Getting Around Bulgaria
Bulgaria Air (www.air.bg) operates some domestic services, connecting Sofia with the Black Sea coast. The journeys from Sofia to Bourgas and Varna take one hour. Air travel is only slightly more expensive than first-class rail travel.
Tolls are charged on motorways and main roads out of town. Car-theft and car jacking are both on the increase in Bulgaria.
Side of the roadRight
Road quality is variable and driving standards are generally poor. Night driving can be dangerous owing to poor lighting.
Car hire is available through hotel reception desks, at Sofia Airport, and online in advance. Most of the major international car hire agencies are represented here.
Available in all towns and also for intercity journeys. Vehicles are usually in good condition. All vehicles are metered, unless they are privately owned. Some drivers may try to drive without putting on the meter; ensure this is done before you leave. Look at the chart on the outside of the vehicle to see what the starting price is and to check the meter is not rigged. A small tip is appreciated.
You can buy vignettes at ports, border points, post offices and DZI bank offices.
Speed limits are 120-140kph (75-87mph) on motorways, 90kph (56mph) outside built-up areas and 50kph (31mph) in built-up areas.
UAB (tel: 146), operational only in Bulgarian territory.
All driving licences from EU countries are valid for Bulgaria. If travelling from outside the EU, an International Driving Permit is recommended, as well as a passport. A Green Card is useful, but not compulsory for EU travellers.
Bus, tramway and trolleybus services operate in Sofia, along with a small metro system. You can buy tickets from kiosks at major bus stops and newsagents; you must validate these upon boarding.
Buses and taxis operate in all the main towns. There are also trolleybuses in Plovdiv and Varna. Outside Sofia, bus tickets are purchased on board from the conductor.
The Bulgarian State Railway, Balgarski Darzhavni Zheleznitsi (tel: +359 2 932 4190; www.bdz.bg), connects Sofia with main towns. Reservations are essential during peak seasons and first-class travel is advised. A first-class sleeper is a wonderful way to travel long distances, especially at night.
InterRail One-Country Pass: offers travel for three, four, six or eight days in one month within Bulgaria. Travel is not allowed in the passenger's country of residence. Travellers under 26 years receive a reduction. Children under 12 travel free when accompanied by an adult using an Adult Pass. Supplements are required for some high-speed services, seat reservations and couchettes. Available from Voyages-sncf.com (tel: +44 844 848 5848, in the UK; www.voyages-sncf.com).
Private boats and yachts ply the Black Sea coast and the Danube.