Kapitan Andreevo-Kapıkule border crossing

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Kapitan Andreevo-Kapıkule border crossing
<map lat='41.72072119663713' lng='26.33697509765625' zoom='12' view='0' float='right' />
Information
Countries: Flag of Bulgaria Bulgaria | Flag of Turkey Turkey
Type: Road
Motorway: E 80

This border checkpoint in the north of Edirne is the most-used spot for cross-border trade between the EU and Turkey, Syria and Iran and tourists going to Turkey by car. This is an absolutely legendary border crossing and the main gate to Turkey. It's also the second largest crossing in the world after Tijuana-San Ysidro.

Expect a high rate of traffic there. If you arrive here with a truck, it should be no problem to walk over the border by foot! At the end of both sides you can try to hitch a truck towards Istanbul or into Bulgaria.

When you cross the border by car expect to be checked 6 times, which costs you a lot of time especially in summer season. Waiting time between 2-8 hours can be seen as normal at this border checkpoint. Therefore, it is better to get out of the car, walk across, and stop another car on the other side.

July and August can be a frustrating time to hitchhike into Bulgaria from this border crossing. Most of the small cars are expatriate Turks returning to Europe from holidays, and their cars are always full. Also trucks cannot move in Bulgaria if the temperature is over 35 degrees. At this time of the year, it is best to try to hitch into Bulgaria early in the morning (start at sunrise).

Update 2022: walking across this border seems to be illegal and it is anyways recommended to be in a vehicle that will take you deeper into Bulgaria as hitchhiking close to the European border is near impossible (my guess is it should be easier going into Turkey). It is, however, still possible to walk over Kapitan Andreevo-Kapikule border by being extremely annoying to the police.

Sleeping

If you want to overnight at the border, it is better to sleep on the Turkish side. 500 metres from the border, there are large fields where one can pitch a tent and sleep undisturbed. On the Bulgarian side, on the other hand, the area is heavily populated by strange people. You can also try to ask whether you can sleep in the mosque on the Turkish side.

Experiences

Guaka had a terrible experience at the Kapitan Andreevo - Kapıkule border crossing in October 2008 when he was refused entry by a grumpy border guard who was probably looking for baksheesh. It took a lot of convincing to be allowed back to the truck to get back his backpack. The next day there was no problem to get in. It seems personnel is much friendlier in 2010, some people even speaking English.

Platschi traveled along this checkpoint four times, summer 2007 and 2008. Both times he had no problems with border guards or anything else.

uncle_sam01 traveled via this crossing twice - in July 2015 into Bulgaria and in June 2019 into Turkey. No problem with the crossing itself (it has been renovated fairly recently), but can confirm that hitching into Bulgaria was not easy

JanV with his friend walked over the border even though it is apparently illegal. After trying to hitchhike right before the border crossing and realizing how futile it is we went and asked the same guards that sent us away if there are any border crossings nearby you can cross on foot, we reiterated that no one will stop here because it's suspiscious to be hitchhiking right before a border and asked them nicely to just let us go to the European side (if you have a European passport you can tell them you just want to go home or something). Once over the first obstacle we got a stamp from the Turkish policeman on the side where the bus passengers are stamped. Before you do this you can ask bus drivers if they would be nice enough to let you ride on the bus just across the border since what follows is even more confusing. Once in no man's land many people may give you contrasting information (we even heard something about a personnel bus that is supposed to help us which never appeared, but if you aren't there in the middle of the night you can ask about it). The strategy that worked for us is annoying every border guard at the Bulgarian side. Since they can't tell you to leave they will have to think of a way to get you over, and be certain they have the power to let you through so you shouldn't feel bad about being annoying. Ask them to call their boss, constantly harass them while there are no cars and don't let them waste your time. After we realized they have the authority to let us through we just pestered them until they told a bus driver to get us over the border. We were stamped on the bus passenger part on the other side and continued walking.

Be aware that after you have walked over the border the hard part only begins as hours upon hours of hitchhiking on the highway gas station yielded 0 people who wanted to take us anywhere. If you are alone you might have more luck with Turkish truck drivers, but most people going here are full or scared you are an immigrant. We ended up walking over 15km to the road connecting Greece and Bulgaria, after Svilengrad, where we had more luck.

Other useful info

There is an ATM on the Turkish side. It only gives out Turkish lira (in Istanbul there are a couple of ATMs that give out euro and US dollars). You can change money on both sides, but the Turkish side seems slightly more reliable, and if you want to change Turkish money into euro you should probably walk back to Halkbank at the Turkish entry side (500 m from the huge building). But if you don't need money immediately, it's probably advisable to exchange it in Istanbul.

There is free wi-fi at the Shell station on the Bulgarian side.

Links