October 9, 2019 - How to travel between the Slovenian and Croatian capitals? All you ever needed to know about travelling from Ljubljana to Zagreb and vice versa.
Both the Slovenian and Croatian capitals are growing in popularity, and the good news is that there are many options to get from one to the other. An overview of options:
Ljubljana to Zagreb by car
Many people travel between the two capitals by car, and the direct motorway route is simple enough, a distance of about 140 km. The border crossing is at Bregana. Actual driving time is about 1 hour 45, but you advised to allow extra time for the border crossing, especially in season. There are webcams at many border crossings (see below) so you can see what awaits. Be aware that if you travel on a Slovenian motorway, you MUST purchase a vignette, available from petrol stations and locations. The minimum cost is 15 euro for a 7-day vignette. And if you think that is expensive, try not buying one and you will find fines in the region of 300 euro. There is also a small toll to pay on the Croatian motorways (under 2 euro). It should be noted that Croatia is not yet in the Euro zone, and Croatian kuna is the local currency, although you can pay by card or in euro at the toll.
And if you do buy the vignette, you might want to check out one of my favourite niche articles, which has proved surprisingly popular - How to Remove a Slovenian Vignette from Your Windscreen.
You can track the latest traffic and border news in English here.
With or without a vignette?
But if you want to save those precious 15 euro, you can...
Here’s a story about driving in Slovenia without a vignette. You can use Google Maps (route options) to choose a route without highways and tolls (but note catching tourists without a vignette who take a wrong turn is a sport for police near the border).
Learn more in How to Drive Across Slovenia Without Buying a Vignette.
Car rental options
There are many international car rental companies, as you would expect. As both countries are now in the EU, there are no particular complications, and one-way drive is a common practice.
Slovenia, Croatia and Schengen
While both Slovenia and Croatia are in the EU and so there are no customs issue, they are separated by a manned border, at least for now. This is because Croatia is not yet in the Schengen zone (at time of writing - end of 2019), although its entry is getting closer. The latest estimates put entry date at 2021.
While the Schengen border is a pain for now and brings additional travel time, it is also an important way of life for many non-EU travellers who are on a 90-day Schengen visa. Lots of them come to Croatia and stay until they can go back, and there are frequent forum posts asking whether or not the passport gets stamped at the Croatian - Slovenian border. The answer is almost always at the main crossings, such as Bregana, not always at smaller crossings (unless you request it).
Crossing the border between Croatia and Slovenia - what you need to know
With no customs checks, the process of changing countries should be fairly quick, but the external Schengen border slows things down (this border should disappear once Croatia joins the zone). But expect delays in season, for this is a VERY popular route to the Adriatic coast, and you can find yourself stuck for an hour or two in queues if you don't plan ahead.
In order to make things easier if you want to plan ahead, we have prepared a map of all the border crossings, details of webcams and lots of insider tips in our special guide to crossing the border from Slovenia to Croatia.
Ljubljana to Zagreb private transfer
Nothing quite beats the experience of having someone else worry about all the driving while you relax and enjoy the view, and if you are looking for a private transfer, look no further than Octopus Transfers, whose rapidly expanding regional network is known for its great service, modern fleet and professionalism.
Ljubljana to Zagreb by train
There are four direct trains a day, five in the summer and winter seasons. It takes a little under 2.5 hours. The timetable is here.
Bus travel between Ljubljana and Zagreb
There are almost 30 buses, including night buses, all of which go from the bus terminal in front of the train station. The prices are around 10 euros, and they run from 03:45 to 23:45 (LJ to ZG). Travel time is from 1.5 hours to 3hr 15min, with the average being 2.5 hrs. The website has a warning on delays at the border.
Timetable from Ljubljana to Zagreb is here.
Timetable from Zagreb to Ljubljana is here.
Flights from Ljubljana to Zagreb
There are no flights between the two cities - the distance is too short.
How to get from Ljubljana Airport to Ljubljana for onward travel to Zagreb
Many tourists use Ljubljana Airport as an access point to Zagreb, and the quickest and easiest way from the Slovenian airport to the Croatian capital is by private transfer.
For those on a budget, however, a trip into Ljubljana is required. Here is all you need to know about getting into town.
From Zagreb Airport to Zagreb for onward travel to Ljubljana
Similarly, from Zagreb Airport, our Total Croatia Zagreb Airport guide can help you into town and then onwards to Ljubljana.
And now that you have arrived at your destination, what to do next?
Here are 25 things to know about Ljubljana.
And the Total Croatia Zagreb in a Page guide.