There are tons of things to do in Plovdiv or Sofia and the cities are actually quite close to one another. So if you are wondering how best to get from Sofia to Plovdiv or Plovdiv to Sofia, with or without a car, here is your quick guide.
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Sofia to Plovdiv by Car
Rental cars in Bulgaria are quite affordable and we used them during our Bulgaria roadtrip adventure as well. Just do your research in advance to see which rental companies are good or which are like ours… taking seriously forever to clear the car and overcharging. (Next time I will go with an internationally ren ownd company like Sixt.) A drive takes around 80 minutes if there are no traffic jams.
Taking a taxi from Sofia to Plovdiv or vise versa isn’t a good idea (expect $70-90 if you are not being ripped off, that is), better hitchhike if you don’t want to drive yourself. The best way is to check on BlablaCar and in Bulgarian facebook groups, so you don’t have to stand by the road outside of town to hitch a ride. Hitchhiking is quite safe. Just don’t expect a seatbelt (even though you might be in a slightly speeding car).
Sofia to Plovdiv by Train
Trains from Sofia to Plovdiv leave daily and regularly. You can technically just rock up at the Central Train Station and get your ticket for your Sofia to Plovdiv train trip, but it’s always wise to check the timetable online first. Depending on how much time you have and money you want to spend, you can choose between the regular train or the faster express train. As a rule of thumb, trains are so affordable in Bulgaria that you can easily splurge on faster trains or first classes.
Whatever you decide to do, the line you need to get on is either Sofia to Svilengrad or Sofia to Burgas (where you can see Pink Lakes, by the way). Trains usually take between 75 and 100 minutes and are direct. If you happen to get one that takes 4 hours, you know that you need to change trains and the waiting time makes the journey that much longer. A one way journey costs $5-$6.
Sofia to Plovdiv by Bus
To catch a bus from Sofia to Plovdiv, you can order a ticket online and pick it up or get it at the Sofia coach station right next to the Central Train Station. There are plenty of buses leaving daily and services are provided by different operators. Therefore, prices and trip durations vary as well. The farther in advance you buy a ticket, the more choice you have. Check prices, times and availabilities online. Bus companies that run the Sofia Plovdiv bus route are: Union-Ivkoni (Fri-Sun), Arda-Tur and “Vitosha-Express” OOD (all week).
A bus ticket for either way between Sofia Plovdiv costs between $7 and $13 and takes roughly 100 minutes. Note that there are multiple bus stations in Plovdiv, so you better check the bus pick up and drop off locations. They could vary, for instance between Rodopi, North or South.
Sofia to Plovdiv with a Tour
Sofia and Plovdiv being the two largest cities in Bulgaria, there are tons of tours to be had from either city. You can opt for one day trips from each city. Or even have a tour combining both cities in case you are pressed for time or love joining small group tours to mingle with fellow travellers. In case you do seek solitude, why not treat yourself to a full day shuttle bus tour to Plovdiv?
In case you are in Plovdiv and want to see Sofia for the day, you can get a day trip to Bulgaria’s capital. The entire thing takes around 6 hours and you will get in-depth insights into the best attractions and will quickly realize why Sofia is such an underrated destination. You’ll want to come back! (I definitely am again and again.)
Sofia to Plovdiv by Airport
In theory, you could also fly from Sofia to Plovdiv. Both cities have airports. However, accounting for travel time to and waiting time at the airports, you are better off not choosing this option. Really, you are not saving time.
The Sofia Airport is only around 30-40 minutes from the centre and easily connected by the 184 or 84 busses and metro. Buy your ticket in advance at the airport kiosk (1.60 leva + extra ticket for luggage). In Plovdiv, Airport Krumovo is 10k outside. Your only option is to use local taxis. They cost around 10-15 leva to take you into town.
What’s the Best Way to Get from Sofia to Plovdiv?
As always, this depends entirely on your preferences. Maybe you love doing a Bulgarian roadtrip for famous July 1 and would hire a car anyway. Maybe you rely on public transport like I do. The advice I’Ve received from multiple locals, however, is to choose buses over trains as they are faster and more comfortable. The price difference is minimal.
Tell me, have you been to either Sofia or Plovdiv yet?
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