Bulgaria Travel Guide
- Everything you need to know for your trip to Bulgaria-
Bulgaria, officially the Republic of Bulgaria, is a country located in the southeast of Europe. Those interested in history and nature can find both in the best possible way in Bulgaria. Besides, amazing nightlife, fantastic art, and mouthwatering food are not something you want to miss in this country.
Why Visiting Bulgaria?
Bulgaria is a fantastic destination for those who want to have a new experience in Europe. The combination of nature and history has made the country a tremendous destination for both nature and history lovers.
When it comes to Bulgaria, there is no shortage of mountains! Alpine Rila and Pirin massifs are not something you want to miss. If you love winter mountain activities, NEVER, I insist, NEVER miss the winter in Bulgaria. No matter you prefer ski touring, snowshoeing, or winter mountaineering! The country offers the best dramatic snowy mountains with beautiful and fantastic scenery.
Bulgarians are exceptionally friendly and kind, and there will always help you at the time of any trouble. So, ensure to make friends with locals in Bulgaria. This kindness and hospitality is rooted in their rich and amazing culture.
History is a crucial element in Bulgaria. Significant architectural landmarks from Thracian, Greek, Roman, Byzantine, Medieval Bulgarian, and Ottoman civilizations will definitely amaze you. Music, rituals, songs, and many other artistic elements also represent the country’s history and culture.
One of the main reasons for visiting Bulgaria is fantastic foods and drinks. Besides, the nightlife and night clubs are brilliant in Bulgaria, making it a great experience for you in Europe.
Bulgaria Top Destinations
Best Time to Visit Bulgaria
Temperature: +10 °C (50 °F) – +21 °C (70 °F)
Early spring can be a great time for visiting ski resorts in Bulgaria. You will not face so much rain from March to May, but travelers may experience significant temperature changes. However, since late May, the warm days will come!
Temperature: +13 °C (55 °F) – +26 °C (79 °F)
Summer in Bulgaria is warm and very pleasant, especially in
the south of the country and the Black Sea coast. The weather makes it fantastic to swim and relax on the country’s beaches. In fact, summer is the peak season for visiting Bulgaria.
Temperature: +22 °C (72 °F) – +2 °C (36 °F)
Autumn in Bulgaria is fantastic. Many believe that September is the best time for visiting Bulgaria. Riding, hiking, cycling, etc., are great activities in autumn. Also, many cultural festivals and events occur during this season.
Temperature: -4 °C (25 °F) – +4 °C (39 °F)
Bulgaria is mostly famous for its winter and winter activities. By the end of December, the snow begins to drop until May, making some of the most stunning snowy landscapes you can ever find in the world. Winter in Bulgaria is perfect for ski lovers!
Best Bulgaria Tours
Things to Do in Bulgaria
Bulgaria is a country with a vibrant nature having rivers, woods, mountains, and a coastline along the Black Sea. The landscape makes it ideal for adventuring, hiking, and camping, while also seeing the wildlife. Among the beauties of the land, there are villages, towns, and cities that all have their own stories and histories and local cuisine. Sightseeing and exploring can take a long time because of the numerous places to visit and things to do in Bulgaria. It might be a long journey, but it is something to try at least once in a lifetime.
Go on a Pilgrim in Rila Monastery
The Monastery of Saint Ivan of Rila, AKA the Rila Monastery, is one of the largest Eastern Orthodox Monasteries and the most important one in Bulgaria. It is a national treasure and a UNESCO World Heritage Site since it is ancient and lovely. It might be outside the city, but it is still not far from the fantastic city of Sofia.
Discover the Rila Monastery and its history before the fire and after its renovations in the 19th century. A great and enjoyable thing to do in Bulgaria is seeing the artworks, architecture, and beauty of Rila Monastery.
Stroll Around Sofia and Get a Free Walking Tour
Rila Monastery is just warming up before seeing some real Bulgarian people and culture in Sofia. The city may have its flaws, and it may not be the most significant European capital you have seen, but it is still one that must be visited. Sofia’s great thing is that there are free tours of the city in English. These tours are given by volunteer guides that will walk you across the city. These free walking tours of Sofia are offered by an organization that will not ask for money. They will just introduce the city and its important sites.
Tour or not, visiting Sofia is something to do as it is the best place to try Bulgarian cuisine and see most of their culture and heritage.
Explore the Oldest Continuously Inhabited City of Plovdiv
Plovdiv is the second-largest city of Bulgaria and the oldest city in Europe. It has been around for several centuries before the common era, and it has always been inhabited. There are numerous sites to visit, but on a general note, the whole city is just one large historic site! Plovdiv was named European Capital of Culture in 2020, and it is filled with all kinds of architectural styles of all ages.
The things you can do in Plovdiv are eternal, and therefore, it is recommendable to make more than one visit and try to see all of the possible areas of the city. Start with the Roman theater and other well-preserved attractions like others, and keep exploring to discover more.
Relax on the Sands of Sozopol
Sozopol used to be a port town that has developed into a stunning and peaceful little destination for tourists. Since it is one of the less famous destinations in Bulgaria, you will not see lots of crowds on the sands and in the surrounding waters of Sozopol. The best thing to do in this ancient port town is enjoying the sand and sea, along with some historic and heritage sites.
If you truly seek peace and relaxing under the sun, Sozopol is the place you are looking for. It is especially true during the peak season when all kinds of travelers visit Bulgaria’s beaches. There may be fewer facilities here, but they are no less than the other coastal areas.
Visit the City of Varna to Have Fun and to Learn
If you seek the beauties and excitement of the coast, and Sozopol is not good enough, try Varna. Varna is the largest city of the country on the Black Sea coast and near the Gulf of Varna. This city is full of activities, such as kayaking and other watersports, which are the most popular things in the city. But there is more! This large city has enchanting sites such as the marvelous Varna Archaeological Museum and the Sea Garden.
Everything you do here is a top activity in Bulgaria, so spend as much time in Varna as possible. This city can be a historically learning experience and an excellent destination for having Fun near the coast.
Go on a Hiking Adventure at The Seven Rila Lakes
The Seven Rila Lakes of Bulgaria are some of the most beautiful natural areas of the country, located in the Rila National Park, a few kilometers away from Sofia. Getting there will not take a lot of time, but staying there will be long since you will probably not want to leave. The Seven Rila Lakes and the mountains around them are perfect for hiking and camping. You can still enjoy the scenery by taking the chairlift for ascending if adventuring is not what you are looking for.
Explore the Historic Town of Veliko Tarnovo
A page in Bulgarian history is the small and ancient Veliko Tarnovo town to the north of the country. The second Empire of Bulgaria had chosen this town as their capital. This historical importance gives it a vibrant history and texture, along with various excellent sites. Exploring the old town of Veliko Tarnovo and its streets is like walking in Medieval times, with all kinds of old buildings and the Tsaravets Fortress.
Once you had enough history and their art at Veliko Tarnovo, find a suitable site to get a great view of the city. There are several places to get a great view over the buildings and the trees of this marvelous place, that must be seen.
Find the “Eyes of God” in Prohodna Cave
Prohodna Cave is a natural part of the karst cave that can be easily accessed at no charge. It is famous as the “Eyes of God” because of the two holes inside the cave, which look like eyes and bring lights into the halls. A short trip to the Prohodna Cave is necessary because it is a beautiful part of nature and easy to visit. Near the capital, and suitable for all ages and groups.
Do Not Miss the Beauties of Boyana Church
Boyana Church is an old and well-preserved Orthodox building that has survived rather well ever since it was built in the early 11th century. The visit to this church is a top activity of Bulgaria because you will rarely see a heritage site with so many as 240 human images and 89 scenes that belong to such distant times.
This UNESCO Heritage Site is unique for everyone to see, but each visit will be limited. Tourists are only permitted to enter in small groups, and they can only stay for about 10 minutes. It is a short visit, but it is very much worth the wait, especially if exotic and historic holidays excite you.
Discover the Beauties of Nessebar
Another ancient yet beautiful peninsula in Bulgaria is Nessebar, with pretty beaches. Nessebar is a place that has it all; ancient ruins, exotic bars and restaurants, fun beaches, religious sites, and more. The only problem with this place is its popularity! A place as lovely as Nessebar gets huge amounts of travelers, making it a bit crowded but nothing that will stop you from having fun.
Try Hiking and Skiing in the Vitosha Mountains
If you had the time to do the above activities and make the top visits to Bulgaria, then head out to the Vitosha Mountains. These mountains are the local’s favorite place for having some fun, no matter the season. During the winter, it is ideal for skiing, and in the summer, it is perfect for hiking and camping. The view over Sofia from the Vitosha Mountains is among the best in Bulgaria, added with the great air of the mountains, it turns into a top thing to do in the country.
Try it All in Burgas
Going to Burgas is a recommendation and top thing to do for several reasons. First, because of the city’s perfect balance, with its numerous shopping and entertainment centers. These entertaining and shopping centers are next to the most important historic sites and museums. Second, there are several unique festivals and events held annually at Burges.
Marvel at the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral
Alexander Nevsky Cathedral is a marvelous structure that must be explored and seen. The beautiful interior is like none other, but unfortunately, taking pictures is not allowed. The neo-Byzantine architecture is also a magnificent sight as you walk around this orthodox church.
Go on an Adventure in the Pobiti Kamani
Pobiti Kamani, or the Stone Desert, is an odd and trendy natural phenomenon. It is a desert-like environment with rock formations and stone columns in the midst of sand dunes. This natural part of Bulgaria has become rather famous and became a popular place for tourists. Discovering and spending time in Pobiti Kamani is a unique experience and memorable visit, that anyone must try at least once.
Local Transportation in Bulgaria
Buses are the kings of urban transportation in Bulgaria, and especially Sofia. They are modern big, comfortable, and beautiful.
Metro is the best and the fastest way of getting around in Sofia. The trains are clean, modern, and comfortable, offering two main lines in Bulgaria’s capital.
Taxis in Bulgaria should be equipped with meters to reach every area of the cities. The prices are usually low but vary depending on your journey.
Tram is very popular in Sofia as it’s fast and comfortable. In recent years, old trams are replaced by new and modern ones; however, you can still find old yellow trams as well.
Marshrutka is a kind of van running through the cities like Sofia and helping you to reach every spots in the cities.
Intercity Transportation in Bulgaria
Bulgaria Air is the most famous airline in the country, offering domestic and international flights. It’s the best way of getting around the country if you have no problem with the money!
Bulgaria offers a standard inexpensive, safe, and comfortable railway system with two main routes between Sofia to Varna and Sofia to Burgas.
Bus is another inexpensive way of getting around the country and even going abroad. Companies like Eurolines help you to reach the rest of Europe as well.
Flight Deals to Bulgaria
Bulgaria Travel Costs
|Accommodation (on average)|
|Budget||$14 (one person) – $29 (two people)|
|Mid – Range||$34 (one person) – $67 (two people)|
|Luxury||$69 (one person) – $139 (two people)|
|Food (on average)|
|Mid – Range||$15|
|Transportation (on average)|
|Intercity Transportation (on average)|
|Mid – Range||$32|
|Entertainment (on average)|
|Daily Costs (on average)|
|Mid – Range||$62|
Best Hotels in Bulgaria
Find the best hotels in Bulgaria using our best price search engine, or go with one of our All-inclusive tours with 4 Star hotels included. You can book our guaranteed hotels for your extra accommodation; before or after your tour days.
Bulgaria Travel Tips
Like many other countries, there are some cultural differences in Bulgaria. Here, you nod for YES and shake your head for NO!
10% of the bill is fine for tipping in restaurants. A surprise! You need to tip in gas stations as well!
Bulgarian is the official language of Bulgaria, and learning some basic phrases will definitely help you to have better conversations with locals and interact with them more easily.
Bulgaria is a very safe country, and the crime rate is low. Besides, the government doesn’t engage in heated political debates, protests are rare, etc.
You won’t have a serious problem with credit cards in major shops, hotels, restaurants, etc.; however, you need to know that Bulgaria is a very cash-based society. Therefore, make sure always to have some cash.
There is no primary dress code for tourists, and you can wear what you usually wear back home. Therefore, there is nothing to worry about dressing.
You may find some free Wi-Fi connections in major hotels, restaurants, etc. However, using these free connections is not recommended as they may not be safe and secure.
Tap Water is safe in Bulgaria, but the taste and the appearance may not meet your standards. So, having bottled and mineral water is recommended. Mineral water is one of the major products of the country.
There are two plug types in Bulgaria: type C and type F. the voltage in this country is 230 and 50 Hz.
|Bulgaria’s country code||359|
|24 hour Pharmacy Information||178|
Currency & Money Tips
The official currency in Bulgaria is Lev (BGN) – Leva (plural) – dividing into 100 stotinki with banknote denominations of 2,5,10, 20, 50, 100 leva (BGN). Also, coins in 1, 2, 5,10,20,50 stotinki and 1, 2 leva are available.
Bulgaria is a part of the EU, but it’s not in the zone where countries use Euro as their currency, and using the local currency is much more popular. However, you may find some shops with euro prices, but you should still pay with Lev.
ATMs are available around the country, accepting major credit cards like Visa and MasterCard. The amount of money you can withdraw depends on your bank restrictions.
Don’t rely on credit cards in Bulgaria and use them only for getting cash from banks and major purchases. Restaurants, hotels, and shops in major cities accept credit cards. In high-end hotels, you may need to add 5% surcharge for using credit cards.
Exchange offices are available around the country. Make sure to check the latest commission and make sure not to exchange your money in the offices in airports and stations as their commission is poor. US dollar and Euro are the best currencies for exchanging in Bulgaria.
Food & Drink (Bulgarian Food)
National dishes rooted in their traditional and cultural aspects of Bulgaria are something to have whenever you visit the country. Their cuisine has gained a lot of popularity because of its unmatched dairy products and seafood. The locals also love meat with various methods of preparing and serving with side dishes. But all of these products coming from animals should not scar the vegetarians, since the vegetables and salads of Bulgaria are world-famous.
The Kebpche of Bulgaria is mostly the same as the famous Kebabs. They are grilled minced meat that contains local herbs and spices. This delicious Kebapche is a trendy food in the country, especially with its various sides like yogurt and traditional sauces. Get some local cheese on top of your food. You can also have fires beside your dish, and you have dined like a king. Kebapche is a favorite food of the locals that they make with a lot of love for their valued guests, usually seen along with some local salad and bread for more taste.
Banitsa is a traditional pastry with a very simple recipe but can get several remarkable modifications according to your taste. The original version is just the layers of dough, cheese, and egg, with the possible yogurt that is added before baking. Various versions of Banitsa are easily found even in the stores, but try them fresh if you get the chance. You can get sweet Banitsa, or sour ones, with the possibility of finding a kind of this delicious pie with vegetables.
Sarmi is the Bulgarian name of a trendy thing to eat in Asia, the Middle East, and the Balkans. The vine or cabbage leaves are stuffed with minced meat, rice, and vegetables. The vegetables, spices hor the possible herbs that go in a Sarmi are according to the likings of the person making it, but no matter which combination is used, it is always tasty. Sarmi in Bulgaria is a very delightful bite-sized snack that is seen mostly as an appetizer, unlike the Asian version, which comes in large quantity and is eaten as a meal.
Sarmi is a trendy dish that is loved during summer and winter. This wonderful food is a favorite food for Christmas, but by then, the vine leaves are not seen, and people mostly do not use the meat either. Find a great drink to have with Sarmi of Bulgaria, and you have a starter to make you crave for more.
Lukanka is a very popular traditional dried sausage with a taste and aroma that will leave you hooked. Most people slice these dry sausages and eat them with cheese along with a drink to enjoy themselves. Another way of having them is frying or grilling them to be served in any preferable manner. Lukanka is so good that it stands far above any other kind of salami with a rather complicated method of making. And a Lukanka is so rich with nuts, spices, and herbs, that it tastes amazing no matter how you try them.
Shopska Salata or Shopska Salad is a healthy and delightful salad of Bulgaria that is considered a famous national salad. It is very simple yet very excellent with slices of cucumber, tomato, onion, pepper, parsley, and Sirene. The special ingredient of Shopska Salata is the Sirene, which is a local cheese of the country that adds a very exotic taste to the dish. It may look like something very ordinary, but wait until you have had some for yourself.
Shkembe Chorba is either your next favorite food or the thing you will only serve to your worst enemy! The taste is very exotic and full of spices and Tripe. This soup is mostly traditional and difficult to find unless you find a traditional restaurant in the cities or the rural areas. The biggest reason why Shkembe Chorba is still very popular is that it is very healthy and the number one Bulgarian cure for a hangover.
You might think that the Sirene cheese of Bulgaria something ordinary, since it may look like Feta cheese, but it is actually very different. Their yogurt and cheese are something unique that must be tried in food or on its own. Why is it recommended? You will not find Sirene anywhere else.
Shkembe Chorba is too hot for you? Tarator will be something you will enjoy. Tarator is a cold soup, but it is not exactly a soup despite being a bit watery. A bowl of light and fresh Tarator is perfect on a hot summer day because of its yogurt, cucumbers, nuts, garlic, vegetables. Some locals even add several ice cubes, making a lot of difference. Some people add a bit of rice, and the Asians may add a little bit of bread to it and then cool down as they have their food.
The roots of Tarator are either Greek or Middle Eastern, but it is healthy, refreshing, and delightful no matter where it came.
Lyutenitsa is a lovely relish that used to be made only at homes, but since it was so good, nowadays you can find them in jars at markets across the world. Lyutenitsa is made with tomatoes and peppers and tastes like heaven on some toast. It is your number one evening snack or breakfast as it can be a bit hot, but very delightful. Kids love it, adults love it, all of Bulgaria loves it, and it is a must-try for any tourists and travelers into the country.
The Bulgarian Moussaka is not an original dish of the country, and they look a lot like lasagna, but they are something very unique. You may have already had some Moussaka in another country, but the one made in Bulgaria is something different and unique that must be tried at least once. Aside from the layers of potatoes, meat, egg, and vegetables, the yogurt and local cheese used in their meal create a taste like no other.
Mobile & Internet
Prepaid SIM cards in Bulgaria are easy to buy and cheap. You can find all the major operators’ shops in Vitosha Boulevard and Kaufland grocery store in Sofia.
The Best Company
There are three major SIM card providers in Bulgaria, including A1, Vivacom, and Telenor. The best company is depending on your need. A1 lasts longest and has the best coverage, Vivacom is cheaper, Telenor has better packages, etc.
|5 leva (about $3)||1GB, 100 min of call time – or 5 leva ($3 per GB).|
|10 leva (about $6)||2GB and 100 min of call time – 5 leva ($3 per GB).|
|10 Leva (about $6)||3 GB – 3.33 leva or $2 per GB|
|30 Leva (about $18)||12 GB – 1.67 leva or $1 per GB|
|10 leva ($6)||4GB of prepaid data, 100 minutes of calling|
|15 leva ($9.3)||another 3GB of data, 300 more minutes of calling|
Holidays & Festivals
|Name||Date 2021||Date 2022|
|New Year’s Day||1-Jan||1-Jan|
|St. George’s Day||6-May||6-May|
|Culture and Literacy Day||24-May||24-May|
|Second day of Christmas||26-Dec||26-Dec|
Shopping in Bulgaria
The secret behind Bulgarian foods’ tastiness is behind the Gyuvetch, a fireproof clay earthenware pots used for cooking foods. Roasted and stewed dishes in Bulgaria are made in these pots whether in a restaurant or at home. Make sure to bring a pot back home to have Bulgarian food’s deliciousness in your house!
Bulgaria is one of the leading rose oil producers globally, and the rose flower is the country’s tourism symbol. The rose oil, nicknamed liquid gold, is produced by a solvent extraction method. This product is used in creams, body lotions, cleansing products, soaps, etc.
Litak is the traditional Sofian cloth known as Bulgarian women’s custom, regardless of their ethnics. Make sure to buy these fantastic and colorful clothes for your loved ones.
Doll plays a crucial role in Bulgarian culture and is an inseparable part of childhood in this country. These products are handmade, with both male and female shapes and beautiful customs and colors. Besides, there are some ritual dolls associated with specific traditions, the famous of which is “Pijo and Penda.”
Traditional Bulgarian Musical Instruments
There are three famous Bulgarian musical instruments called Kaba Gaida, Dvoyanka, and Tupan. You can see people playing folklore music in the streets using these instruments in Sofia. Learning playing them can be a great experience.
Bulgarian rugs are trendy worldwide, playing particular roles in the country’s household culture. Make sure to buy these colorful and handmade products and bring them home as they are not too much large, and you can use them to decorate your home.