From Germany to Istanbul

  • 19 December 2021
  • 12 replies

Hello Crowd! 

At the beginning of February 2022 I would like to travel from Berlin to Istanbul. 
I have already seen that the train between Sofia and Istanbul is not running right now. Alternative is the bus. Do any of you have more detailed information if the train will run again in the near future? Or why there is nothing going on right now? 
I have planned to travel the following route: Berlin - Vienna - Budapest - Craiova - Vidin - Sofia - Istanbul 
Do you think this connection is cool? 

Have any of you ever traveled from Germany to Turkey and would like to share your experiences? 



12 replies

Userlevel 7
Badge +13

I did this trip several times :)  with the former direct coach from Bucharest to Istanbul or even the old through coach from Belgrad to Istanbul but all are suspened :/

Currently the trains to Turkey are suspended until further notice (due Covid) If they return Bulgarian Rail will publish the timetable here :)

another options to catch from Vienna or Budapest the Nighttrain to Bucharest and then via Ruse to Sofia :)

In direction of Turkey you can go by train as far as Swilengrad but if you are already in Sofia i would take a bus directly from Sofia to Turkey :)

Thanks a lot for your info! 

What exactly was your route and how many days did you take? Where did you make stops? 

I am unsure which Global Pass I should take.

How did you book the bus from Svilengrad to Istanbul? 



Userlevel 7
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Repeat: Read- do NOT try to even get on a bus from Svilengr-take a bus from Sofia for easiest or perhaps Plovdiv. Before the Gara centrala in Sofia-and to the side where the real busstation is are scores of small offices and agencies that offer bustrips to most Turkish towns. No need to anxiously book months ahead for that. Plus that Sofia is quite a nice city now to spend a day or so.

Do also note that, even more now due to the covid- even going by train to Bulgaria from DE/AT is a pain.

Plus that due to this situation many trains in Turkey itself are also cancelled.

Yes, I am quite aware that many germans feel that one should use train till very last stop-but be sensible and practical and save yourself lods of trouble. the savings are also negligible-if not even have to pay more for taxi's etc as a direct bus.

Userlevel 7
Badge +4


I did. this trip several times by bus/train and to 99% there will be no train running from Bulgaria to Turkey in February 2022. So you Must take a Bus. There are buses from almost every bigger Bulgarian city. Most „famous“ company is Metro. They are not really good, but you get what you pay for. Ticket can be bought online or direct at the ticket office.

Don’t trust online timetables for the buses. I was taking 10 days ago the bus from Varna to Istanbul and on the website obilet it said it leaves at 21.30, was also printed on the ticket, but the woman in the office at the bus station changed it with a pen to 21.00 and said it would be there already at 20.30. I came at 20.32 to the station. The bus stood already at the platform and just after I came departed… also in Burgas it should have left at 23.30, but left at 22.50… so don’t Trust online timetables.

I would not recommend buying an interrail for this tour. 
Best to go from Berlin by nighttrain to Budapest. Take the 15.10 nighttrain to Bucharest (if too much delayed leave in Videle) and from there the train to Ruse. After 4 hours stay in Ruse you can take the Nightbus to Istanbul at 6pm.

Other option is to leave that train already in Craiova and go via Vidin to Sofia. From Sofia you have more bus options to Istanbul.

Userlevel 7
Badge +4

@mcadv about many trains cancelled in Turkey right now: this is not true. Except a few trains (e.g. Bandirma to Izmir) everything else is running according to the timetable.

Userlevel 7
Badge +13


I had so many different Routes

Via Zagreb Belgrade Sofia was long time on of my favourite Route
another one that i used quite often similar to the suggest Route of @MartinM  was via Budapest to Bucharest (and catch there the  currently not operating direct coach from Bucharest to Istanbul) my journey was usually Berlin - Budapest (Nighttrain) half day in Budapest and get drinks and food 😃 then Nighttrain to Bucharest with a tight connection to Istanbul (but the train to Istanbul was usually waiting for us if the delay to Bucharest was not to high)  so it usually took me on the direct Trips without sightseeing 3Nights

Hello people! Do any of you have new info that is important to share?My route will be Budapest > Craiova > Vidin > Sofia > Istanbul - train & bus

Userlevel 7
Badge +4

Hello people! Do any of you have new info that is important to share?My route will be Budapest > Craiova > Vidin > Sofia > Istanbul - train & bus


well, Bulgaria reinstated a test regime it seems for people from “red zones” (e.g. Austria at the moment). Meaning that if the country you are coming from is in a red zone, that you will have to show a PCR on arrival! (max. 72 hours old, even if you are vaccinated!)
Maybe you can avoid it by telling them that you will only make a transit - I am not sure about that! In Romania they were asking in December only “where do you go?” I told them “transit to Istanbul” and then they didn’t even want to see my vaccination certificate… 
If you worry about that, then take the nighttrain until Bucharest and from there one of the direct buses (minimum 4 direct buses, all leaving in the late afternoon/early evening).

Safe trip and enjoy Turkey :)

Thank you so much! 

Userlevel 7
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Thanks so much! 

From where does the night train depart? Where did you get on?

Which nighttrain?

if you are talking about Budapest-Bucharest then from Keleti Palyaudvar. All trains to Romania depart from this station.

You are sure about the direct bus connection from Bucharest to Istanbul? What is the name of the bus company? I tried to research online, but i could not find anything suitable

Userlevel 7
Badge +4

Yes, 100% sure.

here you can see some routes:

overall there are at least 4 daily bus departures from Bucharest to Istanbul.