727 - İstanbul Sofya Treni - OnurPassenger

Istanbul Sofia train guide for beginners

If you love food, get it beforehand

There’s no restaurant car in train. The only food is distributed by TCDD staff, a bottle of water, some fruit juice and biscuit (most probably only for sleepers). Buy what you need before you depart from Sirkeci, since there’s nothing in Halkali yet, and Kapikule is not different in midnight.

Passport check at Kapikule

Unfortunately, border police is not coming to you in Turkey, you have to go to him. In the middle of sleep, at about 14:30, someone (the staff) knocks the door and tells you to go to queue with your passport. After everybody comes, the officer comes, opens the pc. If you are lucky, it opens within 10 minutes. So all passengers wait at queue without doing nothing for 20 minutes, since officer doesn’t come 20 min earlier. Don’t bother, and use that time to get socialized with other passengers.

Kapıkule pasaport kontrolü - Onur
Kapikule border station. Photo: Onur Uysal

Passport check at Svilengrad

Thanks to border police of Bulgaria, they visit every compartment, get the passports, checks if it’s really you or not, and go. You don’t even have to get off the bed. The passports come back in half an hour. You can continue sleeping until then.

Stop at Dimitrovgrad for Bucharest train

In about half an hour after passport check by Bulgarian border police, if you are not in a deep sleep, you’ll recognize that train stops. There is Dimitrovgrad station. Bucharest wagons will leave the train there, and will follow another route towards Bucharest. It takes about 20 minutes. If you cannot sleep, it’s a good time to have some chat.

Dimitrovgrad molası - Onur
Dimitrovgrad train station. Photo: Onur Uysal

What’s vibration?

Everybody asks if the vibration in train bothers or not. Train has almost no vibration, no sudden breakes, fast turns etc. Put your phone on the table, and you’ll find it at exactly same place in the morning.

It’s not noisy, that’s sound of silence

Honestly, there’s a continuous sound of steel wheel touching steel rail. Regular clinks of rail weldings is also added in Bulgaria. For me they are like songs for sleep, but if you don’t like them, close the small window of your compartment. You’ll hear almost nothing very soon.

Photographing is a hard job

The train photography, as you may see some examples in Rail Turkey, is surely exciting. However, keep in mind that, almost whole travel is during night, doors of most of the comparments are close and it’s not easy to take a photo outside of small window even with cell phones.

Arrival at Sofia

You’ll arrive at Sofia in the morning. Sofia station is quite big, and there are enough facilities for basic needs. Station has metro and tram connection to city center. City center is 3 km away. It’s the second stop if you take metro. City is flat, sidewalks are wide, cars are respectful to pedestrians. It’d be good to have some walk after 10 hours of train travel.

Sofia train station. Photo: Onur Uysal
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38 replies »

  1. 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).


  2. 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


  3. 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


  4. Hi, is it possible to buy the tickets a day before departure? Will they be likely sold out? departure is Sunday (night) in March.


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