One of the best (and cheapest) ways to get around is by public bus. During the holiday season (May to September) the buses run very regularly. If you want to go to Sunny Beach from Vlas there are two buses you can get on – no. 5 and no. 8. Basically the difference between the two is that no. 5 goes into the village square to drop off/pick up and then turns to come back along the main road at the end of the village (by the Dinevi Brothers’ houses) and no. 8 stays on the main road and continues onto the exclusive resort of Elenite.
Travelling Bulgaria by bus
If you want to go to Sunny Beach from Vlas it costs 1.50 leva (2014 prices) and to Nessebar (“New” or “Old”) it’s 2 leva. Unfortunately, after about the middle of September the timetable changes and is drastically reduced. When we holidayed this September you could certainly tell when the timetable changed over – I now know how a sardine feels when he’s squashed into a tin! In my opinion they reduced the service about 2 weeks too early. Many people were still there enjoying the weather and sights.
If you want to go to Bourgas, which has loads of shops, cafes and restaurants, the bus starts from the bus station at Sunny Beach and goes via New Nessebar and a small village called Kobleshkovo (where there’s a market every Thursday). It only takes about 40 minutes to get to Bourgas and costs 6 leva one way (2014 price). The buses run about every 20 minutes and I don’t think their service is reduced at the end of the season, although I may be wrong.
Buses to Varna can also be taken from Sunny Beach bus station (we’ve been on a minibus as well as a large one). Not sure how often they run but I think it was about 10 leva one way when we last went. I’m pretty sure you can buy a return ticket but we decided to stay overnight when we went. The last bus back to Sunny Beach is about 6 pm and as the trip takes about an hour and a half, or maybe longer, I think it was a good decision to find a hotel and have a more leisurely look around. It’s a very busy place and there’s lot to see. Going by bus also gives you a good view of the countryside.
There’s lots of other places you can take a bus to from Sunny Beach – Pomorie, Sozopol etc. I’ve recently found out that there’s also a bus you can take from Vlas to Bulgaria’s capital, Sofia. It leaves daily around about lunchtime. Obviously it takes quite a long time to get there but a very useful alternative to flying.
Taking a taxi
Of course, if you want to you can take a taxi to any of these places but obviously it costs more but you’re dropped off at a convenient place and can often get some useful information from the taxi driver. He’ll take you to any destination and very often stay until you’re ready to come back. Expect to pay 15 to 20 leva to go to Sunny Beach from Vlas one way. Nessebar would possibly be up to 30 leva – depending on whether you’re a good haggler! I think a trip to Bourgas could be up to 60 leva. Not sure about Varna, but, as we’re always warned – agree a price before you get in the taxi! I think that goes for every country ….
And don’t always believe what a taxi driver tells you! In the early days, on our first trip to Old Nessebar, we were told by a taxi driver at Sunny Beach that we would have great difficulty in getting a taxi back and should book the return journey with him (and pay upfront of course). We decided to take our chances and didn’t book the trip back, which was a good job – there was a queue of taxis waiting at the taxi rank. We had no difficulty at all in getting a taxi back – and now we’ve found the buses so easy (and much cheaper!) we rarely use a taxi anyway.
We do, however, always use a taxi to and from the airport when we go over to our apartment. And always use the same taxi driver – his name is Vasko and he’s an extremely pleasant chap.
What about trains
I haven’t mentioned the train service yet. We haven’t used it personally but after speaking to other people about this, I’m not sure if we’d want to. I understand it can be quite confusing but useful if you want to visit places further afield, such as Veliko Turnovo which apparently is well worth a visit.