We will be spending some time in Italy during early July this year, and we will be finishing up in Verona.

The next part of our trip involves getting into Croatia from here which is proving to be slightly complicated whilst keeping to a travel preference of train over bus.

Originally I had planned to use a route I found using OBB's journey planner:
Verona -> Venice -(OBB ICBus)-> Villach -(EC 213)-> Zagreb

I've just had another look now and put in my travel dates, but I don't see this route in the route planner anymore so I'm trying to find alternative methods just in case.

I know there is a bus that runs from Trieste, so it could be possible for us to take a train to Trieste and then a bus to Croatia. According to this website there is a couple of buses which run along this route http://www.buscroatia.com

Either way, both methods will take roughly the same amount of time (leaving at approximately 10am and arriving at 8:30pm)

So my questions:

  • Am I by any chance looking too early for my original route to show up on the journey planners, or have the timetables been changed?
  • Heading into Austria seems a bit out of the way, is there an easier way? I'm aware that there are no direct trains between Italy and Slovenia.
  • If we take a connecting train in Austria, what happens in regards to 'entering the country/crossing the border' on arrival to Austria? We will only be in there for a couple of hours maximum until the connecting train comes. I don't believe we need a visa. (We're Australian)
  • Weighing up the options, the bus from Trieste is seeming to be the most stress-free choice. Would it be wise to ditch my original plan and look at this option?

I've read the question How to get to Ljubljana (Slovenia) from Trieste (Italy) by Train? and to me some of the answers to connect between Italy and Slovenia seem to be a bit more involved than what I've planned out above.

I hope this question isn't too broad for this site, this is the only part of the trip left which is still a bit cloudy.

  • 1
    Early July might be a problem - European train timetables change every year in June and December, so it's quite possible that the trains/buses for post-June haven't been decided or announced yet
    – Gagravarr
    Jan 14, 2015 at 12:36
  • 2
    I recommend you take a bus from Trieste, it's not expensive, if I recall correctly 150kn(~20€) and it is much faster. Trains in Croatia are much slower then in Italy.
    – Davidenko
    Jan 14, 2015 at 14:00
  • Just to mention, from Trieste to the Croatian coast there should be ferries as well.
    – clabacchio
    Jan 14, 2015 at 15:12

3 Answers 3

  1. You are indeed looking way too far in advance for European rail planners. Train timetables in Europe change twice a year (mid-December and mid-June) and are published a few weeks before, depending on the operator. Even when the timetable does not change, booking generally opens three months or so before the date of travel.

    Consequently, as of writing this answer, you won't even find a Rome-Milan train in July on Trenitalia's own website (and those definitely do exist!), let alone complex cross-border connections (German and Swiss trains are an exception, you can actually search – but not book – trains in Germany all the way to December 2015). That's not to say there will necessarily be drastic changes come June so you could look for a route now with a date in June and check it again when booking for July opens in May.

  2. Not sure I get your question. Since there is, as you wrote, no long-distance train going between Slovenia and Italy, Austria is pretty much the most direct way. The only alternatives are taking the bus, flying, using local trains (see seat61.com for this one) or maybe even a ferry.

  3. Nothing much would happen at that border, most of the time there should not even be any police check (although it does still happen occasionally). Austria, Italy and Slovenia are part of the Schengen area and apply the same rules. As an Australian citizen you don't need a visa to visit it but should not stay longer than 90 days in total in the whole area.

    On the other hand, if you are staying longer in Italy or become a resident there, you do need a visa or permit but this Italian document would give you the right to visit other Schengen countries for a short time, even if it was not already the case.

    Croatia, however, is not part of the Schengen area yet. You can visit it without a visa too but there will be a passport check and you should get two stamps when entering the country (a Schengen exit stamp and a Croatian entry stamp).

  4. It seems difficult to answer objectively. Personally, I am partial to the train and Austria is gorgeous but the bus can be cheaper. You might even be able to find a direct bus, which could be less stressful if you are worried about connections.


I'd be sorely tempted to use the Villa Opicina tram in Trieste for this journey. It's a pretty extraordinary journey, but you'd have to be very comfortable with multiple transfers and careful timetable co-ordination.

Train to Trieste (Frecciabianca booked in advance to Venice Mestre, regional train ticket bought at the station from Venice to Trieste)

Take the tram uphill to Villa Opicina - it's a fabulous experience, as it runs as a street-level tram in Trieste, then connects to a drogue and becomes a funicular up a 26% slope, and then is a tram again in Villa Opicina.

Walk to the station in Villa Opicina and then take a train to Sezana, change to another local train to Ljubjana (in some cases, there may be an additional change in Divaca), and then you can take the international service to Zagreb.

Check the times for the trains from Villa Opicina before you go, as there aren't that many trains each day. As an alternative, you might be able to get a taxi from Opicina to Sezana, it's not all that far (and is unlikely to be more than €15) or even to Divaca which has a much superior rail service.

The Ljubljana-Sezana-Opicina timetable is on Slovenian railways website here - this is valid until December 2014, so the 2015 timetable isn't on the website yet. You can see the list of timetables here; the one you want is Ljubljana–Pivka–Ilirska Bistrica–Sežana.


From Trieste, take the local bus at the tram terminus, to Villa Opicina train station. (The tram was not operating in October 2018) The bus terminates right next to Villa Opicina train station. At Villa Opicina, buy train ticket to Zagreb (Croatia) or to wherever in Croatia you want to go. Take train from Villa Opicina direct to Ljubljana. Change trains for one to Zagreb. It's beautiful scenery for both parts of the train trip.

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