727 - İstanbul Sofya Treni - OnurPassenger

Istanbul Sofia train guide for beginners


Train service between Istanbul and Sofia has started. But it’s not easy to reach to clear official information. 

We travelled to Sofia for you, and prepare this little guide:

Ticket sales at Sirkeci

Unfortunately, there’s no way to buy it through internet. There’s no even way to buy it from a train station other than Sirkeci. But don’t worry. Train is not full, you can buy it just before you get on the train.

No names on tickets, you can buy it before you decide with whom to go. 🙂

Roundtrip is possible, but no discount. Cash and credit card are accepted.

Where’s Sirkeci station?

Do not expect much to learn at ticket office

There were two officiers at Sirkeci with very limited English. One of them didn’t want to answer any question even in Turkish.

Timetable and ticket fares of Istanbul-Sofia train

Train departs from Halkali

Unfortunately, trains cannot reach Istanbul city center yet. The departure station is at 20 km west of Istanbul, in the middle of nowhere, at Halkali Station.

Where’s Halkalı Station?

TCDD Sirkeci Halkalı Servisi - Onur

But do not worry. There’s a shuttle service from Sirkeci Station. Departure at 21:30, from the side gate. You may hear “be here at 21”, but do not pay attention. Shuttle does not depart before 21:30. Do not worry for horrible traffic of Istanbul either. Train waits for the shuttle in any case.

Cover Photo: Onur Uysal ©

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36 replies »

  1. Why are there so few passengers on the Sofia/Bucarest-Halkali Istanbul route ? Well, I took the Bucarest Halkali sleeper last month, but only very few people know it exists. The DB or SBB online timetable show all the relations with train changes (3 train changes for the Bucarest Halkali train) but they don’t mention anything about direct carriages (…) – If they would update their website info, or if TCDD would tell them to do, then they would stand a chance to attract more travellers (apart from the rail enthusiasts, the Interrail travellers …)

    • you are completely right. I will tell this, when I find chance to meet anyone responsible for passenger transport.

  2. Hi, I want to take the train from Sofia to Istambul. Do you know where I can buy the tickets in Sofia? Thanks for the help!

    • With SBB at the station in Switzerland they proposed 1st class single sleeper Bucuresti – Halkali Istanbul for CHF 200; the same purchased at Bucuresti the day of the travel came out half price (and they accept CC payments). In meantime I learnt that the sleeper car has been cut.

  3. My mom and are will be traveling from Istanbul to Bulgaria and then beyond. We have the Eurail Global Pass which says it includes trains into and out of Turkey. We will be traveling to Sofia from Halkalı and would like to purchase a Sleeper compartment. What would be our cost for each ticket (double occupancy one-way)?

  4. That was great train and the quality was high…but we right now are in sofia, unfortunately we bought the return ticket from istanbul and we want to change the date, today we go to station international part and they said we should pay 60 AB to change the date, there is no hint or at least rule for that and the lady could not just explain the situation….

    • Hi sonia, congratulation i need some information to you. You go sofia from istambul. Have needed any visa for sofia?

  5. Thanks for this informative site, Onur! I’m on the train now. It’s great.

    You might want to add a couple things:

    1) they took my ticket away and now I’m not sure what time it stops next Plovdiv. Around 8, I think. So stopping times would be great!

    2) Might be worth mentioning that their is no WiFi, as far as I can find.

    Thanks again. 🙂

    • Hi Steffani. There’s a link to timetable in the post. I prefer a link rather than a image, since timetable may change..

      And thanks for WiFi info.

      I hope you enjoyed your trip..

  6. Hi, do you know if is usually train delay? I have a lot of experiences with high delay of Balkans trains… I would like to catch flight at 12:00 from Sofia airport and I don´t know if is it possible, thanks.

  7. Hi,
    I’m planning a trip to Turkey and I would like to take the train from Sofia to get off at Edirne. There is no way to reserve tickets on the Bulgarian railways website. Can they be booked only at the Sofia station? Looking at the timetable the train stops at 3-4a.m. at Edirne station, is it correct? Are there connections from the station to the center at that time?
    Thanks, Gio

    • unfortunately, sofia express is not sold online. yes, arrival at Edirne is too late (or too early should I say). train station is at the edges of the city, 5 km from city center. only transport to city center is by taxi at that time. ask help from station staff if needed.

  8. hello, thank you for sharing this information of train to Sofia. This is very useful for us.

    And excuse me that I have a question. If I would take the train from Edirne to Sofia. How much is the ticket price? (I cannot find any hints or info from internet, there is only price from Istanbul to Sofia.)

    Thank you very much.

  9. They charged me 10 EUR for my bike, even when I took of the wheels and it fitted perfectly in my compartment. At the ticket office they said I could take the bike without any cost, on the train I had to pay 10 EUR. Also the trainstaff is very unfriendly.

  10. Can I buy sleeper tickets in Istanbul for the train Plovdiv-istanbul?
    Also if I read correctly there is no sleeper trains from Oct 2 on, I’m travelling Oct 19

  11. Can’t remember but found out since that it’s incorrect but apparently because of construction on the line there have been long delays and the train goes only part of the way in Turkey and then you get bussed the rest because there are stations closed due to the same rail construction what do you know?

  12. I took the train this weekend but the train arrived in Sofia 4 hours later and on the way back, the train arrived in Halkali 2 hours later. I tried to claim but TCDD does not want to be responsible for it. Do you know how i can claim for it?

    • Hi Gonzalo. Sorry about that. TCDD Tasimacilik website explains such cases as below: “If it becomes clear that train will arrive destination with a delay of 60 min or more, passenger has the right to get off the train. Then the amount for “not travelled distance” will be refunded. This has to be done during travel, not afterwards. After travel, the only channel TCDD accepts complaints is written application to head of TCDD Tasimacilik or regional offices (in Istanbul, it’s at Haydarpasa). Since it’s a cooperated train, you can also follow steps of BDZ (Bulgarian State Railways).

  13. Hi, I shall be traveling to Istanbul for a holiday,and would like to visit sofia, some information (1) where to buy Train ticket ( 2) what is the cost for sleeper for two (3)how much it cost (4)and where to buy tickets in Istanbul (5)up to date timetable,I would appreciate in advance for info you will provide, cheers

  14. Hi ..
    thank you so match for all these important information.
    some details was not enough clear for me, about prices; It,s a bit confused:
    1- Should I by ticket for couchette first, then I have to by ticket for sleepers in addition?
    2- is single room (one bed) available? how much is it?
    3- How much the ticket (istanbul – sofia) – including sleeper (room with 2 beds- and single room).
    4- Can I buy tickets for round trip from Istanbul? Is it good choice?
    best regards

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