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Air

Bulgaria has good air links with numerous European cities, as well as some cities in the Middle East. There are currently no direct flights to Bulgaria from further afield, so visitors from, for example, North America or Australia will need to pick up a connecting flight elsewhere in Europe.

Airports & Airlines

Sofia Airport (www.sofia-airport.bg) is the main point of entry to the country. Varna Airport (www.varna-airport.bg) and Burgas Airport (www.bourgas-airport.com) serve the coast, and are particularly busy during the summer when they are used by charter flights. For central Bulgaria, direct flights from a couple of European cities, including London, reach Plovdiv Airport (www.plovdivairport.com).

The national carrier is Bulgaria Air (www.air.bg). It has an unblemished safety record, and operates flights to destinations across Europe (including London, Paris, Frankfurt and Madrid) and the Middle East, as well as domestic routes to the Black Sea coast.

Tickets

Air tickets to Bulgaria vary greatly in price, and it pays to shop around, starting with global flight comparison site www.skyscanner.net. You're likely to find the best deals online, and there are a few websites dedicated to Bulgarian flights:

  • www.balkanholidays.co.uk
  • www.bulgariaflights.com
  • www.flybulgaria.bg

Departure Tax

Departure tax is included in the price of a ticket.

Land

Border Crossings

You can expect delays at each of Bulgaria's border crossings, especially if you are using public transport. Delays at the Turkish border tend to be longest. The following list is not exhaustive.

Greece to Bulgaria

  • Promahonas (Serres)–Kulata
  • Ormenio (Alexandroupoli)–Svilengrad
  • Thermes (Xanthi)–Zlatograd

Macedonia to Bulgaria

  • Deve Bair–Gyushevo
  • Delčevo–Stanke Lisichkovo (Blagoevgrad)
  • Novo Selo–Petrich

Romania to Bulgaria

  • Giurgiu–Ruse; toll-bridge (€6 per car)
  • Calafat–Vidin; toll-bridge (€6 per car)
  • Calarasi–Silistra; ferry
  • Negru Vodă–Kardam
  • Vama Veche (Varna)–Durankulak

Serbia to Bulgaria

  • Dimitrovgrad–Kalotina
  • Zaječar–Vrâshka Chuka (Vidin)
  • Strezimirovtsi (Serbia)–Strezimirovtsi (near Pernik)

Turkey to Bulgaria

  • Dereköy–Malko Târnovo
  • Edirne–Kapitan Andreevo

Bus

Buses travel to Bulgarian cities from destinations all over Europe, most arriving at Sofia, with some direct to Plovdiv. You will either get off the bus at the border and walk through customs to present your passport, or be visited on the bus by officials. Long delays can be expected. When travelling out of Bulgaria by bus, the cost of entry visas for the countries concerned are not included in the prices of the bus tickets.

Greece The main departure/arrival points for buses to/from Greece are Sofia, Plovdiv, Burgas and Varna; several bus companies ply these routes. For information, see www.bgrazpisanie.com and www.eurolines.bg.

Macedonia Buses between Macedonia and Bulgaria arrive at and depart from Sofia and Blagoevgrad. See www.matpu.com for more details (in Bulgarian) on buses to destinations in Macedonia, or see www.bgrazpisanie.com for English-language schedules.

Romania Regular buses to/from Romania depart from and arrive at Sofia, Ruse and Varna.

Serbia Buses travel between Sofia and Serbia. To reach Belgrade, change buses in Niš.

Turkey Several companies operate bus services to/from Turkey, and this is the quickest, most comfortable and safest way to travel between the two countries. Find schedules on www.bgrazpisanie.com.

International Bus Routes

Greece

Departure Point

Burgas

Arrival Point

Thessaloniki

Cost (lv)

80

Duration (hr)

13

Greece

Departure Point

Plovdiv

Arrival Point

Athens

Cost (lv)

118-127

Duration (hr)

14-16

Greece

Departure Point

Plovdiv

Arrival Point

Thessaloniki

Cost (lv)

70

Duration (hr)

8

Greece

Departure Point

Sofia

Arrival Point

Athens

Cost (lv)

108

Duration (hr)

12-14

Greece

Departure Point

Sofia

Arrival Point

Patras

Cost (lv)

100

Duration (hr)

12-14

Greece

Departure Point

Sofia

Arrival Point

Thessaloniki

Cost (lv)

60

Duration (hr)

5-6

Greece

Departure Point

Varna

Arrival Point

Athens

Cost (lv)

146

Duration (hr)

20

Macedonia

Departure Point

Blagoevgrad

Arrival Point

Bitola

Cost (lv)

40

Duration (hr)

7

Macedonia

Departure Point

Sofia

Arrival Point

Ohrid

Cost (lv)

48

Duration (hr)

9

Macedonia

Departure Point

Sofia

Arrival Point

Skopje

Cost (lv)

32

Duration (hr)

6

Romania

Departure Point

Ruse

Arrival Point

Bucharest

Cost (lv)

22

Duration (hr)

3

Romania

Departure Point

Sofia

Arrival Point

Bucharest

Cost (lv)

55

Duration (hr)

9

Romania

Departure Point

Varna

Arrival Point

Constanta

Cost (lv)

22

Duration (hr)

2-3

Serbia

Departure Point

Sofia

Arrival Point

Dimitrovgrad (Serbia)

Cost (lv)

12

Duration (hr)

1-2

Serbia

Departure Point

Sofia

Arrival Point

Niš

Cost (lv)

24

Duration (hr)

3

Turkey

Departure Point

Burgas

Arrival Point

Istanbul

Cost (lv)

50

Duration (hr)

7

Turkey

Departure Point

Plovdiv

Arrival Point

Istanbul

Cost (lv)

40

Duration (hr)

7

Turkey

Departure Point

Sofia

Arrival Point

Istanbul

Cost (lv)

50-60

Duration (hr)

10

Turkey

Departure Point

Varna

Arrival Point

Istanbul

Cost (lv)

60

Duration (hr)

10

Car & Motorcycle

  • In order to drive on Bulgarian roads, you will need to display a vignette (15/30 lv for one week/month) sold at all border crossings into Bulgaria, petrol stations and post offices. Rental cars hired within Bulgaria should already have a vignette.
  • Petrol stations and car-repair shops are common around border crossing areas and along main roads.

Romania

  • Crossing the Danube Bridge (formerly the 'Friendship Bridge') from Giurgiu in Romania into Ruse will incur a toll of €6 (12 lv) per vehicle. You are not permitted to cross at Giurgiu without transport.
  • The New Europe Bridge (also known as 'Danube Bridge 2') between Vidin and Calafat in Romania also incurs a toll of €6 (12 lv) per vehicle.

Train

Bulgarian International train services are operated by Bulgarian State Railways (BDZ; www.bdz.bg).

Macedonia

At present, no trains travel directly between Bulgaria and Macedonia. The only way to Skopje by train from Sofia is to get a connection in Niš (Serbia).

Romania

Most visitors travel to/from Romania by train and either depart from or travel through Ruse. For more information, see www.cfr.ro. Trips include Ruse to Bucharest (20 lv, 3½ hours) and Sofia to Bucharest (50 lv, 10 hours).

Serbia

Parts of the Balkan Express between Belgrade and İstanbul, via Sofia, were undergoing repairs at the time of writing, necessitating some rail-replacement buses near İstanbul. Night and day trains travel between Belgrade and Sofia (40 lv to 80 lv, 11 hours); for more details, see www.serbianrailways.com.

Turkey

The daily Bosfor (Bosphorous Express) travels through Bulgaria, between Bucharest and İstanbul (14 hours), stopping at Ruse along the way. From Ruse to İstanbul, the journey costs roughly 50 lv, more for a couchette.

The Balkan Express travels daily between İstanbul and Belgrade (Serbia), via Bulgaria, passing through Plovdiv and Sofia. The journey from Sofia to İstanbul takes around 12 hours and costs roughly 60 lv to 70 lv.

River

Oryahovo Ferries travel from this northern Bulgarian town across the Danube to Bechet in Romania.

Silistra From Silistra, travellers can cross a land border into the Romanian town of Ostrov, before taking the onwards Ostrov–Călărași ferry.

Sea

Very few visitors enter or leave Bulgaria by sea. The only scheduled sea route into and out of Bulgaria is provided by a weekly cargo ferry between Ukraine and the port of Varna, which also accepts passengers and vehicles. UKR Ferry (www.ukrferry.com) travels between Ilyichevsk in the Ukraine and Varna (from around US$100, about 30 hours).

Tours

Most tourists visit Bulgaria on package tours, the vast majority either based on the Black Sea coast or in the skiing resorts, while others come on tours specialising in birdwatching or hiking.

One of the few foreign companies that offers organised sightseeing holidays to and around Bulgaria is the London-based Exodus (www.exodus.co.uk). It has eight-day tours of the Pirin and Rodopi Mountains starting from aound £930 per person, including flights from London. Check the website for exact prices, which vary through the year, and for other tours.

Balkan Holidays (www.balkanholidays.co.uk) is a leading specialist company offering package skiing and beach holidays in Bulgaria. A week in Golden Sands in summer costs from around £300 per person, while a week in Bansko with skiing pass costs from £330, including flights from London.