Sofia-Belgrade train

In 2024, the direct Belgrade to Sofia train remains suspended

Belgrade to Sofia by train

The train ride between Belgrade and Sofia by train was a fascinating adventure across the Balkans on a route taken by the famous Orient Express until 1977.

The sorry state of this once-great line

The Belgrade-Sofia route has had its ups and downs in recent years, the result of limited resources and poor management.  There used to be a daytime train and overnight train between these European capitals all year round, but by 2013 this had dwindled to an overnight train consisting of one Serbian couchette car.  They then reinstated the day train, briefly restoring two trains per day before discontinuing the night train.  In 2018 the remaining direct day train was made summer-only, with a 3-train combo the rest of the year.  All service was discontinued in 2020 for the duration of the pandemic, after which a train service Belgrade-Niš and a cross-border Dimitrovgrad-Sofia train remained, with a 104 km gap in the middle.

In 2024, even the Dimitrovgrad-Sofia train has been discontinued, and taking a train from Belgrade to Niš then a bus from Niš to Sofia is now the best way to avoid flying or half a day in a long-distance bus.  Let's hope these two capital cities get a better train service in future years.

Incidentally, Niš is pronounced Neesh.  In the days of the Orient Express (or indeed of my own late-teens interrailing days) Niš was the major junction where the line to Sofia/Istanbul and the line to Skopje/Thessaloniki/Athens diverged.

Belgrade ► Sofia 2024

Sofia ► Belgrade 2024

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Serbian electric train, Belgrade-Nis   Seating on the Serbian electric train, Belgrade-Nis

The modern air-conditioned Serbian electric train at Niš.  1st & 2nd class with accessible toilet, interior seen from the small 1st class section at one end.  Courtesy of @AndyBTravels,

Nis station, Serbia   Nis station, Serbia

Nis railway station, a throwback to the communist era.  I always remember the airport-style control tower on top of Nis station's main building as I passed through several times on the Munich-Athens Hellas Express between 1984 & 1990.  Courtesy of @AndyBTravels,

Nis Express bus between Nis & Sofia.   Nis Express bus between Nis & Sofia.

The Nis Express bus between Nis & Sofia, a larger or smaller bus may be used.  Courtesy of @AndyBTravels,

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