Travel Prices in Bulgaria

In many respects, Bulgaria is the best travel deal in Europe. Many of the prices I’ve cited below are the cheapest you’ll find on the continent (for any place visited by travelers anyway).

Get a liter of family wine for less than $2.

Some of that advantage is offset by the language barrier and alphabet though, so it can be better to pay a bit more and have some guidance than to learn enough Bulgarian to do it completely independently. If nothing else, bring a good phrase book.

This is primarily a rural country with small towns and villages. The second-largest city after Sofia has fewer than half a million people and it drops off fast after that. Come for nature, adventure, skiing, history, and hearty food at bargain prices. This is a great country for hiking, with hut-to-hut options at reasonable prices. Skiing is half the price of the Alps, but with some very high mountains to swoosh down.

You can read a nice feature story I wrote after my trip through the country in late April here: From Red to Green in Bulgaria.

Exchange rate at the time of this post was close to 1.5 lev to the U.S. dollar and 2 to the euro. Easy math, but I did it for you below into dollars.

Hotel & Hostel Prices in Bulgaria

Where foreigners go, there are plenty of cheap places to stay to choose from. Off the beaten path though, you may end up with a homestay or simple guesthouse. This is a place where two/three people traveling together can up their comfort level significantly: a private room for two/three is generally just double/triple the cost of a hostel bed. Internet is usually included, often breakfast is as well.

Deshka

View from $10 per person Deshka Guesthouse

Hostel bed or private double in a cheap hotel:  $9-$16 per person.

Basic room at a monastery: $20 – $24 double

Guesthouse room near a national park: $15 – $30 double

Mid-range (3-star equivalent) independent hotel – $35 – $60 double

International chain hotel: (mostly in Sofia)  $70 – $160 double


Bookingcom
 

Food & Drink Prices in Bulgaria

Bulgaria pricesSome of the cheapest beer in Europe, tasty food grown near where you’re eating it, and a wide array of firewater for bargain prices. You won’t spend a lot of money to eat well or have your own private party when traveling through Bulgaria. What’s not to like? Well if you’re a vegan or a tea-totaler, a lot. Everything is served with cheese or yogurt and alcohol is cheaper than soda.

Otherwise, there’s plenty to look forward to here. Portion sizes are as huge as in the U.S. and it’s perfectly acceptable to ask for a second plate to split an order.

Street food and sandwiches:  50 cents – $2.

Typical restaurant meal: $4 – $10 for several courses.

I wish I could have this $1.75 sandwich again…

Typical menu prices for food: soups/salads $1.50 – $3, mains $2 – $6, desserts 50 cents to $1.50.

Beer: 50 – 80 cents a liter in stores, $1 – $2.50 in a bar/restaurant for a liter depending on decor.

Wine: $1.40 – $2.50 a liter for homemade or a house wine glass in a restaurant, $4 – $8 in a restaurant for a typical bottle, $8 – $14 for the best. Bottle in stores $3 – 8 average.

Liquor: As little as 75¢ for a shot of raki (firewater distilled from grapes or plums) in a bar, but generally $1 – $2. Local vodka $2, imports $3 – $9.

Non-alcoholic drinks: herbal tea & water cheapest (40-80 cents), coffee $1 or so, soda usually more than beer or raki.

Fruit & vegetables – sold in season, not much imported, generally $1.40 a kilo or less for peppers, cabbage, potatoes, greens, grapes, plums, peaches, turnips, etc. Strawberries and fancy mushrooms more.

Sofia market

Dairy products – yogurt around $1 a liter, milk $1.50, cheese $4 – $6 a kilo fresh, $8 – $10 aged.

Transportation for Travelers in Bulgaria

Once you figure out how to get to where you’re going here, transportation is very cheap. With the local minimum wage being around 120 euros a month, many public transportation options are subsidized to keep them affordable to locals.

Travel Sofia

Taxi fares: 40 – 70¢ per kilometer

Local buses, metro, and streetcars: 75¢

Inter-city trains: The longest regular route is the $25 Sofia/Varna round trip in 2nd class. Sofia to Plovdiv is under $10 one way. 1st class is around 40% more.

Inter-city buses: prices are roughly the same as the train at $3 to $12 one-way, but are faster on some routes.

Admission Charges and Activities

It won’t cost you much to go sightseeing here. Only the Rila Monastery gets busloads of foreign tourists and that’s free (like all churches and monasteries here) unless you want to visit the museum or tower. I visited stunning caverns, amazing citadels, and a great ethnographic village, all for 4 lev each (<$3),

Museums & attractions: most $1.50 – $4 adult, half for kids/students.

Churches & monasteries – free

National park trails: free

Skiing: $12 – $15 rentals, $20 – $38 for walk-up all-day lift ticket.

Bike rental: $1.50 – $4 an hour, less for all day.

Other Travel Prices in Bulgaria

You can go river rafting, rock climbing, ice climbing, or cycling here on tours to suit your interests. Here’s a link with typical prices for booking adventure tours with a local expert.

If you’ve got money to invest, real estate prices here are among the best values I’ve seen anywhere in the world. I frequently saw houses for sale for under 20,000 euros and really nice places in prime areas almost never topped 100K euros in the real estate office windows. More on that later in my annual “cheapest places to live” post, coming next week.


 

Comments
  1. Billy B

    Holy crap – I think I could live it up for a week there on what I spent in two days in London. Looks great!

  2. Liam

    $4-$10 for several courses? Bulgaria sounds like a budget traveler’s dream!

  3. Steve (Living in Japan)

    Amazing! travelling in a beautiful place that is affordable like that is really great. You can have fun without worrying about your budget.

  4. Jack Norell

    Bulgaria sounds brilliant. I’m off to check the average weather forecasts now :-)

  5. Sally Stretton

    I never really thought about visiting Bulgaria, but knowing that there are great deals to be found there and I will have to put it on my radar. All the tourist things that I like to do are pretty inexpensive! Thanks for the great find!

    Sally

    • traveller

      But Remember what you pay is what you get. Dont expect anything amazing. Food is a 3/10. Attitude is good only when you tip, you can get ripped off easy and so on..

      so…. Under these conditions you may also visit malawi

  6. J. D. Mack

    If one is in Bulgaria and one gets wind that musician Ivo Papasov is performing, go see him! Bulgarian Wedding Music (what Ivo plays) may not sound like something exciting, but it’s wild virtuostic stuff that will rip your head off!

  7. Candice

    I have been to Bulgaria and I loved it. I spent most of my time in Sophia, and spent next to nothing while I was there. I would love to visit the coastal towns on the Black Sea next time, the locals in Sophia raved about them.

  8. James B.

    I loved Bulgaria too. I couldn’t believe how far my money went there. Even compared to Turkey, the food was better and half the price. Better beer too. Black Sea was crazy in the summer though.

  9. Taso

    Been in Bulgaria 1 year ago mostly Sophia and Bansko. Great value for money, i really liked the food.

  10. Pete

    Will be going there in May. Can’t wait…

  11. cane

    I believe Sofia is best city to live and vist.

    • Snapper The Turtle

      Sofia is nice to visit, but not so much for living. I’m planning to move next year to Blagoevgrad. It’s just 100 km from Sofia and its international airport, has a good climate with freshness (what is lacking in much bigger Sofia) and has a significant number of people speaking English! Thanks to American University of Bulgaria situated there.

      • Tim Leffel

        I agree that a lot of travelers spend way too much time in Sofia. There are much nicer parts of Bulgaria to visit.

  12. Lyuben

    There is a big difference in prices between the big cities and in the country… just avoid very touristic areas!

  13. Mike Smyth

    Bulgaria is indeed cheap, but keep your hands in your pockets, the pickpockets and gypsys are rampant. Don’t leave valuables in your room, keep em in the hotel safe or loose em. The country is poor, people don’t make much money, go figure. also make sure all your shots are up to date, mosquitos are prevalant during summer months in the countryside. If your camping in the moutains, the wood rats will eat holes thru your tent to get at your food.

  14. Helen

    I live in the us and would love to visit how is it really over there? I would really love to live over seas is this a good place? Living on a low budget. I’m 50 years old female and single is it safe.

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