Even if you go there just for the sake of the journey, no journey to Bulgaria is complete without a bus ride from the capitol to the Black Sea coast. In February 2012 I took the UNION IVKONI bus from Sofiya main station all the way to Varna, on a day of exceptional cold, that created the most magical, if hostile, HARD frozen scenery. The silver & blue livery coaches of UNION IVKONI, are the Bulgarian equivalent of NATIONAL EXPRESS, but there are many competitors for this route, the other most frequent operator being the red autobuses of BIO-MET. Bulgaria is a mountainous country, & mountains covered in snow are a sight to behold, & there's no better way to do this than from the warm seat of a coach. In my opinion it's the perfect way to travel when temperatures are 10 degrees below freezing, & the appeal of wintry scenery is visual, with little attraction to be outside in it. I WILL NEVER FORGET that day of severe weather, driving through the tunnels between the mountains, & seeing the Romany caravans & horses, camped in a frosted, glistening laybay. But, at any time of year, the views along the mountain passes from Sofiya into Varna, must be worth many times more than the ticket price of around 25 Lev (approx:£4)
It is possible to travel all the way from the capitol to the Black sea resort of Varna, without a change of coach, if you travel with BALKAN HORN. MONDAY @19:00 is the weekly departure time & it's possible to use the service to reach Lille, Luxembourg, Plzen, Prague, or Brno, by Tuesday. The Bulgarian capitol will be the getting-off point for the majority, on Wednesday, but after Sofiya, the coach stops in Veliko Turnavo, Shumen, then journeys end where the company's office is located, in Varna. Friday morning the coach comes back from the Black sea coast, departing the capitol at 16:30 after a 1hour rest stop at Serdika, beside the main bus station.
Because the company have proficient drivers, this is all achieved within 48 hours, a full 10 hours less than EUROLINES require to cover the same itinerary. What is more, when I tried to book online with EUROLINES in February 2012, they offered me the same fare price return to Sofiya as their rival - £199
BUT, when I attempted to pay this price by bankcard, before processing details, the fare suddenly escalated a FULL £100 - supposedly to cover 2 online booking fees of £40 each + £20 travel insurance - in other words, EUROLINES tried to scam me for a whopping £100 by booking online, so obviously I cancelled this booking.
But, don't let online scammers put you off coach travel to Bulgaria & enjoying the rustic scenery of Serbia along the way - there is an alternative to EUROLINES - so go with BALKAN HORN!
No wonder there are so many taxis in Varna. The bus timetables are just a joke at many times of day. I have twice spent over an hour waiting for a scheduled service which should run every 10 to 15 minutes according to the bus-stop information. This was only just after 18:30 and on a major tourist route (centre to Golden Sands).
Also a disaster is the coach or minibus service to Constanta in Romania (where the cheap flights go to the UK). My wife spent almost 3 hours waiting at the Cathedral - where they are supposed to run from - in the middle of a normal weekday. No fewer than five services were scheduled to run in that time, and not one turned up. This is May 2012.
The website for the operators (www.autogara.ro) is worse than useless as most of the listings are out of date by over a year, and not one of the listed phone numbers for either of the two main operators connects.
This is a total shambles. Do not rely on this service if you have a plane to catch. It will cost you around 120 leva to get to Constanta airport by taxi from Varna centre. Good idea to share one with some other poor soul if they are also let down and waiting in vain for this abismal service!
As another contributor on here observes, Varna is not a place with much signpost information for the newcomer. Even by eastern European standards, the bus station I arrived at from Sofiya, was confusingly placed with the only ways out being back onto the main road from where the bus had come, or into a tower block housing estate, so it is not obvious what to do when you arrive. I came here just travelling through Bulgaria to observe the scenery, & I only stopped here, intending to transfer to somewhere else. I had gone to some trouble to research the bus timetable & had convinced myself it would be easy to find a connection to 0dessa. Indeed, on arrival at the bus station @14:00 the coach for 0dessa was parked up at the depot & it did not take long to find 3 ticket agents all advertising "0dessa" in their windows - only problem was, all were shut...
I ventured into the only other agent with an advert for Ukraine in the window, but when I asked for 0dessa, I might as well have asked for a ticket to the moon...
Having seen the coach I wanted, in Varna, & previously at 0dessa bus station, I assume this service does run, but obtaining a ticket to ride in Varna is a thankless task...
By the way, the coach in ? has a distinctive skull & crossbones logo with '0dessa pirates' written around it - enough said I think...
I just saw a question in the forum about buses from Varna to Odessa and I decide to post it as a tip.
There are 2 companies - one Bulgarian and one Ukrainian that run between the two cities.
Here are the websides of the companies that do that service to Odessa unfortunatelly in Bulgarian an Russian only:
Bulgarian company, buses on Monday, Wednesday and Saturday and
http://albaservis.narod.ru/ - Ukrainian comapny, phone number in Odessa - 0038048 7879747, phone number in Varna +359 885 632 049. They have buses on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
All buses are from central bus station Varna at 14:00 o'clock. Prices are around 70 leva one way. Here is their website - http://www.autogaravn.com/index.php?id=28&doc=bus-shedule
Hey! I've rented a vehicle in Varna airport this summer (august) - the location of the office was OK, the staff was perfect and the vehicle was also perfect. I booked Chevy Aveo and got a Scoda Octavia - MUCH better (for free)! It was not my first visit to Varna, but the rental vehicle gave me the opportunity to see a lot more interesting places, the option to organize the trip by myself. I went to "Pobiti Stones" - the Bulgarian equivalent of "Stonehenge", to a couple of small villages with awesome restaurants and guesthouses and on top of that for 14 days i went to 12 different beaches :) I MUST recommend the company- Top Rent A Car Bulgaria - Thank you for your professional services!
For the first time in Varna and in Bulgaria too I saw such red buses as in London and other tourist cities. (Actually it has started last year). It is a typical hop on hop off bus with a specific route in Varna, Golden sands and St. St. Constantine and Elena. 24 hours ticket cost 12 EUR and a 2 hour one costs 6 EUR. In the website you’ll see the schedule and the map of the route.
Varna airport is about 8km outside the city.
Bus number 409 takes you from the airport to the bus station, city center and all the way to some of the resorts. Tickets are sold from the ticket collector in the bus (he/he will come to you once you get on the bus). Also not only hotels, but some hostels can arrange to pick you up from the airport.
Although the airport is very small, it runs pretty well. So far, i havent had problems both taking off and landing, either in the summer or in the winter.
The airport gets very busy in the summer season, with lots of seasonal and charter flights from/to all over europe. There are regular flights to London-Gatwick, Vienna, Sofia, few cities in Germany, and i think Bratislava. The best is to check their schedule.
ticket sale: + 359 52 573 416 or + 359 52 511 825
flight info: + 359 52 573 323
if people on the phone seem rude to you, dont pay attention, i think this is their intonation.
Varna has an extensive local bus network operated by two competing private companies, Gradski Transport and Transtriumph Holding. The main terminus is in front of the central railway station and the city centre stops are quite well signposted with timings and destinations. At the time of writing (Nov 2009) a single journey fare is 1 Lev within the city limits (which includes to and from the airport). Tickets are sold by conductors on the buses - just ask for "edin bilet molya".
Use the link below for a useful schematic route map.
The main transportation in Varna are buses. Here I share a link with the map:
Also in that site you can find buses's routes.Unfortunately it's in Bulgarian but it's easy to translate with chrome.
Varna has two bus stations located close to each other.
The main bus station services almost all destinations out of Varna:
http://www.autogaravn.com/ Bulgarian only, but Google-translate works.
The minibus station, also known as the Private Bus Station (Chastna) is located on Dobrovoltsi street, very close to the main one:
Minibuses to Dobrich, Balchik, Kavarna and minor places around the city:
Varna has a rather cute little airport (Letishte Varna) about 20 minutes west of the city centre and whilst the number of daily flights is relatively small it does provide regular links to hubs such as Sofia and Budapest for travel further afield.
From the UK Bulgaria Air has daily flights on weekdays from Gatwick, BA flies both ways on Tuesdays and Thursdays also from Gatwick) and WizzAir flies from Luton on Sundays.
To get to the airport by public transport the 409 bus runs about every 20 minutes from Golden Sands with the city stop at Vladislav Varnenchik, the bus stop being the one across the road opposite the western side of the cathedral. The single fare (at the time of writing) being the princely sum of 1 leva.
The only thing to beware of is that if you like a beer be prepared to be extorted! A can of Kamenitza, land-side, (which was marked as 89c) cost 6 Leva. The same can airside 7.50!!!
So perhaps this should be transferred to "Warnings and Dangers"!
You'll sometimes see reference to Varna "Central" Bus Station but in fact the city's main bus terminus (Avtogara Varna) is about 1.5 km out of the city centre, on the main Vladislav Varnenchik road heading towards the airport.
Buses arrive and depart to and from the whole country, as well as some International services. Whilst the terminus is a bit on the scruffy side it is well-organised with vehicles departing from clearly signed stops. Several different companies operate the various routes and popular destinations, such as Sofia, have competing services. Generally-speaking tickets should be bought in advance and each company has its own ticket office, although some offices act as agents for several operators.
To get from the Avtogara into the city the local bus stop is across the road from the main entrance (using the underpass). From this stop most buses drop off at the Cathedral and services 109 and 409 continue out to Golden Sands. For city destinations the standard fare, at the time of writing, is 1 leva which you pay to the conductor on the bus.
Alternatively there are usually plenty of taxis available and a standard fare into the city should be about 4 leva.
First website is for the Avtogara which has constantly updated current departures. The "All Starting" link at the bottom-right opens the full daily schedule.
Second website is a national one but sometimes the information can be out-of-date and so should always be double-checked.
For trips out from Varna to the immediate area the private bus station Mladost provides fixed-price minibus services, mostly run by the appropriately-named "Minibus OOD". These run to timetables (see website) and are simplicity itself to use. You just turn up and buy your ticket from the cashier (Kaca) for the relevant destination. The departure points are clearly signed and about five minutes before the scheduled time the bus arrives to pick you up. Normally you wont have to show your ticket on the bus as the driver knows how many people he should have and does a head count before departing.
The Mladost station is about 100 metres down ul Dobrovoltski, across the road from the main Avtogara. Local buses connect at the Avtogara stops and the arriving minibuses usually drop-off at the city services bus stop.
Whilst Varna does have its share of "rip-off" taxi drivers it does also have perfectly honest ones. On my last visit (Nov 2009) I'd arrived at the main bus station from Veliko Turnovo. I was running late and when a touting taxi pulled up as I got off the bus I decided to get in anyway, fully expecting to have to pay over the odds.
Not to be though. I gave the driver my hotel address and off we went taking the most direct route. The meter was on and perfectly readable and when we arrived what it read was the sum he asked for. It was just over 4 Leva for the twenty, or so, minute journey and so I give him 5 quite happily.
I forgot to note which company it was but concensus has it that OK Taxi's are usually pretty good. Number below: