Bulgaria Basics

• Currency – Lev

• 90 days Visa free for most travellers

• Good bus and rail links

It has huge mountain ranges, some of the oldest historic ruins in the region, an enviable coastline and great prices. So Bulgaria should be one of the main destinations for independent travellers. The reason it’s not is probably due to the communist past, poverty, and bad town planning that came with it. A fleeting pass through Sofia can leave an unfair impression of the country – but give it a chance and you will be richly rewarded. Get out and explore ; you will find forests rich in wildlife, stunning mountain villages, and cities with traditional old style streets. Not forgetting the Bulgarian’s themselves, some of the friendliest and helpful people your likely to meet.


Bulgaria is one of the cheapest countries in Europe for food, so eating out in a restaurant or having takeouts is not going to hurt your wallet. Pastries and sandwiches bought from local shops or on the street can cost under €1. A main course in a restaurant with a drink is possible for €5, with light meals such as soup even less. Alcohol is brewed locally in many places and is great value too, especially from supermarkets. Litre bottles are commonly under €1.


In most main cities or coastal resorts, you can rent a twin/double room for €20 per night. In Sofia and Varna, there are a number of hotels and guesthouses charging less than this. Hostels are a popular way to see the country, with Sofia, Plovdiv and Varna having plenty of options. Expect to pay around 8-9 Euros for a bed in these areas. Elsewhere hostels may not be as widespread, but the price is always similar.


The country has decent transport links, with buses and trains being the main forms of transport. Buses are generally the quicker way to travel, and in the main cities cost around half a Euro for a local bus. The bus from Sofia to Plovdiv is around €7. All the main towns and cities are connected by rail too, and although the system is being upgraded, the trains currently are mostly slow and old, but can be cheaper. Check out the transport planner for the low cost ways to travel around the region.




This ancient city is more attractive than Sofia and has to be a must visit for the pre-Roman ruins alone. Add a chilled out, stuck in time old town, with cobbled stone streets and plenty of bars and cafes…. and it’s easily Bulgaria’s best big city destination.

Veliko Tarnovo

Set amid great scenery, the town is a regular stop off for inland travellers and backpackers. With a mix of historic and modern features – there are plenty of museums and churches to visit – and a good street art scene too. Tarnovo’s Fortress is the premier attraction.


It’s no Budapest or Dubrovnik…and the abundance of communist architecture can be off putting to some, but Sofia has plenty to see and do. Delve beneath the surface and there are enough sights to easily fill a couple of days, while the nightlife is among the best in Bulgaria.



Relax on the Black Sea – The country has a long sandy coastline, and a hot summer climate. Cities, party resorts, and untouched wild beaches dot the waters edge. So whatever your taste, there is probably going to be something to entice.

Visit Melnik – Famous for its wines, Melnik is near to the Greek border at the foot of the Piran mountains. A pretty, green town with a backdrop of unusual sand pyramids.

Adventure in Rhodope Mountains – Dramatic scenery is sprinkled with old fortresses and monasteries, with rivers flowing into a number of large dams. A good base is Smolyan. From here you can walk the Waterfalls Canyon path and also visit the Trigrad Gorge and Devils Throat cave.

Koprivshtitsa – Definitely one of the contenders for the prettiest town in Bulgaria, Koprivshtitsa is a small mountain town in central Bulgaria that’s becoming increasingly popular. Set among beautiful countryside, some of the houses have been turned into museums… making it a good place for history buffs.


Make your money go further.

Navigating the Balkans on a budget? Use our transport planner to find out how and when to travel



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