How would I travel from Istanbul to Croatia? What city would be the easiest to get to in Croatia?

I would like to travel from Istanbul to Croatia by train; which city is the easiest to get to via train? Which pass would I need? How long is the ride on such route?
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  • The largest, and most easily accessible city in Croatia is Zagreb. The most direct route from Istanbul to Zagreb takes 32 hours and requires a change of train in Beograd. The journey will require a combination of 2 rail passes—The Balkan Flexipass & The Eurail Croatia Pass. Information on the Balkan Flexipass may be found at http://goo.gl/aihb and information on the Eurail Croatia Pass may be found at http://goo.gl/EsTNj.

    Reservations for the trains from Istanbul to Beograd and Beograd to Zagreb may be made through our contact center. You may call us at 888-438-7245, and one of our travel consultants will be able to assist in booking the reservations.
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  • Jeff (Official Rep) November 26, 2014 16:46
    Update Follow-up:

    The direct trains from Istanbul to Belgrade are no longer operating, and the best connection from Istanbul to Zagreb would now no longer involve going through Belgrade en route.

    The most feasible connection from Istanbul to Zagreb would involve at least 3 changes en route; once in Kapikule, once in Sofia, and then once in Budapest. The segment from Istanbul to Kapikule would actually be a bus, and the train from Sofia to Budapest is a new service that will begin operating this December.

    Generally, you would be able to check schedules and purchase tickets under 'Find Fares & Schedules' on our homepage; however, tickets for the bus from Istanbul to Kapikule and the trains from Kapikule to Sofia and Sofia to Budapest are not able to be viewed or booked there at this time. Instead, tickets for these segments would have to be purchased by calling us at 1-800-622-8600.

    In the meantime, ticket costs and schedules for the train from Budapest to Zagreb could be checked under 'Find Fares & Schedules' on our homepage.

    Generally, the trains that would comprise of the connection from Istanbul to Zagreb can only be booked within 60 days of an intended date of departure. Recently, the train from Budapest to Zagreb has only been able to be booked within 30 days of a departure, even though this train generally should be able to be booked within 60 to 90 days.

    As far as rail passes go, the only single rail pass that would cover this full route is the Eurail Global Pass. Otherwise, you could purchase a ticket for the bus from Istanbul to Kapikule, in combination with a Eurail Select Pass for Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary, and Croatia (the Eurail Select Pass is a pass that covers 4 bordering countries of your choosing, and the new train from Sofia to Budapest passes through Romania en route).
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  • Is the previous post, dated 6 months ago, still relevant? We are also looking for a route from Istanbul to Zagreb (or anywhere in Croatia).

    Thanks in advance
    • Jeff (Official Rep) June 03, 2015 15:30
      Hi Thomas.

      This connection has now undergone even more changes, as the direct night train (the Balkan Express) between Kapikule and Sofia appears to no longer be operating. It may be due to construction or else it may be that this service has been discontinued entirely. In any case, it does alter the connection a bit.

      Currently, without overnighting somewhere along the way, the direct connection from Istanbul to Zagreb would take about 45 hours in duration. It involves at 5 changes en route; once in either Halkali or Cerkezköy, once in Kapikule, then once in Plovdiv, once in Sofia, and then once in Belgrade. The segment from Istanbul to Halkali or Cerkezköy would be by bus.

      Tickets for the segments from Istanbul to Kapikule (including the bus from Istanbul to Halkali or Cerkezköy) and Kapikule to Plovdiv are only able to be purchased locally in Europe. It is not possible for these tickets to be purchased anywhere outside of Europe. With that being the case, the schedules for these segments would not be able to be viewed on our website. The segments from Plovdiv to Sofia and Sofia to Belgrade (Nušić night train) are also not able to be viewed on our website, but we may still be able to issue tickets for these segments if you call us. We can be reached at 1-800-622-8600.

      Tickets for the trains from Belgrade to Zagreb (Alpine Pearls train) can be purchased by clicking on ‘Find Fares & Schedules’ on our homepage and entering the route.

      Generally, the trains that would comprise of the connection from Istanbul to Zagreb can only be booked within 60 days of an intended date of departure.

      Unlike the option described 6 months ago (via Budapest), the full route of the option I just described (via Belgrade) can be covered by both a Eurail Global Pass and a Eurail Select Pass. The Eurail Select Pass to cover this route would include Turkey, Bulgaria, ‘Montenegro/Serbia’, and ‘Croatia/Slovenia’ (Montenegro and Serbia are counted together as one country for the purpose of rail passes, as are Croatia and Slovenia.)

      You would purchase the Eurail Global Pass here: http://www.raileurope.com/rail-tickets-passes/eurail-global-pass/index.html.

      You would purchase the Eurail Select Pass here: http://www.raileurope.com/rail-tickets-passes/eurail-select-pass/index.html.

      With a rail pass, the trains that comprise of this connection would all still require reservations. Like the tickets, however, passholder reservations can only be purchased locally in Europe for the segments from Istanbul to Kapikule and Kapikule to Plovdiv. We may be able to reserve the trains from Plovdiv to Sofia and Sofia to Belgrade if you call us, but it might be the case that these reservations also would have to be purchased locally. Passholder reservations for the train from Belgrade to Zagreb can be purchased by calling us.
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