The Best Way To Get To Plovdiv From Sofia
Knowing how to get where you are going is easy in most countries with just smart phone access. When you are dealing with a different alphabet and information is hard to find online, however, it can be a bit confusing in Bulgaria. This short guide should set you straight on traveling from Sofia to Plovdiv.
Plovdiv by Train
The train between Sofia and Plovdiv is a two-hour journey that is comfortable and reliable. The frequency is much lower than buses, however, and keep in mind the lack of air conditioning. This is the only good option if you are traveling with pets (keep your EU pet passport handy when you buy a pet ticket, which are a 50% fare). There is also no restaurant car like most of Western Europe, so make sure you bring along snacks and drinks. Upon arrival in Plovdiv, the central train station is a nice 15-20 minute walk to the center of town.
Plovdiv by Bus
In our opinion, bus is the most convenient way to get from Sofia to Plovdiv. Depart from the main bus station (next to the central train station).
Both the Central Sofia Railway Station and the Central Sofia Bus Station are easily accessible from Sofia Airport via the subway (called Metro in Bulgaria).
The best bus company, according to our own personal experience, runs every hour between Sofia and Plovdiv and is called Union Ivkoni, but unfortunately, their website is in Cyrillic, so you have two options.
You can buy your ticket in person (come early, it fills up!)
You can use a website like https://www.busexpress.bg/en/ (this also lists other bus companies and times).
Because signs at bus stations are not always with latin letters, look for these strange hieroglyphics:
София is Sofia
Пловдив is Plovdiv
*Important: pay attention to your destination in Plovdiv - whether it’s the north or south bus station. The South bus station is the most convenient in general, but if your accommodation is on the north side of the Maritza River, the North bus station may be a better option.
If you arrive at Sofia’s central bus station during meal times, keep in mind that there are healthier options upstairs where you can point and choose portions cafeteria-style, or you can opt for some very nice traditional banitsa (typical savory pastry with butter and feta cheese) near the revolving doors on the ground floor.
If you need it, a phone charging station is also upstairs in the lounge area, so bring a couple coins just in case, and toilets are 0.50 leva on the ground floor.
A Word of Caution Regarding Sofia Taxi Drivers
While in Plovdiv this is rare, please keep in mind that while you are in Sofia, some of the taxi drivers can be a bit unscrupulous. We recommend using the TaxiMe app if you use a taxi while there, though the subway system is also a good and reliable way to get around. Here's the TaxiMe app links: (for Android) https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.taxime.client&hl=en
AND for Iphone: https://itunes.apple.com/bg/app/taxime-client/id744137021?mt=8
If you are without service and having a hard time finding wifi, most of your mid to high end hotels will have a TaxiMe button in their lobby.
Car Rentals & Bla Bla Car
Some travelers find driving in Bulgaria a bit scary. For those who have lots of international driving experience, car rental could be a good option. We recommend you stick to the big companies from Sofia airport, in general, and if you book enough ahead of time, you can lock in a good rate (or travel in the off season, of course!).
Bla Bla Car hasn’t really caught on much here in Bulgaria. By all means, give it a go, but the probability of find a rideshare for where and when you want to go is pretty low.
That’s it! If you’ve booked one of our tours, we’re happy to meet you at one of the stations and get you to your accommodation if we’re not with a group at that time.