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**ALERT** Bar To Belgrade Train -Belgrade-Sofia

I took the Bar Montenegro to Belgrade train yesterday due to arrive in Belgrade at 0640 today and there are some important developments that might be helpful if you are taking this train soon.

The train DOES NOT stop at the Belgrade main train station. It stops short of downtown by at least a couple of kilometers. It drops you at a small closed station. If you speak Serbian this is not a problem as you probably got what the conductor was saying....

But here is what you do to get in to the main train station and the center of Belgrade:

Exit the train and cross the tracks, walk down the driveway and cross the street, there is a small shop and what turns out to be a tram stop (it’s not marked nor has it any indication of such) Wait by the tracks for the #3 tram that will stop directly in front of the Main Station. You will know the main station as it is a huge beautiful hulking building probably from the late 19th century and it’s all yellow and white with a big steam engine on display in front.

Now we were only going to be in Belgrade overnight to catch the train to Sofia the next day so we figured since our hotel was across the street from the Train Station no need to change money, I’d just use my card...and that would have worked with no problem except for the tram. I needed Dinar for the tram...

To get some Serbian Dinar I went in to the small shop mentioned above and bought something with euros...she wasn’t happy but did it and gave me change in Dinar...the correct change at the correct exchange rate also. In the end we never paid for the tram as we were suppposed to buy a ticket on board but no one collected.

After talking to several people about this and why this is happening it seems it is all tied up with the destruction of the nice old station which will happen in July.(this is truly a shame to lose a building like that.)

Also when we went to buy our Belgrade to Sofia tickets at the train station the lady behind the counter said that that train will only leave from this station for another TWO days.

NO ONE seems to be able to answer definitively just where the trains will leave from (or go to for that matter) after that.

Posted by
3690 posts

aarthurperry, thanks so much for this extremely detailed and helpful report about the train arrival in Belgrade. I don't have any plans to take this train ride, but it has sounded intriguing, and I was thinking about it just last week for a future trip. I would never even have considered any of these things that you had to deal with. The description on Seat61's website makes it sound so simple. Speaking of which, you might consider emailing him to let him know about your experience - maybe he can add an addendum to his description. I'll bet he will.

Other than the logistics, how was the ride? Looks incredibly scenic and fun. And despite the hassles you mention, it sounds like a bit of an adventure!

Posted by
546 posts

@Kaeleku: I think we see travel very differently. To start out with to me this was a small glitch that had us and a big family from S. Africa all laughing by the time the tram got to downtown Belgrade.

But here is the real difference: The train was fine, I had a first class cabin and was able to have a bed with a really comfortable mattress and stretch out and sleep. It was an old French or German car with those wonderful horsehair/velvet seats. We had privacy. We had sleep. We could get up and walk around and go get a coffee. We had probably one of the most jaw droppingly beautiful train trips in Europe as this train crept along the near summits of the mountains while we watched the cars and buses in the valleys 1000 feet below.

Yes we had an unexpected glitch at the end...but so what? We are still laughing and talking about it.

Now if I had only taken that modern efficient wonderful bus!....I would be trapped in a seat that makes Ryan Air look like first class on Emirates. I would be lucky if my bus driver had any sleep the night before instead of being made to work double shifts. And lets see...instead of the nice easy motion of a train I would have had the jerking-fast braking-whipping around the turns and passing in places only lunatics would consider....

For me and many others it’s about the Journey not about getting just from point A to point B. And that is where we differ.

I read Paul Theroux’s book “The Great Railway Bazaar” in 1977 as well as all his other train books. Trains ARE special. They are more about the journey. I have also rode innumerable buses around the world , in Thailand, Egypt, Guatemala, Indonesia, Europe, and west Africa. I think I have a bit to compare to...And while many of those trips were memorable for sure...some were more memorable for being terrifying than pleasant and some were just great trips.

So for me it’s about the journey, I get the impression for you it’s about what is perceived to be faster and more efficient.

By the way after that train trip we went immediately to the Main STation here in Belgrade and booked the TRAIN to Sofia.

My post was not a complaint just a heads up to those that are following me out there. Because once you know It makes it easier.

Posted by
15405 posts

According to DB, it looks like that Belgrade-Sofia train is back running for the summer (today - 9/17), so your timing worked. If you have news about that one, please report back again.

Did you pay the lady with euro coins or bills? You probably know that coins are not typically exchanged outside the area where they're used.

Posted by
546 posts

The Belgrade Sofia train will only be departing from the Main Station for two more days according to the lady at the international ticket window who sold me my ticket to Sofia in Belgrade this afternoon.

However there is general disagreement about where trains will leave from after that.

This situation seems to be fluid and a big point of contention here after talking to several locals about it. And the situation is definitely confused. If people are coming this way to take ANY train out of Belgrade they should give themselves plenty of time and expect a run-around and confusion.

I do know about the coins and I gave the lady a 20 Euro note (the smallest I had) for an ice tea. She gave me back a ten Euro note and the rest in Dinar at the official rate of exchange minus my Tea. But I would not expect to depend on her for this.

However there was also no attempt to make the train passengers pay for the tram either...

Posted by
8545 posts

aarthurperry, the unexpected can add so much richness to a trip. Its a story you will never forget.