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Which Is the more scenic train: Zagreb to Vienna or Ljubljana to Vienna

Hello, I am seeking advice on which train to book, Zagreb to Vienna or Ljubljana to Vienna, based on which is the most scenic route. There is no direct train from either city to Vienna in the morning, so each route would have a minimum of 1 stop. (I need to arrive in Vienna by 15:00). The Zagreb to Vienna route takes 7 Hr 57 min, with a 1 Hr, 4 min stopover in Graz Hbf. before continuing on to Vienna. The cost is $70 Non flex and $16.50 to upgrade. The Ljubljana to Vienna route is about the same timeframe, but I would have a 2 hour layover at Villach, which makes the total trip length 8 hr, 12 minutes. This trip is slightly less expensive than the first route. I had to book these trips with the longer stopovers, otherwise there would only be 4 minutes or 7 minutes to make the transfer to the second train. I could always take the bus at a cheaper cost and less fuss, but generally the routes are not as scenic. Can anyone advise?

Posted by
6656 posts

I'd say it depends on if you plan to be in Ljubljana or Zagreb.

Normally there is a daily direct train from Ljubljana to Vienna. And I'm not saying Graz or Villach are boring places not worth visiting, but why are you adding extra time there? Why not just book the options with a 4 or 7 minute transfer?

Posted by
20457 posts

There is no direct train from either city to Vienna,

There is a direct train from Ljubljana to Vienna, EC 150, dep 16:05, arriving 22:02, so it is 6 hours. It takes the same route as the Zagreb connection via Graz.

Posted by
2119 posts

If you are travelling Zagreb to Vienna you should book a ticket Zagreb to Vienna. You have two good options. One goes via Ljubljana and Villach, the other via Graz. Both will be scenic. Both offer efficient short connections.

You should not spit this journey, or add unneeded layovers. Do you really want to spend two very boring hours in Villach?

No. I would just book the morning train via Graz. And don't mind the 4 minutes connection. That is 3 minutes more than you need, as all you do is step of one train, walk a few meters, and step on another. And if the train is delayed, and you miss your connection you just take the next train. From Graz to Vienna they should be very hour.

Posted by
2119 posts

One note about that short transfer in Graz: Until last year there was a direct train, EC 158, that ran from Zagreb to Vienna via Graz. This year this train is run in two sections, D158 from Zagreb to Graz, and IC 358 from Graz to Vienna. I would expect the IC 358 to just wait in Graz for the D158 if that train is not to much delayed, and otherwise, well you just take the next train from Graz to Vienna in that case.

Posted by
3 posts

To WengenK

Is the train station in Graz very small? 4 minutes is not a lot of time with luggage to carry. Is there only the one train leaving? How can I tell which train is going to Vienna (Wien) at Graz if there are multiple trains? I don't speak/read Croatian or German, just English and Latin Spanish. Sorry to be such a dork, but I am not very familiar with how to read the train information or identify the train. We don't have passenger trains where I live. I know from past experience finding the right train can be confusing. Do I need to book ahead? If I do buy a refundable ticket ahead, but I don't make the next train (4 minute connection), do I have to find an office to exchange the ticket for a later train? Which route is more scenic, via Villach or Graz... or about the same?

Posted by
3 posts

To Badger,

Yes, I think there is a direct train, but it arrives too late. I really need to be in Vienna by 15:00-15:30. Which train station is smaller and easier to navigate Villach or Graz? I don't speak/read the language, so how can I tell which train will go to Vienna at these small stations? Is there only one train leaving? Where are the markings on the train that identify it?

Posted by
2119 posts

You are worrying to much about this.

If you want to go from Zagreb to Vienna book Zagreb to Vienna, and take the route the railways offer you.
What you will be buying is not a ticket for trains D158 and IC 358. What you will be buying is a ticket for the route Zagreb to Vienna.

In Graz the trains will be on opposite sides of the same platform. So you just get off one, and on another. And the train conductor of IC 358 will not let his train leave until everyone has made the transfer. Such a 4 minutes transfer is a reason to be happy, not a reason to worry.
But if D158 is late, which happens (and which is probably the reason they split the train this year) then what you do when you arrive in Graz is just take the next train to Vienna, which is an hour later. You do not need to do anything special take that other train. Just find it and get on. And that even with a non refundable, discounted ticket. Again: You do not have a ticket for a train, you have a ticket for a route.

You will quickly discover that train travel is several orders of magnitude less complicated than you imagine it to be. Announcements on the train will usually at least include announcements in English, and you can always ask someone. And there are displays at the station, on the platforms etc...
In your case you will be looking for the train to Graz in Zagreb, and "Wien" in Graz.

Don't overthink this. This is Austria. Where the railways are still run as a railway.

Posted by
2119 posts

And I would definitely go for the direct Zagreb - Graz train, because trains are not that frequent in Croatia or Slovenia, but are in Austria. So once you are in Graz you are in a place with frequent trains to Vienna, and thus do not have to worry to much about the rest of the journey.

Posted by
5450 posts

I travel between Zagreb and Vienna at least once a month. The best way is Flixbus, which takes about 4.5 hours and costs about 25 Euro. The trains in Croatia are terrible and underdeveloped.

Posted by
2119 posts

And Flixbus, with is habit of cherry picking the good routes, is one of the reasons why railways struggle...

Which is why you will not see me on one of their buses.

Posted by
6656 posts

I don't speak/read the language, so how can I tell which train will go
to Vienna at these small stations?

It's the one where the signs on the train and on the platform says Wien.

Posted by
5450 posts

If Croatia could get its act together with train service, then I’m sure just about everyone on those buses would take a train. It’s a chicken and egg situation, me thinks. But when I go to Zagreb (routinely for work, so $ is not an issue), I take the bus because 4.5 hours vs. 8-9 hours…

Posted by
1 posts

The info on this chat is very helpful.

Question: If I purchase a europass, do I still need to "reserve" a ticket in advance from Zagreb to Vienna or do I just hop on? How do I use my europass to book this trip.

Thanks in advance

Posted by
6704 posts

@hjexploring- you can easily check on whether you need reservations on any route (and then make them on line) when using eurail here- https://www.eurail.com/en/plan-your-trip/eurail-timetable?

The short answer is no on either of the day trains from Zagreb to Vienna via Villach at 0705 and 1250(arrive 1402 and 2136) but you can make them if you wish to, so you can just hop on the train if you want.

Posted by
11 posts

We took the train from Vienna to Graz, stayed there a few days and then took the Flix bus to Zagreb. Stayed a few days and rented a car to drive to Slovenia.

It worked well for us, however, we didn’t have time limitations.