Final Up to date on August 7, 2023 by Nellie Huang
Bulgaria is only a three-hour flight from most components of Europe and it’s extremely reasonably priced. But it stays an under-visited vacation spot in Japanese Europe.
After my first Balkan journey virtually 10 years in the past, I used to be so pleasantly shocked to seek out such an fascinating area that has seemingly slipped beneath the radar. The Balkan states, spanning throughout southeastern Europe, are simple on the pocket, and are chocked stuffed with historical past and Soviet structure.
I lastly returned to Bulgaria this summer season, and rekindled my love for the underrated Balkan state. Bulgaria is a wonderful nation packed to the brim with wealthy historical past and tradition, and a tinge of Soviet edginess that you simply simply can’t discover in western Europe. Right here’s my Bulgaria journey information full of all the pieces it’s essential to know earlier than you go to Bulgaria.
Bulgaria Journey Information 2023
Price of Journey in Bulgaria
Excellent news, you don’t have to interrupt your financial institution to go to Bulgaria. Bulgaria is an extremely low cost vacation spot and it’s way more reasonably priced than different components of Europe. You’ll get a bang in your buck, happening Bulgaria day excursions for as low cost as $50 and staying at respectable accommodations for $50/night time.
Meals in Bulgaria is de facto reasonably priced, contemporary and scrumptious. A meal in a typical restaurant is often round US$5-10 together with drinks. A pint of beer prices round $1-2.
Count on to pay round $30-50 for a midrange lodge with air-con, personal rest room and WiFi. Inns on the seaside are undoubtedly way more costly, at $70-150 for a four-star lodge.
Learn how to Get to Bulgaria
Sofia Worldwide Airport is the primary gateway to Bulgaria. It’s a small airport however it’s served by most main cities in Europe.
You will get low cost flights to Sofia from London, Amsterdam and Paris for round $100 return (three-hour journey). Airways that serve Sofia embrace British Airways, Air France, Lufthansa, Wizz Air and Ryanair.
Aeroflot and LOT Polish Airways fly from New York to Sofia for round US$700-1000 return. You’ll most probably have to transit through Moscow or Warsaw.
As a landlocked nation surrounded by 5 nations, Bulgaria is simple to get to overland. However most trains are usually previous and tacky, and journey occasions are often slower than buses.
From Serbia, the Balkan Categorical runs day by day between Sofia and Belgrade (11 hours) from June to September. Trains depart from each cities within the mornings. Try Serbian Railways’ web site for particulars.
From Romania, you possibly can catch a prepare from Bucharest (10-hour journey) to Ruse or Veliko Tarnovo. From Turkey, the day by day Bosfor (Bosphorous Categorical) goes from Istanbul to Sofia and continues onto Bucharest. The journey takes 9 hours and there are sleeper cabins on the prepare. Examine the Turkish State Railways web site.
It’s even cheaper to go to Bulgaria by the worldwide buses from the encompassing nations they usually’re comparatively snug. On my first journey to Bulgaria, I took an in a single day bus from Istanbul to Plovdiv and it was simple and smooth-sailing.
When touring out of Bulgaria by bus, the price of entry visas for the nations involved will not be included within the costs of the bus tickets. A superb timetable for worldwide connections might be discovered right here.
Plovdiv is the primary gateway for these touring overland from Greece, Turkey and Macedonia. Sofia is the closest metropolis for these touring overland from Serbia and Romania. Right here’s extra data for every journey route:
Worldwide Bus Routes to Bulgaria
When to Journey Bulgaria
The most effective time to journey Bulgaria is in the course of the shoulder season, from April to June, and September to October. The climate will probably be extra nice, and the costs are decrease. I went to Bulgaria in April on my first journey and it was excellent.
It will possibly get actually scorching in summer season, from June to August, with temperatures rising to 40+ levels Celsius. Summer season can be the height tourism season, when the seashores on the Black Sea are packed to the brim.
Winter is generally off-season throughout the nation, and many of the smaller cities will shut down. However Bulgaria is without doubt one of the finest price range ski locations in Europe, with reasonably priced and glorious ski situations. Bansko is the most well-liked ski resort.
How Lengthy to Journey Bulgaria?
This is dependent upon your curiosity after all, however two weeks are sufficient to discover Bulgaria correctly and get to know its tradition and other people.
I spent round every week in Bulgaria on my first journey and 10 days this time. I felt that I truly acquired to understand it very well on my second journey and noticed much more than on my first journey.
Should you’re an intrepid traveler, I like to recommend the next itinerary because it’ll help you see one of the best of the nation at a soothing tempo. You most likely wish to skip the seashores, however I recommend conserving Varna in your itinerary because it’s a cool coastal metropolis.
Two-Week Bulgaria Itinerary
- Days 1-3: Sofia
- Day 4: Day journey to Seven Rila Lakes & Monastery
- Days 5-7: Veliko Tarnovo
- Day 8: Day journey to Etara Ethnological Centre
- Days 9-10: Varna
- Day 11: Day journey to Nessebar
- Days 12-13: Plovdiv
- Day 14: Sofia
Learn how to Get Round Bulgaria
It’s comparatively low cost and simple to drive in Bulgaria. The primary highways are effectively constructed and indicators are in each Bulgarian and English. You may lease a compact automotive in Sofia for US$78 per week or $130 for 2 weeks.
As a way to drive on Bulgarian roads, you’ll need to show a vignette bought at petrol stations and put up workplaces. Rental vehicles employed inside Bulgaria ought to have already got a vignette.
Bulgarian drivers might be aggressive and most don’t persist with the pace restrict, so simply remember.
Bus is the quickest and hottest strategy to get round Bulgaria. There’s an ideal bus community throughout the nation and distances aren’t that lengthy. You will discover many bus and prepare schedules right here.
Listed below are the primary bus corporations in Bulgaria:
- Biomet — Runs between Sofia and Veliko Târnovo, Varna and Burgas.
- Etap-Grup — One other intensive intercity community, with buses between Sofia, Burgas, Varna, Ruse and Veliko Târnovo.
- Union-Ivkoni — Hyperlinks most main cities and plenty of smaller ones, together with Sofia, Burgas, Varna, and Plovdiv.
Touring by prepare is the most affordable approach to discover the nation, even cheaper than taking the bus.
For instance, a prepare ticket from Sofia to Plovdiv prices simply US$5 for a two-hour prepare experience. Though the trains are generally previous and sluggish, a few of the rail journeys provide stunning views.
All trains are run by the Bulgarian State Railroad Firm. You may purchase prepare tickets on-line.
|Period for Major Journey Routes in Bulgaria
The place to Keep in Bulgaria
There may be all kinds of lodging to select from in most components of Bulgaria they usually’re less expensive than in different components of Europe.
Sofia: Rosslyn Thracia Resort Sofia
As top-of-the-line accommodations in Sofia, this elegant lodge is situated just some minutes from Vitosha Road, a pedestrianized avenue proper within the coronary heart of town. Room charges are affordable, decor is fashionable and the breakfast unfold is great! Examine charges right here.
Veliko Tarnovo: Park Resort Sevastokrator
This lodge has distinctive views of Veliko Tarnovo from above in addition to a pleasant swimming pool. It’s technically situated in Arbanasi, a hilltop city simply 10 minutes away from Veliko Tarnovo. Examine charges right here.
Varna: Rosslyn Dimyat Resort Varna
This upscale fashionable lodge is situated within the coronary heart of Varna subsequent to the Sea Backyard, 500 m from the Varna Seashore. You may’t get a greater location that that. Costs are reasonably priced for a 4-star high quality lodge. Examine charges right here.
Plovdiv: The Keep Resort Central Sq. Plovdiv
An extremely trendy lodge situated proper within the coronary heart of previous city Plovdiv, the Keep Resort gives glorious worth for cash. Rooms are spacious and have numerous amenities. Points of interest are all inside strolling distance from right here. Examine charges right here.
Meals in Bulgaria
I’m a giant fan of Bulgarian meals, particularly the barbecued meats which can be ubiquitous right here.
Bulgarian delicacies shares traits with different Balkan cuisines — it’s like a mix of Greek and Turkish meals. Meat is the primary staple, together with contemporary components like tomatoes, dill and onions.
It’s truly fairly simple to seek out vegetarian Bulgarian dishes on almost each menu, although resulting from Bulgaria’s love affair with its cheese and dairy merchandise, vegans received’t be so fortunate.
There are some Bulgarian staples it’s essential to attempt:
- Shopska salad — A mixture of tomatoes, cucumber, sirene cheese
- Tarator — A chilly yogurt soup fabricated from cucumber and garlic
- Kebapche — Generally known as Kebab in most locations, grilled meat with spices
- Meshana skara — Blended grill that sometimes contains kebapche, kufte, and a skewer of pork meat much like a souvlaki
The place to Eat in Bulgaria
There are many Bulgarian eating places all over the place, in addition to extra worldwide choices within the large cities. I’ve discovered meals to be actually meals wherever I went.
Listed below are a few of the finest locations I ate at:
- Hadjidraganov’s Cellars, Sofia — This conventional Bulgarian restaurant could be a little touristy, however it’s one of the best place to go for a really feel of Bulgarian traditions. Parts are large, and meals is served on picket Medieval-style platters. Learn evaluations.
- Restaurant Shtastliveca Outdated City, Veliko Tarnovo — Rated as one of the best restaurant in Veliko Tarnovo, this place has glorious views of the previous city and gives a well-rounded number of conventional and fashionable delicacies. You should definitely make a reserving upfront! Learn evaluations.
- Park Resort Sevastokrator, Arbanasi — The restaurant at this lodge in Arbanasi not solely has nice views, but in addition an reasonably priced and good menu. They use contemporary merchandise and meat and I extremely advocate the grilled trout.
Issues to Do in Bulgaria
Discover Sofia’s Outdated City
Bulgaria’s capital Sofia makes a wonderful base to get an introduction to Bulgarian tradition and historical past. The town has an eclectic mixture of Roman buildings, Ottoman mosques and Soviet blocs. You’ll want no less than three days to see all of them.
Begin with St. Alexander Nevski Cathedral, the second largest cathedral within the Balkan area. Then head on St George Rotunda, the oldest constructing in fashionable Sofia that dates again to the 300s. Don’t miss the Central Bathtub, one of the photographed buildings in Bulgaria.
This bike tour is an effective way to see all of Sofia’s sights on wheels.
Hike across the Seven Rila Lakes
Out of doors lovers would love the Seven Rila Lakes, a bunch of glacial lakes located within the northwestern Rila Mountains near Sofia. Mountaineering trails weave their approach across the lakes which can be perched 2,500 meters above sea stage.
Every lake carries a reputation related to its most attribute function. The very best one is named Salzata (“The Teardrop”) resulting from its clear waters that enable visibility in depth.
Should you’re tight on time, you possibly can e book a day journey to the Seven Rila Lakes from Sofia.
Go to the Well-known Rila Monastery
Rila Monastery is the most important and most well-known Japanese Orthodox monastery in Bulgaria. The enduring landmark is situated near the Seven Rila Lakes, at 117km (73 miles) from Sofia.
Based within the tenth century, the monastery is known as after its founder, the hermit Ivan of Rila (876 – 946 AD), and homes round 60 monks.
Wander round Veliko Tarnovo
Of all of the locations I’ve visited in Bulgaria, Veliko Tarnovo might be my favourite. This small city was as soon as the medieval capital of the Bulgarian empire, and now has a particular appeal because of its lengthy historical past.
Veliko Tarnovov is a hodgepodge of spectacular castles, museums and historic websites. Stroll alongside the cobblestoned Gurko Road and admire well-preserved previous homes, and watch craftsmen onerous at work within the Samodovska Chashia Market.
Discover the Tsarevets Fortress
The enduring image of Veliko Tarnovo is the Tsarevets, a formidable fortress that dominates its skyline. With solely pedestrian entry, you possibly can stroll alongside the breathtaking fortress partitions and absorb views onto the encompassing hills of Sveta Gora.
Youngsters are free to run, clamber and uncover, the one place the place warning is suggested is at Execution Rock on the northern finish of the fortress. Because the title suggests a fall from right here right down to the Yantra River can be nothing lower than deadly.
Immerse within the Open Air Etara Ethnographic Museum
Positioned near Veliko Tarnovo within the city of Gabrovo is that this stunning open air museum that transports you again in time. The ethnographic centre spans over 7 hectares of space, showcasing how life was in the course of the Bulgarian Nationwide Revival.
The park has replicas of conventional homes throughout that interval, in addition to water installations and craftsmen workshops. There are additionally shops promoting sweets and paintings from yesteryears.
Go to the brand new Neofit Rilski Historic Park
Only a few kilometers outdoors of Varna is the newly opened Neofit Rilski Historic Park. It’s but to be absolutely accomplished, however already gives some thrilling actions. I used to be somewhat impressed by the size of the park.
For curious vacationers, the historic park is a superb place to find out about Bulgarian historical past, from the Neolithic interval to the Thracian Civilization and Second Bulgarian Empire.
The park provides the feeling that you simply’re stepping again in time, right into a medieval complicated with archery demonstrations and horse-riding shows. There are quite a few replicas of archaeological web site and historic monuments in addition to houses that folks used to stay in.
Calm down on Varna’s Seashores
As a vibrant coastal metropolis, Varna is the primary gateway for vacationers which can be heading to the Black Coastline. Intrepid vacationers will most likely select to skip the seashores, however don’t miss out on the appeal of Varna.
The town is full of historical past but it’s completely fashionable, with a lush and inexperienced seafront park to amble on. Its seaside just isn’t too unhealthy to whereas away a lazy afternoon and luxuriate in some contemporary seafood.
Within the metropolis centre you’ll discover Bulgaria’s largest Roman baths complicated and its best archaeological museum, in addition to a energetic cultural and restaurant scene.
Get Misplaced within the Charming Outdated City of Nesebar
The traditional a part of Nesebar is situated on a peninsula that juts out from the Black Coastline (beforehand an island).
Nesebar has on a number of events discovered itself on the frontier of a threatened empire, and as such it’s a city with a wealthy historical past. Because of the metropolis’s abundance of historic buildings, Nesebar grew to become a UNESCO Web site in 1983.
At present it’s actually standard with vacationers particularly in summer season, so get there early if you wish to get misplaced in its slim cobblestoned streets.
Soak Up Historical past in Plovdiv
As Europe’s oldest repeatedly inhabited metropolis, Plovdiv is Bulgaria’s heartthrob with a romantic previous city. The town is full of colourful and creaky Nineteenth-century mansions that are actually house-museums, galleries and guesthouses.
Because the European Capital of Tradition 2019, Plovdiv is rapidly drawing extra music and artwork lovers. As soon as an amiable waystation between Bulgaria and Greece or Turkey, town has flowered right into a vacation spot in its personal proper – and one which needs to be on any itinerary via central Bulgaria.
For these quick on time, this present day tour leads you round Plovdiv, Asen Fortress and Bachkovo Fortress in 1 day.
Language in Bulgaria
Bulgarian is the nation’s solely official language. Bulgarian is written with Cyrillic, which makes attempting to learn Bulgarian phrases fairly troublesome for many of us.
English isn’t extensively spoken in Bulgaria, particularly among the many older era. However youthful Bulgarians within the large cities have a tendency to talk a little bit of English.
Security in Bulgaria
Most components of Bulgaria are very protected and I by no means felt unsafe on each journeys there. I traveled solo on my first journey and with my four-year-old daughter on this latest journey.
The one hazard that vacationers face is theft, primarily from pickpockets. Normally, attempt to not stand out and keep away from darkish alleys at night time if touring solo.
Sensible Ideas for Touring Bulgaria
- Inside cities, minibuses known as marshroutki act like shared taxis and are widespread in lots of ex-Soviet nations. You simply have to flag them down and purchase tickets from the motive force.
- One factor to notice for these touring Bulgaria with children, it’s allowed to smoke in most locations in Bulgaria, even indoors. It may be annoying for non-smokers.
- As an ex-Soviet nation, Bulgaria nonetheless shares a relationship with Russia and plenty of Bulgarians nonetheless converse Russian.
- I consider Bulgarians as fairly much like Russians. They could not smile rather a lot and may come throughout as impolite. However give them a while, present that you simply’re pleasant they usually’ll ultimately heat as much as you.