This page explains how to travel by train from Sofia to other key European cities, and how to buy the cheapest tickets.  Click here to for journeys starting in another city.  Train information current for 2017.

I want to go from Sofia to...

     

Istanbul

 

Belgrade

 

Bucharest

 

Zagreb

   
 

Ljubljana

 

Budapest

 

Athens

 

Thessaloniki

   
 

Paris

 

London

 

Moscow

       
 

Brussels, Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Spain, Portugal
and all other destinations

Before you buy your tickets...

I recommend taking a moment to read these important tips for buying European train tickets.  It answers all the usual questions, such as "Do I need to book in advance or can I just turn up & buy at the station?", "Can I stop off?", "Are there Senior fares?" and that old favourite, "Should I buy an $800 railpass or just go online & buy a 35 point-to-point ticket?".  And most important, click here to understand how far ahead you can buy train tickets.

European train travel FAQ...

An introduction to European train travel

 

Senior fares (over 60)

 

Guide to Eurail passes (overseas visitors)

Important tips for buying European train tickets

Youth fares (under 26)

 

Guide to InterRail passes (for Europeans)

How to check European train times

Child fares & child age limits

 

Couchettes & sleepers on night trains

Do I need to book in advance?

Luggage on European trains

 

Train seat numbering plans

How far ahead can I book?

Luggage storage at stations

 

Wheelchairs & special needs

Can I stop off on the way?

Taking a bike by train

 

Real-time service updates

Should I travel 1st or 2nd class?

Taking a car by train

 

Hotels & accommodation

How long to allow for connections?

Taking dogs & pets by train

 

Changing stations in Paris by metro or taxi

How early to arrive at the station?

Maps of the European rail network

 

What to do when things go wrong...



Sofia to Istanbul for 29...
 

1 & 2 bed sleepers:  An air-conditioned Turkish TVS2000 sleeping-car as used on the Sofia-Istanbul Express.  Comfortable, carpeted, with compartments bookable as singles or doubles.  Above right, a sleeper compartment shown with beds folded away and seats folded out.

 

4-berth couchettes:  The Istanbul-Sofia Express usually has two couchette cars.  One is an air-conditioned Turkish TVS2000 couchette car with comfortable 4-berth compartments, shown above left with beds folded away and seats folded out.  Exterior shots courtesy of Paul Bateman

BDZ Bulgarian couchette car on Istanbul-Sofia Express  

6-berth couchettes:  The other couchette car is an older non-air-con Bulgarian couchette car (above left) with 6-berth compartments (above right).  Old-school comfort and the windows open.  It's reported this 6-berth Bulgarian car may no longer be operating.  Courtesy Philip Dyer-Perry & Ken.

Sunrise in Turkey, approcahing Cerkezkoy

Good morning Turkey!  Dawn breaks as journey's end approaches...

The transfer bus to Halkali, outside Istanbul Sirkeci station.

The free transfer bus from Istanbul to Halkali, outside Istanbul Sirkeci station.  Courtesy of Philip Dyer-Perry.

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Sofia to Belgrade for 34...
Morning train from Belgrade to Skopje   1st class compartment on day train from Belgrade to Skopje

Sofia to Belgrade by train...

 

Old but comfortable compartment.

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Sofia to Bucharest for 25...
Scenery in the Shipka Pass, Bulgaria   The Sofia to Bucharest train

Lush green scenery as the train ascends the Shipka Pass...

 

The Sofia to Bucharest through coach at Sofia station.

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Sofia to Budapest & Vienna...

>>>>>>  IMPORTANT UPDATE 2017  <<<<<<<

Serbian Railways have just announced that from 1 February the Belgrade-Sofia train is in effect cancelled until further notice, in both directions, due to lack of money to hire diesel locomotives.  It will in fact run Belgrade-Nis and Dimitrovgrad-Sofia, but will not run between Nis and Dimitrovgrad.  It is not clear if this is temporary, or how temporary.  It may last until June 2017.

It's still possible to go by trains:  Take the 09:40 from Sofia, change at Dimitrovgrad (arrive 10:30, depart 11:23) & Nis (arrive 14:39 depart 16:57) and arrive Belgrade Centar (note not main station) at 20:35.

Option 1, with overnight stop in Belgrade - usually the cheapest option...

Option 1, using the Belgrade to Budapest overnight train...

The Sofia to Belgrade train Balkan...

Morning train from Belgrade to Skopje   1st class compartment on day train from Belgrade to Skopje

Sofia to Belgrade by train...

 

Old but comfortable compartment.

The Belgrade to Budapest night train Beograd...

A Serbian sleeping-car on the Belgrade to Budapest train   Serbian 2-bed sleeper   Serbian 6-berth couchettes

The Belgrade to Budapest sleeper, arrived at Budapest Keleti...

 

Serbian 2-bed sleeper...

 

6-berth couchettes...

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Sofia to Athens, Thessaloniki & Greece...
6-seat 2nd class compartment   Train corridor   The Thessaloniki to Sofia train

Comfortable 2nd class compartment.

 

Corridor...

 

The Thessaloniki to Sofia train.

The Sofia to Thessaloniki train uses modern Greek air-conditioned carriages, although as elsewhere in Greece there's a graffiti problem on the exterior.  Change in Thessaloniki for a similar air-conditioned train to Athens...  Photos courtesy of Damien McGrath.

Parnassus mountains seen from the Thessaloniki-Athens train

Spectacular view of the Parnassus mountains from the Thessaloniki-Athens InterCity train.  Courtesy Laurent Faurite.

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Sofia to Zagreb, Munich, Paris, London...

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Sofia to Moscow...
One of Russian Railways new international sleeping-cars   A 2-berth or 4-berth compartment in daytime mode

Modern Russian sleepers like these are used on the Warsaw-Moscow train...

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Sofia to all other destinations:  Brussels, Amsterdam, Copenhagen & Scandinavia, Spain & Portugal...

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Hotels in Sofia & other cities

    

◄◄ Hotel search & price comparison.

www.hotelscombined.com checks all the main hotel booking sites at once to find the widest choice of hotels & the cheapest seller.  It has been named as the World's Leading Hotel Comparison Site in the World Travel Awards and I highly recommend it, both to find hotels in even the smallest places and to check that another retailer isn't selling the same hotel at a cheaper rate.

►► My recommended booking site:  www.booking.com

www.booking.com is my favourite hotel booking site, and unless HotelsCombined throws up major price differences I prefer doing my bookings in one place here. 

You can usually book with free cancellation - this allows you to confirm your accommodation at no risk before train booking opens.  It also means you can hold accommodation while you finalise your itinerary, and alter your plans as they evolve - a great feature I use all the time when putting a trip together.

Other hotel sites worth trying...

Backpacker hostels...

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