Bulgarian State Railways are sometimes a challenge not only for Foreigners but for locals too.
Here are the first thing you should about this means of transport.
1: Its the cheapest available available transport – a regular ticket from Sofia to Varna costs only 15 Euro, that is the longest possible distance.
2: Dont expext luxury – most of the machines and wagons are quite old and, if you are in passenger train (see bellow) avoid the WC 😀
3: You have about a zero chance of meeting an employee who speaks english at a trainstation. While just saying the name of your destination would still work to get a ticket, knowing how to ask a few questions may be quite usefull.
Check out our train travel phrasebook.
4. If you are a smoker, you shouldnt think about smoking in a train. Many people, when on a long trip, smoke in the WC, but if you get caught the fine is 20 leva.
5. Sometimes trains may have delays. This is happens quite often – so if your train is late, don`t panic! Just ask someone for help, and watch out not to miss your stop.
There are 3 types of trains
– Passenger trains ( bulgarian пътнически влак ) – this is usually a very bad choice for a long trip, since they are slow and and old.
– Fast trains (бърз влак) – this is the common and good choice for any trip.
– Express or fast train with reservation (бърз влак със задължителна резервация) – this is the fastest
The lines from Sofia to Varna are Direct, but if you are going to Veliko Tarnovo, Plovdiv or Gabrovo you may have to switch trains once or twice. Important: Allways ask if its the right one. I myself have ended a few times going in the wrong direction.
This is where you can check train prices and schedule: Bulgarian State Railways website, but since only the front page is translated, I would suggest using a browser which supports automatic tranlation like Google Chrome. As you check them, you can also see if its a direct to your destination.
You can use a students discount with an ISIC card – that is 50% off the value of the card.
When planning a trip, a taking a train is the best way to get to your starting point. Here is a translated Мap of railways in Bulgaria
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