Is Bulgaria Expensive? A Guide to Prices in Bulgaria


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Is Bulgaria expensive to visit? Is Bulgaria for travellers? Bulgaria is quickly becoming a sought-after destination in Europe, with travellers eager to explore its metropolitan cities, high mountain peaks, ancient history, and beautiful Black Sea coastline.

And not only does Bulgaria have a lot to offer tourists in terms of natural and historical sites, but it is also known to be an affordable destination to visit. However, if you’re planning a trip through this Balkan nation and are curious about the average prices in Bulgaria, it still can be helpful to know how much day to day travel expenses should cost.

If you’re asking yourself if Bulgaria is expensive to visit, then you will be happy to find out that, for most travellers from Western Europe, North America, or Oceania, Bulgaria should come as an incredibly affordable destination, perhaps the most affordable in the European Union.

However, there are obviously still aspects of any travel budget that you need to factor in when figuring out your total Bulgaria trip cost.

Bulgaria is not an expensive destination and is, in fact, one of the most affordable in Europe with an average cost of €35-130 per person per day, meaning that you can get a lot out of the destination at a relatively low price tag.

So, if you’re wondering about Bulgaria travel prices before you start planning your itinerary or figuring out the best things to do in Sofia or organising the perfect weekend away in Plovdiv, then here is a detailed breakdown of the average prices for the budget-minded traveller.

Accommodation Prices in Bulgaria

The first and likely the biggest cost you need to consider when figuring out how much to budget for a trip to Bulgaria is going to be the price of accommodation. This is going to be the most constant cost and can take up to 50% of your overall Bulgaria trip cost.

As mentioned earlier, Bulgaria is quite an affordable destination and, compared to the prices in Western and some Central European countries, accommodation costs can seem like a steal. But it is possible to splash out on an ultra-luxe hotel and pay western prices for it in the same way that it is possible not to break €10 on a bed in a hostel dorm.

Expect accommodation prices in Sofia to be at their peak, as the biggest and most expensive city in Bulgaria. However, there is ample choice for lodging no matter what your budget is and you can almost certainly find a bed in the price bracket that you’re after.

If you’re a budget backpacker, there are a few hostel options in Sofia, Plovdiv, Veliko Tarnovo, and some Black Sea cities, however, backpacker’s hostels do become few and far between outside of bigger tourist centres. If you only plan to hit the main cities and towns in Bulgaria and want to stay in dorms, expect a bed to cost around €10-12 per night, depending on the size of the dorm and the season that you’re travelling in.

If you have a slightly higher budget than that of a penny-pinching backpacker, or if you’re travelling as a couple or with friends and can easily split costs, then private rooms in guesthouses or hostels are also good budget options. Often, a private hostel room will cost about €40 per night, depending, again, on the location, season, amenities, etc.

Lovely Sofia, Bulgaria's capital city
Lovely Sofia, Bulgaria’s capital city

Another fantastic option for budget travellers who prefer a bit more privacy than a hostel will offer is Airbnb. Airbnb is widely available throughout the country and there are numerous different properties available on the platform.

If you’re trying to save money and want a local experience, you can opt for a private room in a local’s home — often this will cost you as little as €20 per night. If you want an entire apartment, it doesn’t end up being much more expensive than that, with many well-located one-bedroom apartments costing around €40-60 per night depending on the season, location and quality of the flat.

If you have a little more money to spend and you would rather stay in higher-end hotels than Airbnb or hostels, then expect a room in a mid-range hotel to cost somewhere around €50 per night, again depending on the hotel, the amenities in the room, and the season in which you are travelling.

For those who are looking for a luxury escape in Bulgaria, then you will be pleased to know that high-end hotels can be more affordable than in other areas of Europe. However, they are still a bit expensive, with an average room costing between €120-140 depending on the location and the season.

All in all, if you are trying to stick to a serious budget without sacrificing comfort in Bulgaria, I would recommend budgeting around €10-70 per person per night while there – assuming you’re splitting some costs.

The Ancient Theatre of Philippopolis in Plovdiv
The Ancient Theatre of Philippopolis in Plovdiv

Transportation Prices in Bulgaria

Now that we’ve covered the prices of accommodation in Bulgaria, we need to discuss how much it will cost to get around while in the country. Unless you’re only planning a short city break and want to walk everywhere, then you’re going to need to account at least a small portion of your Bulgaria travel budget to transportation.

Luckily, again, for the most budget-conscious traveller, getting around the country can be incredibly affordable and the nation is well served by public transportation, so it is possible to see a lot without having to splurge on a private vehicle.

If you’re travelling between cities in Bulgaria, like Sofia to Plovdiv or Plovdiv to Varna, your best bet is going to be to go by bus. While trains in Bulgaria certainly exist and there are rail connections between major cities, the trains have not been updated since at least the 1960s and they can be painfully slow and uncomfortable and only marginally less expensive than the bus.

Buses in Bulgaria that go between most major cities are large, fairly comfortable, and efficient. They tend to run on time, leave frequently on popular routes, and are incredibly affordable. If, for instance, you are looking to travel from Sofia to Plovdiv, you can expect the journey to cost you around €8. Depending on the length of your journey, prices can be more or less than that.

If you plan on going on an international bus trip, for instance from Sofia to Thessaloniki, Greece, expect that journey to cost more as well. However, domestic bus trips certainly will not break the bank.

Once you’re in the destination city or town, you are also going to want to know how much it costs to get around there. We’ll start with the capital city Sofia, which is the largest urban centre in Bulgaria and likely the main city that you will need to use the public transportation system.

Getting around by public transport in Sofia (be that the metro, bus, or extensive tram system) is very straightforward and incredibly affordable, with a single-journey metro ticket costing about €0.80.

Elsewhere besides Sofia (and even Sofia is easy enough), you can plan to get to most places of interest to tourists on foot. Sometimes, however, taking a taxi is a viable option as it is another affordable and convenient way to get from point A to B.

Expect a taxi ride that covers 3 kilometres to cost around €2. Just remember to make sure that the meter in the cab is running and you are using a reliable taxi company, as scams can happen in Bulgaria (as they do just about everywhere else in the world).

If you’re planning on sticking to a tight budget, only travel between cities every few days and walk or take public transportation, expect your transportation prices in Bulgaria to average around €5 per day.

If you want to get a bit further off the beaten path or don’t fancy relying on public transit while in Bulgaria, it can be a good option to hire a car. Car hire prices can vary drastically depending on which company you choose to rent from, the kind of vehicle you get, and the transmission that you drive.

If you hire a compact car from an international company, return it to the same location, and opt for a manual transmission, then you can expect the price to run at roughly €20 per day. Hiring from a local business will likely be cheaper and it can obviously get much more expensive, as well. This does not include the cost of things like fuel or parking, which can add to your daily costs.

If you want to find a great deal on car hire in Bulgaria, then you can browse options here.

Whether you plan to use public transit while in Bulgaria or intend to rent a car, expect to spend around €5-15 per person per day on transportation – assuming you’re splitting the costs of a car hire between two people.

The bus is the most efficient way to get around Bulgaria if you're worried about prices in Bulgaria
The bus is the most efficient way to get around Bulgaria

Food Prices in Bulgaria

Now that we’ve covered accommodation and transportation prices in Bulgaria, now it is time to discuss another basic travel cost — food. And, once again, a lucky thing for travellers is that food prices are quite affordable in Bulgaria.

While you may visit the country expecting Bulgarian cuisine to be similar to the starchy, heavy cuisines found throughout Central and Eastern Europe, it is time to cast aside that notion. Because of its unique location at the crossroads of Eastern Europe, Greece, and Turkey, Bulgarian cuisine has taken many influences and it is incredibly fresh and flavourful. Therefore, you’re going to want to eat a lot of it while visiting.

If you happen to be spending time in the bigger cities like Plovdiv and Sofia, you will happy to know that these metro areas are developing quite the food scenes and soon will be treated as full-blown foodie destinations.

There are a wealth of restaurants to choose from and even the more “upmarket” establishments will rarely have a main dishes that land around the €10-15 mark. More often, expect a main dish at a mid-range restaurant to cost closer to €5-10.

Eating out in lesser-touristed places outside of Sofia, Plovdiv, or the Black Sea coast, expect restaurant prices to be even cheaper. However, you should also expect more traditional cuisine options, as well.

Fast food also exists in the bigger cities, with many street stands selling pizza by the slice for less than €1, hearty and affordable kebab shops, and soup bars are incredibly popular as well. In all of these places, you can get a quick, filling, and (sometimes) healthy meal for less than €5 total.

If you want to cut costs further, then we recommend looking for accommodation with self-catering facilities and cooking some of your own meals.

Grocery prices in Bulgaria are affordable for western travellers and shopping in a supermarket for your meals will save you more money than eating every meal out. Another great tip to save money on food in Bulgaria is to look for accommodation that includes breakfast in the room rate. That way you have one meal accounted for.

All in all, if you are frugal and don’t eat every meal out in a restaurant, plan to spend about €10-20 per person per day on food in Bulgaria.

A delicious bowl of tarator soup, a traditional Bulgarian dish is not too expensive typically
A delicious bowl of tarator soup, a traditional Bulgarian dish

Activity Prices in Bulgaria

Now that we’ve covered the absolute basics when it comes to your Bulgaria trip cost including accommodation, transportation, and food, it’s time to discuss how much it will cost to actually do things in Bulgaria.

One of the best things about visiting new towns and cities in the world is simply letting your feet lead you where they will and to wander and explore the new streets. Of course, wandering aimlessly in Bulgaria is completely free and you never know what you might find if you do.

However, if you want a little bit more structure in your wandering or if you want to put some historical context to the sites you are seeing, going on a free walking tour is a great option for an activity as well. Most major Bulgarian cities offer at least one kind of free walking tour (there are several in Sofia) and they are an absolutely excellent way to get to know and learn about where you are visiting.

The tours themselves are free, however, the guides do work only for tips so do plan to tip the guide at least €5-10 per person depending on what you thought the tour was worth and the number of people who were on it.

There are also numerous paid walking tours in Bulgarian cities and these can cost anywhere between €10 and over €100 depending on what it is that you are after. Generally, we’ve found that going on a paid tour of a certain neighbourhood is very well worth the €10 per person.

If you’re interested in visiting any museums in Bulgaria, expect to pay an entrance fee there. While most places will offer significant discounts for seniors, youths, and students, expect a full-price museum entry to cost around €5. There might be some smaller, independent museums that will cost a little more or less than this.

Another popular activity in Bulgaria is wine tasting, especially around Plovdiv, which is located near tot he Thracian Valley — the biggest wine-producing region in Bulgaria. If you’re interested in wine tasting, it is possible to go on a private organised wine tour that will cost over €50 or you can opt to visit certain wineries independently.

In our experience, a full degustation at a winery in Bulgaria should rarely cost you more than €10 per person, however, each winery is different and sets its own prices.

Depending on your interests and preferences, how much you spend on activities per day in Bulgaria is entirely up to you. If you’re visiting Bulgaria on a budget, however, we would recommend setting aside around €5-15 per day to go to activities, depending on what you’d like to do.

Wine tasting can be an affordable activity
Wine tasting can be an affordable activity

Entertainment Prices in Bulgaria

The last and most discretionary factor of your overall Bulgaria trip cost is going to be the cost of entertainment in Bulgaria, or how much it costs to go to a show or out for a drink in this Balkan nation.

Well, fortunately enough for the budget backpacker, the price of beer in Bulgaria and Bulgaria alcohol prices, in general, are quite low. In fact, even a craft beer, which will certainly be more than a pint of the local lager, will rarely clock in more than around €3, which is excellent when comparing it to the price of beer in other countries like England, Australia, or the USA.

Wine, which the country produces prolifically, is also inexpensive, especially if you opt for local vintages or even homemade wine. The quality can be surprising and it is well worth sampling the local drinks when in Bulgaria.

If you’re interested in visiting the theatre, opera, or ballet while in Sofia in particular, this can be an affordable evening activity as well. If you book in advance, you can expect tickets to be as little as €10 and even the best seats in the house can come in around €25-30.

All in all, if you aren’t a heavy drinker but want to take in a show or cultural event, expect to spend about €5-10 per day on entertainment in Bulgaria.

Bulgarian craft beers can be more affordable than in Western Europe
Bulgarian craft beers can be more affordable than in Western Europe

Average Prices in Bulgaria

As evidenced above, it is incredibly possible to travel in Bulgaria on even the tightest of budgets and still have your money go a very long way. These costs are listed per person per day and assuming that some costs (like accommodation or a car hire) are split between two people.

Accommodation: €10-70 / night

Transportation: €5-15 / day

Food: €10-20 / day

Activities: €5-15 / day

Entertainment: €5-10 / day

All in all, depending on your travel style and habits, plan to spend between €35-130 per day if you want to travel on a tight budget but still allow for the occasional splurge.

The lovely town of Melnik
The lovely town of Melnik

Prices in Bulgaria can be incredibly affordable for travellers from Western European countries, North America, or Oceania which makes it an excellent destination for budget-minded travellers.

Are you planning a Bulgaria travel budget? Have any questions? Let us know in the comments!

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Maggie is a co-founder and writer for The World Was Here First. Originally from the US, she has lived in five different countries and has travelled to dozens more, both solo and with her partner, Michael. She particularly loves exploring Spain and spending time in the Caucasus and the Baltics. Read more about Maggie

Comments

  1. Great information, but what about languages, can you do any of those activities ( guided tours, shows, ordering in a restaurants etc) if you only speak English?
    Thanks

    Reply
    • Hi Roger, I don’t speak Bulgarian and have had absolutely no problem getting around and having a fulfilling time in the country! As with anywhere, it’s always good practice to learn a few words/phrases in the local language but you should have no problem getting by with only English so long as you’re respectful! Hope you’re able to have a great trip 🙂

      Reply
  2. Hi there I have spent time
    And looking at pictures
    From your country,I was born
    In Denmark but live in the
    USA I would love to visit your
    Country when we get the
    everything under control
    Regards Erik Jensen

    Reply

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