How to go from Sofia to Bansko

Sofia to Bansko – bus, train, private & shared transfers

Most folks will arrive in Bansko via Bulgaria’s capital city, Sofia, some 160 kilometres to the north.  It’s an easy trip and there are several options – here are the details on how to get from Sofia to Bansko.  If you’re arriving from Plovdiv, then here are details on how to get from Plovdiv to Bansko (and vice versa).

We’ll explain how to go from the city of Sofia to Bansko as well as how to get from Sofia Airport to Bansko.  We’ll cover the fastest way to go from Sofia to Bansko, the cheapest way to go to Bansko from Sofia and also the most convenient.

THIS POST MAY CONTAIN COMPENSATED AND AFFILIATE LINKS MORE INFORMATION IN OUR DISCLAIMER

Where is Bansko?

Bansko is well-known as Bulgaria’s biggest ski resort.  The town is around 2 – 2.5-hour drive from Bulgaria’s capital city, Sofia.  The Sofia to Bansko distance is 150 km. It can also be reached in around 2.5 hours from Plovdiv.

Where_is_Bansko_Map

How to get from Sofia to Bansko

The closest airports to Bansko are Sofia and Plovdiv.  Sofia Airport is linked to Central Sofia by local buses and the excellent metro (subway) system.  It’s easy to get from both Sofia Airport to Bansko and also from Sofia City to Bansko.

How to get to Bansko from Sofia:

  • Metro, Train & Public Bus from Sofia to Bansko
  • Metro & Public Bus – the cheapest way to get from Sofia – Bansko
  • Shared Transfer from Sofia to Bansko
  • Private Transfer from Sofia to Bansko – the fastest way
  • Airport Taxi – from Sofia to Bansko – the most expensive way to go to Bansko from Sofia
  • Rental Car and driving from Sofia to Bansko

This article will detail how to get transport both directly from Sofia Airport to Bansko and also from Central Sofia City to Bansko.

If you need a private transfer you can book and prepay your transfer here

There is no Sofia airport to Bansko bus service.  To take a bus from Sofia airport to Bansko, you will need to travel to the central Sofia bus station first of all.

How to Get From Sofia Airport to Bansko

Sofia is the nearest airport to Bansko Bulgaria.  To get to Bansko from Sofia airport involves taking transport from Sofia airport to the city of Sofia and from there to Bansko.  Or taking a direct transfer from Sofia Airport to Bansko.  Returning by bus from Bansko to Sofia airport involves the same journey in reverse, traveling first to Sofia city center bus and train station, and then to Sofia airport.  We have listed all the options below.

Arriving at Sofia Airport

Sofia Airport has two terminals.  The older, terminal 1 has few facilities and a distinctly Communist feel, and the new terminal 2.  Check which terminal your flight arrives at here.

If you wish to travel from Sofia to Bansko on public transport, then your first stop should be one of Sofia’s bus stations.  There are two Sofia bus stations that travel to Bansko.  The easiest is Sofia Central Bus Station, which is co-located with Sofia Train Station.  You can reach this easily via the Sofia Metro system. and therefore go from Sofia Airport to Bansko by bus.

You don’t need to take a taxi – simply buy your 1.60 leva metro ticket at the airport.  Just ask for a single journey ticket, they’re all the same cost.  Then get the metro (there is a single line from the airport) to SERDIKA station.  At SERDIKA change lines (there is only one line to change to) for the CENTRAL RAILWAY STATION.  The Sofia central bus and Sofia train stations are at the same stop.

Sofia_Bus_Stations_and_Airport_Map

How to Go from Sofia Airport to Sofia City

There are public buses from Sofia Airport to Sofia from both terminals.  A bus (the 384) links terminal 1 and terminal 2, which are 1.4 kilometres apart. It ain’t a great walk. The bus runs between 0700 and 1900 every 30 minutes and apparently on demand afterwards.  The Sofia Metro (subway) system runs directly to the airport, but only to terminal 2.   You can also take the public bus to the central bus and railway station.  The 384 stops outside both terminals.  The bus from the airport to the centre takes a lot longer than the very convenient Metro.

You can find out more about the public buses in Sofia City here.  The Sofia Metro has an excellent website.

sofia-metro-lines-map-2016-july

You can buy metro tickets at a counter or a machine. Bulgarian leva is required. The cost is 1.60 leva for your trip (for any trip). The trip to the Central Railway and Bus Station takes about 30 minutes. You will need to change to the other line at SERDIKA station.  (There are 12 stops from the airport to Serdika, then 2 stops from Serdika to Central Railway Station).

If you plan on exploring Sofia before moving to Bansko, here’s our guide to the best things to do in Sofia.

Where to stay in Bansko

If you’re a skier, then you may want to stay at the higher end of town near the Gondola,  however, during ski season most hotels, apartments and guest houses in Bansko will provide a shuttle service to the ski area.  Outside of the ski season, there are more restaurants and places to eat in the old town.  There are a host of places to stay in Bansko – here’s our pick of the luxury places to stay in Bansko, mid-range places to stay in Bansko, and budget accommodation in Bansko.

The Kempinski Grand Arena:  This is five-star luxury at Bulgarian prices and that means its fantastic value.  (go on check the rates, you’ll be pleasantly surprised!).  The five-star Kempinski has TWO outdoor pools (and one indoor pool too!).  The Veranda Bar and Lounge have amazing views of the mountains, there’s a Piano Bar, and you’ll also get access to a 24 hour gym, a thermal spa (also with beauty spa treatments too!) and there are both indoor and outdoor hot tubs too. It’s quite simply glorious.  Check rates and book your luxury 5 star getaway here.

The Regnum Bansko Ski Hotel & Spa has a heated outdoor pool (it’s enormous)- plus water slides and a children’s pool too, plus there’s a free shuttle to Banya Village to the Banya Therma complex too!  There’s live Friday and Saturday night jazz here at the Regnum and there’s also a gym, children’s room, and gardens too.  Rooms here are suites, with kitchenettes and seating areas as well as seriously well-equipped rooms.   You’ll love it and can check rates here.

The Premier Luxury Mountain Resort has both an indoor and outdoor pool and spacious rooms with wooden interiors.  There’s also a sauna and hammam here, plus a kids club too.  Rooms are sumptuously decorated and very spacious, and the hotel is in a great location.  You can check availability and rates here.

The name should give it away for my final recommendation for Bansko hotels with pools. The Hotel 7 Pools spa, has, yes, you’ve guessed it, 7 pools.  There are outdoor pools here and an indoor pool for kids with a waterslide.  There’s also a state of the art spa center and a fitness center too.  The hotel provides apartments, with a fully equipped kitchen, private seating area, bathroom, and bedroom.  Sound like your sort of place?  See what other people say here. There are also 3 types of saunas, a steam room, 2 hammams, a tepidarium, as well as a salt room, shock barrels, and a VIP SPA apartment.   And the rates are superb, check them out here.

Rental Cars from Sofia to Bansko

Driving from Sofia to Bansko is easy and it is simple to organize a rental car for collection at Sofia Airport.  You can also organize rentals in Bansko.  One way drop offs tend to more expensive.

Rental cars are also available in Sofia city and airport.  Get the best quotes for rental cars from Sofia here. It takes approximately 45 minutes to drive from the airport via the Sofia Ring Road to the main motorway towards Bansko.  Use maps.me or google maps to navigate through the city and beware of trams.  The motorway is easy and Bansko is signposted from the motorway.  Beware potholes and pedestrian “sleeping policeman” style bumps in the road.

Signposting throughout Sofia and en route to Bansko is in both Bulgarian Cyrillic and English.  Signs are not always obvious.

Place Names in Bulgarian

  • Sofia in Bulgarian is София
  • Bansko in Bulgarian is Банско
  • Blagoevgrad in Bulgarian is Благоевград

Airport Taxi from Sofia to Bansko

This is the most expensive option, if you have NOT prearranged your transport from Sofia to Bansko, then agree on a price with the taxi driver.  Costs vary depending on the size of the vehicle and the Sofia to Bansko taxi price is likely to be in excess of 80 euros / 160 leva.  Most prices in Bulgaria for transfers will be quoted in both euros and Bulgarian leva.  A euro is worth 2 leva.

Depending on traffic, a taxi from Sofia Airport to Bansko will take around 2-2.5 hours.

How to Take a Sofia to Bansko Private Transfer

Most transfer companies that provide private transfers from Sofia to Bansko are based in Bansko.   There is a combination of Bulgarian companies and British expats who run these businesses.  All are competitive and provide a variety of sizes of vehicles.  It’s possible to book and pay online with some, although most prefer cash on arrival at your destination in either leva or euros.  All of these companies offer a direct transfer from Sofia airport to Bansko and a transfer Sofia to Bansko for your return home.

The Sofia to Bansko transfer time is around 2 hours.

Here’s a selection of companies that provide Bansko airport transfers.

  • www.banskoblog.com: Private Bansko to Sofia Transfers from 56 Euros per car each way. Contact: [email protected] / 0892 348 600 – or use the app – http://banskoblog.com/mobile-apps/
  • Steve Transfers Company – summer prices from 65 Euros per car each way.  Winter prices from 85 Euros each way for a transfer from Bansko to Sofia.
  • Bansko Express – from GBP10 per person shared transfers from Sofia to Bansko plus GBP1 booking fee – more details here
  • Bansko Tourist Information – Private Transfers from 70 Euros per car each way.  Shared transfers in winter only 17.50 Euros per person.  
  • Bansko Transport – from 70 Euros per car each way
  • Two Heads Bansko – from 78 Euros per car each way
  • Bulgarian Transport – from 65 Euros per car each way
  • Edelweiss Inn – Sofia Airport to Bansko from 120 Leva – [email protected] – and other locations in the Bansko area
  • Balkanity Travel provides private door-to-door transfers using 8+1 vans (Opel Vivaro and VW Caravelle) and offer UNLIMITED luggage too! – prices from 11.90 Euros per person / 95 Euros per vehicle – more information at https://www.facebook.com/balkanity/
  • Around Bulgaria – transfers from 70 Euros.   Contact Yuri here

Shared Transfers from Sofia to Bansko

There is no designated timed Sofia to Bansko shuttle, although you will be able to arrange a shared shuttle from Sofia to Bansko, so long as you are flexible with timings.  Most shared transfers between Sofia airport and Bansko will coincide with the arrival of flights.

GetYourGuide provides shared Sofia to Bansko transfers – at various prices depending on the season and number of travellers. Get prices here  You can book online and get 100% refunds if you need to cancel!   

Bansko Express also offers shared shuttles – that meet UK flights – check pricing here

Book your transfer NOW and save money for your time in Bansko with a Sofia Bansko Transfer Shuttle.

Ride Shares between Sofia and Bansko

If you’re looking for a shared Sofia Bansko transfer, especially in the lower seasons (i.e. not ski season and not August), then try the Bansko Notice Board on Facebook where folks generally post if they’re looking to share a ride.  You can also try the Co-Working Bansko group also on Facebook.

You can also find Sofia to Bansko ride shares in this group too.

How to Take the Bus from Sofia to Bansko

Finding the Sofia Bus Stations for Bansko

There are two bus stations that serve the route Sofia to Bansko.  The first (and the most convenient) is the Sofia central bus station.  You can reach this easily on the Sofia metro. The second is the Sofia’s Ovcha Kupel Bus Station.  It’s necessary to take two public buses, or a taxi from the airport to Sofia’s Ovcha Kupel Bus Station.  Find out about the bus route from Sofia Airport to Ovcha Kupel here.

Sofia_Bus_Stations_and_Airport_Map

If you arrive into Sofia Airport before around 1530 then it’s possible to make the journey to Bansko on public transport on the same day. (follow the directions below for Sofia to Blagoevgrad to Bansko if you arrive late in the day, as there are no direct buses to Bansko after 1400).  The most direct route on public transport is by bus from the Central Bus and Railway Station.

Taking the Sofia Bansko bus is easy and cheap.  We have taken the bus from Sofia to Bansko many times, with mulitple bags, which can be stored in the luggage compartment.  It is quite safe.

You can find timetables for buses throughout Bulgaria here.

Buses from Sofia to Bansko

Buses from Sofia Central Bus Station to Bansko run more frequently over the winter season, but the Sofia Bansko bus time table is 08:30, 09:45, 11:25, 13:15, 14:00 and 16:45  The cheapest way to arrive is to take the Sofia to Bansko bus. The Bansko to Sofia Bus runs back to each of the different Sofia bus stations.

The Sofia to Bansko bus price is 16 leva per person.  Buy Sofia to Bansko bus tickets at booths at the bus station, or simply pay the driver as you enter.  There is space for larger bags underneath the bus.   The route from Sofia to Bansko goes via the town of Blagoevgrad bus station where there is usually a 10-15 minute stop.  It is unlikely that your driver will speak English.  The bus from Sofia to Bansko takes 3 hours, including stops.

All signage both for timetables and on the buses themselves is ONLY in Bulgarian Cyrillic text.

Place Names in Bulgarian

  • Sofia in Bulgarian is София
  • Bansko in Bulgarian is Банско
  • Blagoevgrad in Bulgarian is Благоевград

Buses from Bansko to Ovcha Kupel bus station – the more difficult to get to (it’s 22km from the airport, no metro stop) bus station are more frequent. In summer they run at 0700, 0920, 1150, 1230, 1305, 1355, 1430, 1510, 1549, 1620, 1630, 1730.

The public buses run all year round, as Bansko is open as a town all season.

How to Go From Sofia to Blagoevgrad to Bansko

If you cannot get a bus directly to Bansko, then take a bus from Sofia Central Bus Station to Blagoevgrad.  (We seem to do this all the time!) This will cost 10 leva and it will take 2 hours.  Once in Blagoevgrad (there is just one bus station here) take a bus from Blagoevgrad to Bansko.  You may have to buy a ticket at one of the ticket stations inside the bus station, you may be able to pay on the bus.  It appears to depend on the mood of the driver. The bus from Blagoevgrad to Bansko takes 1 hour and costs 6 leva.

Blagoevgrad_Bus_and_Train_Stations

Where is Bansko Bus Station

Bansko bus station is at the bottom of the town.  It is 3 minutes from the Bansko train station.  Everywhere you might want to go in Bansko is uphill from both the bus and the train station.  Taxis are expensive in Bansko.  A taxi from the bus station to the Gondola area will cost around 8-10 leva.  It takes 25-30 minutes to walk and it’s a steady uphill.

Bansko_Bus_and_Train_Stations_Main_Square_and_Gondola

For the bus from Bansko to Sofia an up to date bus timetable is posted on the doors of the Bansko bus station.  It is only in Bulgarian.  Use Google Translate to help you out.

Bansko Bus Station Timetable July 2017

How to Take the Sofia to Bansko Train

Taking the train from Sofia to Bansko is not an easy option.  (It is plain difficult and we seriously don’t recommend this route at all. There is no direct Sofia Bansko train.  It is a convoluted route.  From Sofia Airport you’ll need to get to the Central Railway station.  (Take the Sofia metro line 1 from the airport, change at Serdika metro station and then get on metro line 2 to Central Bus/Railway station).

If you really want to take the train for part of the way, then take a train from Sofia to Blagoevgrad and then take the bus from Blagoevgrad to Bansko.

While Bansko does have a train station, the route from Sofia is a minimum one change and 6.5 hours. If you do want to take a train from Sofia to Bansko, it’s best to take a train to Blagoevgrad (2.5 hours) and then a bus from Blagoevgrad to Bansko (1 hour).  Equally if you want to take a return Bansko to Sofia train

The last train from Sofia to take that will get you to Bansko (on a bus from Blagoevgrad)  on the same day is at 1400  You will need to be in Blagoevgrad by 1830 in order to catch the last Blagoevgrad Bansko bus on the same day.  The train from Sofia to Blagoevgrad costs 8 leva.  This train-bus combination will take around 3 hours and 30 minutes.

Bulgarian Trains Fares and Timetables can be found on the official site in both Bulgarian and English  http://www.bdz.bg/en/

When leaving Bansko the times for trains are posted online and also in the train station.  Buy tickets shortly before departure.

Bansko Train Timetable July 2017

Our Experiences going from Sofia to Bansko

We have utilized rental cars, private transfers, shared transfers, buses and trains on our journeys between Sofia and Bansko.  This isn’t a difficult journey, it simply requires a little planning depending on the time of day or your arrival.

Other easy routes to travel in Bulgaria

Plan your Trip to Bulgaria

Resources

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