Are you planning a trip to Borovets for skiing or hiking and need to know how you’ll return from Borovets to Sofia when your trip is over? Here’s everything you need to know to plan your return trip back to Sofia by bus, private transfer, and taxi.
Note that if you are reading this before heading to Borovets, you’ll also want to read How to Get from Sofia to Borovets.
Where to Stay in Sofia & Borovets
If you’re planning a Borovets vacation, you’ll want to make sure your accommodations are booked ahead of time, as they can sell out easily in the high season. You’ll also want your Sofia accommodations planned if you intend to stay in the city before or after your trip to Borovets.
Accommodations in Bulgaria offer a great value compared to other parts of Europe. Here is a general range of what we mean by each budget category:
- Budget: A room in a hostel, usually $5-12 USD per night for a dorm bed or under $40 for a double.
- Mid-range: Around $40-80
- Luxury: Around $100 per night or more
Where to Stay in Sofia
If you’re planning on spending time in Sofia before or after you head to Borovets, here are our hotel recommendations depending on your budget. If you’re looking for more options, check our Sofia Hotel Guide.
Budget: For a hostel, we always recommend Hostel Mostel. I have never stayed at the Sofia location but several of my friends have and have always spoken highly of it. I stayed at the one in Veliko Tarnovo and it was excellent. Perks include a free vegetarian dinner in addition to breakfast included in your stay! Check rates and availability here. If you are traveling in peak season, be sure to book online, as Hostel Mostel is popular and tends to get booked up.
Mid-range: For a trendy new boutique hotel that is shockingly affordable, we recommend R34 Boutique Hotel. The location is fantastic, near the Ivan Vazov National Theater in central Sofia. It has gorgeous, loft-inspired details like exposed brick, giant windows, and streamlined but modern décor. It’s a great bargain, too – check rates, reviews, photos, and availability here.
Luxury: As far as we see it, there’s only one option for the best hotel in town: Sense Hotel. We go to their upscale, beautiful rooftop bar all the time when we have guests in town – it has one of the best views in the entire city and they make fantastic cocktails. With beautiful views over Alexander Nevsky, Sofia’s most iconic landmark, the hotel couldn’t be in a better location. Sense Hotel also boasts a state-of-the-art fitness center, an art gallery in the lobby, an excellent spa with luxe treatments, and an indoor pool. It’s truly the best choice in town. Check rates, reviews, photos, and availability here.
Where to Stay in Borovets
If you haven’t planned your Borovets accommodations yet, make sure you book before getting there. Hotels sell out fast during the high season due to the ski resort’s popularity. Here are our recommendations for Borovets hotels for every budget.
Budget: While there aren’t any traditional hostels in Borovets, you can enjoy budget accommodations by staying a bit further away from the ski resort. The SDL Apartments Borovets Gardens are a great value since the taxis back and forth to the resort are still less than staying at the next level of accommodations. These are self-catering apartments, so you can also eat some meals in. Check rates, reviews, photos, and availability here
Mid-Range: I stayed at the Hotel Flora during my trip, and I loved it! We had a welcome bottle of wine waiting for us, and it was a self-catering apartment with comfortable furniture and a great location within a few minutes walk from the Yastrebetz Gondola. If you are traveling during peak season, book early since this is one of the more popular mid-range options in town and can sell out in advance. Check rates, reviews, photos, and availability here
Luxury: The Rila Hotel is known for its stunning views, and amenities. It’s also located right at the bottom of the ski lifts, so it boasts a location that can’t be beaten in all of Borovets. It has several restaurants and a luxury spa so guests can enjoy complete convenience during their stay. Check rates, reviews, photos, and availability here
How to Get From Borovets to Sofia
If you’ve followed our instructions on how to get from Sofia to Borovets, you’ll find a few things are different when going back to the city. However, it’s just as easy to get back and takes about the same amount of time (about two hours or less). If you arrived in Borovets from a different city, we’ve listed every step for the journey from Borovets to Sofia just in case.
Option 1: Borovets to Sofia by Bus
This is the least expensive way to travel from Borovets to Sofia, and I was surprised at how seamlessly our trip went. For this route, you travel from Borovets to Samokov and then transfer to the bus to Sofia. The total cost is 7.5 leva (cash only), which is about $4.5 USD or about 3.5 GBP. You’ll also want to have some spare cash for luggage, using the toilets, and ground transportation in Sofia.
Step 1. Go to the Bus Stop in Borovets
The drop off point in Borovets is slightly different than the pick-up point. You’ll want to find the wooden bus stop in front of the Hotel Ela. The posted schedule shows that the bus from Borovets to Samokov leaves every half hour from 7:30 am until 7:30 pm.
We always suggest having bus snacks available when taking any Balkan bus ride (even short ones), just in case of an emergency. There are snack stands nearby, and there are also markets a few blocks away.
If you’re looking for a place to eat before leaving town, Sunny’s Bar is about a two-minute walk away and is by far one of our favorite Borovets restaurants.
Note that there are no toilets near the bus stop or on the marshrutka, so make sure you don’t need one during your trip.
Step 2. Purchase Your Tickets on the Marshrutka (Minibus)
When the marshrutka (minibus) pulls up, you’ll get on and pay the driver 1.5 leva in cash. Have extra in case they charge you to store luggage in the back. Our marshrutka didn’t fill all the way up (just almost), and we left Borovets for Samokov exactly on time.
Step 3. Borovets to Samokov by Bus
Besides taking drunk rakia selfies, there’s not much to do on the bus since it’s a no-frills marshrutka. No toilets, USB ports, TVs, etc. Just sit back and enjoy the beautiful scenery. The ride from Borovets to Samokov takes about thirty minutes, and, while it may be a bit bumpy, it is extremely pleasant and scenic.
Step 4. Arrive at the Samokov Bus Station (Samokov Avtogara)
We pulled into the Samokov bus station thirty minutes after leaving Borovets, and everyone piled out of the marshrutka. You don’t need to go into the station, just find your bus.
Before then, there are a few things you may need to do here. There are toilets that cost thirty stotinki or 0.30 lev. There’s also a small pizza stand nearby if you didn’t eat in Borovets.
The highlight for me is the sixteenth-century Bairakli Mosque and a beautifully painted fountain next to the station. If you have a few minutes between your buses, it’s a great way to get a bit of culture in during the middle of your journey.
Step 5. Find the Samokov to Sofia Bus
The platform for the Samokov to Sofia bus is number 7 (as of this writing). Buses leave for Sofia every thirty minutes, so you will most likely find the next bus already waiting for you when you arrive in Samokov. Buses don’t run all night, but the posted schedule was not updated. If you want to leave on a bus for Sofia that leaves after 6 pm, I would double check with your accomodations that the buses will be available when you need one.
You’ll pay the driver for tickets directly. The cost is six leva per person (cash only). You may be asked to pay a luggage fee to store luggage under the bus, but this isn’t always enforced.
Step 6. Samokov to Sofia by Bus
The ride itself is very scenic. We appreciated the snow-covered mountains (in between more too-much-rakia selfies). The bus doesn’t have any luxuries, like USB ports, wifi, bathrooms, or entertainment, but we got great cell service the entire way and watched some YouTube videos en route.
Step 7. Get off at Sofia South Bus Station (Avtogara Yug)
The bus from Samokov to Sofia lets off at the South Bus Station (Avtogara Yug), which is a small station in the Iztok neighborhood. This is different than the Central Bus Station where most buses go.
When you arrive, you’ll find a basic bus station with toilets (0.50 leva to use) and a small cafe. There are typically taxis waiting outside. We used one of these since we could verify that it wasn’t a scam taxi. If this will be your first time picking up a taxi in Sofia on your own, read our Sofia taxi guide to make sure you avoid scam taxis. We prefer using taxi apps or calling ahead, but we went with the waiting taxi only after checking that it was legitimate.
Have cash and your destination handy before getting in a taxi. If you need to use a credit card make sure to tell them ahead of time to ensure there is a POS in the taxi.
Option 2. Book a Private Borovets to Sofia Transfer
If you find the buses to be a bit daunting, there are several companies that offer private transfers. These are typically arranged as a round-trip, but you can also book them one-way.
This is a great option for families traveling with small children or larger groups. While the cost is significantly more than the public buses, there are many situations where the ease of getting picked up and dropped off trumps the increase in price.
Option 3. Hire a Taxi
If you want to hire a taxi, I would do so through your accommodations by having them call and explain that you want your final destination to be Sofia. The metered rate is about one hundred leva, but note that they may charge you more since it’s a one-way drive are you’ll be hiring from a very small pool of available taxis. You can also negotiate with a driver directly.
If you choose to go by taxi, have enough cash for the trip or double check that they will take a credit card and have a POS in the taxi.
Bulgaria Travel Tips
If you’re coming to Borovets for skiing or hiking, make sure to set aside some time to enjoy the town! We found that the hospitality in Borovets exceeded our expectations tremendously! Here are our Borovets restaurant recommendations for your trip.
If this is your first trip to Bulgaria, read up on our Bulgaria trip planning checklist. You may also want to brush up on our guides to the Sofia Airport and Sofia taxis, which will help you plan the logistics of your trip.
If you intend on spending some time in the capital before or after your trip, we have guides for things to do in Sofia and a separate post for how to enjoy your trip to Sofia in winter, along with our Sofia restaurant and bar guides.
Going Skiing? Update Your Travel Insurance Policy
Finally, make sure you always ski with an updated travel insurance policy. Any time you’ll be doing adventure sports and outdoor activities, you want to have travel insurance to cover you in case you get hurt. One of my best friends got in a skiing accident in Switzerland and had to be flown home. Without travel insurance, she would have gone bankrupt. However, they covered her ACL surgery in full.
For travel insurance, I use World Nomads. I’ve been a happy customer of theirs for almost three years, and I’ve never had an issue when making a claim. I’m happy to refer them to anyone I meet.
Pin This for Your Trip to Borovets
Stephanie has been living in and traveling around the Balkans for the past three years. She’s written for National Geographic Online, appeared on CNN Arabic and in the New York Times, and ridden more Balkan buses than is good for a person.