Bar To Belgrade By Train – The Most Scenic Eastern European Train Ride

7 Posted by - September 22, 2014 - Blog, Montenegro, Nature & Outdoors, Serbia, Travel Tips

Everyone has heard about the Bergen railway, Flam railway and Glacier Express, but what about the Eastern Europe and its railway routes? One route that definitely deserves attention is the one from Bar to Belgrade, which connects the Montenegrin coast with the capital of Serbia.

Not only does this route include breathtaking mountain scenery but also the crossing of 254 tunnels and 435 bridges of which the most impressive one is Mala Rijeka viaduct- the world’s highest railway viaduct.

Here are some basic facts;

Fares and timetable

For fares and timetable click here. You’ll need to enter the stations and the date first to get the prices.

Duration

17 hours, 550 km

The train leaves Bar at 5pm and arrives in Belgrade next morning at 10am.

When to go

Summer

Points of interest

Montenegro: Lake Skadar, the highest railway viaduct at Mala Rijeka, Moraca valley

Serbia: Kumanica monastery, Lim river, Zlatibor, Belgrade

I have traveled this route in August 2014 and it was one of the most unforgettable experiences. You might want to make a reservation a day or two earlier because 3-berth compartments may be taken really fast. I’ve bought a ticket in 6-berth compartment and went to the platform. There was a column of people, many of which with children, who were moving from car to car without knowing in which one to enter. The whole mess lasted about 20-30 minutes, after which the train whistled and finally moved.

Bar train station

Bar train station

Belgrade Bar by train

6-berth compartment

Belgrade Bar by train 2

I got a bed on top which involved climbing the ladder, and there we were… a Serb, Macedonian, an Englishman and Russian in a small 6-berth compartment which was a bit claustrophobic. The temperature was high but the refreshment came almost immediately after the departure of the train. Getting a supply of food and drinks is recommended because there’s no restaurant in the train. There are a couple of restaurants and shops near the train station where you can buy things.

You may wonder why it takes 17 hours for 550 km of travel? It’s even more bizarre that in 2014 it takes 17 hours while in 1975 it just took 7 hours to reach Bar from Belgrade. Welcome to the Balkans! However, there is a reason for this. During the nineties, this railway suffered from underfunding which has resulted in the railway deteriorating. Also, this line has been the target of NATO bombing in 1999, when parts of the tracks were seriously damaged.

As soon as the train passed the tunnel Sozina which is the longest one on this route (6 km), majority of people left their compartments and stood by the windows enjoying the beautiful scenery. A train passes by lake Skadar which is splendid, before arriving in the Montenegrin capital to pick up the passengers. The most impressive moments of the journey were crossing the viaduct Mala Rijeka, as well as passing through the canyon of Moraca river.

Belgrade Bar by train 3 - Lake Skadar

Lake Skadar

Belgrade Bar by train 4

Leaving Podgorica

Belgrade Bar by train 5

Belgrade Bar by train 6

Belgrade Bar by train 7

Mala Rijeka viaduct

The passage is full of students who are talking about the exams that await them, older people who debate about politics and crying children, but they all have something in common – not taking their eyes off the beautiful landscape. I had the opportunity to meet a few Polish girls in a train, who have shared their cherry vodka with me and my friend, and made this journey even more interesting. Cherry vodka, the wind blowing your hair and amazing scenery… what else can you wish for?

Belgrade Bar by train 8

Belgrade Bar by train 9

Belgrade Bar by train 10

Belgrade Bar by train 11

Β After 175 km the train arrives at the border with Serbia, more precisely, at the border crossing Bijelo Polje. By then it’s already dark outside and everybody is back in their compartments for the passport check. Majority of people decided to sleep or have a rest, while outside there were just people who were having a smoke. Traveling through the Serbian countryside and seeing the moon shining down on isolated homes is also an unforgettable experience.

The next morning, the passage was again full of people with their heads out of the window, anxiously awaiting to see a symbol of Belgrade – Avala Tower, and to arrive in the capital.

Belgrade Bar by train 13

Slowly approaching Belgrade

Belgrade Bar by train 14

Abandoned train cars

Belgrade Bar by train 15

Final destination – Belgrade

Have you ever traveled this route before? Is there a train ride that you will never forget? Feel free to comment below.

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12 Comments

  • Agness October 5, 2014 - 6:55 am Reply

    Believe me or not, but I have not heard of Bergen railway and Flam railway. This is definitely something I gotta check out. As for the trains in Belgrade, they are very comfortable for their price. Love the view from the window a lot!

    • Zorica October 5, 2014 - 11:20 am Reply

      Thanks for the comment Agness. Definitely check them out, they are one of the most scenic train rides in Western Europe. About this route, it’s 17 hours, so buying a ticket in a sleeping car is more than recommended.

  • Linda Bibb October 20, 2014 - 5:10 pm Reply

    This came at a great time, as we’re actually considering a trip to that part of the world and we adore train travel. How did you learn about it? You have me wondering if there are any other good rail trips in the area.

    • Zorica October 21, 2014 - 3:37 pm Reply

      Hey Linda. This route is very famous in the Balkans, but I wouldn’t recommend doing it in winter. It looses its charm. About other rail trips, maybe Belgrade to Istanbul. It’s a very long journey by train, but still an adventure in itself.

  • Andy February 14, 2015 - 7:46 pm Reply

    Hi Zorica, I found your blog informative and interesting,thank you.. you even answered a question about Monte/Serbia passport control.. as an EU citizen,i would have to have passport stamped but no visa, so border police actually come on train and stamp/check passport.. query solved.Enjoy your travels..thx again.

    • Zorica February 22, 2015 - 11:13 am Reply

      Hi Andy, I’m happy you found this post helpful πŸ™‚ and yes, that’s right, you’d have your passport stamped!

  • Marie April 21, 2015 - 5:13 pm Reply

    Hello!
    I’m French and leaving tomorrow for Belgrade with a friend of mine. We’re going to take this train to Bar and spend 2 days in Montenegro, then take the train back to Belgrade (by night this time). Thank you for your post and wonderful photos, I can’t wait to be there, so excited! Do you think we have to make a reservation very early to get a 2-beth compartment for the ride back from Bar? (It’s going to be next Tuesday). My friend and I will probably go the the train station in Belgrade to buy the tickets!

    • Zorica April 24, 2015 - 7:55 am Reply

      Hi Marie! I recommend you make a reservation bit earlier just in case. I bought the ticket to Belgrade on the day of the trip and only 6-berth compartment was available. However, this is off-season so I think that won’t be the case now. Have fun and enjoy the ride! πŸ™‚

  • Marie April 21, 2015 - 5:17 pm Reply

    I forgot to ask you something, this is a stupid question but.. here it is: I’m afraid I’ll miss some beautiful landmarks (like the viaduct) because I’ll be sleeping and not knowing when during the ride we’ll get to see them… Do you see them in advance and have time to take photos? Did you get advice on the internet before your trip to know when they would “appear” etc… ? Thanks in advance πŸ˜€

    • Zorica April 24, 2015 - 8:00 am Reply

      Uh, this is a difficult question to answer πŸ™‚ I am not sure at what time the train will enter Montenegro and whether you will pass the viaduct both times during the night. If that’s the case I’m afraid it will be difficult to see it because it’s dark and there are many tunnels. Actually there’s one right after you pass the viaduct. As for the views, you can watch the viaduct for a few minutes for sure, before the train disappears again in many tunnels on this route πŸ™‚ Hope that helped!

  • Les July 23, 2015 - 1:46 pm Reply

    Hello Zorica –
    I’ve read what you’ve said about the journey in Winter … I’ve visited Montenegro and Serbia many times and travelled this route twice. But, always in the summer. Presently though I’m considering a week in Montenegro and Serbia in January travelling between Podgorica and, eventually, Beograd by train. I was thinking that the line would be very scenic at this time of year (snow ??) but perhaps I’m being a bit too optimistic !!
    What do you think ? Thank you.
    Les.

    • Zorica July 23, 2015 - 1:58 pm Reply

      Hi Les. To be honest, it could be scenic IF there is snow but if there’s not I’m afraid it would be kind of gray and with the day ending earlier I’m not sure you’ll be able to see anything (unless the train departures in the morning). The one I traveled with departed at 5pm so I’ve mostly enjoyed the views in Montenegro πŸ™‚

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