Zagreb, Croatia’s capital city, is just 72 miles (116 km) south of Maribor, making the trip between the two fairly convenient. If you’re looking for speed, your best bet is to travel by car—rental or private transfer. The multi-lane highway, E59, links the two cities, so the journey only takes about 1.5 hours.
The highway also allows for a convenient—yet slightly longer—journey by the private bus company, Flixbus. This option takes two hours and offers several departures each day. Additionally, you can opt to take the regional train. There isn’t a direct route, so you’d have to make at least one connection in Ljubljana. The fastest option for the train will take about five hours, although most departures require multiple connections which increase the length of the trip.
Keep in mind that Slovenia is in the Schengen Zone, but Croatia is not. You will need to stop at the border and show your documents. Depending on the congestion at the time, this can take as little as a few minutes to as long as a couple of hours.
By Rental Car or Private Transfer
Duration: 1.5 hours
The quickest and most convenient way to reach Zagreb from Maribor is by rental car or private transfer. The two cities are connected by the E59 highway, which will take you almost directly south and across Croatia’s border. Note that you will need to stop at the border to show your documents, which can add time to your journey. The length of a border crossing depends on the amount of traffic, the day of the week, and the time of the year. Weekends and summer months tend to be the busiest.
Because the route mostly sticks to the highway, it doesn’t offer much in terms of scenery. However, there are a couple stopping points worth a visit. The historic, riverside town of Ptuj is a great place to take a stroll and grab a coffee. And on the Croatian side, you can try one of the most popular variations of the region’s famous cream cake in Samobor.
Croatia is known for its endless coastline, so if you have time to extend your trip further south, you might enjoy this 10-day tour.
Duration: 2 hours
The private bus company, Flixbus, offers several direct departures each day. Thanks to the E59 highway, the journey is only about two hours long. If you opt to reserve a seat, choose one on the left side of the bus so you can snag a glimpse of Ptuj’s castle.
Duration: 5+ hours
Trains are the least convenient and slowest option. There are no direct routes, meaning you have to make a connection in Ljubljana. If you opt to go straight from Maribor to Ljubljana, and then grab the next train to Zagreb, you can complete the journey in about five hours. However, many of the departures from Maribor require additional connections which add time to your trip. Note that the train also requires a border crossing, but that time is usually built into the train’s schedule.