Bulgaria: Local Travel Info
A Country of Superb Variations
Internal Flights and Major International Airports in Bulgaria
Sofia Airport, located 12km south-east of the city, is Bulgaria’s main international airport. There are also some international flights to Varna Airport, and, in summer, to Burgas Airport. The only internal flights are between Sofia and Varna and Sofia and Burgas.
Getting To and From the Airport in Bulgaria
Getting from Sofia Airport into the city is straightforward. There is a taxi rank outside, but to avoid overcharging, first book your taxi at the taxi office inside the airport building. A ride into the city centre should cost no more than 5-6 Euros. Alternatively, take minibus no 30, which leaves from the front of the airport and stops outside the Sheraton Hotel in the city centre, for a flat fare of 1 Euro. In Varna, catch bus no 409 to reach the city centre.
Travel Costs in Bulgaria
Public transport in Bulgaria is very cheap by Western European standards. City bus and tram tickets cost around 50 Euro cents and a cross-country train ticket from Sofia to the Black sea coast will cost about 15 Euros. Unfortunately Bulgaria has more than its share of crooked taxi drivers ready to rip off foreign visitors. Be wary of cabs waiting outside train stations, bus stations, airports and major tourist sites; many taxi drivers will claim that their meter is broken (which is illegal) and will attempt to negotiate a fixed fare, which will, of course, by vastly inflated. Where possible, pre-book your taxi at dedicated counters inside airports and bus stations, or ask your hotel receptionist to order a taxi for you. Otherwise, look for taxis which display a prominent phone number, have their rates displayed on the passenger window and have a working meter.
Renting Cars in Bulgaria
There are plenty of local and international car rental agencies in Bulgaria offering good deals on a variety of cars, and if you want to explore the country in any depth, or intend travelling to more remote areas, it’s very useful to have your own transport. View our Car Hire in Bulgaria links to find the cheapest available rate online. To rent a car in Bulgaria, you must be at least 21, and have held a licence for at least one year. Expect to pay from around 30 Euros per day. Cities such as Sofia can be a nightmare to drive around, due to heavy traffic and sometime lax observance of road rules by local drivers, but driving in the open countryside can be a pleasurable experience.
Drivers Licence Requirements in Bulgaria
Your regular driving licence is valid in Bulgaria, so there is no need to apply for an international licence. You must carry all registration documents with you at all times, and ensure that you are fully insured. Before driving on Bulgarian motorways, you must purchase a ‘vignette’ costing 5/13 Euros for one week/month.
Road Rules in Bulgaria
Bulgarians drive on the right, and official speed limits for cars are 50km/h in built up areas, 90km/h on main roads and 130km/h on motorways. You can be fined up to 130 Euros for speeding. Drivers and front-seat passengers must wear seatbelts, and there are tough penalties for drink-driving.
Bulgaria by Bus
Bulgaria is cheap and easy to explore by bus and all major towns and cities are connected by frequent and reliable bus routes. In cities, a one-way bus ticket costs less than 50 Euro cents and in Sofia, a one-day pass for buses and trams costs just 1.50 Euros. A cross country bus ticket, say from Sofia to Varna, is unlikely to cost more than about 12-15 Euros, but prices vary from one company to another. Intercity buses are normally very modern and comfortable, and are preferable to trains, which tend to be older and slower. City bus stations are normally centrally located though in some cases are set further away, on the city outskirts.
Bulgaria by Taxi
Official taxis in Bulgaria are always yellow, and display the company name and phone number prominently on the roof and doors of the cab. The official rates are displayed on the back passenger window, consisting of four lines, including the rate per km, both day and night-time (which will cost slightly more), the call-out fee, starting fee and the cost per minute for waiting. Rates tend to be reasonable, though do vary between companies – check these before getting in. Do not accept unsolicited lifts from drivers touting for business in airport arrivals halls and always insist that the taxi’s meter is working, as it should, by law. Some taxi drivers may try to overcharge foreigners by negotiating a fixed price for a journey, but unless you’re taking a long intercity trip this should not be necessary. Taxis can be found outside bus and train stations, airports and in city centres across Bulgaria.
Cycling in Bulgaria
Cycling is not recommended on busy roads in Bulgarian cities due to heavy traffic and frequent road accidents, but is a relaxing and pleasurable form of transport in less busy country areas. Apart from in the big Black Sea resorts, there are few places, though, where you can rent a bicycle in Bulgaria, and fewer places still selling spare parts or offering repair services. There are travel agencies in Bulgaria running guided cycling trips in rural areas, and you could also bring your own bike to Bulgaria. It’s possible to take your bike on trains for a small additional charge.
Water Transport in Bulgaria
The only regular water transport in Bulgaria are the ferries crossing the River Danube from the ports of Vidin and Silistra to the Romanian ports of Calafat and Calarasi respectively. However, it’s far easier, and quicker, to cross the border by bus, car or train.
Hitchhiking in Bulgaria
Hitchhiking in Bulgaria is officially illegal. Bulgarians, especially in rural areas, do hitch rides occasionally, due to the infrequency of public transport, but this is not recommended for foreign visitors.