Bulgaria is a member of the Schengen Agreement but has not yet fully implemented it. For EU and EFTA Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway citizens, together with those of Switzerland, an officially approved ID card or a passport is sufficient for entry. In no case will they need a visa for a stay of any length. Others will generally need a passport for entry.
Travel to/from any other country Schengen or not from/to Bulgaria will as of now result in the normal immigration checks, but travelling to/from another EU country you will not have to pass customs. However, if Bulgaria normally requires a visa for your nationality, this may be waived if you already have a valid Schengen visa.
Inquire at your travel agent or call the local consulate or embassy of Bulgaria.
The visa list is already consistent with those of the Schengen countries fully implementing the agreement.
Only the nationals of the following non-EEA countries do not need a visa for entry into the Schengen Area: Albania*, Andorra, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Australia, Bahamas, Barbados, Bosnia and Herzegovina*, Brazil, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Israel, Japan, Macedonia*, Malaysia, Mauritius, Mexico, Monaco, Montenegro*, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Saint Kitts and Nevis, San Marino, Serbia*/**, Seychelles, Singapore, South Korea, Switzerland, Taiwan*** Republic of China, United States, Uruguay, Vatican City, Venezuela, additionally persons holding British National Overseas, Hong Kong SAR or Macau SAR passports.
These non-EU/EFTA visa-free visitors may not stay more than 90 days in a 180 day period in the Schengen Area as a whole and, in general, may not work during their stay although some Schengen countries do allow certain nationalities to work - see below. The counter begins once you enter any country in the Schengen Area and is not reset by leaving a specific Schengen country for another Schengen country, or vice-versa. However, Australian and New Zealand citizens may be able to stay for more than 90 days if they only visit particular Schengen countries—see the New Zealand Government's explanation.
while British subjects with the right of abode in the United Kingdom and British Overseas Territories citizens connected to Gibraltar are considered "United Kingdom nationals for European Union purposes" and therefore eligible for unlimited access to the Schengen Area,
British Overseas Territories citizens without the right of abode in the United Kingdom and British subjects without the right of abode in the United Kingdom as well as British Overseas citizens and British protected persons in general do require visas.
However, all British Overseas Territories citizens except those solely connected to the Cyprus Sovereign Base Areas are eligible for British citizenship and thereafter unlimited access to the Schengen Area.
Further note that
* nationals of Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia need a biometric passport to enjoy visa-free travel,
** Serbian nationals with passports issued by the Serbian Coordination Directorate residents of Kosovo with Serbian passports do need a visa and
*** Taiwan nationals need their ID number to be stipulated in their passport to enjoy visa-free travel.
Buses to and from Sofia go to most major cities in Europe - while Bulgarian bus companies will be cheaper and mostly offer less comfort, the tickets are hard to get by if you are travelling to Bulgaria, so you can always take Eurolines buses. Don't be surprised if an extra "border fee" is asked from each traveller by the bus driver - it makes your border passing quicker. Most buses from Western Europe will pass through Serbia, so be sure to check if you need a transit visa beforehand Serbian visas for citizens of the EU have recently been abolished.
Arda Tur is a Bulgarian company offering services between Thessaloniki, in Greece, and various Bulgarian cities, including Sofia, Plovdiv, Haskovo, Blagoevgrad and Sandanski. They run three buses a day, departing from Thessaloniki at 08:00, 15:30 and 00:00. The last one also offers service to Stara Zagora, Pleven and Burgas. Usually they are late, but buses are comfortable, have a/c, personal t.v., and a variety of snacks is given during the trip. Employees speak little English, but they offer a good service. The price for a trip from Thessaloniki to Sofia is 20 Euro and to Plovdiv 25 Euro one-way.
There are four international airports: Sofia, Varna, Bourgas, and Plovdiv. There are a lot of charter and last-minute flight offers to Varna or Bourgas leaving from Western Europe especially Germany and Great Britain. You can go from German airports to Bulgaria and back for less than €100, if you are lucky.
Recently, several low-cost airlines have also started offering regular flights to Bulgaria. Wizz Air (http://wizzair.com/) flies directly between Sofia and London, Rome, Milan, Barcelona, Valencia, Brussels and Dortmund. Wizz Air flies directly between London Luton Airport and Bourgas or Varna airports - the flights are every week and year-round. EasyJet (http://www.easyjet.com) flies from Sofia to London Gatwick, Manchester or Berlin. Flights by Niki to and from Vienna have been canceled.
Charter airline companies can offer very good prices to the Black Sea airports from many European cities in the summer check out: Thomas Cook, Thomsonfly, Balkan Holidays Air, Bulgarian Air Charter, Monarch, Condor, Transaero, Utair and many others.
From the USA, major airlines offer excellent connections to Bulgaria with stops in Western Europe. Lufthansa, United, Delta, American, British Airways, Continental Airlines, Alitalia and Air France are the most popular airlines. These major airlines fly to Sofia and Varna only. There are flights to Bourgas as well, but only with Bulgaria Air (http://www.paylessbg.com) and from Sofia.
Seasonal car ferries serve Bourgas and Varna ports from Ukraine, Russia and Georgia.
Danube river cruise ships call into Vidin and Lom ports from Budapest and Vienna on their way to the black sea. it is possible to enter and leave Bulgaria this way.
A car only ferry runs from Vidin port to Passau in Germany.
International trains provide a large number of routes to Bulgaria, notably Sofia and Varna, arriving from such places as Kiev, Istanbul, Vienna, and other common cities.
The primary train from Bucharest to Sofia, and back, run once daily through the border city of Rousse. For example, recent trains are scheduled from Bucharest to Sofia in the daytime departing 12:50/arriving 22:00. The night train to and from Bucharest have been discontinued since December 2014, it runs to/from Rousee only. Romanian passport control occurs in Giurgiu and Bulgarian passport control takes place in Rousse, both approximately mid-trip. Check local train stations for updated information.
There is a daily overnight train Belgrade, departing Sofia around 8 pm. Please watch your belongings, as usual on long distance night trains. Single female travellers should take extra care. The fare costs around €20. It is also possible to buy a ticket to Dimitrovgrad serbian city on border with Bulgaria for approx. 1000 RSD and then buy a ticket from Dimitrovgrad to Sofia for around 9 BGL from the station if you have enough time check the schedule well and mind the time zone change or from the conductor. This way you save a few euros. In the other direction, buy a ticket from Belgrade to Dimitrovgrad, where the Serbian conductors leave the train. Stay on the train during passport and customs control they will not ask for a ticket. When the Bulgarian conductor comes around, give him 2 EUR/4 BGL/200 Serbian dinars say nothing and don't expect to get a ticket!. There is no direct bus connection to Belgrade. You can change buses in Nis twice daily.
There is no railway connection to the Republic of Macedonia it is being built at the moment. There are a few daily buses around 5 hrs, around 35 BGL one way from the main bus station in Sofia or from the square outside the main train station. You can take the train to Skopje, with a change in Nis but that takes forever, it is more expensive and you will have to wait at the train station in Nis for two hours in the middle of the night.
A cheap way of traveling to or from Bulgaria might be the Balkan Flexipass.
As of 2014, there is only one train between Sofia and Thessaloniki. It runs daily, departing from Thessaloniki at 6:55 am.
The Danube 2 bridge is now open crossing from Romania to Vidin in Bulgaria, this is now the fastest route when coming from Western Europe. Very bad roads conditions from Danube 2 bridge to other Bulgarian cities. It is much better and faster to drive through Serbia.
If you want to reach Bulgaria from Western Europe by car, you can also take a ferry from Italy to Greece, or you will have to pass through either Serbia green card no longer required as of 2012 or Romania.
Travelling from Greece there are several border points to cross into Bulgaria such as Zlatograd and Ivaylovgrad.
In Bulgaria you have to pay road tax at the border around €5 for 7 days. You will get a special sticker that you have to place on your car. There are no tolls on Bulgarian roads.