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Overview

A beautiful name for an unheralded city

A beautiful name for an unheralded city

Visiting Sofia, Bulgaria takes a commitment if you’re traveling from a "touristy" country. From Rome, you can take the train to Bari, a ferry to Patras, Greece, a transfer to Athens and then about 13-hours via trains up from Athens. Or how about a 22-hour overnight train from Vienna ? This isn’t to put you off. In fact, traveling to this Balkan gem is the perfect opportunity to really get to know train travel in Europe. This is still a much less expensive region to travel through – cheaper than the rest of Western Europe.

There is more than a currency difference here. Try and ask a Bulgarian conductor, "Is this the train to Sofia ?" and be answered with a shake of the head. "No" means "Yes." A nod means "no." Then there’s the Cyrillic alphabet. Most signs still use it despite a thrust toward westernization. An Internet study-up beforehand couldn’t hurt.

About Bulgaria

There is a real ethnic diversity here, and it has its hand in much of the Sofia’s sound and surroundings. The large Turkish contingency has influenced both the culture and music (although not when competing in Eurovision – that sound is solely Bulgarian. Better luck next year.) The architecture is a unique blend of Western and European styles, with a number of well preserved building dating back to the Roman and Byzantine period. But this is one of the youngest capitals on the Continent, and so much of the city’s buildings date only from the 18th and 19th centuries.

To see how Bulgarians do modern, check out the futuristic National Palace of Culture in the city center. Home to concerts, movies, fairs and festivals, the palace won second-place at the 2010 APEX awards for "Best Convention Center." At the National Gallery – the Balkans’ largest museum housed in a former Royal Palace – scour over 50,000 pieces of Bulgarian art. The oldest building in Sofia dates to the 4th century – the Sveta Sofia church.

The rest of Bulgaria is just as beautiful. Take a day trip to the 1000-year-old Rila Monastery. For skiing in winter and hiking in summer, Mount Vitosha. With a Eurail Bulgaria Pass sunbathe on the Black Sea in the coastal towns of Varna and Burgas or visit the cultural city of Plovdiv with its 2nd century Roman Ancient Theater. The trains aren’t lightning fast, but they sure are easier to navigate than trying to read cryptic signs or taking a very crowded bus. Upgrades are in the works, and many InterCity rails feature brand new trains built in Germany.

Want to see more of the region ? Be a true explorer with a Balkan Flexipass – your track to the cradle of European civilization. Visit Serbia-Montenegro,Macedonia, Romania, Turkey, Greece as well as Bulgaria. Each location a touchstone of archaeological and cultural magnificence.

Sofia is a city where you don’t come to check things off your "must-see" list. You’ve already done that. This is travel for the wonderer and the wanderer. Come have a coffee with a boisterous Bulgarian, and talk about how you arrived from Istanbul on a 12 and 1/2-hour night train.

Sofia station(s)

Trains are convenient way to reach any town and city in Europe. All main towns have a railway station, while major cities have more than two railway stations. Nearly all railway stations are located in the city centre. Check our map to locate railway station(s) in Sofia.

Sofia city guide

Travel forum

From our travel community

I am 74 and wish to travel from graz to sofia by train on 14 june returning 28 june. what is cheapest way of doing (...) I do not want to stop off anywhere on route and am happy to take a night train where required

Lee Dowell | 18 April 2023 complete | 2 Comments
Best rail pass option for my iitanary ?? My wife and I are both under 25 and would like to travel from GREECE TO ITALY TO SWTIZERLAND TO SPAIN TO FRANCE TP UK TO GERMANY. stopping for 2 days and 1 night in every country except Italy where we will stay a bit extra. And we would like to (...)

Redwan | 13 August 2001 complete | 3 Comments
Sofia --> kavala (greece) bus? I am really really wanting to travel by bus route from SOFIA, Bulgaria to KAVALA, Greece. There are no train stations in Kavala. But I am sure there are buses and there is a lot of different information online. I was wondering if anyone has any (...)

Billie8973 | 17 July 2028 complete | 1 Comments
With a eurail global pass, can i travel from frankfurt to athens, thessaloniki to sofia, & sofia to istanbul? are greece & turkey (...) I am considering a Global Pass for One month. I tried to set dates for traveling from Frankfurt to Athens, Thesasonnaliki(sp) to Sofia and Sofia to Istanbul. The computer could not provide train info. Are those routes possible with the pass? (...)

Gary Gaston | 16 March 2025 complete | 1 Comments
Are 1st class reservations for overnight trains for beds or for upright seating? With a Global Pass 1st class reservation for an overnight trip are beds provided or upright seating provided?

Scott Caye | 15 August 2006 complete | 3 Comments

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