Bulgaria

  • Time:

Greenwich Mean Time + 2 hours, Central European Time + 1 ho

  • Electricity:

220-240 V., 50 Hz.

The electricity plug is an European standard.

  • Phone Calls & Telecommunications:

The international dialing code for Bulgaria is (+359).

There are 3 GSM operators in Bulgaria that you can roam with: Mtel, Telenor and Vivacom. Please contact your provider for further details.

  • Wi-Fi

It is easily accessible and available everywhere. Free wi-fi areas could be found in most public areas, all hotels, shoping malls, most metro stations and even some of the parks such as South Park (Yuzhen park), Zaimov Park, Doctor’s Garden.

You can also expect that most of the cafes, restaurants and bars would have free wi-fi. Sometimes you might have to ask for a password at the counter but generally it’s free.

  • Passports & Visas:

No visas are required for the citizens of the European Union and EFTA member countries to enter Bulgaria. European Identity Cards and passports are a valid identification document in Bulgaria.

Visa requirements for citizens of countries outside the European Union may differ according to the country of origin. Further information on visa control for Bulgaria is available at the official web site of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Bulgaria

  • Banks:

Banks are open from Monday to Friday, 09:00 to 17:00.  Passport/European Identity Card may be required for cashing cheques or exchanging currency. There are also ATMs.

  • Currency Information:

The official currency in Bulgaria is LEV. The exchange rate is 1 Lev = 1.95583 Euro. It is advisable to exchange foreign currencies in money in bank offices.

  • Credit Cards:

The main international credit cards are accepted in most hotels, shopping centers, car rental offices and restaurants. The stickers on the shop-windows or at the hotel entrances will provide you with information which credit cards are accepted.

  • Pharmacies:

Usually open from 08:00 to 20:00. There are also 24-hour operating pharmacies.

  • Water:

Tap water is safe to drink.

  • Weather:

The weather in Bulgaria can be described with dry and hot summer and mild winter with lots of opportunity for skiing.

The month of September is usually characterized by warm and sunny weather.

  • Population:

The population of Bulgaria is about 7 500 000 people; 1 500 000 million live in the capital (Sofia)

  • Official Language:

The official language is Bulgarian.

English, German, French and Russian are fairly spoken as well.

  • Religion:

The main religion in Bulgaria is Eastern Orthodox; other - Catholicism, Judaism, Islam, etc.

  • Shops:

Shops are normally open every day from 10:00 till 20:00 including Saturday and Sunday from 11:00 till 14:00, in shopping centers from 10:00 till 22:00. There are also food stores open 24h.

  • Emergency Telephone Number:

112 (for Ambulance, Fire Department and Police)

  • Tipping:

In restaurants and hotels, taxis or other services, tipping is customary if you are pleased with the service. Approximately 10% of the bill is a good guideline.

  • Geographic Location

Bulgaria is located in Southeast Europe, in the Northeast part of the Balkan Peninsula. Its territory is located between 44°13’ and 41°14’ North Latitude, 22°22’ and 28°37’ East Longitude. It is a European, Balkan, Black Sea and Danube country. This geographic location places it on the crossroad between Europe, Asia and Africa.

  • Nature

The natural landscape of Bulgaria is diverse, consisting of lowlands, plains, foothills and plateaus, river valleys, basins, and mountains of varying elevations. About 70% of the country’s territory is hilly land and 30% is mountainous. The average elevation of the country’s territory is 467 m, generally decreasing from South to North and from West to East.

  • History

The territory of Bulgaria has been inhabited since antiquity, as the country’s many ancient settlements and burial mounds attest. Present-day Bulgaria was a cradle of some of the earliest civilizations in Europe – the oldest gold ornament ever discovered, unearthed in the Chalcholite necropolis near Varna, is evidence of that. From the age of Ancient Thrace we have inherited valuable cultural monuments, including tombs (such as the Kazanlak tomb, the Aleksandrovska tomb, and the Sveshtarska tomb); treasures (the Panagyursko, Rogozensko, and Valchitransko teasures, among others); and sanctuaries and temples (at Perperikon, Starosel, Kozi Gramadi, Begliktash, and elsewhere).

  • State Structure and Economy

According to its Constitution, Bulgaria is a Parliamentary Republic, a unified state with local self-government. The official language in the Republic is Bulgarian, and the religion of most Bulgarians is Eastern Orthodox Christianity. The national state emblem of the Republic of Bulgaria is an upright golden lion on a dark red, shield-shaped background. The national emblem of the Republic of Bulgaria is depicted on its state seal. The flag of the Republic of Bulgaria consists of three colors: white, green and red, laid horizontally from top to bottom.

The basis of the Bulgarian economy is free economic initiative. The state creates conditions for the free development of science, education, and the arts and provides support for them.

Traditional Cuisine

Bulgarian cuisine is exceptionally diverse and delicious, consisting of various salads, breadstuffs, stews, and other local dishes. Many of the dishes are prepared according to traditional recipes handed down from generation to generation over the centuries.

The products which Bulgaria is internationally known for are yogurt and white brine (feta) cheese. These are almost always present on Bulgarian tables in one form or another.

  • Culture

Traditionally Bulgaria is famous around the world for its folk songs and dances, their irregular meters and polyphony, with its Thracian treasures, rose oil, and yoghurt. Now you have the chance to get acquainted with its natural sights, its cultural and historical monuments and… with Bulgarians themselves. The territories of present-day Bulgaria have been inhabited since ancient times, ever since the Paleolithic era. Drawings dating back to this time can be seen in the Magurata Cave in Northwestern Bulgaria. Nearby are the Belogradchik Rocks, with their bizarre shapes and the Roman fortress. In the Eastern Rhodope Mountains is situated the megalithic settlement which turned into a sacred rock city of the Thracians, and later became populated by the Romans. When travelling to the Rose Valley in Central Bulgaria, don’t miss one of the most significant monuments of the Thracian culture on Bulgarian lands – the dome tomb, dating back to 4-3 century B.C. in Kazanlak, with magnificent frescoes from the Early Hellenistic Period.

If you are drawn to the sea and interested in the Middle Ages and Christianity, visit the old town of Nessebar, which keeps in its fortified walls from the Roman Era and the Middle Ages Byzantine and Old Bulgarian churches and 18th-century and 19th-century houses. In North-Eastern Bulgaria – on the main migratory route of migratory birds between Europe and Africa – is situated the natural reserve Srebarna, where you can observe over 100 species of birds, many of which rare or threatened with extinction. If you are fond of the mountain nature, take a walk in Rila Mountains and stop to take a rest in the biggest Orthodox monastery in Bulgaria, founded in the 10th century by Saint John of Rila – the patron saint of Bulgarians, or visit Pirin National Park.

And finally, if you are curious about our traditional culture and more recent history, you can visit the two ethnographic reserves in the foot of Stara Planina, near the town of Gabrovo – Etara Museum and Bozhentsi village, as well as the small town of Koprivshtitsa - the cradle of 19th century Bulgarian national revival.

  • Churches, Monasteries & Icons

Bulgaria has a long tradition of religious art, and wherever you go, you can't fail to notice the beautiful, timeless icons appearing in museums and, of course, countless churches and monasteries. The luminous images of saints are at their most evocative and powerful inside candlelit Orthodox churches, often set into a gilded wooden screen known as an iconostasis. Engaging religious murals were created in the 19th century and adorn the walls of Bulgaria's most important monasteries. Older churches built during the Ottoman occupation can be identified by their sunken and deliberately unobtrusive appearance.

  • Ancient Ruins

With such a long and tumultuous history, it's hardly surprising to find that Bulgaria still harbours impressive stony reminders of the ancient peoples and civilisations that have risen, fallen, conquered and passed through this land. The fearsome Thracians left their mark across the southern and central areas of Bulgaria, and the tombs of some of their kings and nobility can still be seen today. Signs of 2500-year-old Greek and Hellenistic colonisation are evident along the coast, while elsewhere, fortifications, bathhouses and theatres indicate the reach and resources of the Roman Empire at its zenith.