A complete guide to transportation by bus, train, plane and car in Bulgaria
Written by Claudia Pecoraro, edited by Scott Green, photos by Aleksandrs Eniņš
Are you living in Bulgaria and want to get some tips about how to move around inside the country? Do you want to travel as much as you possibly can to see this beautiful land? This article will provide you with the information you need to move around in Bulgaria.
Travelling by bus is definitely one of the best ways to move around in Bulgaria. Almost every village, also those which are not accessible by train, have their own bus station. Buses are typically faster than the trains, even if a bit more expensive. The difference is little, if you want to get to your destination faster, taking the bus is a good option.
Union Ivkoni is one of the more popular and efficient bus companies. They have frequent trips and connect several destinations in the country. You can find more about destinations and schedules on their webpage.
Some of the companies, like Union Ivkoni, allow you to buy your tickets online. The procedure is easy: you need to print the receipt and go to the ticket office at the bus station to get your ticket. Most of the time, you can buy your ticket at the bus station. In this case, remember that in many bus stations you won’t be able to pay by card, so be sure you have enough cash with you! If you are in a hurry, you can buy the ticket on the bus, but be careful because sometimes you might not find a seat.
Average prices for the most common routes:
(Disclaimer: these prices may change according to the company and the date of the journey. The length of the trip may vary according to which company you choose and external factors).
|Route||Price||Average length of trip|
|Sofia-Plovdiv||14.00 BGN||2 h 15 min|
|Sofia-Burgas||27.00 BGN||6 h|
|Sofia-Varna||33.00 BGN||7 h|
|Sofia-Ruse||23.00 BGN||5 h|
|Sofia-Blagoevgrad||10.00 BGN||2 h|
|Sofia-Stara Zagora||17.00 BGN||3 h|
|Plovdiv-Burgas||19.00 BGN||4 h|
|Plovdiv-Varna||26.00 BGN||7 h|
|Plovdiv-Stara Zagora||8.00 BGN||1 h 30 min|
Trains are an amazing way to travel throughout Bulgaria. You will see stunning landscapes, discover hidden gems, and meet nice people with interesting stories. Trains are slower than the buses but usually cheaper. This is one of the best options if you want to get to far-away destinations or travel on a budget. For example, if you travel at night, you won’t lose your day, you can get a couchette (cabin with sleeping berths) and also save the money for the hostel.
The national railway company is БДЖ (BDZ). Check their website to read about routes, prices, schedules. You can buy the tickets at the train station’s ticket office or purchase them online on the BDZ website. Once you have them, you need to print the electronic ticket or save it on your smartphone.
Average prices for the most common routes (fast trains, without changes):
(Disclaimer: the prices may change according to the date of the journey. The length of the trip may vary according to the trains, train changes, and external factors. Ordinary trains are cheaper than fast trains).
|Route||Price (Second Class)||Price (First Class)||Average length of trip|
|Sofia-Plovdiv||9.00 BGN||12.00 BGN||2 h 45 min|
|Sofia-Burgas||21.00 BGN||26.00 BGN||6 h 30 min|
|Sofia-Varna||24.00 BGN||30.00 BGN||8 h|
|Sofia-Ruse||20.00 BGN||/||6 h|
|Sofia-Blagoevgrad||8.00 BGN||10.00 BGN||2 h 15 min|
|Sofia-Stara Zagora||15.00 BGN||19.00 BGN||4 h 30 min|
|Plovdiv-Burgas||15.00 BGN||19.00 BGN||4 h|
|Plovdiv-Varna||18.50 BGN||23.00 BGN||6 h|
|Plovdiv-Stara Zagora||6.50 BGN||8.20 BGN||2 h|
A curiosity: did you know that in Bulgaria you can enjoy a journey on one of the most beautiful train lines in Europe? It’s called the “Rhodope Narrow Gauge” and it is one of the 10 most scenic train journeys in Europe. It links two small villages, Dobrinishte and Septemvri, and crosses several picturesque places in the Rhodope mountains. Tickets are available only at the station. If you have some free time, don’t miss out on the chance to enjoy this slow-paced and relaxing journey.
Rent a car
If you want to be independent or to get to some tourist places that are not accessible by public transportation, renting a car is the best option. There are several car rental services in Bulgaria, like Europcar, Easyrent, Top Rent a Car, Horizon. These companies mainly work in big cities, but you can find several car rental services in almost every city. To avoid scams, check the online reviews or ask for recommendations. The prices start from around 20 euro per day and can be up to 50 euro for the bigger vehicles. You have to add the money for the gasoline, which is usually cheap, and a deposit that you’ll receive back.
If you are on a budget or in a rush to get somewhere, ride-sharing is the best option for you. In Bulgaria, BlaBlaCar and other ride-sharing platforms are not very popular. Bulgarian people prefer to post their ride on Facebook groups. If you want to join those groups, in the search bar on Facebook type “пътувам“ (the Bulgarian word for “I travel”) and the name of the two cities. Ride-sharing is safe, and most of the times cheaper and faster than the bus.
There are a lot of these groups, but here we have collected some of those who post rides from and to Sofia:
Moving inside Bulgaria by plane is definitely more expensive and time-consuming than other transportation methods. There are some internal flights that connect Sofia to Varna and Burgas, you can check the schedules on Skyscanner or on the Bulgaria Air webpage.
Useful Bulgarian words to use when travelling
Bus drivers, train officers, or people who work at the stations may not be familiar with English. When you buy a ticket, all the necessary information is printed in Bulgarian. Therefore, knowing a handful of useful Bulgarian words and sentences always helps. We have listed a few words that can help you:
- автогара/avtogara/bus station
- жп гара/zhp gara/train station
- час/chas/departure time
Moving around inside Bulgaria is easy, fun, and cheap! Bulgarian people are extremely helpful and speak good English, especially youngsters. Choose your transportation method according to the place you’re heading to, your budget and the time you have. Most of all, enjoy the journey!