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alevent
Traveller
3 comments

Posted 3 months ago

Hi,

This June, I would like to travel from Istanbul to Munich by train via Sofia, Bulgaria. I knew there is a train from Halkalı to Sofia but I am not aware of from there on. Any advice will be highly appreciated. Any agent in Istanbul where I can set a travel plan and get tickets necessary?

Many thanks.
Levent

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MisterSteve
Traveller
896 comments

replied 3 months ago

The Turkish part is the most difficult, you would be best going to a main railway station and seeking advice. Reservation is generally difficult elsewhere, they might be able to get you all the way to Munich but at what is known as "CIV" rate which is not always the cheapest (but does give protection for delays). They should be able to get you to Sofia or even Bucharest because that's where the direct cars go to - there is ONE couchette car to Bucharest and the onward journey from there is much simpler! Use www.bahn.de to see schedules from Bucharest (or Sofia, but with less accuracy for Serbia) and allow plenty of time for the Turkish train to be late.

I found a video last week of a guy who travelled from London to Istanbul using the direct car from Bucharest, it shows what the service is like (but in teh opposite direction so the reservation purchase was different). See the last 10 minute so this and make sure you understand what you are getting into. https://youtu.be/Bam_hdkfmSQ?si=q4j3uELO5ZiiR2mi

For onward journey from Bucaresti try https://bileteinternationale.cfrcalatori.ro/en/booking/search

Also, make sure you know whether you need visas, Bulgaria and Romania are in transition to full membership of the Schengen zone over the next few months (but starting with air travel) so if you do need visas, what you need may change before June

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alevent
Traveller
3 comments

replied 3 months ago

Hi,
Thank you very much such detailed explanation. I also found similar alternatives and looks best route seems to be Istanbul - Sofia - Bucuresti - Munih. Istanbul - Sofia route is regular now so not much problem, on the other stops there are 10-11 hours waiting in certain stations is necessary bu can be managable I think. As you mentioned, real deal is visa, I may need 3 visas unless Bulgaria and Romania will sign agreement soon. One of the article I read says it will be signed on March 2024, if so reletively easier process. Thanks again.

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nltrainer
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1334 comments

replied 3 months ago

Think again-this route is really only for dedicated train=yolcu fans.
The best site for an overview: seat61.co,, lists connections to UK for such fans
In SUMmer-from some date in june, there will even be a direct CAR=couchette from IST/Halkali to Bucuresti=cut off a long detour otherwise.
You may still think the classic route via what once was Yugoslavija can do= NO, cancelled, so from Sofia you would also need to go ROMania first-then HUngary-etc.
IF you still want to go by train-can wait till just a week before, there is not any need-nor even possible, to book tickets this early. Unless you very specific want 1st cl in a sleeper-young people are mostly already satisfied with seats without REServations.

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MisterSteve
Traveller
896 comments

replied 3 months ago

" best route seems to be Istanbul - Sofia - Bucuresti - Munih" - why would that be better than going direct from Istanbul to Bucuresti? It would take much longer, involve at least two extra trains and would probably need an extra reservation that could be hard to get in advance.

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alevent
Traveller
3 comments

replied 3 months ago

You are right, Istanbul - Bucuresti route will start on June 2024 according to the information I have. Hope it will go on according to plan.

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MisterSteve
Traveller
896 comments

replied 3 months ago

There is (promised) another option by a very differetn route. Optima Tours run a train, usually once a week, from Edirne to Villach in Austria. It isn't fast (but neither are the other routes) but it can be easily booked online and Villach opens up some cheap options to reach Munich (but once again allow a lot of time for the connection, probably 6 hours). Your problems will be getting to Edirne also in Villach, it's some distance from where this trains ends to the main railway station so luggage will be an issue. But the train does at least have food! See this video https://youtu.be/VjWavQUudI8?si=C3amD3tx7Xhx6G-4 and the website https://www.optimatours.de/en/ (turkish and german options at top of screen)

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alevent
Traveller
3 comments

replied 3 months ago

Thank you, now this is interesting.