Ride in 1960s style on the private luxury train Marshal Josip Tito used to travel around Yugoslavia.
In an unassuming railway depot south of Belgrade lies a relic of a forgotten era. Built in a time when Yugoslavia was recovering from the Second World War, this iconic blue train served to transport the country’s leaders around the different republics of Yugoslavia, and entertain foreign dignitaries so critical to the diplomatic success of the socialist nation.
The Blue Train, Marshal Josip Tito’s private train, was built with luxury in mind. Tito preferred to travel by rail, and as Yugoslavia became more prosperous in the years after the war, the train reflected the optimism and wealth of its primary user, if not that of the average citizen.
Custom-built coaches were decorated in a simple yet modern socialist realist style, with certain classical holdovers such as intricate mosaics and dark hardwood lining. The overall effect is one of understated power, which comes as no surprise considering some of the train’s clientele.
Used often by Tito for domestic purposes, the Blue Train also served an important diplomatic role. Its guest list is a veritable who’s-who of 1960s power players, from Queen Elizabeth to Charles de Gaulle to Yasser Arafat. It’s easy to imagine diplomats and party officials seated around the massive main dining table or crammed into the modernist, Zodiac-themed bar, as Tito sought to provide the world a path between the American-led West and the Soviet sphere of influence.
It’s still possible to enjoy the splendor of the Blue Train, which has been remarkably preserved in its original state. If your pocketbook is big enough, you can do so as Tito did: for a hefty fee, the Serbian Railways will hook up the train for a trip on the spectacular Belgrade-Bar railway. The line is one of Tito’s biggest public works projects and one of the most scenic rail journeys in Europe; the 296-mile route between the Serbian capital and the Montenegro coast passes over 435 bridges and through 54 tunnels.
For those whose wallets aren’t quite as fat, it’s still possible to enjoy the Blue Train, and walk through the very same cars where Haile Selassie sat, Queen Elizabeth dined, and Josip Broz Tito slept.