Most travellers arrive at Sofia Airport, a once depressing point of welcome which has now acquired a second, more modern terminal that could be anywhere in the world. The drive from the airport to the city centre is a short one and should not take more than 20-30 minutes. Use the official taxi booth inside the terminal to ask for a taxi, as those loitering outside are likely to overcharge you by anything up to 10 times the normal fare.
Both the train station and international bus station are located in the city centre and are accessible by underground, but the area around them tends to attract 'dodgy' characters so keep your wits about you. Early morning and late at night are to be avoided.
If arriving by car, be aware of the numerous speed traps at the entrances to the city as you will end up with a not insignificant on the spot fine. Driving in Bulgaria is an experience some would prefer not to have, but if you have made it to Sofia then you will already have had a taste of that on the way!
By PlaneDirect flights from other European cities to Sofia are on the increase and the boom in budget airlines such as wizz air, easy jet and Ryan Air means that not only has Sofia's popularity as a shortbreak destination has increased noticeably, but also more and more local residents are taking advantage of exploring the world.
Via nearby Istanbul (Turkish Airlines) many destinations around the world are within easy reach. Same goes for travelling with Qatar airways via Doha or of course Lufthansa via Frankfurt / Munich or Austrian via Vienna.
Cringe factor: You might be surprised to notice that Bulgarians tend to clap when the plane has landed - but not yet stopped!
By TrainInternational trains go from here to Greece, Serbia, Romania and beyond. They tend to move very slowly, though a 'fast' train to Thessaloniki in Greece has been introduced which takes about 5 hours (you can drive it in less!).
By CarDepending on your previous driving experience, driving in Bulgaria may seem a little harrowing at first. There is, however, no need to feel daunted as long as one drives defensively and sticks to the rules. Many local drivers can be arrogant and aggressive, best try to avoid confrontation.
Speed limits for cars are:
50km/h (30 mph) within the city,
90km/h (55mph) outside cities, and 130 km/h (80mph) on motorways, unless indicated otherwise.
Visitors to Bulgaria may drive using their national license, as long as it complies with international standards. It is advisable, however, to carry an international license. Legislation is now in place to make fining and the withdrawal of licenses of all EU citizens possible.
These are the main border-crossing points into and out of Bulgaria by road.
Kulata – Greece 177km to Sofia E79
Kalotina – Serbia 57km to Sofia E80
Guyeshevo – FYROM 106km to Sofia E871
Kapitan Andreevo – Turkey 319 km to Sofia E80
Vidin (203km) Rousse, or Silistra (461 km) - Romania
Don’t expect the border police and customs officers to speak any foreign language on either side of the border. Getting through should not be a painful experience though it may sometimes be slow if you arrive during coffee or lunch breaks. Allow a minimum of one hour to clear both checkpoints. Don’t forget you will need a vignette (road tax) for Bulgaria.