If you are travelling around Europe by train with an Interrail or Eurail pass, then you might take the route by train from Bucharest to Sofia at some point. It’s an extremely handy and affordable way to move from Romania to Bulgaria, or vice versa. Here are some pointers for the journey ahead of you.
Our Tips For Taking The Train From Bucharest To Sofia
How To Organise The Train From Bucharest To Sofia
This train journey takes nine and a half hours and one train leaves from Bucharesti Nord station every day at 12:50 pm. It costs around €30 and cannot be booked online. You can get tickets from the train station in Bucharest or if you like to be organised and book ahead, your hostel or hotel may be able to help you book in advance for you.
Bring A Packed Lunch, Water And Snacks
As we said above it’s a long journey and there’s no restaurant car or trolley service on board so be prepared with food, water and snacks for the journey. There is a huge Carrefour supermarket in the centre of Bucharest near the University metro station where you can stock up on snacks, drinks and whatever you need for the trip.
Have Your Travel Documents At The Ready
You are crossing an international border so there is some immigration control. At the border between Romania and Bulgaria, immigration officials will come onto the train on both sides of the border and check your passport (and visa if you need one). So remember to keep them accessible and have them at the ready. We even saw officials searching some people’s bags and luggage so now is not the time to experiment with a career in smuggling contraband!
Have Your Camera Ready
This train journey takes you through some incredible scenery as you cross over the Danube which separates Romania and Bulgaria via the longest steel bridge in Europe at 2.5km, so needless to say, you’ll want to take some pictures. Have your camera at the ready and be sure to charge your batteries in advance. Luckily the trains are old school and you can pull open the windows so you don’t have to worry about dust on the windows ruining your shots.
You Can Break Up The Journey
Some people like to break the journey up and get off the train in Veliko Tarnovo, Bulgaria’s ancient capital, for 24 hours. The train arrives in Veliko Tarnovo at around 19:16, all things going well, so you can catch the next day’s train on to Sofia giving you a full day to explore the university city.
Try To Choose A Suitable Compartment
If you want to get some sleep, read, catch up on work or don’t feel like making awkward small talk with your fellow train goers for nine and a half hours, you might want to choose an empty compartment. On the other hand, if you’re travelling solo and want to meet other travellers, maybe you should be more selective about which compartment you choose as there isn’t assigned seating on this train. You’re also free to move compartments should you want to.
The train gets into Sofia Central station around 22:20 and the station may feel shut down when you arrive. As always there’ll be taxi drivers at the main entrance. Taxis in Bulgaria are cheap and if you use the local app Taxi Me you’ll be sure to get a fair, metered price.
The metro is modern and convenient with two lines, red and blue, the blue line running from the train station into the city centre until 11 pm. There are also trams running to the city centre so there are plenty of options for getting around. Sofia is a very handy sized city, so if you don’t have too much luggage you can easily walk to the city centre in 20 minutes.
Over To You
If you’re planning on taking the train from Bucharest to Sofia, these tips will help you prepare for the trip ahead so you can sit back, relax and enjoy the ride!
Have you taken the train from Bucharest to Sofia or vice versa? Anything you would advise? Let us know in the comments below.
Noelle is a pescatarian foodie, travel junkie and a massive dog person. She’s a self-diagnosed chocoholic and loves tea, coffee and red wine. She also loves to do yoga and therefore is the sensible, grounded one in the relationship! Noelle loves to really get to grips with the culture of a country and the mindset of the people. She also enjoys picking up a few words in the local language wherever she is and, of course, sampling the local food!
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We just did this as a family – Sofia to Bucharest in Aug 2022. We were able to reserve seats beforehand. The journey took 12 hours – not 10 – with lengthy stops either side of the border. As mentioned, there’s no food/water on the train though it did stop at a station with a cafe. It was stiflingly hot but there are no fans, curtains or AC. The windows were too dirty to enjoy the view. And the carriage and toilets really stank. Luckily, we’ve lived & travelled in India, so were well prepared. But in all honesty, this is one journey families should consider skipping.
Hello! Does the train have air conditioning? We’re supposed to be taking this train soon and it is very hot
I wasn’t sure about the train vs. the bus, but after reading this I know now: since I’m not a train lover, I will take the Flixbus (7 hours, non stop) from Bucharest to Sofia, they have a 10 am and 11:30 pm daily departures, 15 EUR if you buy ahead…
Thanks for your tip! Good to know especially for other readers landing on this post also trying to find bus info! 🙂
FlixBus is great for bus travel between cities in Europe.
Thank you for this info! We just booked flights to Bucharest and can’t wait to take this train journey!
No problem Carver, glad this helped you out! 🙂
Hope you enjoyed Bucharest and Sofia!
Is the Train or Bus best option from Bucharest to Sofia ?
We heard the train is longer but more comfortable as you have a bigger compartment and toilets and we wanted to take the train too.
I think there are two buses a day from Bucharest to Sofia and it takes about 7 hours. Check out FlixBus , it’s great for booking bus travel around major cities in Europe.
Canadian looking at a train journey from Lithuania to Bulgaria in September 2019 and your site came up. Any suggestions?
It’s a long way to travel by train and there are a few changes required – flying might be easier and cheaper. If you have time, it might be a good idea to break up the journey with stops in some the cities en route.
However, if you do want to take the train – your best bet is to go from Vilinus to Warsaw by train (there is also a 10hour bus available). From Warsaw to Sofia, you will need to take the train from Warsaw to Belgrade, stay overnight in Belgrade and then there is a direct train called the ‘Balkan’ to Sofia – it leaves at 09:12 and arrives in Sofia at 20:30.
We hope the above is helpful – have a great trip! 🙂
Correction: I bought tickets for the Bucharest to Ruse train at Bucharest Gara de Nord. It’s the same train as the Bucharest to Sofia, but my plan was always to use a train then bus combo to travel to Sofia.
Thank you, we are about to do this trip (and with our cats!) so this is so helpful!!!
Glad it helped you out Beth. Hope the kitties got on okay! 🙂
I just completed traveling from Bucharest to Sophia by train and bus Nov 26-27, 2017). This is my after action report: Buy tickets for the daily 1245 Bucharest to Sofia train at Bucharest Gara de Nord (60 lei per person, purchased at window #1). Boarded 2 car train at track #2, train departed promptly at 1245. Ticket has a seat number, but the conductor tells me to sit anywhere. Recommend you not sit by the toilet or a window covered in graffiti. Train stopped at Giurgiu North for Romanian border check. Train then stopped at a railway station about 1 mile from the Ruse Central Railway Station and I was made to leave the train (not sure if this was due to an issue with the train or normal practice). I then took a taxi (5 euro – I paid too much, should only cost 5 lev) to the Grand Hotel Riga. Stayed over night, then took a taxi (4 lev) to the Ruse Bus Station where I purchased a ticket for the 1400 Ruse to Sophia ETAP bus (23 lei). Tickets can be purchased at windows in the area marked “Waiting Area”. Bus arrived after one rest stop (20 minutes) in Sofia @ 1900.
Hi Mike! Thanks so much for sharing your experience – a train/bus combo seems like another great option from Bucharest to Sofia. Hope you’re having a great trip! 🙂
I’m from Australia, reading this blog in Bucharest Gara de Nord as I’m typing this, waiting in line for my ticket to Sofia. Thank you so much, so helpful. Really had to find official sources.
Hi Quinn. No worries – glad you found our article useful. Hope you had an enjoyable trip to Sofia – it’s a beautiful journey. 🙂
It’s a shame that the train can only be reserved in Bucharest – we’re on an interrail at the moment. So I’m a bit apprehensive that the train will be full and we’ll have to cancel our Sofia hostel? Is it busy around August ? (August 10 we’re getting it!)
I’m sure you will be fine booking it when you get there.
Have a great trip! 🙂
Thanks for this. I live in Bulgaria, near the Danube city of Rousse, and this is an important connection for me and others in the region because we also fly out of Bucharest, not Sofia. It is to say the least challenging to get info on the Bg side, but thanks for starter-kit. I *do* love trains!
Hi Molly. We’re very happy you found our guide useful – we loved this train journey, the views of the countryside were beautiful. 🙂