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Bansko To Septemvri Train – Narrow Gauge Railway Bulgaria


Modified: December 28, 2023

by Jannelle Ingram



The Bansko to Septemvri Train, also known as the Rhodope Narrow Gauge Railway, is a remarkable railway journey through the picturesque landscape of Bulgaria. This scenic route takes passengers on a nostalgic ride back in time, showcasing the beauty of the Rhodope Mountains and offering a unique travel experience.


The railway’s history dates back to 1945 when construction began with the aim of connecting the town of Bansko in southwestern Bulgaria to the town of Septemvri in central Bulgaria. The project faced numerous challenges due to the mountainous terrain, but eventually, the narrow gauge railway line was completed in 1948, covering a distance of approximately 125 kilometers.


Throughout the years, the Bansko to Septemvri Train has become a popular attraction for both locals and tourists alike. The journey offers a glimpse into Bulgaria’s rich cultural heritage and stunning natural scenery, with the train passing through charming villages, verdant valleys, and majestic mountains.


The history, route, and attractions of the Bansko to Septemvri Train make it a must-visit destination for those seeking an unforgettable travel experience in Bulgaria. Whether you’re a train enthusiast, a nature lover, or simply someone looking to explore off-the-beaten-path destinations, this railway journey will not disappoint.


History of the Bansko to Septemvri Train

The history of the Bansko to Septemvri Train traces back to the mid-20th century when plans were set in motion to create a railway connection between the town of Bansko and Septemvri. The project aimed to improve transportation and facilitate trade between the two regions.


Construction of the narrow gauge railway line began in 1945, but progress was slow due to the challenging terrain of the Rhodope Mountains. The rugged landscape presented numerous obstacles, including steep slopes and deep valleys, making it a monumental task for the engineers and workers involved in the project.


Despite the difficulties, the determination and perseverance of the construction team prevailed, and in 1948, the Bansko to Septemvri Train line was officially opened to the public. The narrow gauge railway stretched over 125 kilometers, showcasing the engineering ingenuity that went into creating this remarkable transportation marvel.


Over the years, the Bansko to Septemvri Train has served as a crucial link between the towns and villages along its route. It played a significant role in supporting the local economy, facilitating the transportation of goods and people. However, as modern infrastructure and transportation modes emerged, the railway’s importance gradually diminished.


In recent years, efforts have been made to preserve and revive the Bansko to Septemvri Train as a tourist attraction. The unique charm and historical significance of the narrow gauge railway continue to draw visitors from around the world, who seek to experience the nostalgia and beauty of this iconic railway journey.


Today, the Bansko to Septemvri Train stands as a testament to Bulgaria’s industrial and engineering heritage. It serves as a reminder of the challenges faced by the pioneers who brought this ambitious project to life, and it allows us to appreciate the beauty of the Rhodope Mountains and the communities that have thrived along its route.


Route and Stations

The Bansko to Septemvri Train route takes passengers on a scenic journey through the heart of the Rhodope Mountains, offering breathtaking views of the surrounding landscapes and charming villages. The train begins its journey in the town of Bansko, located in southwestern Bulgaria, and travels northeast towards its final destination of Septemvri.


Along the route, the train passes through several stations that serve as important landmarks and stops for passengers to embark and disembark. These stations include:

  • Bansko Station: Located in the town of Bansko, this is the starting point of the journey. Passengers can board the train here and marvel at the beautiful mountain scenery surrounding the station.
  • Velingrad Station: Situated in the spa resort town of Velingrad, this station provides a chance for passengers to explore the town’s healing mineral springs and serene natural surroundings.
  • Avramovo Station: Located at an elevation of 1,267 meters, this station is the highest railway station in the Balkans. Passengers can enjoy panoramic views of the Rhodope Mountains from this vantage point.
  • Pazardzhik Station: This station serves as a convenient stop for passengers looking to visit the city of Pazardzhik, known for its historical landmarks, vibrant culture, and traditional Bulgarian cuisine.
  • Septemvri Station: The final destination of the journey, Septemvri is a town steeped in history and charm. Passengers can explore its historical sites, local markets, and enjoy the warm hospitality of the region.

Each station along the Bansko to Septemvri Train route offers its unique attractions and serves as a gateway to explore the nearby towns, natural wonders, and cultural heritage of the Rhodope Mountains.


It is worth noting that the train operates seasonally, with reduced services during the winter months. It is advisable to check the schedule beforehand to plan your journey accordingly.


Rolling Stock and Infrastructure

The Bansko to Septemvri Train is operated using vintage rolling stock that reflects the historical charm of the railway. The train consists of a collection of classic narrow gauge locomotives, passenger cars, and freight wagons, preserving the nostalgia and authenticity of the journey.


The locomotives used on the railway are predominantly steam-powered, evoking a sense of bygone eras and providing a unique experience for passengers. The rhythmic chugging of the steam engine and the billowing smoke create a captivating atmosphere that takes you back in time.


In addition to steam locomotives, there are also diesel locomotives in operation, providing a more efficient and economical alternative. These diesel engines ensure the train can operate year-round, including during periods when the steam locomotives may not be in service.


The passenger cars are meticulously restored to maintain their original charm while ensuring the comfort and safety of passengers. The interior of the cars features comfortable seating, large windows for panoramic views, and adequate facilities for a pleasant journey.


The railway infrastructure along the Bansko to Septemvri Train route has also been renovated and maintained to ensure a smooth and secure journey. The tracks are well-maintained, allowing the train to traverse the mountainous terrain with ease. The stations along the route have been restored to their former glory, providing passengers with a glimpse into the architectural heritage of the region.


It is worth noting that due to the vintage nature of the rolling stock and infrastructure, the train’s speed is relatively slow compared to modern-day trains. However, this leisurely pace allows passengers to fully immerse themselves in the surrounding scenery and appreciate the beauty of the journey.


Overall, the combination of the vintage rolling stock, well-maintained infrastructure, and the unique ambiance of the Bansko to Septemvri Train creates a truly unforgettable travel experience.


Scenic Views and Attractions Along the Railway

The Bansko to Septemvri Train journey is renowned for its stunning scenic views, as it winds its way through the picturesque Rhodope Mountains. Throughout the trip, passengers are treated to a visual feast of natural wonders and cultural attractions.


As the train chugs along the tracks, it passes through verdant valleys, dense forests, and offers panoramic views of breathtaking mountain peaks. The Rhodope Mountains, with their rugged beauty and tranquil landscapes, provide a captivating backdrop for the entire journey.


One of the highlights of the Bansko to Septemvri Train journey is the opportunity to witness the changing seasons. In the spring, vibrant wildflowers bloom, covering the meadows with a riot of colors. Summer brings lush greenery and warm sunshine, while autumn dazzles passengers with its fiery foliage. Winter transforms the landscape into a magical winter wonderland, as snow blankets the mountains and the train gracefully carves its way through this snowy paradise.


Along the railway, there are also several attractions and landmarks that add to the allure of the journey:

  • Rila Monastery: Located near the railway route, Rila Monastery is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a must-visit destination. Its stunning architecture, rich history, and spiritual significance make it a cultural gem of Bulgaria.
  • Melnik: Famous for its unique sandstone rock formations and wine production, the town of Melnik offers a charming respite for visitors. The area is known for its delicious wines and quaint architecture.
  • Devil’s Throat Cave: Located close to the railway line, this cave is home to a majestic underground waterfall and mythical legends. It is a fascinating natural attraction that leaves visitors in awe.
  • The Dancing Bears Park: This sanctuary, situated near Belitsa, aims to preserve and protect brown bears that were once kept in captivity. It offers visitors an opportunity to observe these magnificent creatures up close.

These are just a few examples of the many attractions and natural wonders that can be discovered along the Bansko to Septemvri Train route. Whether you have a passion for history, nature, or cultural experiences, this journey provides an abundance of sights to satisfy every traveler’s interests.


Train Schedule and Ticket Information

The Bansko to Septemvri Train operates seasonally, typically from April to November, offering passengers the opportunity to embark on this memorable journey through the Rhodope Mountains. The train schedule may vary each year, so it is advisable to check the official website or contact the local tourism office for the most up-to-date information.


When planning your trip, it is essential to consider the duration of the journey and the frequency of departures. The total travel time from Bansko to Septemvri is approximately 5 hours, allowing ample time to enjoy the scenic views and explore the attractions along the route.


Tickets for the Bansko to Septemvri Train can be purchased in advance or on the day of travel, depending on availability. It is recommended to book in advance, especially during peak tourist seasons, to secure your seat. Ticket prices may vary based on factors such as age, class of travel, and destination. Children and seniors may be eligible for discounted fares.


To purchase tickets, you can visit the official website of the railway or visit the ticket counters at the respective stations. It is advisable to have your identification documents on hand, as they may be required for ticket verification.


When planning your journey, it is essential to consider any connecting transportation or accommodation arrangements at both the starting point and final destination. This will help ensure a smooth and enjoyable travel experience.


It is worth noting that the Bansko to Septemvri Train route is extremely popular among tourists, and peak travel periods may experience higher demand for tickets. Therefore, it is advisable to book well in advance to secure your preferred travel dates and seating options.


By planning ahead and familiarizing yourself with the train schedule and ticket information, you can ensure a seamless and delightful journey on the Bansko to Septemvri Train.


Travel Tips and Recommendations

To make the most of your Bansko to Septemvri Train journey, here are some useful travel tips and recommendations:

  • Check the Train Schedule: Before planning your trip, be sure to check the train schedule and confirm the operating months. It is advisable to plan your visit for the warmer months when the weather is more pleasant and the landscape is at its most vibrant.
  • Book Tickets in Advance: Given the popularity of the Bansko to Septemvri Train, it is recommended to book your tickets in advance, especially during peak tourist seasons. This will help secure your preferred travel dates and seating options.
  • Arrive Early: To ensure a smooth boarding process, be sure to arrive at the station early. This will give you ample time to collect your tickets, find your platform, and settle into your seat comfortably.
  • Bring Snacks and Water: While the train journey provides a unique experience, it is a good idea to bring snacks and water for the trip. Although there may be dining options available, having some snacks on hand ensures you have something to nibble on during the journey.
  • Dress Appropriately: As the train passes through different elevations and temperatures, it is advisable to dress in layers. This way, you can adjust your attire based on the changing weather conditions and ensure your comfort throughout the journey.
  • Prepare for Scenic Stops: The Bansko to Septemvri Train journey offers numerous scenic viewpoints where you might want to capture the breathtaking landscapes. Have your camera or smartphone ready for those picture-perfect moments.
  • Respect the Environment: While enjoying the journey, it is important to respect the environment and follow any guidelines or regulations set by the railway authorities. Keep the train and the surroundings clean and leave only footprints behind.
  • Explore Local Attractions: Take advantage of the stops along the route to explore the nearby attractions, such as Rila Monastery, Melnik, and Devil’s Throat Cave. Plan extra time to fully immerse yourself in the cultural and natural wonders of the region.

By keeping these travel tips in mind, you can have a memorable and enjoyable experience on the Bansko to Septemvri Train, immersing yourself in the beauty of the Rhodope Mountains and creating lasting memories of your Bulgarian adventure.



The Bansko to Septemvri Train, with its rich history, picturesque route, and charming attractions, offers a truly unique travel experience in Bulgaria. This scenic railway journey takes passengers through the breathtaking landscapes of the Rhodope Mountains, allowing them to immerse themselves in the natural beauty and cultural heritage of the region.


From the moment the train departs from Bansko to its arrival in Septemvri, passengers are treated to panoramic views of verdant valleys, majestic mountains, and charming villages. The vintage rolling stock and well-preserved infrastructure add to the nostalgic atmosphere, making the journey feel like a step back in time.


Throughout the route, there are numerous attractions to explore, from the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Rila Monastery to the unique sandstone formations of Melnik. Every stop offers a glimpse into Bulgaria’s rich history, culture, and natural wonders.


The Bansko to Septemvri Train journey is not just a means of transportation; it is an experience that connects travelers with the beauty of the Bulgarian countryside and the warmth of its people. As passengers marvel at the stunning scenery, share conversations with fellow travelers, and learn about the history of the railway, they create lasting memories of their time aboard this nostalgic train.


Whether you are a train enthusiast, a nature lover, or simply someone seeking a unique adventure, the Bansko to Septemvri Train is a must-visit destination in Bulgaria. Embark on this one-of-a-kind journey and be captivated by the beauty, history, and charm that await you along the railway tracks.


So, book your tickets, pack your bags, and prepare for an unforgettable experience as you embark on the Bansko to Septemvri Train. Let the rhythm of the steam engine, the magnificent views, and the cultural treasures of the Rhodope Mountains transport you to a world where time stands still and the enchantment of Bulgaria unfolds.