As I travelled through Bulgaria, I realized that there was not enough information about public transportation. This happened specially when I wanted to take the train from Plovdiv to Istanbul.
Nonetheless, I took the time to visit the train and bus stations personally to compare the prices and saw the timetables.
This is what I found:
TRAIN FROM PLOVDIV TO ISTANBUL
There is a night train that goes from Plovdiv Train Station to Istanbul Sirkeci Station every day at 9:57 P.M. and arrives at 8:24 A.M.
The cost of the train is 72 lev full price for adults and students.
The train tickets have to be purchased at the train station in the booth number 7 “International Railway Tickets”.
The office hours are 6:30 – 18:15. However, the woman that sells the tickets is often out of her working area, which means that you have to may have to wait for a while until she comes back.
BUS FROM PLOVDIV TO ISTANBUL
The company that runs daily buses from Plovdiv to Istanbul is called Metro.
Currently, buses depart at: 11:00, 14:00, 19:00, 22:30, 00:45 from the Plovdiv South Bus Station and arrive at Bayrampasa Bus Station in Istanbul.
The bus ride usually takes 6 hours, including the border crossing. The price for the bus ticket is 40 Lev for adults and 35 Lev for students. Remember to bring your passport when you purchase the ticket.
Metro Bus company offers a great service, including water, a small pie and coffee during the ride. The buses have TV screens and USB ports for you to charge your smartphone.
After comparing both options, I decided to go for the bus. Even though the bus ride takes longer than the train, it is cheaper and the service is excellent.
Please remember that the route from Plovdiv to Istanbul involves one border crossing, which can make your journey longer or shorter depending on the immigration agent and the number of passengers.
Make sure to bring all of the documents that you need in case you require a visa or evidence of your tourist condition.
A friend who has taken the bus and train from Plovdiv to Istanbul, told me that the border crossing by train is faster.
Nonetheless, I took the bus and the border crossing was around 45 minutes to one hour of wait while the agents from both sides would check all of our passports.
In case you need to change money, there is a small currency exchange booth inside a free duty area on the border.
I hope that you find this post useful. If you think that there is something else worth adding, please let me know.
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