does anyone know how easy/difficult it is to get a train between Pula and Zadar? I've been on the Croatian National Rail site but can't make head nor tail of the timetables!
Also, on average, how long would this journey normally take.
I just did a trip around Croatia and although I didn't go to Pula, I found there not to be much train travel. Perhaps you can take a bus to Rijeka and a boat down to Zadar. Just a thought. I was planning on going to Pula but it was too difficult to make it down the coast on my limited amount of time. I chose to stay in Opatija just so I'd be closer to the boats. I'd love to see the Roman ruins in Pula, though.
By train, it's just not worth the effort, and at many times of the year, not even possible. There are very few through trains that go to Pula, all of which go into Slovenia. Meaning you will have to change in Ljubljana and Zagreb. And there are only 2 or 3 a day to Zadar which normally involve a change and a wait (from Zagreb) anyway.
In Croatia, with the possible exception of travelling (overnight) from Spilt to Zagreb or on the Slovenia/Austria - Zagreb - Belgrade corridor and a couple of trains to Budapest, ignore trains altogether. There is a comprehensive and efficient coach network which is the backbone of the Pub Trans system, added to the coastal and island ferries.
I did a similar journey a couple of years ago, going Pula - Rijeka by bus, then ferry to Zadar (arrives at midnight), although there are direct buses (inc one overnight) and many more options changing buses in Rijeka.
There used to be a Pula - Zadar direct ferry, although it hasn't run for a couple of years. Allegedly, however, it will restart this summer, and if it does, that will be an option.