Bulgaria by train

Map with main train connections in Bulgaria

When you travel by rail in Bulgaria, you’ll likely find more than you ever expected. Bulgaria has an interesting historical and cultural heritage and attractive landscapes. Be sure to visit the capital Sofia, nestled in the foothills of two mountains, and filled with exciting sights and sounds. Your Eurail Bulgaria Pass is your ticket to a true rail adventure.

Bulgaria in images
Train types in Bulgaria
Places to visit in Bulgaria
Events in Bulgaria
More about Bulgaria

 

Bulgaria in images

Belogradchik fortress

Belogradchik fortress

St. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral,  Sofia

St. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, Sofia

Rila Monastery

Rila Monastery

Panoramic view on Varna beach

Panoramic view on Varna beach

Glacial lake in national park Pirin

Glacial lake in national park Pirin

Train types in Bulgaria

 

Railway network

Eurail pass validity

A Eurail pass valid in Bulgaria can be used on all trains of the Bulgarian State Railways (BDZ).

Bulgaria-BDZ-logo


There are three types of trains in Bulgaria, of which the Expresse (ekspresen) trains are the fastest and most comfortable. The main train station is Tsentralna Gara in Sofia.
 

The metro connects Sofia's train station with the airport and the city center.
 

International connections

Bulgaria various connections with other European countries:

  • Sofia – Bucharest - 1 day train and 1 night train

  • The Black Sea Train circulates during certain periods of the year from Moscow and Minsk to Varna and vice versa.

  • The Bucharest / Istanbul Express - circulating on the route Bucharest / Stara Zagora / Istanbul.

  • The Nusic night train from Sofia to Belgrade<

  • The Balkan Express from Sofia to Istanbul

  • The Bosphorus Express from Bucharest to Istanbul via Dimitrovgrad

 

Due to the building of a new high-speed line there are no trains between Istanbul and the Bulgarian border. There's a replacement bus connecting Kapikule (bordering station) with Istanbul. Eurail passes are valid for this journey. Read more about this bus connection.

 

 

 

Reservations

The majority of trains within Bulgaria do not require advance seat reservations.

 

An exception are the Express (Ekspresen) trains. They run mainly on the routes Sofia - Plovdiv, Sofia - Varna and Sofia - Burgas. Reservation is inexpensive, around € 0,25. You may have to pay additional commission though.

 

Reservations can be made at the Rila travel agencies, which you can find for example at Sofia train station. Good to know: a reservation is called 'zapazeno myasto' in Bulgarian.

 

Read more about train seat reservations.

 

Itineraries

Scenic route

  • Sofia – Dabova

 

Extra info

Airport - station link

From Sofia airport there are buses (lines 84 and 284) to the main railway station. Eurail passes are not valid on the bus.

 

Eurail aid office in Bulgaria

For questions about Eurail, visit the international ticket office at Sofia railway station. See the page Eurail aid offices for more aid offices in Europe.

 

Spelling of cities in Bulgaria

On Bulgarian train timetables and at train stations in Bulgaria, you'll usually find the local spelling of Bulgarian cities and stations.

 

Here is the local spelling of some popular Bulgarian cities:

  • Sofiya = Sofia

Places to visit in Bulgaria

 
Ancient theatre in Plovdiv
Ancient theatre in Plovdiv

Ancient ruins with a story

Settled several thousand years ago, Bulgaria’s second-largest city, Plovdiv, is rife with ancient ruins and remnants of Roman roads. Especially in old town (Staria Grad), which is a goldmine of artifacts. Don’t miss the Ethnographical Museum, which charts the town’s history, and the ruins of the Roman Theatre of Ancient Philippopolis (Plovdiv’s previous name). Plovdiv’s hilly terrain and colorful architecture is endlessly charming.

Plovdiv is a city best seen on foot. From train station Tsentralna Gara the center of town is a 15-minute walk, and the old town is another 15 minutes beyond that.

View of Varna
View of Varna

Seaside indulgences

The coastal city of Varna and the surrounding areas are rich in history, and also have fantastic beachside resorts. It’s a best-of-both-worlds situation, as the amazing Roman Thermae are the largest ruins in all of Bulgaria, and the Varna Summer Festival includes all of the fun that the Black Sea beachfront has to offer. Don’t miss the Archeological Museum in Varna – some say it’s one of the best in the whole country.

It’s less than a 10-minute walk from Varna central station (Gara Varna) to the beachfront.

Old Art Gallery, Sofia
Old Art Gallery, Sofia

Sofia's streets of gold

Situated at the base of the picturesque Mount Vitosha, the capital city of Sofia is one of the oldest in Europe and the largest in Bulgaria. Your Eurail Bulgaria Pass is the key to uncovering its quaint boutiques, gold-colored streets and dynamic culture. The National Historical Museum will tell you all you need to know about Bulgaria’s past. One of the largest museums in the Balkans offers 650,000 exhibits. 

The National Historical museum can be reached by bus 66 and 111 and trolleybus 2.

Ancient houses in Veliko Turnovo
Ancient houses in Veliko Turnovo

The cliffside fortress town

Located in central Bulgaria in an unspoiled countryside, the picturesque town of Veliko Tarnovo features ancient buildings hovering at the edge of a rocky cliff, overlooking the Yantra River. The stunning Tsarevets Fortress dates back to the 5th century, and you shouldn’t miss the sound and light show at sundown. But most of the art and architecture in town has its own story to tell, and it’s a story worth hearing.

Several buses leave from Veliko Tarnovo center and deliver you to the entrance of the Tsarevets Fortress, about 2/3 of a mile (1 km) from the center of town.

Events in Bulgaria

 
Martenitsa dolls
Martenitsa dolls

Martenitsa Festival

February 28, 2015

In a celebration of ‘Mother March’, and the hope for health and happiness at the beginning of the Spring Equinox, Bulgarians exchange red-and-white decorative dolls (called Martenitsas) and wish each other health and happiness for the new season. Many Bulgarian towns celebrate with their own festive activities.

The Martenitsa festivities take place all across Bulgaria.

Varna summer festival, Varna
Varna summer festival

Varna summer festival

May 1 - October 31, 2015

You know a summer festival is good when it lasts 5 months. Varna celebrates its busiest and most beautiful time of year with spectacular music, events, local food and drinks throughout the entire summer (and autumn!).

Varna summer festival takes place in the city center, which is within walking distance of the main train station.

Kazanlâk Rose Festival, Plovdiv
Kazanlâk Rose Festival, Plovdiv

Kazanlâk Rose Festival

June 5 - June 8, 2015

Bulgaria is one of the largest producers of rose oil in the world, and this precious commodity is responsible for the production of perfumes, chocolates, liqueur and jams enjoyed the world over. This annual harvest festival includes costumes, dancing, drinks and much more.

Take the train to Kazanlâk. All festivities are in walking distance of the train station.

More about Bulgaria

 

Quick facts

  • Capital: Sofia

  • Population: 7.3 million

  • Language: Bulgarian

  • Currency: Lev (BGN)

  • Dialing code: +359

Related pages

 
- Countries in Europe
- Countries in Europe
- Countries in Europe
- Countries in Europe
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