Varna is a very easy place to get to by train, being the terminus of the two main lines cross-country from Sofia and hence linked to all of Bulgaria's main towns and cities. There are 7 trains a day to and from Sofia with a journey time of between 7 and a half and 10 hours, depending on the route, with the fare ranging from about 25 Leva to 20.
The Bulgarian railway system is seen by the locals as very much the "poor man's" option since buses are usually faster and more frequent. As a personal choice though, I find the train more suited to my way of travel - the journey, for me, is as much part of the trip as the destination and travelling Bulgaria by train does allow a vista that you will miss from a speeding coach.
Not only that but Varna's "Art Deco" railway station (completed in 1926 and recently renovated) is almost a destination in its own right. It has its own little tourist services office as well as the usual facilities which one would expect from a mainline railway station - A Bar!
The balance is slowly tipping in favour of Varna's taxi drivers!
After our visit to the Aladzha Monastery we reckoned we had time for a quick beer in Zlatni Piasatsi before our bus back. The quick beer was duly enjoyed at "Bavaria" and then we headed for the bus stop.
Just as we were arriving the bus was pulling away. An empty taxi had just passed us and the observant driver noticed that we'd missed the bus. He stopped and reversed up to us. To my surprise instead of trying to extort an inflated price from us he instead offered to take us into Varna for the price of the bus fare!!
Sensible guy as he was driving back to Varna anyway with his cab empty. Not only that but he was friendly and chatty. Hopefully Marina's got his details and I'll post these here if she has.
As of September 2009, there is NO ferry between Varna and Odessa.
On inquiry by bus travel, I got to learn that there is a bus service leaving Varna at 14:00 on Mondays, Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays and arriving in Odessa the next day at 08:00. Essentially an 18 hour journey that costs Bulgarian Leva 88.00 (Euro 44.00).
Further information is available from the bus company in Varna at:
I believe this is the best and low cost option (at least for me) compared to train travel that requires changing trains and the wait time.
Travelling by train in Bulgaria is reasonably comfortable and very cheap , at times it is slow.I travelled from Varna to Plovdiv, a cross country journey, 09.13 arrived 15.43, but the fare was 18 Lev [ £6.25p ] first class. A tip is reseach your trips before you leave home,because the timetables are in cyrilic script, and the ticket and information office ladies don"t speak or understand english. To find your platform number will be by departure time.
Most of the tourists are interested how to reach St. Konstantine and Elena or Golden Sands resorts from Varna.
For Both places you can take a city bus on the price of about 1-2 euro, depending on the final stop. The bus stop you can start from is called - Kozirkata and is located in opposite the Cathedral and in front of the only KFC restaurant in Varna. You can take busses number -109, 9, 409 to both Golden Sands and Drouzhba and bus number 8 to Drouzhba only.
Taking a taxi to the resorts is also an option. To Golden sands is supposed to cost you about 10 euros, and to St. KOnstantine and Elena - about 7-8 euros.
Enjoy your trip
Although Varna is a relatively small city it is still a very busy one and the main thoroughfares such as Mariya Louisa and Primorski are pretty much jam-packed with motor vehicles during the day. It is however also a very pedestrian-friendly city with the actual centre being almost entirely traffic free except for a couple of bus routes.
This has been achieved by some excellent forward-thinking city planning which put the main cross-city traffic through a tunnel under the city centre between Mariya Louisa and Primorski and also provided the main traffic-laden streets with pedestrian underpasses.
This means that pretty much everywhere that you could want to be here in Varna's city centre really is easily accessible by foot and makes wandering a pleasure.
I'm sure that there is a bit of a conspiracy in Bulgaria between the people who are in charge of street signage and the local taxi drivers. When I arrived at the railway station here in Varna I had my street map pretty well fixed in my head as to the whereabouts of my hotel and so went looking for the street sign which I would have expected to be on the corner at the start of the street.
Nope, no street signage at all! OK I knew where the street should be and so wandered up what I thought it was but just couldn't find my hotel. The 5 minute walk turned into about 30 minutes of tracking and backtracking, triangulating the area and I knew I couldn't be more than 100 metres or so away from my hotel but nope, no street signs and nope no obvious hotel signs.
It was dark and raining and eventually my triangulation came across a taxi parked on the corner and so I asked the guy for directions - HA!
"Art Hotel, Preslav. Yes I know where." he replied, "I take you, 5 Leva?"
"Is it near?" I asked.
"Oh Yes, near, only 5 Leva."
"OK, take me." I submitted, rolling over on my back with my paws in the air.
Yep, I knew it. The guy drove 100 yards down the street where I had found him, did a U-turn drove back up to the corner where I had picked him up and then continued maybe 50 yards up another street, did another U-turn and then back to the same corner and another 50 yards up a different street - "Here's your hotel sir!"
Needless to say he didn't get a tip!
I did find the street sign the following day (when it was light) and yep, it was halfway up the street, not at the start, not at the end, not lit, only on one side and only visible from across the road if, and only if, you knew it was there! Definitely a conspiracy!
This is a tip in addition to some comments on this site. In Varna bus 409 in 2008 now costs 1.30 leva or 0.66 euro or nearly 34 roubles. And if I am not mistaken can take you from airport to Golden Sands and St. Konstantine (Druzhba). Not bad if you travel from airport. But a bit too much if you only travel a few stops from city center to villa area (about half way to St. Konstantine). I think the fare shall be adjusted. Besides, it does not make all stops. I prefer bus 8 (also the only double decker) from opposite the Cathedral to St. Konstantine. It costs now 0.80 leva (80 stotinki)=0.40 euro=15 roubles. But I have to admit it takes time to wait. Normally about 15-20 min for any bus. If you are in hurry - you have no choice. Only taxi.
Beware of gypsy taxis.They look exactly like usual taxis in yellow and chechers but tariff may be different and they are targeted at newcomers. Some even come from Plovdiv to make money on tourits in summer. If the driver tries to negotiate - he is fake taxi. Regular taxis have meters. Now the daily tariff in Varna is 0.69 /km and 0.79/km at night. Roughly about 7 leva or 3.5 euro or 132 roubles to St. Konstantine during the day. Getting in town at night from any resort is questionnable. They are all "sharks". I would suggest to wait for a bus unless you do not care for money.
From my experience and experience of my friends it is hard to get a taxi in Varna airport especially at night (compared to Sofia - someone recommended and I agree it was a good advice - Supertrance taxis).
I find Bulgarian driving habits very careless and everyone tries to rip you off if you are a foreigner - so be prepared.Good luck with a trip to Varna!
From Varna to Golden Sands there is the 109 bus , but i took a mini bus . Both go from near the cathedral, bus you buy ticket from machine, mini you pay the driver 2 Lev [74p] the trip takes about half an hour. Return journey take mini bus from other side of road pay driver 2 Lev. in Golden sands.
Varna's beautifully restored train station is located on bulevard Primorski. From here you have long distance trains to Sofia, Plovdiv, Russe and the towns in between aswell as regional trains to Dobrich. During summer there are also trains to Russia departing from here.
From the private Bus station in Varna that is operating with white small busses (fitting up to 20 people) you can travel to the surrounding towns in the land and along the Black Sea coast ,all the way to Sunny Beach and Nessebar. see a closeup of the pic for prices.
Some of the destinations are :
Bourgas - price 8lv /4 euro - departing every round hour from 7.00 until 18.00h
Nessebar - 7 lv - 3 times a day - 8:30 , 10:30 and 15:30h
Balchik - 4lv - 6:30 , 7:45 .......19:30
Kavarna - 6lv - 6:50
the other towns are not popular destinations ,but maybe they have things to see aswell..
The private bus station is located some 5 mins by foot from the Main Bus station . It is best once there toask for directions.
There is ferry service in the summer months that travels overnight (twice a week) from Varna to Odessa in the Ukraine. Travel to Ukraine has been made a lot easier with the dropping of the Visa requirements for EU, US and Japanese citizens. If you want to get their outside of the season you must take a train through Romania and maybe Moldova (for which you will need a visa) to Lviv or Kiev.
The best way to arrive from/in Istanbul is with Nisikli buses, usually there are 2 services every day taking about 9 hours leaving outside the Nisikli office underneath the big McDonalds sign on Maria Luiza Blv.
Single is 40lv return 70lv
from the Varna Central Bus Station you can reach a lot of destinations. Bulgarian and international bus lines are running from here. Eurolines are going from here to western europe and also very good connections with turkish and bulgarian busses to Istanbul!
I used a Grup bus from Varna to Sofia. The bus is running a few times per day. Grup and Etap are running the distance in ~6h with a stop in Velniko Tarnovo (max 20 minutes). The one way price is 22 Lewa (11 EUR). I was very satisfied with the bus company. There are also a lot of other bus companies running the same way, if you dont find a ticket at Grup/Etap.