If you read this blog with any regularity, you know that I’m a big fan of traveling overland whenever possible. That’s why when I heard it was possible to travel from Venice, Italy to Ljubljana, Slovenia without flying, I jumped at the opportunity.
Since I first wrote this post, several more direct—but less scenic—ways to travel overland from Venice to Slovenia have come into existence. I’ll be writing about them in a few paragraphs, and you can click through the table of contents to be taken to them directly.
Historically, the overland journey from Venice to Slovenia was beautiful, but somewhat convoluted. It wasn’t until after taking two trains, an antique tram, a cross-border taxi ride, another train that you arrive. Regardless of which of these options you choose, here’s how to plan your trip.
Venice to Slovenia: The Direct Way
The bad news? The train from Venice to Slovenia isn’t completely direct—you do need to change in the city of Trieste. The good news? This is an easy transfer, since you can take any of the several day trains from Venice to Trieste, then take one of the twice-daily trains from Trieste to Ljubljana, which leave at 19:07 every day, with an additional departure at 9:01 Monday-Friday.
If the Venice to Slovenia train doesn’t appeal to you, you can also make this journey by bus. Search schedules and buy tickets online using services like Flixbus (from which I do not earn a commission—it’s just a suggestion, and one of many services!)
The Long Way from Venice to Slovenia
Venice to Trieste
If you travel the way I did back in 2012, first step from traveling overland from Italy to Slovenia is getting from Venice to the city of Trieste, the closest major Italian city to the Slovenian border. Actually, it’s the second step. Allow me to explain.
The railway station that serves the “island” part of Venice, where you’re almost certainly staying, is Santa Lucia. Local “slow” trains operate direct to Trieste from Venice Santa Lucia, but with a travel time of nearly four hours, those didn’t interest me.
Instead, I took a local train the short 10 minutes from Santa Lucia to Mestre, the station serving “mainland” Venice, and hopped onboard a high-speed service to Trieste, which clocks in at just under two hours. The cost? Just €29 in first class, and €21 in coach.
Trieste to Villa Opacina
I made a beginner’s mistake upon arrival in Trieste: I asked an Italian person for directions to Piazza Oberdan, where the tram portion of our journey begins. I’m sure the pharmacist was well-meaning, but her directions got me lost and stressed out.
Getting to Piazza Oberdan, where you catch a tram to Villa Opicina near the Slovenian “border,” is in fact easy. Turn left out of the train station onto Via Miramare, turn slight left onto Via Carlo Ghega, then slight right onto Via Giosué Carducci.
The tram, which provides a sort-of panorama of Trieste as it rises hundreds of feet above the city toward the Slovenian frontier, takes 25 minutes to reach Villa Opicina. And the price? I have no idea; I intended to buy a ticket, but was never charged for one!
Crossing the Italy-Slovenia Border
The title of this section is a misnomer: Italy and Slovenia are both EU member nations, so the border station between the two countries in unmanned. You shouldn’t need to show your passport when you travel from Villa Opacino to the Slovenian town of Sezana.
You will, however, need to taxi a taxi, unless you want to walk 4 km that is. I was lucky enough to find a taxi waiting near Villa Opacina station in Trieste, although railway travel guru “The Man in Seat 61” says this is usually not the case.
As a precaution, he suggests you should email a request to pre-book your taxi; I did this and never received a response. My advice? Walk around until you find a taxi. Regardless of how you get your taxi to Sezana, it should cost you around €13.
Sezana to Ljubljana
By the time you board your train at Sezana station, the “hard” part of your overland journey from Italy to Slovenia is over—that wasn’t so hard, was it? Buy the €7,27 train ticket, board any Ljubljana-bound train, then sit back, relax and enjoy the amazing scenery.
The journey from Sezana to Ljubljana takes just short of two hours, or around the same distance you traveled from Venice to Trieste. What’s fascinating is just how much the landscape changes over this short distance which, to be fair, spans over half of Slovenia.
To sum it all up, you take a train from Venice Mestre to Trieste (€29), a tram from Trieste to Villa Opacina, a taxi from Villa Opacina to Sezana (€13) and then a train from Sezana to Ljubljana (€7). €50 and six hours later, you’re in Ljubljana, Slovenia! Even if you don’t travel all the way by train, Venice to Slovenia overland is easy.
Travel in the Balkans, Beyond Slovenia
After you take the train from Venice to Ljubljana, why not dig deeper into the Balkans? I love Slovenia, from the storied streets of Ljubljana, to the Alpine Lakes of Bled and Bohinj, to the caves at Postonja, to the port city of Piran, but it’s only the beginning of the underrated Balkan region.
Assuming you follow my suggestions for two weeks in the Balkans following your trip from Venice to Slovenia, you’ll start with three days in Split, Croatia, before spending 3-5 days in Bosnia and an additional 3-5 days in Dubrovnik, Croatia and Kotor, Montenegro. Finally, you’ll finish up with 3-5 days in and around Belgrade, Serbia, optionally stopping en route in Kosovo if you can stomach the bus trip.
Other FAQ About Travel from Venice to Slovenia
How do you get from Venice to Ljubljana Slovenia?
To travel from Venice to Ljubljana, Slovenia, you need to travel by train from Venice to Trieste, then take a tram up to Villa Opacina, where the border with Slovenia is. From here, you take a taxi to Sezana and a train onward to Ljubljana.
Is Slovenia near Venice?
Slovenia is not far from Venice, as the crow flies, although the process of getting there isn’t necessarily straightforward. It would take much less time if there were a direct train.
How do you get from Italy to Slovenia?
Depending on where in Italy you originate from, you can either travel by bus, train or ferry or fly to Ljubljana, which is home to the only international airport in Slovenia.
The Bottom Line
Whether you go the direct way from Venice to Slovenia or do it old school like I did many years ago, it’s easy to travel between northwestern Italy and the charming capital of Ljubljana. Ride a train or bus that connects the two cities without a transfer, or take a combination of train, funicular and taxi via Trieste, a charming Italian city near the Slovenian border. Still need help planning your trip to Europe? Consider hiring me as your Travel Coach!