Romania and Bulgaria

Jun 27th, 2018, 09:28 PM
  #1  
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Romania and Bulgaria

We are a couple of experienced Europe travellers, and - apart from one cruise (in the Mediterranean) - we have always travelled independently, driving ourselves by car, booking our accommodation ahead sometimes, but not always. Most of our travelling has been in Western & Central Europe, but even countries like Croatia and Slovenia were not a problem as far as driving or finding hotels/pensions etc were concerned.
However, for our next trip we are looking a little further east than we've been before: Romania, Bulgaria and Albania. We've already been advised that Albania is not yet geared for tourism and we'd be best to take an escorted tour. Fair enough. But we're wondering about Romania and Bulgaria. If we're used getting around the countries I've mentioned, would we be equally comfortable doing Romania and Bulgaria independently by car (or maybe rail) independently? Or are those two countries best/safest done on a tour?
We're not looking for luxury, but as a more mature couple we like a little more comfort than we used to when younger, including our own ensuite facilities. Even many of the tours I've checked out for these countries use private homes, pensions, yurts etc, where these facilities are not available. Is this a choice thing (they often bill themselves as "adventure" tours) or would these facilities be hard to find anyway if we were to travel these countries independently? Appreciate any advice people can offer...
twoflower is offline  
Jun 28th, 2018, 01:35 AM
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Hello , I'm glad that you guys want to visit Romania and Bulgaria, I think you'll have a great time. I can speak more about Romania from a Romanian guy point of view.
About your questions: I think is pretty easy to find a good comfortable Pension or Hotel , it depends though when you want to travell and where exactly. You can find lovely people and great places .Tell me more about what you are looking to see (architecture, nature, a mix of those) , what kind of experience are you looking for and I can give you some tips.
I recommend travelling in Romania by car as our rail is not that great .
passpartout is offline  
Jun 28th, 2018, 06:11 AM
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Our daughter and son-in-law went to Romania for their honeymoon! They travelled independently. They made their own hotel reservations and they rented a car. They loved Romania. They did the "typical tourist circuit": Sibiu, Brasov, Sigisoara (sp?) and Bucharest.
KarenWoo is offline  
Jun 29th, 2018, 01:30 PM
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If you are looking for hotels and B&Bs with bathrooms you will have no problem in Romania or in Bulgaria. You can for sure see both countries without going on a tour. I've seen a bit more of Romania than Bulgaria, but from what I have seen the infrastructure is a bit better in Bulgaria, road wise. But no matter, you can get around without too much issue.

I've used the train a couple of times in Romania including an overnight trip that was quite an experience. There are also some private car service that are a good value. But you'll have a lot more freedom to explore with a car.

I spent a few days in Bulgaria last fall and I was blown away. Sofia is one of the coolest cities I have ever been to. And if you want to pamper yourself, I went to a winery in the south that has luxurious rooms for a price you would not believe and a fantastic restaurant. I can dig up the info if you want.

Bottom line - you can do it yourself and, do it!
rialtogrl is offline  
Jun 29th, 2018, 06:27 PM
  #5  
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Thank you everybody. Your comments are very helpful. We realise that in large cities like Bucharest and Sofia there will be a good choice of hotels. But we enjoy seeing the country, travelling around smaller towns and villages as well, and that's why we were unsure about what accommodation might be available. We are looking at places like Veliko Tarnovo and Plovdiv in Bulgaria, and Brasov, Sighisoara, Sibiu and Marmures in Romania. (Is Marmures a town or a region?). Reading about your experiences and the experiences of people you know who have driven independently in Romania and Bulgaria is very encouraging. Thank you.
twoflower is offline  
Jun 29th, 2018, 08:07 PM
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You do not need a tour for Albania, never mind Romania and Bulgaria. I traveled in Albania by public bus, I traveled in southern Romania by train, bus, and car and driver, and in the north with a car and driver (but that was back in 2006). I did use a tour for Bulgaria but I don't think it was necessary and friends of mine have traveled there by public transport with no issues. If you are willing to drive you will obviously have more freedom. You should have no trouble finding accommodation with private bathrooms and AC.

For my second visit to Romania start here (links at the top of the page): https://mytimetotravel.wordpress.com...ing-bucharest/

For Albania: https://mytimetotravel.wordpress.com...eys-than-cars/
thursdaysd is offline  
Jun 29th, 2018, 08:23 PM
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Marmures is a region. You can find hotels in the places you mention, have you done any searches on booking.com or similar? Some of these places are not really small towns, but small cities. But good as a base to see the surrounding area.
rialtogrl is offline  
Jul 9th, 2018, 12:47 AM
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I can only speak for Romania.
  • It's a safe country in most places, unless you find yourself in a getto.
  • I would recommend hiring a car, not necessarily going on a bus tour.
  • If you want to take tours, i recommend day tours such as http://www.travelbugtours.ro . You could stay for a few days in one of the main cities of Transylvania (Brasov, Cluj, Sibiu, Targu Mures, Alba Iulia), and visit the region from there, having that city as a base.
  • You could take a train if you are nostalgic, but most of them are pretty old and don't have AC. Depending on where you go you could find really nice ones. Another minus with trains its that it takes allot of time to get to the desired location, there are not very fast.

Last edited by colinfl; Jul 9th, 2018 at 12:48 AM. Reason: Wrong link again.
colinfl is offline  
Jul 9th, 2018, 03:57 AM
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Had a couple of weeks in Bulgaria a few years ago. You might be able to pick bits out of this...

Flew into Sofia and had a car booked to take us the 90 minute drive to Plovdiv. We stayed in PLOVIDIV (4 nights) at Hotel Leipzig (there's better), and had day trips by public bus to a beautiful little town called Hasir, and a day in the mountains by bus at a bustling ski-town called Smolyan...

http://wikitravel.org/en/Plovdiv
http://wikitravel.org/en/Smolyan

Then on by bus to VELIKO TARNOVO. Not an easy journey, and we had to put plan B into action at one stage as we'd missed the last connecting bus for the day in a place called Karlovo, and had to get a taxi to the next bus station at Kazanlak. We eventually reached VELIKO TARNOVO after another couple of bus journeys over the mountains via Gabrovo...

http://wikitravel.org/en/Veliko_Turnovo

VELIKO TARNOVO is a lovely, bustling place oozing with character. Stayed 2 nights with a day out to nearby Arbanasi.

Then a taxi to small one-horse place called ETAR. Main reason to visit was to see the open air Ethnographical museum which didn't disappoint. Day out by bus to a small town called Tryana, and stopped off at the much larger Gabrovo...

Open Air Ethnographic Museum "ETAR" - Gabrovo
http://wikitravel.org/en/Gabrovo

I'm going on a bit now! We also went by bus and stayed at VARNA, with trips by local bus to Dobrich and Balchik. The on by bus to BURGAS and SOZOPOL, before returning toPLOVDIV by train (5 hours)...

http://wikitravel.org/en/Varna
http://wikitravel.org/en/Burgas
http://wikitravel.org/en/Sozopol

We covered about 1200 miles by bus/train in 2 weeks with only one hiccup, and apart from pre-booking accommodation in Plovdiv we just turned up on spec.

The signage is difficult as they use the Cyrillic alphabet, so working out places at bus and train stations was nigh on impossible.

Did lots of planning using LP and Rough Guide.

Bulgaria is a lovely country, and well worth the effort which you need to put in.
LancasterLad is offline  
Jul 9th, 2018, 04:01 AM
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We were in Romania [Transylvania] last month for nearly 3 weeks. Here's my almost finished Trip Report...

Romania [Transylvania] - 6 to 23 June 2018

Loved the place.
LancasterLad is offline  
Jul 9th, 2018, 05:24 AM
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The signage is difficult as they use the Cyrillic alphabet, so working out places at bus and train stations was nigh on impossible.
Really? I am lousy at languages but I found the Cyrillic alphabet quite easy to learn. In any case, all you need to do is write out the name of the place you want to visit in the local alphabet and either pattern match or ask for help. Worked for me even in China.

I thought the Black Sea coast towns were disappointing. I would add Rila monastery from Sofia.
thursdaysd is offline  
Feb 5th, 2019, 11:13 AM
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If the trip has not taken place --- I wrote two relevant trip reports, separated by quite a few years' one on Hungary and Romania. and the other on Bulgaria and a Danube cruise. In oce case we drove throiugh Hungary and Romania, and in the other instance we used public transportation and a private guide service. Do a search with my name and the relevant countries and you should be able to find the reports.
Michael is offline  
Feb 23rd, 2019, 09:07 AM
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I spent a few days in Bulgaria last fall and I was blown away. Sofia is one of the coolest cities I have ever been to. And if you want to pamper yourself, I went to a winery in the south that has luxurious rooms for a price you would not believe and a fantastic restaurant. I can dig up the info if you want.
.
rialtogrl, We went to Romania (mostly Transylvania region) in 2015. It was amazing!!!! I would go back in a heartbeat. And actually, I am thinking of going up further to the north (Maramures and Bucovina) since we didn't get a chance to do that during our trip. I toyed with the idea of adding Bulgaria, but in the end, picked Budapest for the first 4 nights of our 10-night trip. Now reading your comment I wonder if I should consider Bulgaria for one of the future trips. The winery in the south that you mentioned, can you share that info?
minamax10 is online now  
Feb 23rd, 2019, 09:19 AM
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If the trip has not taken place
The OP was in June 2018.
thursdaysd is offline  
Feb 23rd, 2019, 09:47 AM
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minamax10, funny you should ask this question now. The winery I am referring to is Zornitza winery - but, I just looked at the prices for a stay in April a couple of days ago and they have gone WAY up. It is now something like 350 euros, way out of my league. But maybe they have better rates at other times of the year. It is a very beautiful place. You can go there to taste wine and/or dine without staying there, I believe.
https://www.zornitzaestate.com/

Definitely consider Bulgaria for one of your future trips. I am really looking forward to returning.
rialtogrl is offline  
Feb 23rd, 2019, 10:53 AM
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wow, yes! checked a random date in September. 350-450EUR per night. WOW! Out of curiosity, checked what the average salary is in Bulgaria.... The average salary in this country is 550 euro! So one night costs about what an average person earns in a month. Interesting I wonder if I had missed my chance to take advantage of low prices in Bulgaria by a few years
minamax10 is online now  
Feb 23rd, 2019, 11:29 AM
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Originally Posted by minamax10 View Post
wow, yes! checked a random date in September. 350-450EUR per night. WOW! Out of curiosity, checked what the average salary is in Bulgaria.... The average salary in this country is 550 euro! So one night costs about what an average person earns in a month. Interesting I wonder if I had missed my chance to take advantage of low prices in Bulgaria by a few years
I don't know where you searched, but we did not pay that much two years ago, and I can't believe that the prices increased that much for decent accommodations. Here's what we paid in Plofdiv: In Plovdiv we stayed at the Hotel Renaissance http://renaissance-bg.com/www4/en/ 260 for 4 nights through Hotels.com (taken from my trip report which unfortunately is underlined throughout).
Michael is offline  
Feb 23rd, 2019, 11:46 AM
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Michael, that price is for one place, the link is above. Zornitza Estate.

Other accommodations are nowhere near that price. I will stay in Plovdiv for probably the equivalent of 35 euros a night.

I am not sure why Zornitza is so expensive now. When I got back in October 2017 and checked their prices they were much less but still expensive by Bulgaria standards.
rialtogrl is offline  
Feb 23rd, 2019, 07:30 PM
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Originally Posted by Michael View Post
I don't know where you searched, but we did not pay that much two years ago, and I can't believe that the prices increased that much for decent accommodations. Here's what we paid in Plofdiv: .
No, I am sure other hotels --even if the prices increased as the bound to with more people visiting the country-- are still reasonable. I was just checking out this super fancy winery / hotel for September 2019. And that's the prices I got for a cottage for 2 people. So I think it's way too expensive a) for Bulgaria and b) for the cottage itself (it doe not look like a 400EUR accommodation).

At any rate, since I loved Romania so much, I will definitely keep Bulgaria in mind. Maybe trying to put Bulgaria and Northern Romania together in one trip.
minamax10 is online now  
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