Sofia Express to depart soon

The overnight train service between Istanbul and Sofia will restart soon.

The overnight train giving daily service between Istanbul and Sofia, Sofia Express, which was suspended due to pandemic, will be resumed very soon.

The first statement about train was done by Turkish Minister of Transport in March, telling that Sofia Express and Transasia Express would start soon.

Another statement was done by Bulgarian Ministry of Transport last week, telling that Sofia-Istanbul train service would restart as of 25th of April. According to the statement, first train will depart from Istanbul on 25th April 22:00 and arrive at Sofia following day at 09:35 where first train will depart from Sofia on 26th April 18:30 and arrives at Istanbul following day at 07:00.

In weekly bulletin of European Rail Timetable, same date was announced for resume of Istanbul-Sofia train service, 25th of April. In same news, the start date of Istanbul-Bucharest service, Bosphor Express, was written as 3rd of June.

On the other hand, there’s still no official announcement nor information about Sofia Express neither in BDZ nor in TCDD Tasimacilik websites as of 19th of April. An officer at one station on route of train had told that the train might start on 9th of May.

Sofia Express is giving chance to travellers to get on the train in the evining from Istanbul or Sofia, spend whole night at compartment with berth and arrive at the other city early in the morning. Train departs from Halkali in Istanbul, which is quite far away from city center. However, Halkali is also the departure station of suburban service, Marmaray, by which many regions of Istanbul including city center and Asian side until Gebze are very easy to reach.

Border checks of Sofia Express is being done at train in Bulgarian side and unfortunately at station in Turkey.

Cover photo: Onur Uysal ©

9 replies »

  1. Ciao Onur,

    THanks for this information.



  2. Halkali also has a limited range of YHT connections. However the service is currently arranged such that the evening YHT arrivals will probably be after the Sofia Express has departed. It might be slightly better in the other direction. We will have to wait to see the detailed timings.

    • Seems so, at least for the few following years. As a matter of fact, neither domestic greek trains run east of Thessaloniki towards the border. A new train line is announced to be constructed that will follow a different path and until it is completed, no train service is prone to run between Greece and Turkey…

  3. This is excellent news. My daughter can finally come to visit me in Istanbul.

  4. Are there any news whether a shuttle connection will be arranged again between Halkali and Sirkeci?
    As the train arrives quite early and there are no exchange offices or credit card accepting machines that sell marmaray tickets at Halkali station, it can be quite a problem for foreigners arriving at Istanbul.

  5. Hello

    May i know how or where do i purchase train ticket from Istanbul to Bulgaria? Do i need to purchase ticket in advance? I appreciate your help. Can i purchase ticket online for foreigner? Thank you and regards.

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