Even though Bulgaria is one of the most affordable destinations in Europe, with the Thracian tombs and sanctuaries, beautiful Revival architecture in bright colors, stunning national parks, and extensive coast, the curious traveler won’t be disappointed. However, it’s still important to have an idea of how much you’ll be spending before you arrive. Here are some of the things to keep in mind when estimating how much money to bring on your trip to Bulgaria.
As the biggest international airport is in Sofia, you’re likely to land here, in the capital city. Sofia is a great place to spend two or three days, and it’s also easy to take a few days trips from here. Make the trek to the gorgeous mountains, historical monasteries or ski destinations. If you’re looking for a break from city living, opt for a trip to Plovdiv. Although it is the second-largest city in the country, the atmosphere is more relaxed, and there is still plenty to keep you busy.
The subway connects the Sofia Airport Terminal 2 with the rest of the city. If you arrive at Terminal 1, you should take the free shuttle bus to Terminal 2. A single ticket costs approximately $1 USD (BGN 1.60), and a day ticket for all means of public transportation within Sofia costs about $2.50, which is a good deal for those who plan to use public transport at least three times. If you are staying within the city center, keep in mind that it is walkable and compact, so can you likely skip transport altogether.
A hostel room with breakfast will likely cost travelers between $10-$20 per night, whereas a double room in a three-star hotel in the city center will set you back closer to $50-$70. If Airbnb is your preference, plan on spending between $20 and $40 per night.
As eating out is not expensive in Bulgaria, you won’t have to budget much for this part of your trip. A meal for two at a mid-range restaurant with desserts and a bottle of wine will cost between $20-50. A simple meal with a beer might even be less than $15. For cocktails in the city center, plan on spending between $5-$8. If you’re grabbing a quick burger or kebab from a street vendor, it will cost less than $4.
A shuttle bus from Sofia to the Rila Monastery costs around $25, and a shuttle to the Seven Rila Lakes is about $35. A train ticket to Plovdiv costs approximately $6 one way, and a one-way bus ticket costs $9.
If you want to spend three full days in Sofia with one day trip, taste the local cuisine at restaurants and visit a few museums, prepare to bring about $350-$400 per person.
If you stay in Bulgaria for a week, you will probably do more day trips. The public buses and trains connect the country quite well and are cheap. For example, a first-class train ticket with return to seaside-city Burgas costs about $30.
Hotel rooms and Airbnbs tend to be slightly cheaper in smaller cities. In the Bulgarian Riviera, the huge number of resorts and hotels on offer means even more reasonably priced accommodations. Set aside between $25-$50 per night for a double room at one of these establishments.
If you plan on eating out for three meals per day every day that you’re in Bulgaria, you should only need to reserve about $25 per person per day. If you’d like alcoholic drinks and snacks, you’ll need to allocate a bit more.
It’s fairly easy (and much less expensive) to organize your own tour throughout the country, but if there are particular multi-day tours of interest to you, keep in mind that they are quite expensive and can soar to about $850 for a six-day tour. If you are interested, visitors can find tours that explore the abandoned villages in the Rhodope Mountains or the Communist relics, among others.
About $600 for a week in Bulgaria will afford a very enjoyable holiday, unless you opt for the pricey tours. Organize your own tours to save some money and to meet more locals.
Two weeks in Bulgaria will allow you to become fully immersed in the country. Stay for a day or two at a village guesthouse to truly appreciate Bulgarian hospitality, or plan a hike with a mountain guide in some of the free national parks, though you will need to pay for a guide. The mountain lodges are extremely cheap (usually around $6-$9 per night), but the experience is similar to a hostel, and you will have to share a room with other guests. All in all, less than $1,000 will be enough for 14 days in Bulgaria.