Zagreb to Split, Croatia: From Old World Charm to Coastal Beauty

The Art Pavilion in Zagreb, Croatia © Robert Rajtić
The Art Pavilion in Zagreb, Croatia © Robert Rajtić

Croatia seems to be caught somewhere between the big, heavily trodden European countries like France and Spain and the lesser-traveled, outlying countries like Romania and Budapest. Like the western countries, it has thriving cities and beautiful monuments to offer tourists. Like the eastern ones, it still has that off-the-beaten path feel to it, seeming somehow more foreign and undiscovered.

Around Zagreb

Arguably the most well known destination in Croatia, Zagreb is definitely the political, economic, and cultural capital of the country. When you step off the train in Zagreb, you step into a thriving metropolis with old-world charm. History and art lovers take note: Zagreb has more museums per square foot than any other European city! A good starting off point would be the Museum of the City of Zagreb, which houses an impressive display of weaponry, religious articles, furniture, costumes, and a large collection of historical photographs. It’s a good way to brush up on the city’s fast facts before hitting the streets to explore.

If museums aren’t exactly your thing, head towards the Trg Bana Jelacica (translated Jelacic Square), which is a scenic place to begin your exploration of the city. Peruse the little shops and cafes, give a nod to the recently restored Ban’s statue, and enjoy a good dose of people-watching as the locals make their way around town.

If you can’t head to Europe without visiting a church, stop by the Cathedral of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary. This church is a dominating attraction in Zagreb, literally – its 345-foot twin spires rise above everything else in the city. Having been built in the 13th century it has of course undergone several renovations, but, like so many cathedrals throughout this continent, it’s still standing tall to greet visitors another day.

Around Split

Split harbour depicting Diocletian's palace, by night, Croatia
Split harbor depicting Diocletian’s palace, by night, Croatia

Located just a quick 6.5 hour train ride south of Zagreb, Split will provide you with the one thing that Zagreb cannot: a stunning experience of nature along the coast. The city is often a starting off point for travelers headed further on to Dalmatia’s numerous summer resorts, but recently more and more visitors have chosen to pause for a moment and see what Split has to offer before moving on.

The most well known attraction, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is the Palace of Diocletian. The oldest hub of Split is located within the walls of this palace – according to its dimensions and level of preservation, the Palace represents the most valuable example of Roman architecture on the eastern coast of the Adriatic Sea.

In addition to this man-made wonder, check out one of Mother Nature’s finer accomplishments in Marjan Forest Park, a green oasis whose grounds have been carefully maintained and cherished by citizens for generations. The park includes promenades, solariums, nature paths, playgrounds, and the Split Zoo. There is a marvelous view of the city from the top of Marjan for those wiling to make the hike.

How to Travel from Zagreb to Split With a Rail Pass

The Eurail Croatia Pass will cover the ticket price of the train, but since this is a longer journey, you will need to purchase a seat reservation supplement to make sure that you have a specific place to sit on the train.

Insider Rail Tip: There is an overnight train available for those who don’t want to spend a good portion of the day in transit. The overnight train is slower than the day train to allow for a quieter journey and more time to rest before starting your day off in a new city.

How to Travel from Zagreb to Split with a Ticket

If you’d prefer a point to point ticket to a rail pass, we recommend booking in advance when possible, as with all point to point tickets in Europe. This is particularly important for the overnight train, which tends to fill up rather quickly.

Onboard Accommodations on the Zagreb to Split Train

The overnight train carries single compartments, double compartments, triple compartments, and 2nd class seats. The day train offers both first and second class seats, both of which require seat reservations. The 1st class seat reservations can only be booked locally at the ticket counter in the train station, as the railways have not given us access to offer those particular reservations for international sale.

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