Accommodation is most expensive in Sofia and other big cities, notably Plovdiv and Varna. Elsewhere, prices are relatively cheap by Western European standards. Demand and prices are highest in coastal resorts between July and August, and in the skiing resorts between December and February. Outside the holiday seasons, these hotels often close down, or operate on a reduced basis.
- Guesthouses Usually small, family-run places and great value, with cosy rooms and home-cooked breakfasts.
- Hizhas The mountain huts in Bulgaria's hiking terrain are convenient, though basic, places to sleep.
- Hotels Bulgaria has a good range of hotels from budget to top-end.
Most campgrounds are open only between May and September. They are mainly popular with Bulgarian families, and are rarely convenient for anyone relying on public transport. Camping in the wild (ie outside a camping ground) is usually prohibited, and stiff fines can apply if you're caught doing so in a national park.
Sofia has more hostels than anywhere else. You will also find hostels in Veliko Târnovo, Varna, Plovdiv, Bansko and Burgas. Most are clean, modern and friendly places in central locations.
Usually, the most attractive, and often best value, places are the smaller, family-run hotels. Towns famous for their spas, skiing or beaches usually have a wide range of high-quality hotels, often with spa centres or saunas on-site.
About a dozen of the 160 monasteries around Bulgaria offer accommodation to anyone, of either sex, from pilgrims to foreign tourists. Some rooms are actually inside the monastery, such as at the Rila and Cherepish monasteries, or at guesthouses within metres of the monastery gates, for example at the Troyan, Lopushanski and Dryanovo monasteries. Some only offer rooms on a sporadic basis and availability may be unreliable; contact the monasteries directly to see if they have room. Be prepared to dress modestly and adhere to evening lock-out times throughout your stay.
Anyone, especially those enjoying long-distance treks or shorter hikes, can stay at any hizha (mountain hut). Normally a hizha only offers basic, but clean and comfortable, dormitory beds with a shared bathroom, and cost from 15 lv to 35 lv per person per night. Most are open only from May to September, but those situated at or near major ski slopes are often also open in winter. They are privately run, frequently change hands, and often only Bulgarian is spoken. It's sometimes advisable to ask a Bulgarian speaker to call them in advance.
Stays in private rooms can often be arranged through an accommodation agency in a town centre, or at a bus or train station. Rooms cost anywhere between 10 lv and 45 lv per person. You may see signs outside private homes advertising rooms available, either in Bulgarian (Свободни Cтаи) or, quite often, in English or German. The pensioners who hang around outside bus and train stations offering rooms in their homes are invariably living on very low incomes, so by paying them directly, without the commissions taken off by agencies, you will have the satisfaction of knowing that you’re helping them get by. These days, due to the increasing number of hostels and social accommodation websites such as Airbnb, this kind of private room arrangement is much less common.