Traveling to Bulgaria
Surrounded by Greece, Turkey, Romania, Serbia and Montenegro, Bulgaria is easily accessible to travel to and from by all modes of transport and is a portal connecting Europe with Asia. As member of the EU, border controls are relatively low key and can usually be travelled through with the minimum of fuss if you ensure your car documents are in order! If you’re thinking of travelling to Bulgaria, here’s the low down on the most popular ways to travel there.
Bulgaria has four main airports: Sofia, Plovdiv, Varna and Bourgas, although there are ongoing plans to open a smaller airport near Veliko Tarnovo. Most of the main airlines fly to Sofia but the coastal airports – Varna and Bourgas – are seasonal dependent so many airlines will only fly there during seasonal times. For the cheapest deals, check out the budget airlines: Wizz Air, Easy Jet and Ryan Air, but it’s also worth checking British Airways or Bulgaria Air for low-priced flights with no hidden charges.
I have yet to take a train from Bulgaria to another country without experiencing severe delays – the most being 23 hours late! Having said that, it’s a great way to see Bulgaria and the countries surrounding it so as long as you haven’t got a tight schedule to keep to, what’s the rush anyway? Trains offer sleeper carriages (couchettes) which you’d be advised to do for an overnight trip but you won’t find a buffet bar (although you can usually purchase over-priced bottles of water), so make sure you stock up on food and drinks before embarking on a train journey.
You can reach Bulgaria by train from most of its adjacent neighbours and further afield with Bulgarian State Railways on Balkan or Express trains. For more info check out their website here.
Most international coaches leave from Sofia although you can get some from Plovdiv or Varna. It might not be the first choice for some travelers depending on how far you want to go and how long you’d like to spend your time riding on a coach! However, they are clean and have air-conditioning to make the journey more bearable although their choice of films can be questionable! Quite often you’ll find that train routes won’t travel to a neighbouring country – for example, to Skopj – and flights between major cities will be expensive so taking a coach could be the only option.
If you’re travelling by car, there are numerous options to choose from to enter Bulgaria. You can opt for ferries or bridges from Romania which travel over the river Danube, or, enter through Serbia though expect to pay for the Serbian road tolls. You’ll also need to purchase a vignette which covers you for road tax in Bulgaria. These can be bought at the borders or at petrol stations. New motorway routes are increasing each year but if driving on the smaller roads, be aware of the many potholes!
One of the biggest things to remember if you travelling into or from Bulgaria is that some countries are not members of the EU so you will have to check what additional documents you would need, like a Green Card. It’s also a good idea to keep some Euros handy as most countries have their national currency but do accept Euros for a toll and vignette charges.
If you’ve traveled to Bulgaria, which route did you choose? Feel free to comment and leave any tips or advice for your fellow travelers.