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Europe Trains Guide Forum  |  General discussion  |  Travel plans, routes and timetables  |  Belgrade to Podgorica or Zagreb Question
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Author Topic: Belgrade to Podgorica or Zagreb Question  (Read 7452 times)
warlord
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« on: September 22, 2015, 07:36:48 pm »

  So planning my next adventure again for next May (kind of early), but was curious to know if there are any locations between Belgrade and Zagreb, or between Belgrade and Podgorica that are worth while to stop for a night or two at?

  Trip A) would be Belgrade to Zagreb to Ljubljana or
  Trip B) would be Belgrade to Podgorica with Kotor, one of the beach towns and then ending in Tirana.

   Buses seem to be about 9 hours and the train seems to be around 12-14 hours (Belgrade to Podgorica).  Now I've heard the train between those two cities has supposedly one of the nicest views so taking a night train would kind of defeat the purpose, but I don't want to sit for 14 or so hours on a train either.

  So was trying to see if there are any towns along the way I could break up the trip with at all?  Was also thinking if I did the other trip to Zagreb, if there was anything near 1/2 way between Belgrade and Zagreb that would be worthwhile to stop for a night or so?

  Just trying to get a idea on this part for now so I can then plan my flight schedule.  Thanks as always...
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tUt
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« Reply #1 on: September 23, 2015, 01:45:09 pm »

Buses seem to be about 9 hours and the train seems to be around 12-14 hours (Belgrade to Podgorica).  Now I've heard the train between those two cities has supposedly one of the nicest views so taking a night train would kind of defeat the purpose...
Yes, Belgrade-Bar railway line is one of the most scenic train lines in Europe, so it definitely makes sense to use a train here. With an overnight train you will get a glimpse of the scenery early in the morning, but obviously daytime travel will be way more interesting.
In terms of travel time, these days official schedule gives us 10 hours to Podgorica and 11 hours to Bar, however on this line trains are very often late, so indeed situation when you will spend 12-13 hours is not an exception.

So was trying to see if there are any towns along the way I could break up the trip with at all?
Unfortunately choice here is very limited. Valjevo is kind of nice, but it's only 2 hours away from Belgrade. Next at least somewhat interesting place is Požega (couple churches, railway museum), plus you have a chance to make a side trip to Kraljevo (Žiča monastery). After Požega there is bigger town - Užice (few churches, Yugoslavian architecture), but again hardly it's a place to spend there more than few hours. For a railway fan a definite attraction to visit would be so-called Šargan Eight (Šarganska osmica), narrow-gauge railway located not far from Užice. So perhaps your choice here might be either start from Belgrade in the morning, then make a stop in Valjevo and/or Požega and by evening get to Užice for a night stay. Or, in case you interested in Šargan Eight experience, then just avoid earlier stops and from Belgrade go to the narrow-gauge line.

Was also thinking if I did the other trip to Zagreb, if there was anything near 1/2 way between Belgrade and Zagreb that would be worthwhile to stop for a night or so?
Choice of the potential stop between Belgrade and Zagreb is much easier. Town of Osijek is basically must-see place. And although it's slight detour to the north from the Belgrade-Zagreb line, but it's not that big of a deal, since you can get off train in Vinkovci (roughly 3:30 hours from Belgrade) and then it's just 40 min. journey to Osijek by local Croatian train. While next morning you can get a direct train from Osijek to Zagreb 
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warlord
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« Reply #2 on: September 23, 2015, 03:48:41 pm »

  Ok great, I just didn't want to miss the train ride by going on a bus if possible and had looked at spending a night in Užice as it seemed to be a good 1/2 way point between Belgrade and Podgorica. 

  At least I know that there is a possibility and good connection.  I'll be researching my flights in the up coming months and then after that will probably have more questions as usual with the finer details depending on where my final departure city will be.  But yes, as I have heard, the train over the bus on this route is amazing.  Going from Belgrade to Ljubljana (via Zagreb) would be my back up plan if flights out of Tirana, Podgorica or even Dubrovnik would be too much in comparison.  So just wanted to see what the options where before I end up buying my flight...
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tUt
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« Reply #3 on: September 23, 2015, 11:19:02 pm »

I just didn't want to miss the train ride by going on a bus
Well, scenery from a bus window ain't that bad there, but obviously going by train should be option #1, at least for those who travel from Serbia to Montenegro for the first time.
At least I know that there is a possibility and good connection.
Serbian railways timetable page should give you everything you need in terms of both potential trips
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warlord
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« Reply #4 on: January 24, 2018, 06:52:24 pm »

  So this is still an option for my next trip (if flights for the Albania trip I posted are more).

  I would probably be going from Belgrade to Ulcinj  then to Budva and flying out of Podgorcia (skipping Bar).

  So with what you stated about really nothing big in between, I'd probably just opt for the day train if possible.  My question is with the actual train itself.  How safe is it to leave your bag while you go to the toilet?  I've never gone on a train more than a few hours so I've never had to carry luggage that long of a distance before.  What about eating/drinking cars, what does one do with their luggage so that it's safe on the train? 

  I think I've just heard the usual horror stories and wasn't quite sure how this would be for a long train trip?

 
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tUt
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« Reply #5 on: January 26, 2018, 02:39:05 am »

I would probably be going from Belgrade to Ulcinj  then to Budva and flying out of Podgorcia (skipping Bar).
Bar is for sure not the most interesting place out there (unless you want to see major port and some military ships). Budva is for the beach, right? Then would suggest to spare half a day for a side trip to Kotor (it's only 20 km away) + there is always mentioned earlier Sveti Stefan, which is even closer. So in case you get bored at the beach, just hop on the bus and make a couple hour trip.
So with what you stated about really nothing big in between, I'd probably just opt for the day train if possible.
Well, it's not really nothing, but perhaps more suitable for second-third visit to the region.
How safe is it to leave your bag while you go to the toilet?  I've never gone on a train more than a few hours so I've never had to carry luggage that long of a distance before.
In case of backpack or some small bag with the most valuable belongings (passport, wallet, cellphone, etc.) you definitely need to carry it with you, while with the suitcases and other big luggage you can just put it on the baggage shelf above the seats and most likely there will be somebody else (e.g. other tourists) in your compartment, so it will kind of ensure that nobody from outside will mess with your luggage.
What about eating/drinking cars, what does one do with their luggage so that it's safe on the train? 
It's kind of the same story as with the toilet, at least never seen anybody take the big luggage with them when going to eat. Imho, just see what kind of neighbors you have and then decide on whether to ask them to watch your things while you're gone or better not to risk it. Plus, I wouldn't be 100% sure that there will be a dining car on the train. It suppose to be present, but it's Serbia, thus you can't be totally certain, so anyway it's better to have some snack & water with you (just in case).

I think I've just heard the usual horror stories and wasn't quite sure how this would be for a long train trip?
Yep, but nowadays one should be careful pretty much anywhere, even in presumably safe Western Europe, so general precautions are the best choice here.
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warlord
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« Reply #6 on: January 26, 2018, 06:21:20 pm »

Ok thanks for the information.  I may end up doing this trip still, but looking more like I'll be doing Macedonia and Albania instead.

Yes in Budva I will definitely be going to Kotor and also Sveti Stefan since I'd be staying in Budva for a few days.

I'll have a backpack with locks on it so hopefully that will be fine.  Just figured since I'd bring wine on the train, I may have to leave the compartment often to go to the bathroom, so that's why I was curious about that.  And thanks for mentioning the trains are all compartments and not just seats then.  A long train ride, but as you said and as I've read elsewhere, the best route to probably take in all of Europe so I wouldn't want to miss out on doing this...
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warlord
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« Reply #7 on: January 29, 2019, 07:55:28 pm »

UPDATE:

  Ok due to pricing of my other options and connection times with Turkish Air, I've booked my trip for this now.  So will have a few days in Belgrade and then take the overnight train to Bar and then hopefully a bus right to Budva where I'll then spend 4-5 days there before heading over to Dubrovnik as the flights were cheaper than Podgorcia.  That way I can spend 3 or so nights there for this trip.

  So we've talked about the train already, and I assume I can book a sleeper car ahead of time then from Belgrade to Bar?  I've done trains for 4-5 hour stretches before around Europe, but never done an over night (except once in Egypt decades ago), so not exactly sure how it works with security of luggage and if you get your own area or if you share the area with others as I'm a solo traveler.

  For Montenegro.  Would it make it easier to stay in Ulcinj instead for a few nights and then up to Budva?  Though it would be having to split 4-5 days between the two and not sure which would be best.

Thanks again...
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tUt
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« Reply #8 on: January 31, 2019, 10:05:49 pm »

So we've talked about the train already, and I assume I can book a sleeper car ahead of time then from Belgrade to Bar?
Well, it used to be possible to purchase Belgrade-Bar tickets online using (somewhat odd) page on the Serbian railways website, however checked it now and it seems that such tickets are not available anymore. Pity, but it's the Balkans, so nothing unusual here ))) So it's either buying at the station (shouldn't be a problem in terms of availability since you'll spend a few days in Belgrade and can stop by the ticket counter in advance) or using some agency (makes sense only if it's super high season during the summer). 
I've done trains for 4-5 hour stretches before around Europe, but never done an over night (except once in Egypt decades ago), so not exactly sure how it works with security of luggage and if you get your own area or if you share the area with others as I'm a solo traveler.
With the security it's the same story as we discussed earlier for the daytime train (see the older post), compartment can be locked from the inside + you can always make some sort of additional lock/alarm system yourself. While with the compartment you actually have a choice - you can either purchase 1st class ticket (31,8 euro for Belgrade-Bar) along with the single sleeper (45 euro) reservation (this way you'll have the whole compartment only for yourself) or potentially share the compartment with one (double sleeper reservation cost 20 euro) or two other passengers (T3 reservation is 15 euro), 2nd class ticket needed for these latter options is 21 euro. As you can see, it's the price difference between roughly 40 euro (2nd class ticket + 3 bed sleeper) and 75 euro (1st class ticket and single bed sleeper reservation)

Also keep in mind that due to the closure of the old Belgrade train station, trains to Bar nowadays depart from a minor station called Topčider which is not as centrally located

Would it make it easier to stay in Ulcinj instead for a few nights and then up to Budva? Though it would be having to split 4-5 days between the two and not sure which would be best.
Hmm... Ulcinj is in the opposite direction if we take Bar as your starting point, so not sure it makes sense to split your stay this way. Instead you can either drop your luggage in Bar when you arrive by train and simply take a couple hour trip to see Ulcinj (which is only 30 km away), then come back to Bar the same day, pick up your luggage and go to Budva to your hotel. Or, as an alternative, just visit Ulcinj on a separate as a daytrip from Budva (at the end it's only 60 km one way). The answer can also depend on the hotel, meaning that if you'll find much cheaper hotel in one place, thus making it financially worthy to split or not your stay 
« Last Edit: January 31, 2019, 10:10:24 pm by tUt » Logged
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warlord
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« Reply #9 on: February 06, 2019, 06:23:20 pm »

  Ok, looks like I may get the €75 for the 1st class ticket and single bed sleeper reservation.  I hear there is a man that many people recommend they can get to get the reservations for you and he meets you at the station and gives you the tickets and informs you of anything you have questions on.  Seen many people talk about it on various forums so that might be an option rather than trying to get over to Topčider the day after I arrive, as you said, it's a little ways out there now.

  Already have booked the hotel in Budva for the entire time as others recommended doing that.

  Figure the best option then would be once I get to bar off the train, there are several buses all day that go to Budva, and I would just store my backpack if possible and see Bar that way and just skip Ulcinj.  I don't know if it would be worth it going to see it from Budva as when I'm there it seems there are very limited direct buses and I would have to split the trip going to Bar again and taking another bus to Ulcinj.  At least if I do that, there I have the option of the direct bus back.  But as others have told me, there would be better things to spend my time doing than Ulcinj for a day trip from Budva...
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tUt
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« Reply #10 on: February 07, 2019, 10:31:06 pm »

Ok, looks like I may get the €75 for the 1st class ticket and single bed sleeper reservation.  I hear there is a man that many people recommend they can get to get the reservations for you and he meets you at the station and gives you the tickets and informs you of anything you have questions on.  Seen many people talk about it on various forums so that might be an option rather than trying to get over to Topčider the day after I arrive, as you said, it's a little ways out there now.
It is an option, just remember to be careful with such "private" intermediaries ;)
Already have booked the hotel in Budva for the entire time as others recommended doing that.
Well, Budva is considered to be the resort/party capital with the best choice of hotels and so on, so it's a smart decision.
But as others have told me, there would be better things to spend my time doing than Ulcinj for a day trip from Budva...
Totally true, starting with Kotor & Sveti Stefan
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« Reply #11 on: February 08, 2019, 06:08:12 pm »

  Petrovac I also hear is worth a visit and if the Summer bus is running to Sveti Stefan, that might also be an option.

  Just was informed by someone in Belgrade that the Central Train station is permanently closed and they haven't really started on the new station (which isn't centrally located anymore either).  So anyone wishing right now to get to Novi Sad, or Budapest from Belgrade now has to take a bus to Novi Sad and then use the train (if going to Budapest).  Topčider is still having the Bar train which is good.

  Also hear I can get the train tickets at the Belgrade Centar Prokop bus station for the over night train.  Might just do that the day after I arrive (Thurs) for the Sunday night train.  Hopefully that will be enough in advance to get a single sleeping compartment...
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