Book your journey in Bulgaria

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Overview

From its mighty mountains to the breath-taking beaches of the Black Sea, Bulgaria’s incredible scenery is a persuasive reason to visit.

Bulgaria’s incredible scenery, from its mighty mountains to the breathtaking beaches of the Black Sea, is a persuasive reason to choose train travel over bus (at times faster, but cramped and less spectacular), or car (a precarious choice considering the unmarked lanes and speedy drivers).

As in most Eastern European countries, Bulgaria’s rail network has been upgraded, though only the major routes have really improved. Many InterCity rails feature brand new, sleek electric trains built in Germany. They’re fast, comfortable and viewer-friendly, with large panoramic windows. But don’t expect clockwork service. We recommend travel on Express (Ekspresen) or Fast trains (Brzi or Bârz depending on the translation). Definitely avoid local trains (Pâtnicheski/Putnichki). Not only are they slow, but they tend to be crowded and uncomfortable. And always travel first class. (Only InterCity and international trains feature a buffet car.)

Popular journeys include a relatively short ride (2 ½ hours) from glamorous Sofia to the cultural capital of Plovdiv. Or travel six hours across the country through sublime landscapes to the Black Sea in Bourgas, or, as many prefer, the seaside resort, Varna. The Varna line also offers an interesting sidetrack : hop off in Gorna Orjahovica (about four hours from Sofia with an Express) and connect on the local service to Veliko Tarnovo. Once the capital of the Second Bulgarian Empire (before the Ottoman invasion in 1396), this city’s unique architecture alone is worth the trip.

We highly recommend the convenient Balkan Pass, as purchasing a ticket is often only possible from the departure station—and involves serious wait. Note that Express trains have pre-assigned seating so travelers must have reservations. Reservations can be purchased in the departure station, in Sofia Central Station, or at some local agencies. But pay particular attention to the spelling of city names ; the Cyrillic alphabet is not as difficult as it looks, but translations can vary.

Wherever you go, remember : this is Bulgaria, where railways rarely emulate Western standards. Yes, trains are safe, but you may encounter delays and some interesting events. Consider it a part of the journey’s charm, experiencing history in the making, just like thousands of fellow travelers have done before.


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Reviews

Reviews & ratings

  • Value for money
    Convenience
    Locating Train was difficult |
    "I had some trouble finding the track at Gare de Lyon in Paris. Also I had trouble finding my coach at the Lyon Airport train going to Paris. "

  • Efficient and on time service |
    "Excellent service. On time and comfortable "

  • Convenience
    A trip over Alpes |
    "I've been travelling to Geneve to meet my daughter. the train was very comfortable and the staff very kind. I bought a good sandwich with salami and butter, a black tea with cinnamon. Very new flavour for me. The viw around the lake from Geneve to Montreux was great. "

  • Value for money
    Convenience
    Very good option  |
    "It was a very good journey. The train was comfortable, the attendants were friendly. Service on board was perfect including the breakfast, which was delicious. "

  • Value for money
    Convenience
    Resumo de minha viagem |
    "Confortável, chegamos ao destino descansados. Valor um pouco alto, mas deixamos para adquirir as passagens na última hora, por isso o alto preço. Conveniente, pois é mais rápido e confortável do que viajar por via aérea. "

  • Value for money
    Convenience
    Exceptional Trip |
    "Exceptional trip from St Pancras to Paris with the help of VIP transfer service from St. Pancras hotel. Highly recommended. "

  • Value for money
    Convenience
    Good |
    "Very fast journey. Comfortable. "

  • Value for money
    Convenience
    Better than flying |
    "Coming from Australia I assumed flights would be far better than trains but having the stations right in the centre of the city made it much more convenient and easier to manage without a phone. The train was smooth and quick. "

  • Convenience
    Trouble free,excellent journey |
    "Excellent service.We booked and printed tickets on line which scanned easily on day of journey. All baggage x rayd so great security before entering platform. Allocated seating upon booking. Train on time. Value for money 5 stars. (auto star system not working. )22 euros per person each way. "

  • Convenience
    To MAdrid |
    "my trip was great but I was wonder that the crew was not speaking English and she couldn't understand me once I order. "

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