In recent years, more and more people are pulling out their maps and heading east to visit Bulgaria! The perfect road trip destination, Bulgaria is a large city with a fascinating history, and plenty of sights and museums to tell it through. Hire a motorhome and make your way to Bulgaria for a road trip like no other. Need help planning your road trip? Check out our itinerary for the best Bulgaria road trip!
Getting to Sofia
For your ease, this road trip itinerary for Bulgaria will start and end in the magnificent capital city, Sofia. Getting to Sofia is fairly easy. If you’re taking a campervan abroad for this trip, you’ll be driving south and taking a ferry where necessary.
If you plan to rent a campervan there, you can fly into Sofia International Airport.
If you’re looking to reduce your carbon emissions or you’re simply a fan of slow travel, you can take a train to Sofia.
Bulgaria in a Campervan
Bulgaria is best explored behind the wheel of a motorhome, there is simply no other way to do it! Bulgaria is filled with astounding natural beauty, so why miss out on this by locking yourself away in a hotel? You need to have only the walls of a motorhome between you and the incredible natural feats of Bulgaria - but with a comfortable mattress beneath you! Camping in Bulgaria is the perfect way to keep your road trip on the move, staying at the campsites included on this blog.
As for camping in Bulgaria, wild camping in Bulgaria is no longer legal but it tolerated in most areas. You must not stay on private property or in national and natural parks, and avoid larger cities that have strict controls. If it is your first time, read up on wild camping rules before heading out.
Let’s get started with a visit to Sofia!
Day 1 - 2, Sofia
You could spend a full week visiting Sofia, but for the purpose of fitting in as much of Bulgaria as possible, we’ll keep it to two days. If you’ve already seen Sofia or aren’t keen on more than a few hours, feel free to head down to Day 3 and start driving to Koprivshtitsa.
Sofia is known for an eclectic style of architecture, referencing their Byzantine and ancient Greek history, as well as their socialist roots. Walking around will allow you to witness all these incredible styles and how they merge.
Things to do in Sofia:
- One of the most incredible places to visit in Sofia is the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, around which the rest of the city was built. This Orthodox Church is considered to be a symbol of the city, and is actually one of the most commonly photographed places in the city. It will be easy to spot the coloured domes from miles away, so there is no chance of getting lost. To minimise this further, you can also take a…
- Sofia Walking Tour! I always believe that there is no better way to explore a city than by foot and with a local guide. Try this free walking tour, where you only pay through a tip if you enjoyed it!
- Head to the famed Vitosha Boulevard, the heart of the capital filled with shops, restaurants, bars, terraces and coffee shops! It has a modern vibe with a wide pedestrian walkway.
- Visit a museum. You could go for something traditional, like the National Museum of History or the National Museum of Archaeology. If you’re looking for more of an experience or something to entertain younger ones as well, then head straight for the Museum of Illusions. If you’re a fan of the finer arts, then you can visit Kvadrat 500, a former printing press turned art gallery. But I would also recommend the Museum of Socialist Art, for a fascinating glimpse into totalitarian iconography and the “gods” of communism.
- Do a bit of shopping for the road! Head to the Ladies’ Market, Central Hall and Zhenski, for a variety of choices. It’s a great place to try local delicacies as well.
If you’re looking for a daytrip in Sofia, head to the Vitosha Mountains. Known in ancient times as the Socmius or Scombrus, this impressive mountainscape sits on the outskirts of Sofia. It is considered to be a symbol for the city, and is the closest site for hiking, alpinism and skiing. It can be reached by bus from the city, or taking your motorhome.
Staying at: Camping Ribkata. It is always difficult to find a campsite close to a city, so it will be a short drive to Camping Ribkata. But the drive is worth it, as this is the best campsite in Sofia. Clean facilities, spacious grassy pitches and falling asleep close to the softly flowing river. Everything you need for your first night of camping in Bulgaria in a motorhome.
Price: starting from £17.50 /€20 for two people.
Day 3, Sofia to Koprivshtitsa
The first day of driving! Travel 68 miles via Route 66, and you should reach Sofia within two hours. Nestled at the base of Stara Planina Mountain, this National Revival period town is a tranquil escape from the bustle of Sofia. Filled with colourful, old houses and cobblestoned streets, plenty of time in Koprivshtitsa should be dedicated to simply exploring. The people of this town are so friendly, don’t be surprised if you’re invited in for tea!
Things to do in Koprivshtitsa:
- Explore the 350 ‘Heritage Sites’ dotted around. You might not be able to visit them all, but given that the city is an architectural reserve, it won’t be hard to see the majority during your time. Many of these ‘Heritage Sites’ are linked to famous Bulgarian revolutionaries such as Todor Kableshkov, Georgi Benkovski, Liuben Karavelov and more!
- If your trip happens to fall just right, you may be able to visit in time for the Koprivshtitsa Folklore Festival. Held every 5 years in August, this festival has been running since 1965.
- If it rains, you can take shelter in one of the numerous museums. These include the Dimcho Debelyanov House, the Todor Kableshkov House Museum and the Georgi Benkovski House Museum.
Use this calm stop in your road trip itinerary for Bulgaria to prepare for the busy days ahead, and to enjoy a gentle hike!
Staying at: The Great Outdoors! As mentioned before, wild camping is legal in Bulgaria. So given the lack of nearby campsites, use this as an opportunity to give it a go! If you’d prefer to stay closer to the city and overnight park, you can stay at Parking Koprivshtitsa to be walking distance from the centre.
Price: £5/ €6
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Day 4-5, Koprivshitsa to Plovdiv
Take Route 606 for 55 miles and you’ll find yourself in Plovdiv, the second largest city in Bulgaria - and considered by many to be the most beautiful! The drive will take you approximately an hour and a half, but leave early to maximise your time in the incredible city of Plovdiv. Art enthusiasts will adore this vibrant town, and budding historians will appreciate the remaining ruins and sights.
Things to do in Plovdiv:
- Visit the lively arts scene of the Kapana Creative District. This hip neighbourhood is spread across three hills, and also known as ‘The Trap’ due to its labyrinth-like streets - be careful not to get lost! You’ll find wine bars, craft beers, artsy stores and plenty of coffee shops. Everyday is a party in ‘The Trap’ with the colourful streamers and graffiti enlightening the mood.
- Follow this by a visit to the Old Town, wandering along the cobblestone streets past aged houses with wooden shutters from the 19th century.
- At the end of the Old Town you’ll stumble into the incredible Roman ancient ruin theatre, Philippopolis. It overlooks the mountain, providing a spectacular view, and this historic relic still functions as an open air theatre and musical hall. Try to catch a live show there, as the acoustics are phenomenal!
- Looking for a day trip from Plovdiv? Go on a Plovdiv wine tour, to the miles of vineyards surrounding the city. Just be sure you’re already parked at your campsite for the night and don’t need to drive after!
- A fan of the extraterrestrial? Or have a budding interest in communism? Then visit the abandoned communist monument, that is shaped like a UFO!
I recommend staying two nights in Plovdiv to take your time with this vibrant city, and to fit in a wine tour! There are plenty of incredible things to do and see in Plovdiv, and it is interesting to compare it to Sofia.
Staying at: Another night, another chance to wild camp! Wild camping in Bulgaria is also a great way to enjoy motorhome travel on a budget. If you’d like to park near town, head to Parking Plovdiv, situated next to a supermarket. There is a bus stop right next to it that will take you to the centre of town. Be aware that you cannot enter or leave between 10pm and 6am!
Price: £4 /€5
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Day 6, Plovdiv to Sozopol
Wake up and grab breakfast and coffee from the closest bakery, because you’re going to need energy for the drive ahead! Follow the A1 to the coast, and you’ll reach Sozopol within three hours. There are plenty of potential stops on the way, to stretch your legs and go for a walk. Not sure if you’ve reached Sozopol? Smell the air, it should have that glorious seaside scent. And worst case, keep driving and you’ll soon realise you’ve reached the Black Sea when your motorhome starts to sink!
Things to do in Sozopol:
A charming old town with narrow cobbled lanes and charming villas, take an hour after you arrive to simply walk around. Your legs will need it after that long drive!
If you’re lucky, you might be in Sozopol just in time for the Apollonia Art and Film Festival. It is held annually at the end of summer, lasting 10 days with over 70 events. There’s truly something for everyone, with literary evenings, art exhibits, jazz improvisation, acting and more!
Take a boat trip. Head onto those shimmering blue waters and visit St. Thomas Island or St. Ivan Island. Bring a picnic and make an afternoon of it.
- Visit the gothic Castle of Ravadinovo. This medieval castle is complete with scenic gardens at the edge of the water, a breathtaking sight.
- While visiting Sozopol, also take time to simply enjoy the beach! The Bulgarian seaside is severely underrated, so take an hour to read on the beach or splash about.
Sozopol is a must-see when visiting Bulgaria, and feel free to take an extra day or two here if it fits your Bulgarian road trip itinerary!
Staying at: Fjordplatz. An overnight parking spot with a sea view! It’s a very calm spot, but be aware that on windy nights you’ll hear the waves.
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Day 7, Sozopol to Nessebar
Stick close to the coast and follow Route 99 and Route 9 north to Nessebar, it should be an hour’s drive. Another seaside town, Nessebar is located on a rocky peninsula, and has a vibrant history. It is lined with ruins from their Byzantine and Greek history.
Things to do in Nessebar:
Watersports! Nessebar is renowned for their selection of watersports, so take an afternoon to release your inner child and splash about.
Prefer a good waterpark? That’s fine too! Visit the Aqua Paradise Water Park, an outdoor water park featuring a selection of colourful slides, eateries and more. Truly fun for the whole family.
Visit the Church of Christ Pantocrator, a UNESCO World Heritage Site constructed in the 13th-14th century. It is best known for its decadent exterior decoration, and houses an art gallery. It is among the best preserved of Bulgaria’s churches of the Middle Ages.
You can also visit another UNESCO World Heritage Site, and another church! The Church of Saint Sofia is also known as the Old Bishopric, and is an Eastern Orthodox church situated in the old quarter of the town. It is considered to be one of the top 100 Tourist Sites of Bulgaria.
Simply walking around the shops is considered sightseeing in Nessebar, given that this ancient city is renowned worldwide for its historic landmarks! Considered to be one of the most beautiful cities in Bulgaria, don’t miss the chance to visit Nessebar during your Bulgaria road trip.
Staying at: Camping Aheloyska Bitka. Take a break from wild camping and enjoy a nice shower in these clean facilities. Situated walking distance from the beach, start your day with a swim or end it with a tranquil stroll.
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Day 8, Nessebar to Varna
The most central of the coastal towns, head north on the E87 for an hour and forty minutes to reach the port of Varna. It is a touristy town, filled with great bars and restaurants, but also features stunning scenery.
Things to do in Varna:
- Trek down to the Aladzha Monastery. This medieval cave is actually a monastery hidden away in a cliff! It’s incredibly intricate, and worth the small hike to reach it.
- The Sea Garden - the perfect place for botanists and even amateur gardeners! It is Varna’s oldest, largest and best-known public park, as well as the largest landscaped park in the Balkans. Located along the coast, you can stroll about the stunning flower arrangements and botanical exhibits, as well as view the national monument.
- Visit the Varna Archeological Museum. Founded in 1888, this historic building stands proudly in its Neo-Renaissance style. It contains displays from the prehistoric, Thracian, Ancient Greek, Ancient Roman, Medieval, Ottoman empire and more. Given the large presence of these ruins and structures, it will be fascinating to learn more about this vital part of Bulgarian history.
- Stroll through the Roman Thermae, a complex of Ancient Roman baths located in the southeastern part of the city - known as Odessus during the Roman Empire. They were constructed in the late 2nd century AD, and rank as the fourth largest preserved Roman thermae in Europe, and the largest of their kind in the Balkans.
This is the final coastal town on your Bulgaria road trip itinerary, so be sure to make the most of it and soak up that sunshine!
Staying at: Tonight you can save money on your motorhome holiday by parking at Asparuhovo Beach for the night! There are 6 spots available so be sure to arrive by sunset to secure one. There are a selection of restaurants merely 50 metres away.
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Day 9, Varna to Veliko Tarnovo
Time to head inland, take the E70 and Route 4 to Veliko Tarnovo and it should take under three hours. This is a long drive, so be sure to take breaks to stretch your legs, and have a great road trip playlist ready!
Things to do in Veliko Tarnovo:
- Veliko Tarnovo was the capital of Bulgaria almost a thousand years ago, and you’ll certainly notice this through the royal Tsarevets Fortress illuminating the city. At night, you can witness the Sound and Light Show at the fortress, tickets available! The fortress features the remains of 18 churches, the royal palace, the execution spot and numerous houses. Stroll along the fortifications to witness the grandeur the capital city once held.
- Bustle about Samovodska Charshia, a market street from the late 19th century with restored buildings and an ‘old word’ vibe.
- Visit the Hadji Nikoli Inn Museum, the last standing inn that combines unique architecture with art exhibits and historical displays.
- If you’re travelling in March, aim to visit Veliko Tarnovo at the end of March when the city celebrates its national holiday. You can witness street parades, celebrations and even mass bungee jumping from the Stambolov Bridge!
The medieval gem of Bulgaria, take your time in Veliko Tarnovo and enjoy this ancient city and its impressive monuments.
Staying at: Camping Veliko Tarnovo. A spacious campsite that can accommodate up to 40 people, this campsite boasts of luxury sanitary facilities and its own restaurant. A true gem for camping in Bulgaria!
Price: £20/ €22.30 for two people
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Day 10, Veliko Tarnovo to Devetaki
For driving to Devetaki, I recommend taking Route 4. This will take about an hour and fifteen minutes, and takes you on a beautiful route with foliage surrounding. Time will fly by with the peaceful nature to sooth you along the way. Be sure to have your hiking boots ready, as this is your most active stop of the Bulgaria road trip itinerary, with plenty of hiking ahead!
Things to do in Devetaki:
- Try something completely new! My choice? Go horseback riding! What a thing to come home and tell people you did, what a thing to have even done! Horseback riding through the stunning nature surrounding Devetaki is an incredible experience, and one I would certainly recommend.
- The Devetashka Cave is the main sight that attracts people to this region, a set of breathtaking caves that display evidence of human habitation for thousands of years. It is now home to dozens of animal species.
- One cave not enough for you? Then you need the 3 Caves Tour! This will take you to Devetashka Cave, Saeva Dupka and the Eyes of God Cave. Each is stunning and unique in its own way, so pack a lunch and fit all three in on your trip to Bulgaria.
Your Bulgarian road trip is incomplete without a stop in Devetaki, as these natural wonders are truly unique to this country. It’s the most nature focused stop on your road trip itinerary in Bulgaria, allowing you to experience both the culture and views during your time here.
Staying at: This gorgeous area is perfect for wild camping, after leaving Devetashka Cave it won’t take long to find the perfect spot. Once settled you can create a delicious camping meal. But be sure to try and get permission for your wild camping spot.
Day 11, Devetaki to Belogradchik
A longer drive today, so be sure to head out bright and early to make the most of your time in Belogradchik. Take Route 301 and Route 3402 to Route 3, and then take Route 13 to Route 114. If traffic permits, it should take about three and a half hours. A good place to take a break is in Montana, which is about an hour before the end. You can park beside the Ogosta Reservoir to enjoy your lunch.
Things to do in Belogradchik:
- Visit the Belogradchik Rocks, a Natural Landmark consisting of a group of sandstone and conglomerate rock formations. They are located on the western slopes of the Balkan Mountains, and are interesting for both their shape and colour. The rocks vary from red to yellow, and some of them reach up to 200m in height! My favourite aspect of the Belogradchik rocks are their associations with local legends, they are named for people or objects they are believed to resemble. They are also the only habitat of the endangered Bulgarian endemic plant; Hieracium belogradcense - see if you can spot them!
- Take a stroll around the Belogradchik Fortress, an ancient fortress also known as Kaleto. It is one of the best-preserved strongholds in Bulgaria, and considered to be a cultural monument of national importance to the country. It has a total area of 10,210 square metres, so be sure to dedicate enough time to exploring!
- Still have an interest in caves after yesterday? Head to Kozarnika, a cave that has been used for shelter as early as the Lower Paleolithic. There is still evidence of the human presence there, and is fascinating to explore.
- Celebrate the final day of your Bulgarian road trip itinerary with a bang! Try something new, that you’ve never done before. From hot air balloons to paragliding to a safari tour, there is plenty of choice!
- Prefer to have your feet closer to the ground, but still looking for an interesting way to explore the area? Try a mountain bike tour, which will allow you to glide across the incredible Belogradchik area.
Staying at: Camping Madona. A basic site, you’ll get to enjoy a shaded pitch thanks to the ample foliage. It’s a small campsite, with about 10 pitches, so arrive on time and enjoy the calm atmosphere.
Price: £17 /€20 for two people
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Day 12, Belogradchik to Sofia
And our road trip itinerary for Bulgaria has come to an end! Head back to Sofia, where it all began, following Route 102 and Route 815 until you reach Route 81. You’ll reach Sofia within 3 hours! This is the closest you’ve been to the border, and be sure to take your time on the mountainous road.
Have you enjoyed your road trip through Bulgaria? You can always lengthen the trip by including sights such as the less touristic city of Shumen, the historic city of Stara Zagora to enjoy their speciality beer, and the Glozhene Monastery! But we promised you a Bulgaria road trip itinerary that took less than 2 weeks, and here you have it. Consider private motorhome hire for your trip and start packing!