In Western Europe, transportation is pretty easy to figure out. With plenty of busses, trains, and flights, there are many ways to get around. Bulgaria transport is a bit of a different story and is not always as simple to navigate.
Both Apple and Google maps are severely lacking in Bulgaria, and many places aren’t searchable. Our hope is that this post can help other travelers figure out Bulgaria transport services with ease.
The best way to arrive in Bulgaria varies depending on which country you’re traveling from. Those coming from Western Europe and beyond should fly for simplicity. Flight service RyanAir has regular flights from London.
Bussing is an option, but expect to switch services several times. Eastern and Western bus services run to different places. The service Flixbus is a great option for traveling Western Europe, and will take travelers as far as Romania. From there, the border crossing isn’t too difficult or pricey, and there are several bus options into Bulgaria.
Option 1: Train
Train travel is the cheapest Bulgaria transport method, but is not the most efficient or comfortable. Most Bulgarian transport services do not allow online booking, so you need to go to the actual station. Finding a ticket worker that speaks English can be difficult, so bring a translation app along. Booking a ticket days in advance will not save you money, and many times is not even allowed.
To purchase a ticket, first find out your departure day and time. Then, on your day of travel purchase a ticket at the station. Not all trains have snacks and toilet paper, so be prepared to bring your own. Also, don’t overdress; most trains lack air-conditioning. If you haven’t guessed yet, this isn’t our favorite method of Bulgaria transport.
Option 2: Bus
Bussing in Bulgaria is great if you don’t need to be somewhere by a certain time. Busses run on a loose schedule, so find out what time the bus should leave, then show up 30 minutes early. We’ve had busses scheduled for 11:30 that left at 11:10, and busses scheduled for 5:00 that left at 5:20. Busses are only slightly more expensive than trains in Bulgaria, and range $3-$15.
Option 3: Carpool
Bulgaria is the first country that we’ve carpooled in, and now it’s our favorite way to save money on transportation. A great resource is BlaBlaCar which is a ride sharing app used throughout Europe. It has regular rides from one end of Bulgaria to the other as well as rides that cross country borders. Be sure to check every day for your ride. This service works best if your dates are flexible.
Another option is to join a Facebook carpool group. You’ll likely need to translate the page from Bulgarian, but there are many groups that post rides throughout Bulgaria. The benefit of this approach is that you get to meet a local and get to your destination much faster. A carpool from one end of the country to the other cost us about $10 USD each.
Option 4: Fly
Flying in between cities is always an option, but is the most expensive choice. No special tips here, just catch a cab to the airport and board your flight. For tips on how to find cheap flights, check out this post.
To leave Bulgaria, there are similar options to getting in. On our trip, we found a carpool from Sofia to Vienna for €40 per person. Considering the amount of borders crossed on the 14 hour ride, it was a great deal! There are other options as well including:
Flying: Fastest option but will be more expensive
Trains: From the capital Sofia, the farthest north a train will get you is Bratislava, for €80 per person. Prices range from €60-120 depending on the type of train and distance of the ride. The trains don’t go farther than Slovakia, so you’ll need to switch back to Western Europe services after that point.
Busses: To get accurate information head to the actual bus station. Many busses can take you to neighboring countries from which travelers can switch to Western European services.
Bulgaria is a unique country and a provides different experience than other places in Europe. Don’t let the Bulgaria transport trickiness dissuade you from visiting, but plan ahead and be flexible! Have any other Bulgaria transport tips? Comment below!