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 by train
Train types in Bulgaria
Eurail pass validity
A Eurail pass valid in Bulgaria can be used on all trains of the Bulgarian State Railways (BDZ).
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.
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.
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.
Sofia – Dabova
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
Rail passes for Bulgaria
Rail pass options for Bulgaria
Eurail Global Pass starting from USD$ 351 – be free to visit Bulgaria and up to 27 other Eurail countries.
Eurail Select Pass starting from USD$ 196 – this 2, 3 or 4-country pass combines Bulgaria with bordering countries.
Eurail Bulgaria Pass starting from USD$ 95 - use your whole vacation to discover Bulgaria by rail.
Places to visit in Bulgaria
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.
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.
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.
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
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 festivals
The seaside city of Varna is getting a bit of a reputation for its festival scene. Between May and October, the city hosts international music and theater festivals, as well as individual celebrations of classical, jazz, and pop music. If that's enough Varna puts on 3 film festivals, a ballet competition, arts and crafts, and folk festivals. See a full list of events on the Visit Varna website.
Varna summer festivals take place in the city center, which is within walking distance of the main train station.
Kazanlâk Rose Festival
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
Capital: Sofia (local spelling: Sofiya, written as София)
Population: 7.3 million
Currency: Bulgarian Lev (BGN)
Dialing code: +359