Western Black Sea route
Replies: 8 - Last Post: Dec 19, 2012 11:08 AM Last Post By: maenad
Dec 18, 2012 11:34 AM
Western Black Sea routeHi! I'm planning a two week trip this August (2013) for the western Black Sea region & Azerbaijan: Odessa, Bucharest, Varna, Istanbul. Then flying to Baku from there. I'm trying to figure out the best way to get to and from all these cities... and I need help!
It seems most other travelers have taken cruises and visited the beaches when visiting the Black Sea, but cruises are too restricting for me and I'd like to see other cities, not just beaches. Or they've gone only by Turkey... not much help for my trip.
From what I've read, it seems that public transportation doesn't go from country to country, so I wouldn't be able to take a bus from each city. The trains seem a little confusing, and I can't tell if it's similar to the buses or not.
Would I be better off renting a car and driving myself from city to city? Has anyone done this before--international car-rentals from country to country? Customs/boarder crossings with driving?
Or would flying to each city be my best option? I'm trying to keep it cheap-ish, but if that would make it easier I'll spring for it.
Thanks for your feedback and help! :)
Edited by: CCIW
Dec 18, 2012 12:05 PM
1I would do Azerbaijan-Odessa-Bucharest by plane, then onward to Varna by train (easy and not too long from Bucharest Nord), bus to Istanbul then back to Baku (as already planned by a flight). Taking one hired car through all those countries won't be possible and one way hires internally will be extremely expensive. The trains are not confusing at all, but some of your suggested route involves long journeys. Baku to Odessa takes about three days!
Dec 18, 2012 1:31 PM
Dec 18, 2012 1:40 PM
3Public transportation is definitely available from country to country.
Bucharest to Varna: Bus or train. I don't have current information on schedules, but if you can find a direct bus that's probably your best bet. Train is easy, too, but will be slower. See these old threads:
Varna to Istanbul is done by bus. (Train is possible, but it's very indirect and currently there is construction over the border in Turkey so you need to transfer to a bus anyhow. So, basically, your only real option is the bus.) Don't know about bus schedules, but in the summer you will have no problem finding service from Varna to Istanbul by bus. Since online schedules are sketchy, and online booking nearly nonexistent, you will just have to wait until arrival to get tickets. But like I said you won't have any problem.
If you were willing to skip Bucharest, I believe there is a ferry directly from Ilyichevsk (near Odessa) to Varna.
p.s. Renting a car would really not be possible because you would be driving it one way, and dropping it off in Turkey which is probably impossible, but if possible will be very, very expensive.
Dec 19, 2012 12:46 AM
4@#3 is correct about the UA/BG ferry from Ilyichevsk to Varna, it operates all year.
Dec 19, 2012 10:25 AM
5Bear in mind the following things -
1. It's a bit of a headache to cross from Ukraine to Moldova to Romania, and it's not possible to go south of Moldova - you have to enter the country or go north of it. This means a much longer than usual bus ride.
2. When I was in Romania, I didn't go to Bucharest. All the travellers I met assured me that it wasn't worth a visit, compared to the things you could see elsewhere in Romania. So, based on this third-hand-advice, you should at least check carefully before going there.
3. Buses from Varna to Istanbul leave in the early evening and arrive in Istanbul in the early morning. From Varna they will go south to Burgas and Malko Tarnovo. That route is the most direct but roads are slower and it can be just as fast to go south-east, and then enter Turkey and go through Edirne. Edirne is a lovely town and worth seeing in its own right.
4. Visas were recently removed for Turkish visitors to Ukraine, so there are now many more cheap airlines doing flights between Odessa and Istanbul. Check Pegasus for some very good deals. The disadvantage is that Bulgaria and Romania really are worth visiting but hey...
Dec 19, 2012 10:45 AM
6So it's pretty impossible to go from Odessa into Romania? I figured I would have to go through Moldova... but it didn't sound like it would be much of a hassle as long as I could figure out what the best form of transportation would be.
I read that buses don't cross the boarders there, but I thought I might be able to find a train that would?
Dec 19, 2012 11:02 AM
7It's no problem to get a train or bus from Odessa to Chisinau,Moldova.You have a choice of linking up with the train,Chisinau-Bucharest or stopping off for a while in Chisinau where you can also take a bus to Bucharest which is faster,also you have an option to spend a day in Transnistria on the way to Chisinau.
More difficult is an option to go south from Odessa and make your way to Galati in Rumania and from there you can get to Bucharest or down to Constanta-Varna and Istanbul.
Dec 19, 2012 11:08 AM
8When I was in Odessa a girl was talking about the bus from Odessa to somewhere in Romania via Moldova and she was told it would take 16 hours - this was for a trip that was only about 400km, if I remember rightly. This is NOT my experience, just what I remember her being told - all I remember was that low-quality roads and long lines at the border were said to cause delays.
Above post talking about Galati - again, it seemed like a waste of time to me. When I was in that area I was on a bicycle, but the buses I saw seemed pretty slow. And the Australian girl at my hostel, who would have needed a visa for Moldova, double and triple checked - there was no way for her to take a bus directly from Ukraine to Romania south of Moldova - there are no roads unless you go into M.
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