Transport in Bulgaria

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Transport in Bulgaria is facilitated with road, air, rail, and water networks.

Air transport[edit]

The departure area of terminal 1
Inside Sofia Airport (left is Terminal 1, right is Terminal 2)

After the second terminal of International Airport Sofia was built the total number of passengers rose and reached 3 230 696 in 2008, and in April 2011 Airport Sofia serviced 282 694 passengers, 13% more than the same period of 2009, when the record was 250 000 passengers.[1] In 2011 passenger traffic at Bulgaria's three major airports - Sofia, Varna and Bourgas - grew up to near 10% on the year to 3.89 million in the first half of 2011, due to rise of customers using international routes and launch of new destinations.[2]

In the past aviation compared with road and railroad transport used to be a minor mode of freight movement, and only 860,000 passengers used Bulgarian airlines in 2001.[3] In 2008 Bulgaria had 204 airports, 127 of which had paved runways.[4] Two airports, Sofia Airport and Burgas Airport, had a runway longer than 3,000 meters, and there were four heliports.[3] The second- and third-largest airports, Varna Airport and Burgas Airport, serve mainly charter flights and have regular domestic links with the capital.[3] In the early 2000s, Sofia Airport received substantial renovation, with aid from a Kuwaiti-led consortium, in anticipation of increased air connections with Europe.[3] A three-phase expansion was scheduled for completion in 2010.[3] The communist-era state airline, Balkan Airlines, was replaced by Bulgaria Air, for which a private owner was to be selected from among bidders by the end of 2006.[3][dated info] In 2005 Bulgaria Air transported 517,000 passengers to international destinations, including all major European cities.[3]


A BDZ Desiro train

In 2005 Bulgaria had some 6,238 kilometers of open access track owned by the state company "National Company Railway Infrastructure", including a 125 kilometers long 760 mm narrow gauge railway - the Septemvri-Dobrinishte narrow gauge line.[5] Sofia, Plovdiv and Gorna Oriahovitsa are the hubs of the domestic system and of international rail connections.[5]

Map of Bulgaria's railroad network

Bulgaria's rail system has not expanded since the 1980s, but there are upgrading projects underway.[5] After the completion of the Plovdiv - Dimitrovgrad high-speed line on 1 July 2012 the top operating speed was raised to 200 km/h and the national top speed record of 197 km/h set between Iskar and Elin Pelin with a leased Siemens Taurus electric locomotive is soon expected to be broken.[6] There are also plans for upgrading for high speed operation and doubling (where needed) of the Plovdiv - Burgas railway. By the end of 2013, a total of 461 km of high-speed lines are expected to be built.[7][8][9]

In the mid-2000s, railways remained a major mode of freight transportation, but with increasing problems with the maintenance of the infrastructure and lowering speeds, highways carried a progressively larger share of freight.[5] The national passenger and freight operator is called Bulgarian State Railways, but there are also a number of private operators including Bulgarian Railway Company and DB Schenker Rail Bulgaria.

Sofia Metro[edit]

Main article: Sofia Metro

In 1998 the first six kilometres of an often-interrupted 52 km standard gauge subway project (the Sofia Metro) opened in Sofia.[5] Additional stations were later built, and in 2012 a second line opened. By April 2015 the total length was 36 km with 31 stations and Line 1 serving Sofia Airport (SOF).


Highways and major roads map
Trakia motorway (A1) at Nova Zagora interchange

In the early 2000s, Bulgaria had some 37,300 kilometers of roads, all but 3,000 of which were paved but nearly half of which (18,000 kilometers) fell into the lowest international rating for paved roads. 324 kilometers of high-speed highways were in service in 2005. As of June 2015, 667 km (414 mi) of motorways are in service, with another 109 km (68 mi) being under various stages of construction. Roads have overtaken the railroads as the chief mode of freight transportation.

Long-term plans call for upgrading higher-quality roads and integrating the road system into the European grid. The focus is on improving road connectors with the neighbouring countries and domestic connections linking Sofia, Plovdiv, Burgas and Varna. Bulgaria has delayed building some key highway connections since the 1990s, but European Union membership is a strong incentive for completion. A 114-kilometer link between eastern Bulgaria and the Turkish border is scheduled for completion in 2013. As of 2004, two international highways passed through Bulgaria, and a major highway ran from Sofia to the Black Sea coast. Proposed international corridors would pass from north to south, from Vidin to the border with Greece and from Ruse to the border with Greece, and west to east, from Serbia through Sofia to Burgas, Varna, and Edirne (Turkey). The Vidin-Calafat bridge was completed in 2013, relieving road and railroad traffic to Romania.[10]

Motorways and expressways[edit]

Motorways construction timeline
Main article: Highways in Bulgaria

Major roads[edit]

  • total: 44,089 km
  • paved: 43,649 km (99%)
  • unpaved: 440 km (1%)
  • motorways: 733 km (2015)
  • motorways under construction: 109 km (06.2015)


Civil transportation is well developed in Bulgaria. There are several big coach companies, which control the market for intercity travel, and hundreds of small ones (one bus = one company), which operate between the smaller towns. The main problem with so many companies is how to find their timetables. Recently the project "bgrazpisanie" (BG timetable in English) succeeded to collect all Bulgarian civil transportation timetables on its website [1]



In 2005, Bulgaria had 2,425 kilometers of natural gas pipelines, 339 kilometers of oil pipelines, and 156 kilometers of pipelines for refined products.[5] The pipeline system was scheduled for substantial changes and additions, however.[5] The 279-kilometer Burgas-Alexandroupolis Pipeline, still under negotiation among Bulgaria, Greece, and Russia in 2006, would provide a bypass of the overloaded Bosporus Strait.[5] The line would enable Russian oil arriving at the Bulgarian oil port of Burgas to reach Greece’s Mediterranean port at Alexandroupolis.[5] A 900-kilometer U.S.- financed alternate route, known as the AMBO pipeline, would bring oil from Burgas across Bulgaria and Macedonia to the Albanian port of Vlore on the Adriatic Sea, bypassing both the Bosporus and Greece.[5] As of October 2006, approval of both pipelines was expected.[5][dated info] With international investment, Bulgaria began constructing a new domestic gas transportation network beginning in 2005.[5] The Russian Gazprom company planned a gas pipeline from Dimitrovgrad in eastern Bulgaria across Serbia, reaching the Adriatic Sea in Croatia.[5] Some 400 kilometers of the planned Nabucco Pipeline, bringing gas from Azerbaijan and Iran to Central Europe, were to cross Bulgaria sometime before 2011.[5]

Ports and harbours[edit]

River ports[edit]

Ruse, Vidin, Lom, Silistra, Tutrakan, Svishtov, Nikopol and Oryahovo are river ports on the Danube river.

Sea ports[edit]

Burgas, Nesebar, Varna, Tsarevo, Sozopol, Pomorie, Obzor,[citation needed] Kavarna, Balchik.

The major and largest ports with international significance are Varna and Burgas.

Merchant marine[edit]

Urban transport[edit]

While most urban and suburban transport in Bulgaria is composed of buses (using an increasing number of CNG vehicles), around a dozen cities also have trolley bus networks. The capital Sofia also has a tram and an underground network.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Sofia Airport Serviced Record Number of Passengers April 2011, Sofia News Agency, May 16, 2011
  2. ^ Passenger traffic at Bulgaria's major airports grows 10% Y/Y in H1 2011, The Sofia Echo, August 18, 2011
  3. ^ a b c d e f g Bulgaria country profile, p. 15.
  4. ^ CIA World Factbook Bulgaria
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n Bulgaria country profile, p. 14.
  6. ^ "The trains from Plovdiv to Dimitrovgrad now with 160 km/h" (in Bulgarian). Retrieved 3 July 2012. 
  7. ^ "Bulgaria to Turkey wiring underway". Railway Gazette International. Retrieved 11 May 2012. 
  8. ^ "Божков строи жп "Марица"". Standart (in Bulgarian). Retrieved 11 May 2012. 
  9. ^ "Влакът Пловдив-Бургас ще лети с 200 км/ч" (in Bulgarian). Retrieved 11 May 2012. 
  10. ^ "One-mile-long bridge across Danube due to open", BBC News, June 14, 2013

 This article incorporates public domain material Bulgaria country profile (October 2006) from websites or documents of the Library of Congress Federal Research Division.

External links[edit]