How To: Get from Belgrade -> Sofia -> Plovdiv in Less than 24 Hours
Traveling through countries like Serbia and Bulgaria can sometimes be quite confusing due to language barriers, unawareness and a plethora of other things, getting information is often quite hard. There is also this massive sense of hate between the countries so I feel sometimes that also leads to people not really wanting to help you get to the next place. Many locals that we talk to often mention that this dislike exists for their neighboring countries due to war and other such political, social and miscellaneous issues that are far beyond our tourist knowledge.
So, you are in Belgrade, Serbia and you want to get to Plovdiv, Bulgaria? Okay, well first things first is that you shouldn’t bother trying to book it in advance. (You should also know that you need ro stop in the capital of Bulgaria, Sofia, before going to Plovdiv.)
Daniel and I tried to book our train to Sofia a few times. Once, the day before because we thought that surely you could buy them one day in advance.
Outcome? No ticket.
We tried a second time on our day of departure. Daniel went to the train station at 8am on the advice of the ticket attendant the precious day to buy the ticket for our train leaving that night.
Outcome? No ticket.
We were told to come back at 12pm so at 1pm, just to be safe and give them time, we went to the train station…
Outcome? Ticket! Well, sort of…
We wanted a couchette sleeper for our train since the last overnight bus we took left us scarred with the fear of another sleepless night. However! At 1pm you could only buy the ticket and reserving a sleeper was a no deal.
How to: Book the first leg of the trip – a Train Ticket to Sofia.
You have some options…
1. Don’t be afraid to rock up to the train station when it’s not the peak of summer and just book your ticket before you get on the train. We can’t talk for any other time of the year but seems as though this line is never very busy. This way, you can book your train ticket plus the couchette spot all at once.
2. If you want to be safe like us, buy the ticket as early as you can and then either go to the train station a few hours before departure and book (we spoke to people who booked their couchette at around 7.30 for our 10.50 departure)
3. If you want to be exactly like us, buy the ticket as early as possible and then rock up half an hour before departure and ask them to put you on a couchette. This is hard because you may not always get a couchette if they have been previously booked out.
There are also buses to Sofia so if you love sitting upright overnight then go for the bus but to be honest the train ride is super, super cheap.
We Paid: 4090 Serbian Dinars which is around 44 Australian Dollars for two.
We Left: 9.50 pm departure from Belgrade.
We Arrived: 9am ish Bulgarian time in Sofia
How To: Get from Sofia to Plovdiv
After we got in to Sofia, we wanted to catch the bus to Plovidv. There is also a train but it takes an hour and a half longer and is more expensive. We walked to the bus stop and got the 9.50am bus to Plovidiv. The train station and bus station are located very close to each other and you need to just take a short walk to the bus station.
Beware! There are friendly Bulgarian men everywhere wearing a tourist helper friendly lanyard. Unless you want or need there help then try to shoo them away or they will follow you everywhere, “helping” you out and once they’ve helped you they will hound you for money until you give in.
We Paid: 28 Leva which is around 18 Australian Dollars for two.
We Left: 9.50am departure from Sofia.
We Arrived: 12ish pm into Plovdiv.
To get to the main square of Plovdiv when you arrive you need to take a right out of the bus station information/booking centre and walk down this street until you see the first right. Walk down this road and then you will see a round about. Take the first right which takes you to what feels like behind the bus station and keep walking down this road until you get to the main square.
We hope this helps! Stay tuned for more How To’s!