by Tom Brosnahan
Travel Info Exchange
The Bosphorus Express (Bosfor
Ekspresi) is the only train between
Turkey and European countries.
In theory it departs
from Halkalı, 28 km (17 miles) west of Istanbul's city center, on its route to Dimitrovgrad, Bulgaria, where the train divides. Some passenger and couchette cars continue from Dimitrovgrad to Plovdiv and Sofia, Bulgaria, other passenger, couchette and sleeping cars go to Ruse and Bucharest,
In recent years the Istanbul—Edirne portion of this train trip was operated by buses because of work on the tracks. In October 2015 trains resumed running between Çerkezköy (106 km/66 miles northwest of Istanbul), Edirne and Kapıkule (the Turkish border post on the Bulgarian border); and between Çerkezköy and Uzunköprü.
In August 2016, TCDD regional trains began to run all the way between Edirne and Halkalı, a station 10 km (6 miles) northwest of Atatürk Airport. But it is not yet known if or when the Bosphorus Express may depart from or arrive at Halkalı.
At Sofia you can connect with the Balkan Express to travel to Belgrade, and from there you would transfer
to another train to reach central and western
It's a long haul, but adventurous travelers may prefer it because it's a real travel experience rather than merely speeding quickly from one location to another.
In recent years the train equipment and standards have been improved. According to Mark Smith, the dean of European train travelers known as The Man in Seat 61, the journey is safe, comfortable, and a fine train experience. More...
the schedule on the Turkish
State Railways website.
The alternatives are to fly,
or to take an international
bus, which may be preferred if speed and cost are important factors.