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Inexpensive Apartments

Hello All. Thinking of spending a month in Sofia maybe next year. Have any of you stayed in a rental for a month and what was the experience like.

Also I know I can go on Booking.com but I assume there they will have tourist prices. So wondering if there is a way to get a month rental at more local rates?

Never been to Sofia but want to do something different. Would there be enough to keep one happy there for a month in terms of living or being a tourist? Or would other cities be better?

Thanks in advance, Gerry

Posted by
16578 posts

I wouldn't want to spend a week in Sofia, I don't think, much less a month. Sofia is, pretty much by consensus, not a great destination. I think Plovdiv is a much more attractive option, but it's not terribly large and a month is a long time. One of the problems with a long stay in a single city in Bulgaria or Romania is that public transportation is really slow, so you may not be able to come up with very many places that are practical to visit on day-trips.

Posted by
163 posts

Very good points. It would probable be better to move around the country a bit for my first time, maybe even do a tour first of some kind.
As I near retirement I have thought about living for a month or so in some European cities in retirement. Has anyone done that in retirement?
Would one have the same issues with public transportation in Romania for example?

Posted by
10 posts

I am spending the summer in Bulgaria and am using Airbnb. I'm very satisfied with the prices and places I've been staying. Whether or not there is enough to see and do is a very personal matter. It all depends on what your interests are and how you like to spend your time. For example, I am following this NYC photographer on Instagram and she recently spent an entire month in Plovdiv: http://clondon.me/blog

I do agree that if you intend to spend a month, you may as well venture out and see other places in Bulgaria. I regularly post about my travels around the country here: http://www.flyingraconteur.com/blog/

Posted by
6060 posts

Given the cost of living in Bulgaria, even "tourist" prices would be very inexpensive. You should have no problem finding very inexpensive lodging. I don't suspect the train or bus service is any worse than some parts of Sicily (and you have time to be very flexible), so it shouldn't be an issue to do side trips. But basing yourself in only one location in a large country has a lot of drawbacks. I would pick at least one base per week spread throughout the country.

Posted by
16578 posts

In both Romania and Bulgaria (2015) I found I could cover only about 30 mph whether by bus or by train. Things may not be any faster in Sicily, but the distances tend to be far shorter, so you're not spending 1/2 day or longer for every leg of your trip. I have the impression that Romania may have a bit more rail service than Bulgaria, but given that the trains are about as slow as the buses, it probably doesn't matter.

Romania does have a couple of rural areas (Maramures in the NW and Bucovina in the NE) for which you really need a rental car or some sort of locally-arranged tour (the latter being pretty affordable). I suspect there are sights like that in Bulgaria, too.

One issue with the Romanian buses is that, as of 2015, many required reservations, but you couldn't take care of that at the bus station. You had to call and put your name on the list, then you paid the driver or a fellow employee right before departure. A very strange process and most inconvenient for tourists who don't have phones and/or don't speak Romanian. That said, both times I ran into that issue, a kind Romanian picked up her phone and made a reservation for me.

It's a very interesting area to visit. Costs are low, people work really hard, and many of the young folks speak good English, so you can have substantive conversations with them if you can catch them when they aren't too busy.

Posted by
163 posts

Thanks very much for the thoughtful responses. Really nice. I will have to start looking at Airbnb and I will check out those links.
Gerry

Posted by
1255 posts

I don't think you need to worry about prices either. I would move around, definitely not stay in Sofia. The prices in smaller villages are often like $20 including a meal, in small towns you can easily stay in the $30-50 range.

To me, an ideal itinerary would be do a leisurely clockwise tour of the country starting from Sofia. If you respond with your interests (hiking/outdoors, architecture, history, whatever) I can put together a quick list of towns and sites for you that you can then research on your own.

Edit: Also, if you can rent a car. You are going to get so much more out of the country, most of the best sites are rural, it's hard to get to caves, hiking trails, small villages etc with public transport.

Posted by
163 posts

Thanks. I am not really ready to go yet, rather looking down the road.
I like history, hiking, and eating! Would like to stay in some villages or small towns too but I don't know if the lack of the language would be a problem then - I assume so.

Posted by
1255 posts

Lack of the language is going to be a problem in the smaller towns for sure. A lot of younger Bulgarians do speak English in the cities, but for sure fewer people speak English in the more remote areas. It is not insurmountable though. When you are using AirBNB or Booking, just read the reviews, people love to talk about the hosts, and you will get a sense quickly whether the person speaks English, and how helpful they are in helping with things to do. Another option is to tour the cities and larger towns independently, but use a tour or a private guide for places like the Rhodopi Mountains, where there are a lot of caves, trails, villages etc.

Posted by
10662 posts

While there is too much to see in Bulgaria for you to spend all your time there, it is a great city. Yes, I suspect I am in the minority on that, but I enjoy the place. But I love Bulgaria. What an incredible place. What incredible people!

Here is a great guide and a wonderful person who can probably help you out. Tell her James said to take you to the Devil's Throat.

Pavlina Docheva
Easy Bulgaria Travel Ltd
1407 Sofia
Lozenets, 15 Golo Bardo str.
www.easytouristguides.com
pavlina@easybulgariatravel.com
Tel. 00359 2 967 0260
Mob. 00359 878 956 414

Posted by
163 posts

Thanks again. And I think I had an email exchange with Pavlina some time ago but a tour didn't work out then. Happy to hear another positive recommendation for her.

Posted by
546 posts

My friend and I have rented an entire house in s small village in the country in Central Bulgaria, Near Lovech through AirBNB for this coming July. We are very much looking forward to it as we met so many amazing Bulgarians while spending the Summer in Alaska. (Many many young Bulgarians come there to work in hotels and restaurants for the very busy summer season)

I really suggest looking carefully at AirBnb. You could undoubtedly get the same kind of place cheaper by renting it on site, locally but that is a whole different proposition and tax on your time there.

Good Luck!

Posted by
163 posts

Thanks. Sounds lovely. Would love to hear how you get on there. I am curious about how little English is spoken in those villages etc. Will people in shops and restaurants there speak enough, etc.

Posted by
546 posts

I plan to start a blog on this trip (it being 5 months long) and I will be posting here so keep an eye out. I usually can learn enough of a language to get by just fine so the language barrier doesn't bother me. But the Bulgarians I met in Alaska this last summer all spoke incredibly good English and when I asked them where they learned it they all said at school in Bulgaria. Even though most spoke as if they had learned from a native American English speaker. The young Bulgarians I met were all very impressive and extremely hard workers.