Last minute BUlgaria/Serbia Suggestions
Replies: 8 - Last Post: Oct 6, 2012 1:46 AM Last Post By: harvy
Oct 4, 2012 10:31 AM
Last minute BUlgaria/Serbia SuggestionsHi there,
Me and my boyfriend are currently on day 2 of a week-long last minute holiday to Bulgaria. We decided to come over for a week as needed a break after a long summer of work but boked the flights v last minute and don't know a hell of a lot about Bulgaria. We've spent the first day and a half in Sofia and now would like to move on but we're unsure of what to do. We think its a bit past season (and a getting a bit cold) to head to the coast so considered hiring a car tomorrow morning and heading to RIla monastery, either staying the night there or heading on somewhere else. Both of us are quite intrigued by Belgrade and thought we might then drive up there for the weekend, but feel a little guilty about not spending more time in Bulgaria. Would people recommend Belgrade for a visit (It would mean driving or training it all the way up there) or would our time be better spent in Bulgaria elsewhere (we fly back home from Sofia next Wednesday)? We'd quite like to see a bit of a nature but we're more city people and found Sofia a bit sleepy!!
Any suggestions on what to do after Rila and whether it'd be worth heading up to Belgrade would be appreciated. Is the drive up their nice?
Oct 4, 2012 10:50 AM
1Head down to Plovdiv for a couple of days,and maybe down to Istanbul for a couple more.If you stay in Bulgaria,I would head to Veliko Turnovo and then to Ruse.If you go to Belgrade,just do Rila,get back to Sofia and go straight up to Belgrade.Drive up there is OK after crossing the border,but later it just turns to boring motorway.
Oct 4, 2012 11:36 AM
2A lot depends on what you want to do or see. If you're into nightlife and partying, by all means go to Belgrade. It has a reputation as having the best nightlife in the region. You can do overnight trains, so you don't burn too much of your time. However, that can get tiring, and I have heard the inclusion of sleeper cars on this train is spotty, meaning a possible bad night's sleep. (Conceivably you could squeeze in a visit to Plovdiv for a day or two, and still see Belgrade.)
Alternatively, just stay in Bulgaria. As chaika mentioned in #1, places like Plovdiv and Veliko Tarnovo are very appealing to tourists -- both are pretty, historic towns. I don't know what the weather is like there at the time, but if you wanted to see some of the outdoors and beautiful scenery, head to the mountains. You could use Bansko as a base for some hiking, or take the ski lift up to the Seven Lakes area for some hiking. (Again, uncertain on mountain conditions at the time.) Small villages like Koprivshtitsa and Melnik are appealing, and the Rila Monastery could be done as a day trip from Sofia (or combined with a visit to Melnik). Again, it just depends on your interests.
(I was a bit confused by "We'd quite like to see a bit of a nature but we're more city people," which is why I included many different options.)
Edited by: daveelmstrom
Oct 5, 2012 12:07 AM
3Thanks guys this is wonderful - Sorry if I didn't make loads of sense I was thrashing this post out last night shortly before going to bed in frustration at our hostels complete lack of enthusiasm/will to communicate with us over whats nice to do here.
What i meant by the nature/city people comment - We don't want to spend our whole time in the city as it gets monotonous, but we didn't bring our hiking gear or super warm clothes so scenic routes and stop offs would satisfy us.
Another question I had - We thought about hiring a car to give us a bit more freedom. Would it be realistic to hire a car today, do Plovdiv (maybe via Rila) for a night and get down to Istanbul for a day or two, then be back in Sofia by Weds to catch our flight? I'm not sure what the roads are like and I like driving/am a fairly confident driver, but don't want to spend the whole trip behind the wheel if its going to be hard work. I'm thinking we might just hire the car till next weds as its pretty reasonable, then play it by ear a bit.
Oct 5, 2012 3:10 AM
4I don't know the ins and outs of car hire in Bulgaria,if it is OK to drive out of the country,if you are insured to do that,vignettes etc.
Maybe if you want to do Rila then hiring a car would be good,bus is fine if you want to do Plovdiv and then to Istanbul,depending on what time your flight is,coming back overnight Tuesday should be fine to arrive in Sofia for your flight unless it is really early.
Oct 5, 2012 3:22 AM
5Rila Monastery is excellent destination for one night trip, you can sleep in the monastery, it's great experience, also the nature around is breathtaking, but in the weekends it's a little bit crowded during the day, travel to Belgrade is a long way, mainly because of the big delays on the border, Serbia is not in the Europena Union, also Belgrade deserve more then a day or two, my suggestion is to go to Thesaloniki in Greece for another night, it's very close, no border control and you will love it:)
Oct 5, 2012 4:07 AM
6Yes,Thessaloniki is a good idea,I am a bit unsure as to what the border delays are like to Greece,sometimes there are demonstrations there,but if the situation is good,great place to visit.Maybe Kavala too,never been there but I heard it is very popular with Bulgarians for a summer destination,maybe it's good for early autumn too.
Oct 5, 2012 7:11 AM
7The road from Plovdiv to Istanbul is just fine. There can be occasional delays on the border, but usually not too bad. According to viamichelin.com, driving time is 5:16, but that might not include time at the border crossing. I'm not sure if rental companies in Bulgaria will let you take cars into Turkey. Probably the biggest issue might be driving in/out of Istanbul. It's a huge city, with something like 10 million people, so that will be a real headache. Not to mention parking.
Getting from Rila Monastery to Plovdiv isn't as direct as it looks on a map because of the mountains. I think buses usually travel north to near the Sofia suburbs, and then head east toward Plovdiv to avoid the slow, windy mountain roads.
While you are in Sofia, you could spend some time at Mount Vitosha. There is a ski lift operating that will bring you to the top -- skiiers obviously use it during the winter, and hikers can use it in the summer. (Although, again, I'm not sure about the weather conditions.) Anyhow, that's a nice option for getting out of the city, and is accessible by public transportation in Sofia.
Oct 6, 2012 1:46 AM
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