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A guy in my hostel here in Plovdiv wants to take a bus to Istanbul but finding the info on the net is a bit tricky.

This site seems to suggest at least two Turkish bus companies do the trip.

One of the sites they link to is only in Turkish and since it uses Flash, even Google Chrome can't translate it. We did find a page that seems to list departure times from Istanbul, but doesn't mention reverse trips, travel times, or prices.

The link for the other site they mention was broken but we could find the real site by Googling the company name. Unfortunately that site only seems to list destinations in Turkey so maybe they don't serve Bulgaria anymore or maybe there's another way to find their destinations in Bulgaria.

Can anyone handle the Turkish or find the missing destinations or find a better site that works?

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3 Answers

From Wikitravel:

Metro Turizm is a Turkish bus company that runs daily bus service to and from Istanbul in Turkey. Busses going from Plovdiv to Istanbul depart from Jug Station daily at 11:00, 14:00, 19:00, 22:30, and 1:00. The trip costs 40 YTL (as of the summer of 2011) and takes roughly 7 hours, depending upon the vagaries of traffic and the border crossing. Metro busses also depart daily for Bursa, Turkey at 19:00. A second bus line (Alpar) also has a daily bus from Jug Station to Istanbul that departs at 22:30.

Because of the potential lengthy border crossing into Turkey the trip can take several additional hours.

The Metro Turizm buses all seem to start in Sofia. The bus station there has a good web site (click in the upper right drop-down box for English).

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According to Seat61.com, you can take the train from Sofia to Istanbul in a sleeping-car, leaving Sofia at 18:55 and arriving Istanbul at 07:50 next morning.

Looking at a Bulgarian rail map, it would seem likely that the train would pass through Plovdiv, so it might be worth going to the station to ask. Otherwise you could always nip up to Sofia for the day, before taking the overnight train from there.

No idea about buses though...

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Thanks Gagravarr. The guy ended up going to the bus station and booking a ticket but I think it still makes a good test question. –  hippietrail Sep 4 '11 at 19:22
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"2) Bus replacement between Istanbul & Kapikule (Turkish/Bulgarian border) as engineering work is now affecting the 'Bosfor' & 'Balkan Express' from 19 March 2012 until October 2013... " says seat61.com/Turkey2.htm (last third of the page) –  user2863 Jul 29 '12 at 7:45
    
should this be a comment to @Gagravarr's answer? –  Mark Mayo Jul 29 '12 at 8:48
    
Mark, yes, because the thread appears (and is useful) for all travellers trying to find out whether bus or train is the better alternative. The train is currently (new info to the old thread) not running. Therefore, better take the bus! Best Armin –  armin Jul 30 '12 at 4:12
    
accordingly, moved this to Gagravvar's answer. If you're just adding to someone else's, do so as a comment. –  Mark Mayo Jul 30 '12 at 7:36
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We took a bus operated by Metro from Plovdiv at 22:30 to Istanbul today - arriving in record? time at 5:14.

The border took 1:05h, but we were lucky that our bus was not baggage-checked in detail. Price was 40 leva at 1.95 to the Euro.

Recommendable!

Watch out for the right bus station in the south of Plovdiv (next to the hospital at the roundabout on Bulevard Hristo Botev) where all southbound busses leave from.

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