Bulgaria’s proximity to Greece makes it an ideal destination for short or even longer trips from our country. Bansko, in particular, is very popular with Greeks. So when the opportunity arose for us to visit Bansko in order to attend the Bloggers On Top 2018 Unconference, we were thrilled. We booked our cheap flights to Sofia and then all we had to figure out was how to get from Sofia to Bansko.
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You see, unlike people living in Northern Greece who can get to Bulgaria’s top ski resort after a mere 3-hour drive, for the rest of us who live in Central or even Southern Greece driving to Bansko is exhausting and time-consuming. Not to mention a lot more expensive. Fuel and road tolls cost way more than catching a low-cost flight (Ryanair we’re looking at you) to Sofia. Once there, it’s really easy to get to Bansko. Most importantly, there are options for all budgets, varying from super slow train rides to fast private airport transfers.
Sofia to Bansko by public transport
The cheapest way to get from Sofia to Bansko is either by train or by bus. However, these options are neither the fastest nor the most comfortable ones. Furthermore, there are no direct means of public transport from Sofia airport to Bansko. Travellers have to get to Sofia city centre first and then take the train or bus to Bansko. In our case, time was of the essence, so we rejected the idea of getting from Sofia to Bansko by public transport right from the start.
Although one of the cheapest ways to travel from Sofia to Bansko, the train is not even an option for travellers on a short break. This particular train ride is more suited to slow travellers or train enthusiasts as it offers the chance to travel along Bulgaria’s last narrow gauge railway. During its 6.5 hour journey time, this picturesque train ride passes amazing landscapes as well as the highest train station in the Balkans.
Alternatively, you can take the train from Sofia to Blagoevgrad (2.5 hours) and then catch a bus to Bansko from there. Still, this option takes at least 3.5 hours in total.
By far the cheapest way to get from Sofia to Bansko is the bus. One-way tickets cost 7-8€ and the journey takes about three hours. However, the last bus from the Central Bus Station in Sofia leaves at 14:00. So those arriving on a later flight will have to spend the night in Sofia and go to Bansko on the following day.
Rent a car from Sofia airport
Realising that no public transport option could get us directly from Sofia Airport to Bansko, we thought that renting a car would be our best shot. Many car rental companies, both international and local ones, have offices at Sofia Airport. Prices are reasonable. It costs about 10-15€ a day to hire a car. We also estimated that fuel from Sofia to Bansko and back would cost about 60€. A total of about 100€ for two people wasn’t a bad deal at all.
Yet we weren’t 100% sure we wanted to drive in Bulgaria this time. Although we love a good road trip, our tight schedule would leave no room for us to explore the Bulgarian countryside. The amazing team at Coworking Bansko had a super full weekend planned out for us. So we kind of hated the idea of simply driving, rushing actually, to and from Bansko. How were we supposed to get from Sofia to Bansko then?
Sofia to Bansko by shared or private airport transfers
Surfing the Internet, we stumbled upon many companies that operate Sofia to Bansko transfers. Normally we would check reviews for each and every one of these companies so as to choose the best one. Sadly, we didn’t have time to do so. That’s why we decided to let Hoppa choose for us and we couldn’t be happier with the outcome.
Hoppa is a trusted airport transfers service that makes lives of travellers across the globe a lot easier. It offers the most reliable and comfortable airport transfers in many destinations around the world. Hoppa undertakes the task of searching and comparing instantly all available transfer options, both shared and private ones. All customers have to do is choose and book the one that best meets their needs.
As far as our own trip to Bansko is concerned, there were no shared airport transfer options available. The reason was that we travelled in October which is low season for the Bulgarian ski resort. It seems that transport companies don’t operate shuttle bus services during low season. Our only option was to book a private airport transfer. The cost for the two of us for a round trip from Sofia airport to our hotel in Bansko was about 150€. A bit more expensive than renting a car, that is. Keep in mind though that during high season, when Sofia to Bansko shuttle transfers are available, prices drop considerably. It is possible to pay as little as 30€/person for a round trip from Sofia to Bansko.
Our experience with Hoppa was an excellent one and we can’t recommend it enough. Our driver waited for us at the arrivals hall at Sofia Airport holding a sign with our names. He then escorted us to the brand new and spotlessly clean car that would take us directly to Bansko in less than 2.5 hours.
Once on the road, we sat back, relaxed and enjoyed the changing Bulgarian landscape, happy to have chosen this comfortable and stress-free way of getting from Sofia to Bansko over all the others. On the day of our departure from Bansko, our driver waited for us outside our hotel a quarter of an hour before our agreed time for yet another comfortable private transfer to Sofia airport.
At the end of the day, how to get from Sofia to Bansko is a matter of one’s budget and time. All that matters is to achieve what the Hoppa team sum up brilliantly in their motto: Arrive Happy!
Disclosure: Hoppa kindly offered us a complimentary return private airport transfer from Sofia to Bansko but, as always, we express nothing but our very own and honest opinion about the experience we had.