I love trains, but the train network in the Balkans is not very good. Trains are slow with frequent delays. Locals prefer to take buses that are quicker and more convenient. The train from Belgrade to Bar takes 11 hours for the 321 kilometer long journey.
However, the nostalgic train from Belgrade in Serbia to Bar in Montenegro winds through spectacular mountains. People say it is the most beautiful train journey in Europe.
How to book the trainticket?
We looked everywhere, but came to the conclusion that it was impossible to book the ticket online, except by contacting a certain mister Popovic. It was summer and we ware scared that the train might be full, so I sent an e-mail. I didn’t hear from him for weeks when I got instructions to send my credit card details in seperate e-mails.
Obviously I was skeptic, but internet sources assured me of his trustworthiness. The next e-mail told me we could pick up our tickets at a kiosk near the station at a certain time the day before our departure. We never saw the mysterious mister Popovic, but the small kiosk selling sigarettes and snacks indeed had an envelope with the tickets. Everything was in order and we even got a free upgrade to the first class.
The train from Belgrade to Bar
The day of my journey it was another warm day in Belgrade with temperatures rising above forty degrees Celsius. But, I was not concerned with my first class tickets that promised me fluffy seats in an airconditioned coupé. We bought drinks and delicious Serbian cheese pita’s and we were set to go.
Europe’s most beautiful train ride?
Was it really Europe’s most beautiful train ride? Let me start with saying that being stuck on a train that frequently broke down and whose airconditioning kept going on and off during a heat wave does not make for a pleasant journey.
But then, comfort was not the reason I took the train in the first place. Tito opened the line in 1976 and used it to travel accross the Dinaric Alps to Montenegro’s coast. The railway crosses 435 bridges and passes through 254 tunnels. The old trains are still being used and even the first class is no fancy affair.
For some, the train still offers the most affordable way to get from Belgrade to Bar, even though the train takes its sweet time. 11 hours if you are lucky, but more if the train breaks down. My fellow passengers told me this was a common occurence when we were once more standing still in the middle of Serbian farmlands.
By the time we reached the most spectacular part in Montenegro the sun was already setting behind the mountains. We reached Podgorica by nightfall and I felt I had to leave the train before the real show began.
Tips for the train from Belgrade to Bar
The train from Belgrade to Bar runs twice a day. The Tara leaves at 09:21 from Belgrade to Bar and 08:20 from Bar to Belgrade. The nighttrain Lovcen leaves from Belgrade to Bar at 21:21 and from Bar to Belgrade at 19:00. Check the man in seat61 for the most recent timetables.
Tickets cost 21 euro one way. For the nighttrain you should add 6 euro for a reservation in a couchette. To book them online through mister Popovic from Wasteels agency email: email@example.com
From the 1st of July 2018 trains are no longer leaving from Belgrade central train station but from the historic Topcider train station south of the city centre (tramline 3)
The best scenery on the train from Belgrade to Bar is in Montenegro. Therefore I can recommend you to take the train from Bar to Belgrade. Alternatively, you can take the nighttrain from Belgrade to Bar in which case you get the best scenery once you wake up.
The daytrains are a long and hot journey in the summer. If you want to break up your trip kathmanduandbeyond offer some interesting ideas where to stop along the way.
To read more about everything there is to see and do in the great city of Belgrade, please read my post about Belgrade.
Ellis is a travelblogger from the Netherlands with over 20 years of experience as an independent budget traveller in more than 50 countries. She has a Master degree in Cultural Anthropology and Global Health with a specialization in South Asian cultures and the Caucasus.