Bansko by Train - My Personal Preference
If you enjoy a good train journey then this certainly is one of Europe's most characterful. Travelling from either Sofia or Plovdiv (or anywhere else in the Country) by mainline train services you have to change at the village of Septemvri. From here you join Bulgaria's only narrow gauge railway which then takes you on a winding tour up into the mountains with spectacular scenery all the way.
Whilst the physical journey takes about twice as long as the bus the transcendental trip is almost too short. The views from the rickety old-fashioned carriages, with their wood-framed double-glazed windows, offer constant visual distractions as you cross river viaducts with sweeping valley views, pass through tiny hamlets with bright-pastel beehives terraced on the sunny side of the hills, and round bends with sheer clifface drops at the bottom of which you can spot the stretch of track that you traversed maybe half-an-hour previously.
The backdrops are not the only distraction. The train itself isn't a tourist one - it's a seven-day-a-week, fifty-two weeks-a-year means of transport for the locals and so there's a constant coming and going as people go about their daily lives. Village women visit the town shops and markets, some selling, others buying. For schoolchildren and workers its their daily commute. Everyone seems to know everyone and there's a constant exchange of greetings and gossip which continually ebbs and flows, ever-changing as the twenty-four station stops each contribute their own new batch of personalities.
This is the sort of journey where packing a book proves redundant. Having made the journey twice, once up, once down, a total of about 14 hours in all, I don't think I even read 50 pages AND it was a good book!
Not only is this a great train ride but it is also a smoker's delight. Because the line is mostly single-track with two-way traffic there are strategic stations where the track doubles to allow the trains to pass each other. 5 minutes here, 5 minutes there - just enough time to pop out for swift fag break and further pass the time of day with your fellow passengers.
There are four trains a day in each direction with the terminuses of the 125 km line being Septemvri and Dobrinishte. The journey from Plovdiv takes about 5 and half hours (9.90 leva e/w) and that from Sofia between 6 and 7 hours (9.50 leva e/w). In both cases there's plenty of time to grab some lunch (and a takeaway sandwich and beer for the ride) when changing trains at Septemvri which has a couple of really cheap kiosks.
For times and up-to-date fares the BDZ website has all the details - clicking on the train number gives the station stops and timings so you can plan your cigarette breaks!
For a nicely written piece, with some enthusiast details, click here: Chris Bailey's Today's Railways Article
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Bansko Bus Station
Bansko is well connected to the major cities of West Bulgaria by buses. This page in Bulgarian (the link is under Google Translate) lists all departures to and from Bansko and also fares. Note that buses to Sofia co to either the Central Bus Station or to Bus Station Ovcha Kupel (which Google translates as Sheep Fonts) in the western parts of the city, located on Tsar Boris III Blvd. from where you can take tram no.5 to the city center.
Do not mind the weird characters in the URL, just copy the entire link.
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Getting To Bansko By Bus
Bansko really is in the middle of nowhere, almost 1,000 metres up in the mountains and 150 km and 170 km respectively by road from from Sofia and Plovdiv. The town's bus station is located on the main Patriarh Evtimii road, about 5 minutes walk north of the centre, and is served by regular buses from Sofia (about 7 a day) and less regularly from Plovdiv (3 a day).
The journey from Sofia takes about three and a half hours with most buses leaving from the central bus station. The route is operated by several competing companies with a one-way fare of about 14 leva (Jan 2010).
From Plovdiv the three services run at different times from the three different bus stations with a journey time of about 4 hours. However the usual websites fail to agree on timings and departure stations and so it's best to enquire in person at the city's Avtogara Yug (ideally with someone who can translate for you) in advance of travelling.
If travelling in a group there's also various companies offering airport transfers from both Sofia and Plovdiv and whilst I've never used any of these this one looks quite reasonable - http://www.bulgarian-transport.com/
Firts website is the National one (but best double-checked for the Plovdiv services) and the second is the Sofia main bus station's.
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Transfers in Bulgaria!
I`m living in Bulgaria and I know a person who can make a Sofia-Bansko/Bansko-Sofia transfers....If I have to be honest he makes a transfers in whole Bulgaria:)!
About the prices I`mnot sure ,because it depence of the situation/numer of the people,the dates...etc../
If you are interested....please send me an e-mail!
I`ll be glad to help you!
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Basko by bus
How to reach Bansko? From Sofia its about 3 hours by bus and you pay 5 lv, departing from the Princess station (or: also called Sever station, along the bulevard Maria Luisa). You go via Blagoevgrad then. You van also take the bus to Gotse Delchev, which stops at the Bansko Bus station. From Sofia, you can also take the bus to Blagoevgrad, and change busses there for Bansko. All these busses leave several times a day.
Bansko by rail
Reaching Bansko by train from Sofia: you make an enourmous detour: you have to take the train that goes in the direction of Plovdiv and which, at Septemvri changes direction to Bansko. The train is slow (from Septemvri to Bansko it takes a enormous slowdown: taking 4 hours to get to Bansko) yet, the scenery should be magnificent, you make a quickstop at the highest trainstation in the Balkans.
Nice and easy
A tradional Horse and cart,unfortunately the horse didnt hang around for his picture to be taken,he was off !!!!
Helicopter on standby
just in case of any in juries on the mountains,theres always a helicopter on standby to bring you down safely from the mountains.
Don`t want to go in one of these !!!!
Just thought I`d share my humour with you !!!!!
I don`t really want to travel in of these...Do you !!!????