For travellers combining a trip throughout Central Europe with some time in the Balkans, going from Ljubljana to Zagreb is one of the most common ways to connect between these two regions. While Croatia joined the European Union in 2013 (Slovenia joined in 2004), they are still not apart of the Schengen agreement meaning there is a physical border present between these countries. Nevertheless travelling from Ljubljana to Zagreb as well as going back the other way from Zagreb to Ljubljana is a very straightforward journey that can be completed using a few different transport options.
If you’re planning on travelling between Slovenia & Croatia in the near future, here’s everything you need to know about getting between their two respective capital cities.
How to Go from Ljubljana to Zagreb
There are four main modes of transport to get from Ljubljana to Zagreb: bus, train, car or transfer.
Ljubljana to Zagreb Bus
Despite there being over 25 buses daily that go between the two capital cities, it’s not completely straightforward to buy them. The reason is that there are a number of bus companies that operate this route and they aren’t all on the same ticket system.
You’ll be able to find most of the regional bus companies such as Crjna Tours (Croatian bus company) & Nomago (Slovenian bus company) on one system and then FlixBus (German company that is rapidly expanding over Europe) on another system.
You can book tickets on either of these systems by heading to Ljubljana Bus Station. If you go to the ticket booth and tell the staff what time you want to leave they’ll be able to advise on the most convenient route for you. It’s worth keeping in mind that the lines can get quite long, particularly in the morning when many buses depart. Therefore, it’s best to either head to the bus station a day before to book tickets or you can book them online.
For the regional companies, it’s best to head to the Omio website and view the latest timetables and prices there. Omio also advises which tickets are eligible for a mobile ticket or whether you’ll be required to print them out. For FlixBus, you can view the schedules here. Flixbus doesn’t require you to print out the tickets and you can simply show them on your mobile.
Regardless of which bus company you choose, the journey from Ljubljana to Zagreb by bus is very straightforward. The Ljubljana bus station is right next to the train station and the platforms are clearly marked with the journey time being approximately 2.5 hours.
When you arrive at the Slovenian border, you’ll be asked to get off the bus and go through passport control. You’ll then get back on the bus, drive a few hundred metres to the Croatian side of the border and get out again to clear Croatian immigration. There is no need to pick up your bags from the bus which was a nice change from some of the borders we crossed in the Caucasus region such as Azerbaijan to Georgia or Georgia to Armenia!
From the Croatian border, it’s only about another 30 minutes to Zagreb where you’ll get dropped off at the main bus station. The Zagreb bus station is located close to the centre of town but depending on where you’re staying, you might need to use public transport or take a taxi.
A 30-minute tram or bus ticket in Zagreb costs 4 kunas (about €0.50) and can be bought prior to boarding from the kiosks on the street. Alternatively, many popular taxi apps are available in Zagreb such as Uber & Bolt which is a great way to ensure you get a fair rate for wherever you’re travelling to.
If you’re travelling in the other direction from Zagreb to Ljubljana, the above still holds true and you can buy tickets in the same way. Ljubljana Bus Station is quite central and chances are you’ll be able to walk to wherever you’re staying. Otherwise, there is a local taxi app called Hopin Taxi that is available to use or you can get a taxi from the rank near the bus station – just make sure the meter is running!
Ljubljana to Zagreb Train
If you prefer not to take the bus, there is also the option to take the train from Ljubljana to Zagreb. Unfortunately for train lovers, there are only currently 4 direct trains per day so you don’t have as much convenience as if you were taking the bus.
At the time of writing the trains leave Ljubljana at 6:20, 8:25, 14:45 & 18:36, taking approximately 2 hours and 15 minutes to arrive in Zagreb. When taking the train, you don’t need to get off at the border crossing and instead immigration officers will board the train and take your passport. Going in the other direction from Zagreb to Ljubljana, the trains currently depart at 7:00, 12:36, 18:38 & 21:20. You can check the latest schedules here.
Both Ljubljana & Zagreb train stations are also centrally located and close to the bus stations so you can use the same options to get to your accommodation as you would from the bus station.
Ljubljana to Zagreb by Car
Driving from Ljubljana to Zagreb is a great option for travellers looking to drive down the Croatian coast and explore Croatia by car.
As both Slovenia & Croatia are now in the European Union, most car rental companies will allow you to drive between these two destinations without any additional charge. However, you should make sure to read the terms and conditions of your rental when picking up.
Despite the fact that you might be allowed to drive between the two countries, it might turn out to be cheaper to pick up a rental car in Zagreb if you’re primarily only planning on driving in Croatia. To find the best deal on car rentals, we highly recommend browsing Rentalcars.Com as they aggregate results all the major companies allowing you to easily find the best deal.
Don’t forget to also take out an excess insurance policy from a company like iCarHireInsurance to ensure you don’t need to pay any deductibles in the event of having to make a claim.
Ljubljana to Zagreb Transfer
A final option that travellers can take to get from Ljubljana to Zagreb is to organise a transfer. While this doesn’t make a lot of financial sense if travelling from and to the city centre, this can be a good option if you wish to go directly from Ljubljana Airport to Zagreb or alternatively Zagreb Airport to Ljubljana.
GoOpti organises several shuttle services daily along these routes that allow you to travel in a shared minivan to your destination. This is a much quicker and affordable option if you’re travelling to or from the airport then having to first go to the city centre. Click here to view schedules and prices
Where to Stay in Zagreb
Hostel Mali Mrak — One of the best hostels to stay in during your visit to the Croatian capital, it’s perfect for solo travellers and if you’re looking to meet other people. Located in a residential neighbourhood, they offer both dorm and private rooms and plenty of common facilities such as a kitchen and common room. Click here to see their latest prices
Casablanca Boutique B&B — A boutique hotel located in the centre of Zagreb that offers a range of private rooms suitable for couples, solo travellers or if travelling with a child. Breakfast is included daily and guests can also access shared kitchen facilities. Click here to see their latest prices
Airbnb — Airbnb is a fantastic option if you’re travelling on a budget to Zagreb. There are many properties available in Zagreb, ranging from private rooms in a local’s house to your own apartment such as this great place located in the centre of town. If you’re new to Airbnb, you can click here to get up $40 off your first stay!
Not quite what you’re looking for? Click here to browse other options in Zagreb
Where to Stay in Ljubljana
If you’re travelling from Zagreb to Ljubljana instead, here are some places to stay in the Slovene capital.
Hostel Celica — Located in a renovated prison, this is one of the best places to stay for backpackers and budget travellers. They offer private and dorm rooms with the staff constantly organising events and happy to provide local tips for what to do in the city. Click here to check their availability
Adora Hotel — A family-run boutique hotel located in the heart of the city. They have private rooms suitable for couples and families with breakfast included in the daily rate. Click here to check their availability
City Hotel Ljubljana — Another good hotel option in the centre of Ljubljana offering a huge range of private rooms. There is a restaurant and bar on-site with breakfast also included in the nightly price. Click here to check their availability
Not quite what you’re looking for? Click here to browse more Ljubljana hotels!
Travelling from Ljubljana to Zagreb is a fairly straightforward journey with plenty of transport options being available for travellers to choose from.
When travelling in the Balkans, it’s always a good idea to make sure you have a travel insurance policy so you’re covered for any unfortunate events! We like WorldNomads and always use them for our trips – click here to get a quote from WorldNomads
Are you travelling between the Slovenian & Croatian capitals soon? Have you been recently? Let us know in the comments below!