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Turkey is equally bordered by borders and the sea, and one country with which it shares a border is beautiful Bulgaria.
If you can travel freely, it's a good idea to cross the border and try a slightly different way of life. Of course, spending time in Istanbul and really exploring this iconic and extremely historic city is a must. If you have enough or think you have seen as much as you can take for a trip, make your next stop in Sofia.
Sofia is the capital of Bulgaria and has even more history. Supported by the imposing Vitosha mountain, you also get nature. The drive between Istanbul and Sofia is pretty impressive, but if you don't have time to do your own bespoke road trip, the good news is that there are other ways to get there.
The distance between the two cities is approximately 550 km. Although it is a good distance, there are many ways to get there.
When crossing the border, remember to have all documents ready. This is a controlled border area, so you need a passport, a visa and proof of your e-visa or your residence permit from the Turkish side.
If you are not sure what you need to visit Bulgaria depending on your country of origin, you should check things in advance to avoid extra time and stress at the border.
Let's describe the best ways to get from Istanbul to Sofia:
The fastest and easiest way to get from Istanbul to Sofia is to fly. Istanbul currently has two main airports – New Istanbul Airport and Sabiha Gokcen on the Asian side. Both fly directly to Sofia and most are daily.
The flight time is 2 hours and 40 minutes. As soon as you arrive at Sofia Airport, you can take the shuttle to the city center. These run every half hour and it takes about 35 minutes to get to the city itself.
If you want to return to Istanbul, just reverse the instructions – it's easy!
With the long-distance bus
There is a bus once a day that runs between the two cities. The journey there takes 8 hours.
You need to get to the main Istanbul Otogar bus station in the city and connect to your main bus from there. It is a good idea to book your ticket early to get the best prices and avoid disappointment as there is only one service in this direction every day.
The bus is operated by Matpu Service, a Bulgarian bus company.
The bus also runs in the opposite direction once a day. So just reverse the directions to get from Sofia to Istanbul for your return trip, and again: Book early.
If you want to see the best of the landscape, you can take a train ride between the two cities. The combined time is almost 11 hours. You have to go to Halkali, which is located in the Istanbul district of Küçükçekmece. If you are not sure how to get there, the best thing is to get in a taxi and ask the driver to take you to the main train station in Chalkali.
From there, take a 4-hour drive to Kapikule, which is located in Edirne and is the border crossing between Turkey and Bulgaria.
Obviously, there may be a slight wait here while the documents are checked and you board your running train, which will take you to Svilengrad in about 20 minutes. From there, get on your next train to Sofia. The last stage of your trip takes about 4 hours and 45 minutes.
Yes, it's a difficult trip when it comes to swapping trains, but if you really want to see the passing landscape, this is a very good option.
Of course, you can drive between the two cities, but you have to be sure that you have to cross the border when renting a car. Some companies do not allow this, others do not. Check this at the time of hiring. If you are driving in one direction, check where you can return the car. In most cases, you can only rent a car for this trip if it is a return trip, i.e. H. You will return the car in Istanbul.
If you drive, you will of course need the paper and card versions of your driver's license and an international driver's license.
The good news is that the trip between Istanbul and Sofia is the fastest option and can be reached in just over 5 hours. The roads are of very high quality and the only delay you might encounter is to get out of Istanbul thanks to the traffic and at the Edirne border crossing. Again, make sure you have all your papers ready, and that includes car paper.
Travel safely and tell us how to get from Istanbul to Sofia.