Bucharest to Sofia by Train

The train from Bucharest to Sofia isn’t fancy. And, for less than $30, you can’t expect it to be. It has no air conditioning, no WiFi, not even a dining car. I left Gara de Nord in Bucharest at 12:45 p.m. Sunday, with all my belongings and a newly purchase cooler tote carrying all my goodies for the trip — you can drink alcohol on the train (if you remember a bottle opener). The train, no changes required in the summer, was scheduled to pull into Sofia Central at 10:30 p.m.

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On this international train, unlike my train to Constanta, there was no First Class. Instead, each Second Class car had 7-10 cabins that sat 6 passengers. There was a window in each cabin and then one outside the cabin in the narrow aisle that passed.

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Pokey the Rhino, who is accustomed to traveling Business Class, was less than thrilled about the idea of 10 hours in a train with strangers. But, in the end, his window seat turned out to be pretty good.

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What the train lacks in luxury, it more than makes up for in scenery. During the trip through Romania, massive fields of sunflowers (Romania’s third-largest crop after corn and wheat) line the tracks. You can check out amazing video on Instagram.

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At times, it did remind me a bit of my home in the United States, with cows in field and farmers tending to their crops.

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Along the way, we passed a number of freight trains, which are still common in this part of Europe to convey goods from one country to another.

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The line winds its way through southern Romania, crossing the Danube River on one of only two bridges between Romania and Bulgaria. Video of the river crossing on Instagram.

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We then passed through Border Control as neither Romania nor Bulgaria are full EU members (not yet a part of the Schengen Area).

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Along the way in Bulgaria, the scenery got even better with more rolling hills, charming villages and eventually the Iskar Gorge.

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The train stations and towns we passed were particularly scenic as well.

 

But, the real showstopper was sunset.

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Finally, around 11 p.m. (not bad for a train), we pulled into Sofia Central. A quick walk across the street, and I hopped the Metro to my AirBnB for the week.

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It was a long, tiring journey. But, taking the train is always one of the best ways to really see a country and experience its people. Stay tuned for my next long-distance train ride from Sofia to Belgrade.

Published by

BoundfortheBalkans

American expat. University professor. World traveller. Dog lover. Eating and drinking my way through the Balkans for 7 weeks.

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