Thrace to the Finish

August 11, 2010

The narrow guage train that runs from Dobrinishte to Septemvri is, quite simply, one of the world's great train rides.

The journey takes about 5-1/2 hours, so this is far from the fastest connection for travelers on their way to Sofia or Plovdiv.

Bulgaria's only remaining narrow gauge train makes the 125 km run four times a day, skirting the Rila Mountains before plunging into the dreamy countryside of the western Rhodopes. Along the way it climbs to Avramovo, the highest station in the Balkans at 1627 m, and chugs past Muslim villages with soaring minarets, and through narrow Velingrad Gorge before emerging onto the Plain of Thrace.

The only down side to taking the train from Bansko to Septemvri is that eventually you have to leave the mountains, and in the respect the ride is almost not long enough!