolff, or (budget) the Pension Locarno, all right next to the station with great reviews.

  • Day 2:  Travel from Munich to Villach by modern, air-conditioned Austrian EuroCity train, leaving Munich at 08:18 and arriving in Villach, near the Austrian-Slovenian border, at 12:43.  A restaurant car is available for breakfast.  At Villach it's a simple cross-platform change onto the waiting Slovenian/Croatian/Serbian EuroCity train to Zagreb.

  • Day 2:  Travel from Villach to Zagreb on a modern, air-conditioned EuroCity train, the Sava, leaving Villach at 12:53 and arriving in Ljubljana at 14:31 and Zagreb at 17:13.

  • Spend the night in a hotel in Zagreb.  I suggest the Esplanade Hotel, Palace Hotel or Central Hotel, all near the station with good reviews.

  • Day 3:  Travel from Zagreb to Belgrade by daytime train, leaving Zagreb at 11:05 and arriving Belgrade at 17:32.

Belgrade  ► London

  • Day 1:  Travel from Belgrade to Zagreb by daytime train, leaving Belgrade at 11:03 and arriving Zagreb at 18:11.

  • Spend the night in a hotel in Zagreb. I suggest the Esplanade Hotel, Palace Hotel or Central Hotel, all near the station with good reviews.

  • Day 2:  Travel from Zagreb to Munich by air-conditioned EuroCity train Sava, leaving Zagreb at 12:35, you need to make a simple cross-platform change of train at Villach (arrive 17:09, depart 17:16) and you arrive in Munich at 21:41.  Enjoy the excellent scenery along the Sava River. 

    Alternatively, you can take the earlier direct EuroCity train leaving Zagreb at 06:50 and arriving Munich at 15:41, with no need to switch trains in Villach.  This is an Austrian train with 6-seater compartments in both 1st & 2nd class, take your own provisions as there's no restaurant or buffet car until the train leaves Villach at 10:47.  This is a safer option as the afternoon Sava has been known to miss its connection in Villach.

How much does it cost?

  • London to Paris by Eurostar starts at 34.50 each way in 2nd class, 97 each way in 1st class.

  • Paris to Munich by TGV starts at 39 (34) each way.

  • Munich to Zagreb starts at 39 (34) each way.

  • Zagreb to Belgrade is approximately 44 each way.

  • The Zagreb to Belgrade fare is fixed-price.  The other fares vary like air fares, going up as departure date approaches, so book early for the cheapest prices.

How to buy tickets online...

The easiest and cheapest way to book this journey is online, as there's no booking fees and all the cheap deals are there for you to see.  Booking opens 92 days ahead, you cannot book before booking opens.

  • Step 1, book the TGV from Paris to Munich at the German railways website www.bahn.de.  You print your own ticket.  I strongly recommend registering when prompted, as you can then log in from any computer and check or re-print your tickets.

  • Step 2, still on www.bahn.de, book your Munich to Zagreb train, looking for a cheap 'spezial' fare and print your own ticket.

  • Step 3, now book the London-Paris Eurostar at www.eurostar.com.  You book online and print your own ticket.  I recommend confirming the timings of the Paris-Munich train before booking a suitable Eurostar connection, which is this is step 3 not step 1.  Make sure you allow at least 60 minutes in Paris between trains.

  • Step 4, the Zagreb to Belgrade train cannot be booked online, but is easy to book at the station in Zagreb, which is the cheapest way to do it.  There are always places available, it cannot sell out.

How to buy tickets by phone...

If you prefer to book by phone, just call Deutsche Bahn's UK office on 08718 80 80 66 (lines open 09:00-20:00 Monday-Friday, 09:00-13:00 Saturday & Sunday, no booking fee, 2% credit card charge but no charge for debit cards), or a booking agency such as European Rail on 020 7619 1083 (lines open 08:30-18:00 Monday-Friday, 09:00-13:00 Saturday, 35 booking fee).

What's the journey like?

From London to Paris by Eurostar: See the Eurostar page for photos & information about Eurostar.

From Paris to Munich by TGV Duplex...         Click for video guide

Sit back with a glass of red and enjoy the ride - book an upper deck seat for the best views.  The train is equipped with power sockets for laptops & mobiles at all seats in both classes, and a cafe-bar serves drinks, snacks & microwaved hot dishes.  First class passengers on this route are given a simple but tasty meal box with a small bottle of beer or wine served at their seat, included in the fare.  The train soon leaves the Paris suburbs behind and speeds across a vast wide open plateau of woods & farmland at up to 200mph, past picturesque French villages of the Champagne region.  An hour or two later, the train leaves the high-speed line and slowly meanders through pretty wooded hills, the countryside eventually flattening out towards Strasbourg.  On leaving Strasbourg, look out for Strasbourg cathedral on the left with its famously missing second tower.  Minutes afterwards you rumble across the river Rhine into Germany, before heading on to Stuttgart & Munich.

TGV Duplex at Paris Gare de l'Est   Upper deck second class on board a TGV Duplex.

TGV Duplex at Paris Est. These impressive 200 mph double-deck trains link Paris with Nice, Marseille, Munich, Barcelona & Switzerland...

 

2nd class table for 4 on TGV Duplex upper deck...

TGV Duplex cafe-bar   TGV Duplex upper deck 2nd class seats

The cafe-bar on the upper deck in car 4, serving tea, coffee, soft drinks, wine, beer, snacks & microwaved hot dishes....

 

2nd class seats, this is upper deck seating.  There's a mix or tables for 4 and unidirectional seating.

First class on board a TGV Duplex   An TGV Duplex at Paris Est.

1st class seats on the upper deck, with a club duo on the left, a club quatre on the right.

 

A TGV Duplex.  The red near the door indicates 1st class, pale green indicates 2nd class.

Munich to Zagreb by EuroCity train Sava...

This is a smart modern EuroCity train, with air-conditioned Slovenian coaches.  An Austrian restaurant car is attached between Munich & Villach.  The scenery is stunning.  After leaving the Munich suburbs the train snakes through pretty Bavarian scenery to Salzburg, past churches and picturesque villages.  Just before arriving at Salzburg, look to your right as you cross the River Salzach for great views of Salzburg citadel.  Soon after Salzburg, the train enters the Austrian Alps proper, climbing through vast mountains.  Look out for the magnificent fortress at Werfen (although the train doesn't call here), perched on its hilltop on the right hand side, guarding the approaches to Salzburg along the Salzachtal valley.  You now need to make a very straightforward cross-platform change of train at Villach on the Austrian/Slovenian border, from the Austrian train to the waiting Croatian/Slovenian train.  After entering Slovenia, the scenery flattens out, and the train snakes along the pretty river Sava all the way into Ljubljana.  Beyond Ljubljana, the train continues to follow the river Sava, passing through a beautiful river gorge between mountains, a real treat.  Beyond Zidani Most the valley widens into a plain, and you cross the border into Croatia at Dobova and soon arrive in Zagreb's impressive central station, a palace of a building, right in the centre of the city.  There's more lush green scenery on the remainder of the journey to Belgrade. ...

Austrian restaurant car between Munich and Villach   Scenery in the Austrian Alps between Munich & Ljubljana

An early lunch in the Austrian restaurant car as the Alpine scenery flies by.  The first stage is on a smart Austrian EuroCity train from Munich to Villach...

 

Through the Austrian Alps...  Clinging to the mountainside high in the Austrian Alps, the train snakes along between snow-capped mountains, absolutely wonderful...

  2nd class seats on the Munich-Zagreb train

...and along the Sava river in Slovenia.  Now across the border in Slovenia, the EuroCity train runs along the pretty River Sava all the way to Ljubljana and Zagreb...

 

Comfortable seats:  The 2nd class seats in the Slovenian cars are arranged 2+1 abreast, the same as 1st class!

The EuroCity train 'Sava' from Munich to Ljubljana & Zagreb  

The EuroCity train Sava, arrived at Zagreb.

 

More scenery along the Sava between Ljubljana & Zagreb.

Zagreb to Belgrade by air-conditioned train...

2nd class seats in a Serbian air-conditioned train   The train from Belgrade to Zagreb & Zurich, about to leave Belgrade

This is a comfortable air-conditioned Serbian train, with modern 2nd class seats - there's no 1st class.  There's no restaurant car, so take a picnic and some beer or wine with you.  Above right, the Belgrade to Zagreb train about to leave Belgrade.  Above left, 2nd class seats.


Option 4:  London to Belgrade via the Budapest-Belgrade sleeper...

This involves 2 nights in a sleeper rather than 1, but if you'd prefer a later departure from London and an arrival in Belgrade in the morning it may be better for you:

London ► Belgrade

  • Travel from London to Budapest via any of the options shown on the London to Hungary page.  For example, you can leave London in the morning by Eurostar and TGV to Munich, stay overnight in Munich, then take the morning Railjet to Budapest, also arriving 16:49.  Or you can leave London in the morning by Eurostar and TGV to Munich, and catch the Hungarian sleeper train Kalman Imre to Budapest, arriving 09:05, and have a whole day free in Budapest.

  • Travel from Budapest to Belgrade on the overnight sleeper train Beograd, leaving Budapest Keleti station daily at 22:25 and arriving in Belgrade at 06:32 next day.  This train has an elderly Serbian sleeping-car with 1, 2 & 3 bed compartments with washbasin (the recommended option), Serbian couchettes (4 & 6 berth compartments) and ordinary seats (not recommended).

Belgrade ► London

  • Travel from Belgrade to Budapest on the overnight sleeper train Beograd, leaving Belgrade daily at 21:45 and arriving in Budapest Keleti station at 05:46 next day.  This train has an elderly Serbian sleeping-car with 1, 2 & 3 bed compartments with washbasin, the recommended option, Serbian couchettes (4 & 6 berth compartments) and ordinary seats (not recommended).

  • Travel from Budapest to London via any of the options shown on the London to Hungary page.  For example, you can leave Budapest at 11:10 by Railjet to Munich, stay overnight in Munich, then travel from Munich to Paris by TGV and London by Eurostar next day.  Or you can have a day free in Budapest, catch the Hungarian sleeper train Kalman Imre from Budapest to Munich, then take TGV & Eurostar to Paris and London next day.

Fares & how to buy tickets...

  • See the London to Hungary page for fares & how to buy tickets between London & Budapest.

  • Tickets from Budapest to Belgrade can be booked online at the Hungarian Railways website, www.mav-start.hu from just 24 including a couchette or 26 per person including a bed in a 3-bed sleeper or 32 including a bed in a 2-bed sleeper.  Simply click 'EN' top left for English and run an enquiry for Budapest to Belgrade (Beograd).  When the search results appear, enter your date of birth in the format YY.MM.DD, select 'Sleeping-car' or 'couchette', and click 'Tickets and Prices'.  On the next page click 'Further information' and 'Open'.  You buy online and collect your ticket from the self-service machine installed at Budapest Keleti station.

  • Alternatively, to book by phone call German Railways' UK office on 08718 80 80 66, lines open 09:00-20:00 Monday-Friday, 09:00-13:00 Saturday & Sunday.

By overnight train from Budapest to Belgrade...   Watch the video

This has a basic and very elderly Serbian sleeping-car & couchette car dating from the communist era, but comfortable enough with clean sheets.

A Serbian sleeping-car on the Belgrade to Budapest train   Serbian 2-bed sleeper   Serbian 6-berth couchettes

The Belgrade to Budapest sleeper, arrived at Budapest Keleti...

 

Serbian 2-bed sleeper...

 

6-berth couchettes...


London to Montenegro

There are two ways to travel from the UK to Montenegro.  Option 1 is to travel all the way by train, using the famously scenic Belgrade-Podgorica-Bar railway.  Option 2 is to travel from the UK to Bari in Italy by train, then sail to Bar on a Montenegro Lines ferry.

IMPORTANT UPDATE SUMMER-AUTUMN 2014:  As at November 2014 the northern part of the Belgrade-Podgorica-Bar line is still blocked by flood damage which occurred earlier in the year.  The daytime Belgrade-Bar train is cancelled, the night train is running but diverted via Lapovo and re-timed to leave Belgrade much earlier at 18:05, with 4 hours added to the journey time.  Whether normality will return next week or next month or next year isn't known.  The best place to check the current situation is at www.serbianrailways.comFeedback appreciated!

Option 1, London to Podgorica, Bar, Budva by train via Belgrade...

This option involves comfortable modern trains all the way to Belgrade, then a ride on the famous Belgrade-Bar Railway, recognised as one of Europe's most scenic.

London ► Montenegro

Montenegro ► London

Fares & how to buy tickets...

Watch the video:  A journey from Bar to Belgrade by train...

A video guide to the scenery from Bar to Belgrade.  Be warned, the video features the 'Uh-oh we've hit a horse' incident about 00:02:40 in.

Scenery on the famous Belgrade to Bar line...

For the best scenery you must sit on the right hand side of the train going south, or the left hand side going North.  This quite possibly means ignoring your reserved seat on a theoretically all-reserved train, but nobody seems to mind about seat reservations anyway.  It's 296 miles from Belgrade to Bar, over a line started in the 1950s but only completed in 1976.  It's a marvel of engineering, with 254 tunnels and 435 bridges between the Serbian capital and the Adriatic.  For more information see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Belgrade%E2%80%93Bar_railway.

Lim River, seen from the Belgrade to Bar line   By train from Belgrade to Bar

The train heads south from Belgrade - just south of Topcider station, watch on the right for the shed in which Marshall Tito's deluxe private train is kept, followed by a yard of rusting diesels that used to haul it.  The train heads across the plains to Valjevo, where the hills and then mountains begin...

Mountain scenery on the Belgrade-Bar Railway   The Mala Rijeka viaduct

You'll see the Potpec dam on the Lim River on the right and the little monastery alongside the station at Vrbanica on the left...  The train crosses from Serbia to Montenegro with a Serbian passport check at Prijepolje then a Montenegrin passport check at Bijelo Polje.  The summit is reached soon after Kolasin, at over 1,000m above sea level, the line then descends steeply to Podgorica, crossing the famous Mala Rijeka viaduct (pictured above right), the highest railway viaduct in the world.

Scenery between Kolasin and Podgorica

In the hour between Podgorica and Bar the line crosses Skadar Lake on a causeway past a ruined castle on the right, then it passes through a long tunnel and emerges alongside the lovely blue Adriatic, reaching Bar station minutes later.

The Belgrade-Bar daytime train Tara...

Seats on the Belgrade to Bar train   Bar car on the Belgrade to Bar train

The daytime train consists of a motley assortment of carriages, mostly Serbian, 2nd class only.  You may find some 1st class carriages used as 2nd class.  There's usually a cafe-bar selling tea, coffee and snacks, but it's always a good idea to take some supplies of your own.

The Belgrade-Bar sleeper train Lovcen...

Sleeper train from Belgrade arrived at  Bar station   1, 2 or 3 bed sleeper on the night train from Belgrade to Bar

The sleeper train Lovcen has (1) two second-hand sleeping-cars bought from France, with 1-bed, 2-bed & 3-bed compartments with washbasin (pictured above right, set up as a 3-berth), (2) Montenegrin 6-berth couchettes (second-hand German), (3) a Serbian first class 4-berth couchette car and (4) ordinary seats.  Above left, the two Montenegrin sleeping-cars and one couchette car of the Lovcen arrived at Bar station.

2nd hand French sleeping-car on Belgrade to Bar night train   4-berth couchettes, Belgrade to Bar night train   6-berth couchettes, Belgrade to Bar night train

The Lovcen arrived in Belgrade...

 

4-berth couchettes

 

6-berth couchettes

Marshal Tito's private luxury train from Belgrade to Bar...

Starting in 2013, Josip Broz Tito's deluxe private train will make several passenger-carrying runs each year between Belgrade & Bar, see the Tito page for details.  A highly recommended experience!

Option 2, London to Podgorica, Bar, Budva by ferry from Italy...

London ► Montenegro

Montenegro ► London

Fares & how to buy tickets...

Montenegro Lines ferry from Bar to Bari

The Montenegro Lines ferry to Bari at Bar ferry terminal...

Bar ferry terminal, Montenegro Lines   View of Bar ferry terminal, across the marina

Bar ferry terminal...

 

Bar ferry terminal, from across the marina...


London to Macedonia & Kosovo

London ► Skopje & Pritina

Pritina & Skopje ► London

Fares...

Belgrade to Skopje by daytime train...

Morning train from Belgrade to Skopje   1st class compartment on day train from Belgrade to Skopje

The morning train from Belgrade to Skopje...

 

Old but comfortable 1st class compartment.

Belgrade to Skopje by overnight train...

The Macedonian couchette car on the Belgrade to Thessaloniki train   A 6-berth couchette compartment on the Belgrade to Thessaloniki train

The Belgrade-Thessaloniki overnight train has a Macedonian couchette car, though no sleeper.  But it's comfortable enough and seldom full, see the photos below, courtesy of traveller Tom Whitehead.  Clean sheets, pillow and blanket are provided.  You'll probably find fellow travellers from Germany, the Netherlands, Australia or Britain on board.

Skopje to Pritina by train...

Traveller Jeroen van Marle reports:  "I took the train from Pritina in Kosovo to Skopje in May 2011. Absolutely freezing cold as there was no heating, but the ride was lovely, very scenic compared to the highway blight that the buses pass."

The train to Skopje at Pristina   The Pristina to Skopje train at the border.

The morning train waits to leave Pritina.  Photo courtesy of Jeroen van Marle

 

At the border, where locomotives are changed.  Photo courtesy of Jeroen van Marle

Seats on the Pristina-Skopje train   The train at Skopje

The train uses old Norwegian coaches.  Photo courtesy of Jeroen van Marle

 

The train from Pritina, arrived at Skopje station.  Photo courtesy of Jeroen van Marle


Belgrade station

A classic building from 1884.  Click for city map

Belgrade has a classic Balkan station, built in 1884.  Unlike most main stations in Europe, there is no overall roof - the concourse is open-air, although canopies cover the actual platforms.  The station is just a 10 minute walk from the main pedestrianised street in central Belgrade, although it's uphill so you may want to take one of the taxis waiting outside.  See Wikipedia entry See map of Belgrade showing station.

Buying tickets...

The ticket office is in the main building on the east (platform 1) side of the station.  It has a couple of separate windows for booking international  trains, to the left of the main ones.  However, I'd recommend using the Wasteels office in the north side building to book trains, there's seldom any queue and Mr Popovic speaks excellent English, see the section below.

Left luggage & ATMs...

There is a 24 hour left luggage office, see here for prices.  The left luggage office is in a small yard just off the extreme left-hand corner of the open-air concourse as you stand with your back to the trains looking at the north side building pictured right.  There is an ATM inside the north building exit hall, opposite the Wasteels office.

Somewhere for a meal or beer between trains...

There is a Zelturist cafe-restaurant in the far right corner of the open-air concourse as you stand with your back to the trains.  It's basic, but has unbelievably cheap set menus and cheap beer.  There are a couple of other cafes on the open-air concourse too, and several kiosks selling drinks and snacks for your journey.  There are more kiosks immediately outside the exit from the North building.

Main entrance to Belgrade station, east side.   North exit from open-air concourse, Belgrade station

Belgrade station main entrance, on the east (platform 1) side of the station.  The ticket office is in here.

 

The north building, viewed with the trains behind you, on the north side of the open-air concourse. The Wasteels office & ATM are in here.

Main entrance to Belgrade station, east side.   Meal at Zelturist restaurant, Belgrade station

Belgrade station's open-air concourse.  The Zelturist restaurant is in the far right corner...

 

Dinner for 2.92 at the Zelturist restaurant at Belgrade station.  And yes, that includes the beer!


Booking trains in Serbia...

  Wasteels office, Belgrade main station
 

The Wasteels office at Belgrade station, unfortunately now closed.  But you can still book & they'll meet you at the station with your tickets.

Wasteels agency, Belgrade...  Recommended!

The Serbian Railways reservation system is linked to the western European railway computer reservation systems, so seat, couchette or sleeper reservations can be made on domestic or international trains starting in Belgrade from most reservation offices or train booking agencies across Europe, including UK European rail booking agencies.  In practice however, the computer link sometimes goes down, and in any case agencies outside Serbia can usually only sell full-price 'TCV' tariff tickets, not the various cheap special offer fares that are available locally.  So to pre-book international tickets starting in Belgrade at the cheapest prices, email or call the highly-recommended Wasteels travel agency at Belgrade station.  You can pick up and pay for the reservations/tickets when you get to Belgrade (although you may now be asked for pre-payment).  Mr Popovic can also arrange tickets starting in Sofia, if given sufficient notice, for collection in Belgrade.  Warseels contact details (with new email address from summer 2012) are:

Putovanja Wasteels
E-mail: wasteels@eunet.rs

Phone: +381 11 265 8868

 

Agency representative Mr Popovic speaks excellent English and comes highly recommended.  He will be glad to make train reservations for you and book tickets, and even give you advice on visiting Belgrade!  Payment must be made in cash in Serbian Dinars which is no problem as there is a bureau de change and an ATM at the station.  If you email him in advance he can also make bookings for trains from Sofia.

UPDATE:  THE WASTEELS OFFICE AT BELGRADE STATION IS NOW CLOSED.  However, it seems Mr Popovic can still be contacted and you can still buy tickets through him, he'll meet you at the station to deliver your tickets.

Online booking for Serbian domestic trains & trains to Montenegro...

You can now book Serbian domestic trains online (also the ones to Montenegro, but only southbound) at www.serbianrailways.com, click 'e-ticketing' at lower right.  You pay online by credit card and collect your ticket at the station in Belgrade.  Several travellers have now reported success with this system.


Visiting Belgrade

Click for map of Belgrade showing station

Belgrade is not a typical tourist hotspot, but it's a very pleasant city with lots to interest the visitor.  Click for map of Belgrade.

Belgrade fortress, confluence of the Sava & Danube rivers   Belgrade Parliament building

Victor Plaza in Belgrade fortress, with a great view of the confluence of the Danube & Sava rivers.

 

Belgrade's parliament building...

Knez Mihailova street, Belgrade   Belgrade's rocket-damaged Ministry of Defence

Knez Mihailova is Belgrade's main pedestrianised shopping street, leading from the Moskva Hotel to the fortress.

 

In 2013, the Serbian Ministry of Defence still hadn't been repaired after NATO bombing in the 1990s conflict.

Marshall Tito's mausoleum is a little way south of central Belgrade.  Tito was Serbia's head of state between 1945 & 1980.  There's also a museum with many of the gifts which Tito received during his lifetime.

Tito's mausoleum, Belgrade   Tito's tomb

The European Rail Timetable & maps

Thomas Cook European Timetable -  click to buy onlineTraveller's Railway Map of Europe - buy onlineThe European Rail Timetable (formerly the Thomas Cook European Timetable) has train & ferry times for every country in Europe plus currency & climate information.  It is essential for regular European train travellers and an inspiration for armchair travellers.  Published since 1873, it had just celebrated 140 years of publication when Thomas Cook decided to pull the plug on their entire publishing department, but the dedicated ex-Thomas Cook team have set up a private venture and published the first edition of a reborn European Rail Timetable in March 2014.  You can buy it online with worldwide shipping at either www.stanfords.co.uk or www.europeanrailtimetable.euMore information on what the European Rail Timetable contains.

A Traveller's Railway Map of Europe covers the whole of Europe from Portugal in the west to Moscow & Istanbul in the east, Finland in the north to Sicily & Athens in the south.  On the back are detailed maps of Switzerland, Benelux & Germany, plus city plans showing stations in major cities.  Scenic & high-speed routes highlighted.  Buy it online for 14.50 + postage worldwide (UK addresses 2.80) at www.stanfords.co.uk/Continents/Europe/Maps--Atlases/Europe-A-Travellers-Railway-Map_9789077899090.htm or (in the Netherlands) for 13 + 5.50 postage from www.treinreiswinkel.nl.


Guidebooks

Lonely Planet Eastern Europe - buy online at Amazon.co.ukTo get the most from your visit, you should take a good guidebook.  For the independent traveller, I think this means one of two guidebooks, either the Lonely Planet or the Rough Guide.  Both series are excellent.  You can buy a guide covering all the countries in Eastern Europe.  Lonely Planet Eastern Europe.

Click to buy online at Amazon...

 

 

 


Find hotels in Belgrade & the Balkans...

Recommended hotel in Belgrade:  Book the Hotel Moskva...

Look no further for a hotel in Belgrade than the historic Hotel Moskva.  Opened in 1906, anyone who is anyone who has visited Belgrade has stayed here, from British author Graham Green to Ethiopian emperor Haile Salassie.  It served as Gestapo Headquarters in 1941-44, although fortunately no trace of these former occupants remains.  It's ideally located 10 minutes walk from the station (uphill, so you're better taking a taxi if you have luggage), right in the centre of Belgrade at the end of the pedestrianised main street that leads to Belgrade fortress.  Immaculate rooms, friendly staff and a good cooked breakfast.  Book the Hotel Moskva.

The Hotel Moskva, Belgrade   A double room at the Hotel Moskva, Belgrade
 

◄◄ Hotel search & price comparison.

www.hotelscombined.com checks all the main hotel booking sites at once to find the widest choice of hotels & the cheapest seller.  It was named as the World's Leading Hotel Comparison Site at the World Travel Awards 2013 and I highly recommend it, both to find hotels in even the smallest places and to check that another retailer isn't selling your hotel for less!

www.booking.com is my favourite booking site.  It's really clear and you can usually book with free cancellation and so confirm your accommodation at no risk months before train booking opens.

Other hotel sites worth trying...

Backpacker hostels...


Travel insurance & health card...

 

 

Columbus direct travel insurance

Take out decent travel insurance, it's essential...

Never travel without proper travel insurance from a reliable insurer with at least 1m or preferably 5m medical cover.  It should also cover loss of cash & belongings (up to a limit), and trip cancellation.  An annual multi-trip policy is usually cheapest even for just 2 or 3 trips a year - I have an annual policy myself.  However, don't expect travel insurance to bail you out of every missed connection, see the advice on missed connections here.  Here are some suggested insurers, Seat61 gets a little commission if you buy through these links, and feedback from using insurance for rail & ferry travel is always welcome.

In the UK, use www.confused.com to compare prices & policy features across major insurance companies.

If you have a pre-existing medical condition or are over 65 (no age limit), see www.JustTravelCover.com.

        If you live in Australia, New Zealand, Ireland or the EU, try Columbus Direct's other websites.

  If you live in the USA try Travel Guard USA.

Get an EU health card, it's free...

If you're a UK citizen travelling in Europe, you should apply for a free European Health Insurance Card, which entitles you to free or reduced rate health care if you become ill or get injured in many European countries, under a reciprocal arrangement with the NHS.  This replaced the old E111 forms as from January 2006.  The EHIC card is available from www.ehic.org.uk.  It doesn't remove the need for travel insurance, though.

Carry a spare credit card, designed for foreign travel with no currency exchange loading & low/no ATM fees

Taking out an extra credit card costs nothing, but if you keep it in a different part of your luggage you won't be left stranded if your wallet gets stolen.  In addition, some credit cards are better for overseas travel than others.  Martin Lewis's www.moneysavingexpert.com/travel/cheap-travel-money explains which UK credit cards have the lowest currency exchange commission loadings when you buy something overseas, and the lowest cash withdrawal fees when you use an ATM abroad.

You can avoid ATM charges and expensive exchange rates with a Caxton FX euro currency Visa Card, or their multi-currency 'Global Traveller' Visa Card, see www.caxtonfx.com for info.

Get an international SIM card to save on calls & mobile data...

Mobile phones can cost a fortune to use abroad, so consider getting a global pre-paid SIM card for your mobile phone which can cut call & data costs by up to 90%.  At the time of writing, www.roamsure.com claims a definite 25% saving within the EU and up to 90% saving in the rest of the world.  Incoming calls are free in 73 countries, including all of the EU, the USA, Australia & South Africa.  There's no contract or commitment, and at time I write this Roamsure is offering a global SIM card for free when you buy 20 of call credit.  Seat61 gets some commission to support the site if you buy airtime from Roamsure.

 


Back to 'Rail travel to Europe' general page

Back to home page