When traveling overland, I always try to move by train if possible. When I looked into a train from Bar, on the Adriatic coast of Montenegro to Belgrade, Serbia, I learned it’s known for being one of the most of the most stunning train rides in Europe.
The historic or Belgrade to Bar train route opened in the 1970’s with former Yugoslav President Tito’s personal blessing. According to train travel guru The Man in Seat 61, the 296-mile route has 254 tunnels and 435 bridges, and passes numerous villages, churches, and plenty of breathtaking natural scenery. I was sold.
Beautiful Train Rides in Europe
Whether you travel from the Serbian capital to the Adriatic coast or the other way around, get ready for a unique ride.
Bar to Belgrade Train Info
Morning train: departs Bar 8:20 – arrives Belgrade 20:00
Night Train: departs Bar 19:00 – arrives Belgrade 6:40
Belgrade to Bar Train Info
Morning train: departs Belgrade 9:10 – arrives Bar 20:55
Night Train: departsBelgrade 21:10 – arrives Bar 8:59
As you hurtle through mountain tunnels you’ll pass sparkling green rivers, craggy creeks and endless forests. The route also crosses Skadar lake, the largest in southern Europe.
Buy Your Ticket
The train ticket costs 24 euros for a second-class seat (21 Euros for ticket, 3 Euros station tax). There are also 6-seater cars (or sleeper couchettes for the night train) and a dining car.
During July and August, buy your ticket at the train station a few days before departure. In the lower seasons you can buy it the day before or possibly the morning of departure. My train was less than half full in late May.
Prep for the Ride
This is no ICE. This is no Japanese speed train. This is old school (part of the charm, in my opinion). It’s a long, slow ride.
Here are my top tips for being comfortable:
Bring your own food. Pack a lunch and some snacks. I wouldn’t count on eating your meals from the dining car, but it’s a nice place to stop in for a soda, tea, beer, or people watching. Smoke if ya’ got em. They were out of coffee when I went in at 9am, 40 minutes after the ride began. The monsters!
Bring some water. A big bottle. 12 hours is a long time.
Bring toilet paper. And while you’re at it, some hand sanitizer. You know how train bathrooms can be.
Wear comfy clothes and layer. The 6-seater cars are climate controlled but the 2nd class car is not. In late spring, it was warm in the train but could be chilly in the tunnels, especially with the windows open.
Bring a “polako” state of mind. It’s time to settle in and trust in the journey. In the local language, samo polako means something like “relax” and polako means “slowly”. A go-with-the-flow attitude is central to the Montenegrin outlook on life. You’ll see.
Traveler’s Note: The Most WOW views were between Bar and Kolašin – roughly the first two and a half hours if you’re going north. If you’ve got kiddos or aren’t up for a long ride, you could do this shorter section and take the bus back or continue on.
On the Journey
Here is just some of the random stuff you might experience:
– Police officers coming on board and checking everything from top to bottom, but very quickly. Opening trash cans and ceiling vents and looking in all the little crevices for who knows what – drugs? contraband?
– The ticket guy warning passengers that there is a fine of 20 Euros for putting your feet on the seat.
– Despite the promise of spectacular views, don’t expect the windows to be squeaky clean. The windows in the 2nd class car were a little sad. A few motivated Germans tried unsuccessfully to clean their window and the result was even sadder. My suggestion – open the window and stand up to take pics, or move up to the 6-seater cars if they aren’t full (they were cleaner and more comfy).
-Yep, everyone moves around. The best views are on the left side going north, and the right side going wouth. So people move to get the best views, cleanest windows, have a nap in an empty row, or whenever the mood strikes. Polako.
– The train just stops randomly sometimes for ten or fifteen minutes at a time – sometimes it seems like they are probably letting train workers and customs officers on or off. At other times, it’s anyone’s guess.
When you’re in Belgrade, there is plenty to see and do. Check out this list of Things to Do in the White City.