Discovering Bulgaria: A Road Trip Itinerary for First-Time Visitors

A road trip route in Bulgaria
A road trip route in Bulgaria | © Pixabay
Maria Angelova

Bulgaria is a small country which can easily be traversed from end-to-end by car. It’s always recommended to spend a day or two in Sofia, but be sure to head east and explore more of the country. For this itinerary, a normal city car is suitable as no off-road or heavy mountainous roads are included. Do have in mind, however, that some of the roads in Bulgaria are not in top shape and you should drive carefully.


Total distance (approximate): 563 miles/920 km

Total driving time (approximate): 12.5 hours

Recommended number of days for traveling: 8 days

Best for: Couples or families

Day 1: Sofia – Koprivshtitsa

Distance: 68 miles/110 km

Travel time: 2 hours

Koprivshtitsa is a picturesque Bulgarian National Revival period town nestled at the base of Stara Planina Mountain. You can choose between the highway (40 miles/60 km longer but a better road) and the winding road that runs parallel to the mountain (less traffic and beautiful views along the way!). When in Koprivshtitsa, stroll around the colorful, old houses and visit its museums to better understand part of Bulgaria’s history.


Day 4: Stara Zagora – Nessebar

Distance: 125 miles/200 km

Travel time: 2 hours

If you travel in summer, don’t miss a chance to spend some time at the beach! Nessebar, located on the southern coast of the Black Sea, has both beautiful beaches and rich history to explore. Just a few miles away you can also find seaside camping areas.

The famous windmill in Nessebar

Day 5: Nessebar – Shumen

Distance: 85 miles/140 km

Travel time: 2 hours

Shumen is a medium-sized Bulgarian city, that is decidedly less “touristy,” which will help you to immerse yourself in local life. The Shumen Plateau is right next to the city, and on top of it you will find the Shumen Fortress and the 1300 Years Bulgaria Monument, featuring some of the most prominent Bulgarian rulers. Don’t miss the opportunity to try hang-gliding, as the plateau is a perfect spot to fly!

View of Shumen from the Shumen Fortress

Day 7: Veliko Tarnovo – Glozhene Monastery

Distance: 85 miles/140 km

Travel time: 2 hours

Glozhene Monastery is not among the biggest monasteries, but it definitely is among the most favorite of Bulgarians. It is almost 700 years old, with a beautiful panoramic view that you are guaranteed to love. It is a tranquil place where you can spend some quiet time reflecting on your incredible journey through Bulgaria!

Glozhene Monastery I © Grozhen/WikiCommons

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