How much fun is a Bulgarian train ride?
Replies: 11 - Last Post: Feb 13, 2013 12:36 PM Last Post By: BarredOwl
Jan 19, 2013 3:48 AM
How much fun is a Bulgarian train ride?Hi there,
I am planning a trip to Bulgaria and my itinerary has a lot of train travel in it. Train travel can be a really beautiful way of seeing a country, can I expect this in Bulgaria?
To be more specific, I will only have a few days to see Veliko Tarnovo and Plovdiv before getting back to Sofia for my flight, so that means 4 1/2 hours on a train to Veliko Tarnvo and then 5 hrs to Plovdiv after that. I don't mind at all if the trains are comfortable, safe for solo travellers - I could watch the views and read a book and it would be great. But if in your experience there are lots of eg. scammers on the trains, or these routes don't give you any nice views and the train system isn't very reliable then I might rethink my itinerary.
Any experiences or thoughts on this would be really helpful!
Jan 19, 2013 5:58 AM
Jan 19, 2013 7:48 AM
Jan 19, 2013 12:48 PM
3I've travelled on trains across Eastern Europe (including Bulgaria) for years and never feared anything. Occasionally you might have to share a compartment with a box of chickens or have traders selling gifts, food, drinks and cigarettes while you trundle along and it's all good fun. Trains are generally very slow in Bulgaria as you've already stated. Take a book!
Veliko Tarnovo and Plovdiv are two great places to explore
Jan 19, 2013 11:35 PM
4I haven't traveled in that area so I don't know about Bulgaria per say, however I have done research on the train lines that run Thruogh Bulgaria and those train rides are said to be some of the most beautiful in the world. I enjoy the relaxed pace of a train ride to get where you are going, Its a good way to take in the scenery and look at the country.
Jan 20, 2013 1:07 PM
Jan 21, 2013 6:38 PM
6We took the train from Sofia to Plovdiv, bus from Plovdiv to VT since it was quite a bit faster and train back to Sofia from Gorna Oryahovitsa where the Express Trains pass closest to VT. The first train was like the old European cabin cars we traveled in Italy in the early 70s but I'd definitely say you see more from the trains than from the highway. This train was four generations behind Western Europe and the heat wasn't working but it was on- time and super cheap, even in First Class. The Express was only three generations behind and was an open coach. It had warmed up by then and the air conditioner only worked in one of two first class cars. Thus our car was filled with all the train crew and police. The last third of the ride to Sofia went down a beautiful canyon which the highway and thus the busses miss. I enjoyed both train trips.
Jan 22, 2013 7:08 AM
Jan 22, 2013 7:22 AM
Jan 29, 2013 8:30 PM
9Don't do a cheap seat...a/k/a "hard seat" over night trip...!
They may sit you 3 across at a cafe style table...and you sit bolt upright there all night...! Unreal!! A nightmare...!
People were sleeping in the space between cars and in the toilets ...in the alies...anywhere to lay down...
Best not to go "cheapest" in Eastern Europe...get a sleeping berth...or at least a reclining seat... Ask at the ticket window...don't just take what they sell you...
The trains are safe enough...but naturally watch your stuff... At night there is no scenery to watch only a black window reflecting the interior of the car...
Feb 6, 2013 2:14 PM
Feb 13, 2013 12:36 PM
11I would choose the train over bus in almost every situation- more room, smoother ride, great scenery. I'm not sure if this is still the case, but in October 2012 when I was in the area there was construction on the railroad and they were using buses as replacements near Veliko Tarnovo. Also be aware that there are fewer buses between VT and Plovdiv than one might guess so I would advise planning ahead in that regard. Plovdiv and Veliko Tarnovo are wonderful-enjoy!
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