Bulgaria: From Sofia to Varna
Bulgaria is a beautiful and vibrant country that is often visited for the beautiful beach resorts but also has a great amount of history and color to the towns.
Trek up mountains, wander through ruins, and enjoy delectable Bulgarian cuisine. Enjoy this round-trip starting in the capital for a jam-packed and action-filled Bulgaria itinerary.
Price Range: $$
Recommended Days: 7 Days
Riding Hours: Approx. 19 hrs
Distance: 866 km
Sofia: Cultural Capital
A rather laid-back capital, Sofia is a rather modern and youthful city that is also home to a scattering of churches, Ottoman mosques that lend to the exotic feel of the capital. Moving away from all of the buildings and boulevards are vast parks and exquisite gardens, ski slopes, and hiking trails. You will also find some of Bulgaria’s finest museums, galleries, and restaurants.
Explore the National Palace of Culture, which is located in the heart of the city and is a rather striking sight to behold. A sprawling hexagonal building that mixes concrete and grass, designed by Bulgarian artist and architect Alexander Georgiev Barov. The building is surrounded by gardens, which juxtapose the sleek yet harsh geometric lines of the museum.
You will find a number of events, art exhibitions, and musical concerts taking place in the museum. One of the oldest restaurants in Sofia is the Pok Lipite Tavern, a rustic pub dating back to 1926 that used to be a favorite rendezvous for notable Bulgarian figures like actress Elena Snezhina and writer Angel Karaliychev. This pub creates homemade Bulgarian cuisine that uses traditional recipes and cooking methods.
Sofia Central Station → Plovdiv Train Station | Duration: 2:22-3:22 h | Transfers: 0
Trains leave almost hourly throughout the day to Plovdiv and are operated by Bulgarian Railways.
Plovdiv: Easy Living
Mixing invigorating nightlife with millennia-old ruins, Plovdiv has an easy feel to the city and is the perfect second stop on our Bulgaria itinerary. It has the romantic old town but then is packed with colorful 19th-century mansions that have been turned into house-museums, galleries, and guesthouses. Music and art festivals draw the crowds into the Kapana Creative Quarter, and then there is the tranquility of Tsar Simeon Gardens.
The Ancient Theatre is placed on top of a hill with an incredible view over one of the busiest boulevards in the city. Still with its original Roman seats where you can watch live concerts and opera performances at the amphitheater during the summer months.
On top of the three city hills is the Old Town of Plovdiv. Brightly colored houses line the Old Town cobblestone streets, of which many have been transformed into museums. You can visit the Balabanov’s House, the Ethnographic Museum, and the History Museum for a cultured experience.
Plovdiv Train Station → Burgas Central Railway Station |
Duration: 4:35-4:59 h | Transfers: 0-1
There are two convenient direct connections a day to Burgas leaving in the morning and the afternoon; however; there is an indirect connection with a short transfer in Karnobat which is only 20 minutes longer than the direct connection.
Burgas: Seaside And Lakeside Views
Often considered to be a transit point heading for resorts and historic towns up and down the coast, but is a lively and well-kept city with a long, uncrowded beach and gorgeous seafront park. Head to one of the interesting museums, or out to one of the four lakes situated just outside the city which are havens for abundant birdlife.
A local favorite is Atanasovsko Lake for its curative mud and lye. You can lie in the pools of lye and apply the black mud onto your skin. It is also a busy bird-watching spot with around 316 of the total 423 bird species found in Bulgaria.
One of the symbols of Burgas is the pier that stretches into the sea, offering a relaxing walk with an occasional splashing of water. There is also the beautiful Sea Garden of Burgas that bursts with colorful flowers along the coast. You will find hotels, restaurants, and exposition centers in the garden, as well as ice cream carts on a hot summer’s day.
Burgas Central Railway Station → Varna Railway Station |
Duration: 4:20-4:45 h | Transfers: 0-1
There is one direct connection in the morning from Burgas to Varna (which is 4:45h long) , or there are three other convenient options to take an indirect train in the morning and afternoon to Varna with journeys ranging from 4:20h-4:34h long.
Varna: Beach Life
Varna is the maritime capital of Bulgaria, a cosmopolitan town on the Black Sea coast. Combining a port city, naval base, and seaside resort, it is an appealing place to visit with its packed history whilst also being modern. You will find an enormous park that ambles around a lengthy beach to lounge and in the center, you will also find Bulgaria’s largest Roman bath complex.
Head to the nearby resort town of Golden Sands, home to the water-induced exhilaration of Aquapolis. You will ride several water slides, which include two covered tunnels and the kamikaze slide. Walk amongst the Stone Forest that seems to be straight out of a fairytale. The stone pillars look as though giants created them, according to legend, as the real explanation is still unknown.
Hit the beach to the sandy coast that is lined with a selection of beach bars. Spend the day basking in the sun with a cocktail, or head to the beach in the evening for a beach party. Make sure to soak it all in before wrapping up this Bulgaria itinerary by heading back to the capital!
Varna Rail Station → Sofia Central Station | Duration: 7:39 h | Transfers: 0
There are several direct trains to Sofia throughout the day and options to take the sleeper train with options of comfortable sleeping cabins.
*Disclaimer: Due to the fluidity of transportation schedules, the information seen on RailwayHero may not be up to date at the time of readíng. Always double-check with the operator for the latest information.