Travel Tips

Bulgarian Architecture Tours ~ Gallery 3, 780x392

Bulgaria’s obvious places to visit as tourist attractions are Sofia – the capital city, Plovdiv – home to what is arguably the finest collection of 19th century architecture in the Balkans, Varna – Bulgaria’s sea capital, Veliko Turnovo – Bulgaria’s medieval capital, Rousse with its Central European elegance. Important cultural centres, they are good places from which to visit the rest of Bulgaria.

In the countryside you will come across some of Europe’s finest highland scenery, whose valleys harbour the kind of bucollic villages which have all but disappeared in Western Europe – Bansko, Tryavna, Koprivshtitsa, Kotel, Arbanassi, Melnik, Zheravna.

Much of Bulgaria is like an open-air museum of Balkan culture, with beautifully decorated churches and monasteries, fine mosques, wonderfully preserved rustic villages and folklore.

Travel Advice

In many ways Bulgaria is one of the success stories of the Balkans; a politically stable democracy, EU member-country, it also harbours one of the fastest-growing tourist industries in Europe.

Most visits to Bulgaria are trouble-free but when planning your travel to Bulgaria you should be aware of the global risk of indiscriminate international terrorist attacks, which could be against civillian targets, including placed frequented by foreigners.

Check out the Travel Safety Leaflet for Bulgaria Ministry of Interior’s recommendations and useful information for your safe and pleasant travel, including Bulgaria map, list of foreign embassies, etc.

Facts About Bulgaria

A picturesque small country, Bulgaria has existed for more than 13 centuries in Europe, linking East and West. Bulgaria remembers ancient civilizations and great people that wrote its turbulent history. Situated in Southeastern Europe, Bulgaria occupies the northeastern part of the Balkan Peninsula.
Did you know?
Fifteen interesting facts…<..more..>.
History Timeline
Some history dates and facts ……<..more..>.
Famous Bulgarians
A short list of the many Bulgarians who contributed to the world science, music, culture, sport…<..more..>.

Useful information

Area: 110,993.6 km²
Population: 7,973,673 (year 2001)
Capital city: Sofia
Official language: Bulgarian
Alphabet: Cyrillic
Religion: There is freedom of religious confessions.
Traditional religion in Bulgaria is Eastern Orthodox Christianity.
National holiday: March 3, the day of the Liberation of Bulgaria from Ottoman domination (1878)
Administrative division: 28 regions, named after their respective regional centers.

Sofia, the President's ResidenceSofia, Alexander Nevsky Cathedral

State system: a parliamentary republic with a one-chamber parliament (National Assembly), consisting of 240 national representatives, elected for a 4-year term of service. The head of state is the President, elected for a 5-year term of service. The Council of Ministers is the main body of the executive power.

Sofia, the Parliament

Relief: most diverse (470 m average height above sea level):
– plains 31.5% (up to 200 m above sea level)
– lowlands and hilly regions 41% (from 200 to 600 m above sea level)
– mountains 27.5% (from 600 to more than 1,600 m above sea level)

Pirin Mountain, UNESCO site

– main rivers: Danube, Maritsa, Mesta, Strouma, Iskar, Yantra
– warm and cold mineral springs (more than 600)
– lakes – coastal (some with curative mineral mud) and of glacial origin (in the Rila and Pirin mountains)
Climate: moderate continental with the Black Sea influence in the east and the Mediterranean in the south.

The Danube River, view from Rousse
Plant and animal world: extremely diverse
An Act on the Protected Territories is operating in Bulgaria, aimed at the preservation of the country’s flora and fauna. It has specified the following categories in the country: a national and nature park, a reserve and a tended reserve, a natural sight, a protected locality.
Economy: Bulgaria has been an associated member of the European Union (EU) since 1992. In 1997 an agreement was signed with the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank for economic stabilization through economic reforms in the country. A currency board was introduced. The national monetary unit has been referred to the EURO. A structural reform is underway aimed at economic growth, functioning market economy, and paving the way for foreign investments in the country. EU member-state since 2007.
Transport: railway, automobile, air and water
International telephone code: +359
International automobile sign: BG

Bulgarian Rose ~ Rosa DamascenaSreburna Lake Reserve ~ UNESCO Site

Monetary units: The Bulgarian LEV
Banknote denominations include 2, 5, 10, 20, 50 and 100 LEVA.
Coins (stotinki) include 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 50, as well as 100 = 1 LEV.
Money exchange: The Bulgarian LEV is fixed to the Euro.
All other exchange rates are floating:
1 EUR = 1.95 LEV
1 USD = 1.45 LEV
1 CAD = 1.35 LEV
1 AUD = 1.25 LEV
Credit cards: Accepted at major hotels, very few restaurants and shops. The most widespread are VISA and MASTER CARD. Cash money can be drawn from ATM machines – daily limit 400 LEV (approx. 200 EUR).

Bulgarian Money

Working hours:
shops: 10:00am to 8:00pm (Monday to Friday, Saturday until noon)
offices: 9:00am to 5:00pm (Monday to Friday)
banks: 9:00am to 3:00pm (Monday to Friday)
Official Holidays in Bulgaria:
January 1 – New Year
March 3 – Bulgaria’s Liberation from Ottoman rule (National Holiday)
Easter – according to the religious calendar (one week after the Catholic Easter)
May 1 – International Labour Day
May 6 – Day of the Bulgarian Army
May 24 – Day of Bulgarian Enlightenment, Culture and Slavic Script
September 6 – Day of the Reunion of Bulgaria in 1885
September 22 – Independance Day
November 1 – Day of the Spiritual Leaders
December 24-26 – Christmas
Time difference:
– Winter time: GMT+2 hours (November – March)
– Summer time: GMT+3 hours (April – October)
Voltage: 220 V Type F (German ‘Schuko’) plugs&sockets

Sofia, St Sofia BasilicaBulgarian traditional welcome

Official Symbols:

The national flag is in white, green & red horizontal bands. A legend associates its origin with the color symbols of the Old Bulgarian Army. Its left wing was set apart by white strips on the spears, the right one by red, while arranged in the centre were the elite troops with a green strip, the traditional color of the ruler. Confirmed as Bulgaria’s national flag by the Turnovo Constitution (1879), the three-color flag had first been used by the First Bulgarian Legion of Georgi Rakovski (1861).

the Bulgarian National Flag

The coat-of-arms is a rampant gold crowned lion against a dark-red background in the form of a shield. Above the shield is a big crown, whose original shape was that of the crowns of medieval Bulgaria rulers, with five crosses and a separate one over the crown itself. The shield is supported by two golden crowned rampant lions, facing the shield from the left & right heraldic side. They are standing on two crossed oak twigs with acorns. Inscribed in golden letters on a white strip with a three-color edging, placed under the shield across the ends of the oak twigs, is ‘Unity makes power’.

Bulgaria-coat-of-arms, 'Unity makes power'

Food & Wine Lovers’ Corner

Bulgarian Wine:

Archaeology, folklore and literature have left numerous evidences of vine planting and wine production on the Bulgarian territory since ancient times. The Thracian wine from the Black Sea region or the city of Ismarus along Struma river was first mentioned by Homer in both the Iliad and the Odyssey. The wall inscriptions in the Thracian tomb in Kazanlak, the images on the items of the world-known Thracian golden treasures, and many other artefacts testify that Thracians worshipped this divine drink <..more..>.

Bulgarian traditions ~ Wine celebration dance

Bulgarian Cuisine:

The Bulgarian cuisine pretends to have given the patent to many Balkan specialities but at the same time has learned from the experience of the neighbors. The influence of the Orient is indisputable including the influence of Austria and Hungary as well as of the Mediterranean. The traditional cuisine is specific for the different geographic and ethnographic regions depending on the local food and customs <..more..>.

Top 20 Bulgarian Cooking Recipes:
The Bulgarian culinary abounds in delicious specialities, exotic dishes and other temptations well worth trying.

Kazanluk, Bulgarian National-style Tavern