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.
17 hours, 550 km
The train leaves Bar at 5pm and arrives in Belgrade next morning at 10am.
When to go
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.
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.
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?