Veliko Tarnovo to Bucharest: Border Crossing by Train

Border Crossing

After two nights in Veliko Tarnovo, we crossed the border towards Bucharest, Romania. This time, we crossed the border by train.

Border crossing from Veliko Tarnovo to Bucharest

When crossing the border from Veliko Tarnovo to Romania, there is a possible way to get to the border point on your own. The nearest town to the border with Romania is Ruse, but as far as we found out, there is no public transport from the town of Ruse just to the other side and you would have to charter a taxi.

There are also international trains from Bulgaria to Romania, which can be taken from Gorna Orjahovica station, if you want to take it near Veliko Tarnovo. The journey to Bucharest takes about six hours. We chose to take this train.

Buying train tickets to Bucharest in Veliko Tarnovo

Train ticket office in Veliko Tarnovo

Train tickets can be purchased at the train station, but Veliko Tarnovo’s train station is a bit far from the city centre. There is a small railway ticket office in the tourist area of the town, where we bought our tickets. The ticket office is located along the main street of Veliko Tarnovo town, diagonally opposite the Tequila Bar Funky Monkey and next to the Sex Shop.

Train tickets

We bought tickets to Bucharest for the 11:15am departure the next day. I am not sure about their fare system, but the total was 54.95 Lev for two people with seat selection. Payment is by cash only; credit cards are not accepted!

Bus from Veliko Tarnovo to Gorna Orjahovica station

Tourist Information

The journey to Bucharest takes approximately 6 hours and no food is provided or sold. Therefore, we left the city of Veliko Tarnovo with food from a supermarket.

International trains to Bucharest do not pass through Veliko Tarnovo station. You can take a local train from Veliko Tarnovo station to Gorna Orjahovica station, but we decided to take a bus as buses can be taken from the city centre. Gorna Orjahovica train station can be reached by bus #10.

We asked at Tourist Information in Veliko Tarnovo town centre and found that bus #10 leaves in front of the city hall (Veliko Tarnovo municipality) at 8:30, 8:50, 9:10, 9:30, 9:50, 10:10… with the following frequency The buses leave from the bus stop on the side of the road going east on the main street of the city.

Bus stop for Gorna Orjahovica

We boarded bus #10 at the bus stop next to restaurant ‘Shtastliveca’, close to our guesthouse.

Bus #10

We boarded the bus at 9:22 am and arrived at Gorna Orjahovica station at 9:45 am. The fare is 3 levs per person.

Boarding an international train at Gorna Orjahovica station

Gorna Orjahovica railway station

There was a board at Gorna Orjahovica station where you can find the information of your train. The original departure time of our train was 11:15 am, but on the board, it said the train was 70 minutes late. The train should have departed Sofia at 7am, and a 70-minute delay already is not very understandable…

We later found out that this train was actually an international train coming from Istanbul, Turkey.

Romanian railway carriage.

It said our train would depart from platform 5-3, but there are only three platforms at this station. Where is the platform 5-3?

Anyway, the train was delayed for 70 minutes so we had time. We sat on platform 1 and watched, and just before 11am, a Romanian train car came in on the platform at the back. We thought this was probably the international train we were on, so we went to platform 3 and showed our ticket to the staff there, who also pointed to the Romanian car. It would connect with the train coming from Sofia to Bucharest.

Second-class seating

A Bulgarian car with plenty of graffiti was also attached to this train, and a few other passengers boarded the Bulgarian car without air-conditioning. Seeing this, we also boarded the Romanian car that the staff pointed out to us. This one was air-conditioned and had cloth-covered seats. There were sockets on the seats for charging.

The Bulgarian car with lots of graffiti

At around 12.30 pm, a train that apparently came and connected to us. And finally, our carriage left the platform at 12.40 pm with only us on board.

Leaving Bulgaria at Ruse

Ruse railway station

We arrived at Ruse, the border town on the Bulgarian side, at around 3pm. According to the train schedule, the train is scheduled to stop here for one hour. Some people boarded the train from this station, and a few passengers boarded our carriage in which we had been the only two people until then. However, it was not yet full.

After the train stopped, we waited on our seats in the car, and an official came round to collect our passports. After a while, the passport was returned with the departure stamp and the train left the platform again at around 3.30pm.

Romanian immigration at Giurgiu Nord

Border river Danube

Leaving the Bulgarian border station Ruse, the train moved slowly across the Danube River, which flows along the Bulgarian-Romanian border. After crossing this river, it’s Romania.

The Immigration on the Romanian side is in the town of Giurgiu Nord. We arrived at the station in Giurgiu Nord at 3.50pm. Similarly to when we were at Bulgarian Immigration, an officer came and collected our passports.

After a short wait, the passports were returned, the train departed immediately after that. We entered Romania safely. The train should arrive in Bucharest in another two hours. At this time, it was 4:40pm.

Incidentally, the SIM card we bought in Bulgaria was supposed to roam and we were supposed to be able to use the internet within the European Union, but as soon as we entered Romania, we didn’t have telephone signal. Even we turned roaming on in the settings, we couldn’t connect to the internet. However, when we restarted the phone a while after the train started running, we got a signal and it started showing that the 4G internet connection was also active, albeit weakly. A bit of a relief.

Arrival in Bucharest

Bucharest Northern Railway Station

It took about two hours after leaving Giurgiu Nord to arrive at Bucharest Northern Railway Station. The time was 6.50pm, well behind schedule.

We considered staying overnight in Bucharest, but decided to take the train all the way to our next destination, Sinaia. The story is written in a separate post.