From one beautiful city to another let’s look at the easiest ways to get from Sofia to Bansko. There are actually quite a few ways to get between the beautiful capital city of Bulgaria to this little nomad town in the mountains with the second tallest mountain in Bulgaria.
It might feel intimidating to navigate around Bulgaria with all the Cyrillic letters but almost everywhere, especially on public transport, you will find standard alphabet words as well to help you.
It’s actually quite easy to get from Sofia to mountain towns like Bansko. You just have to make sure you look in the right places and always arrive early because you never know if a bus or train will leave a few minutes early or not.
Let’s get right into all the different options on how to get from Sofia to Bansko. In this post, you will find the different options, ticket prices, links to sites where you can book from, including which option we recommend and why.
What are the best ways to get from Sofia to Bansko?
Sofia to Bansko is quite a common trip for locals, expats, and tourists alike. Most locals say the Pirin National Park right next to Bansko is one of the best places to go hiking and skiing in Bulgaria so it attracts people from all over the place.
Since it’s such a popular route, there are plenty of different options to get between the two cities. Below you can find the different options and select your mode of transport based on how much time and the amount of money you want to spend, as well as the convenience of your trip.
One thing we love about travelling around Bulgaria, in particular, is how amazing the mountains and nature are in this Balkan country. It makes the scenery so much more enjoyable when you travel around.
Let’s dive in!
Sofia Airport to Bansko by bus
Average price: $6 for a one-way ticket to Bansko
Average time: 2 hours and 45 minutes
Convenience: 5/5 if you can time it right!
Where to book the bus: Omio
If you’re landing at the airport and looking to get straight to Bansko as easily and as conveniently as possible then this is the way.
The only downside about this bus from the airport is that it only operates once a day and leaves at 4:30pm. So it’s convenient if your flight comes a little bit before that. Otherwise, some of the other options may be better for you.
We have seen a few random days where the bus doesn’t operate or where there are no tickets available on Omio for this route, so we highly recommend booking this bus in advance.
In case this option works out for you, it’s a good option to ring or message the bus company beforehand to make sure they’re actually coming! We landed shortly before 4:30 when we arrived in Bulgaria, and we missed the bus because we hadn’t pre-booked it. So yeah, we had to spend the night in Sofia!
You don’t want to be hanging out with all your bags for a bus that isn’t cominglike we did.
Sofia bus station to Bansko by bus
Average price: $10 one way (book in advance to make sure you get a seat)
Average time: 3 hours
Where to book the bus: Omio
This is definitely the next best option in our opinion if you can’t catch the bus from the airport to Bansko.
The bus leaves from the central station in Sofia a few times a day depending on the season. It’s good to check the times from Sofia to Bansko here. The bus usually leaves at 8:30am, 9:45am, 11:25am, 1:15pm, 2:00pm, and 4:45pm. So if you miss one you will likely be able to catch another one coming shortly after.
The nice thing about the bus from Sofia central station to Bansko is that you don’t have to transfer at all and it takes you directly to Bansko. The drive isn’t bad and it goes by quite quickly.
The buses can get quite full so it might be best to buy your ticket in advance to make sure you get a seat. Worst case though you can try to catch the next bus to Bansko.
Pro tip: Full or not, we recommend always getting to the bus station early. We found it slightly confusing when we first got there as there is both an international and a domestic bus station. We arrived at the international one and had no idea how to find our bus (obviously). Luckily we had some extra time so with the help from a few locals we got to the right bus stop in time!
If you take the bus from Sofia bus station to Bansko, let’s just quickly cover how you get from the airport to the central station in Sofia…
Getting from Sofia Airport to Sofia bus station by metro
When getting from Sofia Airport to the central bus station, we recommend taking the metro. You can take a taxi (more details on this below) but we find it just as easy to take the metro. And it’s a lot cheaper if there’s only one or two of you going.
The metro leaves directly outside terminal two. You can pay by card or with cash at the ticket machine. Tickets are 1.6 Lev ($1). You can see the different metro lines and time tables for the Sofia metro here. The metro will take you to the central station and from there you can hop right on the bus to Bansko.
The airport is at the end of the yellow line. You will switch at Serdica and go on the blue line from there. All stops are announced and written in English on the metro, so it shouldn’t be too hard for you to follow. From Serdica, it’s two stops to the central station on the blue line.
Getting from Sofia Airport to Sofia bus station by taxi
Another option to get to the city center is by taxi. To avoid getting scammed, only take an official OK Supertrans Taxi. You should see on the side of the car that they have the number 9732121. The trip shouldn’t cost more than 15 Lev ($9) to take you to the central station. It is always a good idea to ask the driver for an estimated price beforehand.
We honestly just don’t love dealing with this kind of stuff so for us, it’s so much easier taking the metro. Plus it’s cheaper and you can pay by card (9/10 times when the machines are working). But taking the taxi is an option and it’s quicker so if you prefer that option, then go for it!
Sofia to Bansko by train
Average price: $9 one way
Average time: 7-8 hour train ride
Where to book the train: BDZ
This is for the scenic lovers out there! We love taking trains and taking in the beauty of the countryside. And most of the time trains are just as fast as busses. However, this is not the case when taking the train from Sofia to Bansko.
Taking the train from Sofia to Bansko is roughly an 8-hour train ride. And on top of that, you first have to get to the central railway station.
We personally love the shortest, cheapest, and most convenient route which in this case is not taking the train. But some people love the scenery and the chillness from taking the train so we totally get that. We have heard that this route is incredibly beautiful so if you have plenty of time, by all means, we encourage this!
The train leaves from Sofia a few times a day – usually at 6:35am, 10:20am, 1:20pm. There is also an overnight train which leaves at 10:55pm. So you have a few options and in case you want to save money on your accommodation you can take the overnight train.
We recommend bringing some snacks (always bring snacks!) and drinks + water for the train ride since it’s a long one. During the journey, you will have to transfer once along the way but it’s quite straightforward.
Sofia to Bansko by private transfer
Average price: $70 one way (roughly)
Average time: Just under 3 hours
Where to book the private transfer: Through the Bansko app.
Click here to get the Bansko app for iPhones or click here to get the Bansko app for Androids.
If you’re fine spending a bit more money, then this is the most convenient option. The price above is per transfer, so if you’re a small group of people then this option will only be a little more expensive than the other options listed above. (Especially if you take into consideration buying metro tickets, getting to the central station, waiting for the bus, buying bus tickets, etc.)
What makes this trip extra convenient is the fact that there’s a good chance your driver will drive you directly to your accommodation in Bansko. It’s obviously not very cheap for a three-hour drive, it’s also not that expensive. Especially if you can split it with a few other people! But if you’re travelling solo then maybe opt out of taking a private transfer.
Sofia to Bansko by rental car
Average price: Anywhere from $5-12 a day + gas
Average time: 3 hours
Where to book the car: Rentalcars
If you want the freedom to go wherever you want while you’re in Bansko then renting a car is the best option. That way you can go wherever whenever you want and don’t have to depend on public transport.
It’s nice to have a car when you go from Sofia airport to Bansko and when you go hiking in the Pirin National Forest or to do groceries in the neighbouring town (this is cheaper than buying groceries in Bansko).
We recommend renting a car from the Sofia Airport since it’s usually the cheapest option. Especially if you return it there as well. The further you book the car rental in advance the more likely you are to get a better discount.
You can rent a car for as little as $250 a month. If you want the freedom to go wherever and cruise around the country then go with this!
You may also like…
- 5 Beautiful Hikes to Do in the Pirin Mountains
- How to Hike From Bansko to Vihren Hut
- How to Hike the Famous Vihren Peak in Bulgaria
- Hiking the Beautiful Sinanitsa Hut and Peak – Pirin National Park
- Exploring Alpine Lakes in the Pirin National Park
We hope you have the best time in Bansko! You’re in for a serious treat whether you’re heading to Bansko to enjoy the digital nomad life at Coworking Bansko or just heading this way to hike some mountains in the Pirin National Forest.
Bulgaria is incredible and Bansko is the perfect place to enjoy yourself. If you have any questions about getting to Bansko from Sofia or anything else Bansko-related then feel free to contact us here or DM us on our Instagram.
Dom & Jo
Red White Adventures