Visit & Explore

Bulgaria

111,000 sq kms

Geographic Area

7.2 million

Population

Bulgarian Lev (BGN)

Currency

General Information

Is lay-back town havens

Black Sea Beaches

Long, sandy beaches and fine weather reel holidaymakers into Bulgaria’s Black Sea resorts each summer. Bulgarian inlanders are helplessly drawn to the freshening sea breeze and miles of turquoise water. Foreign visitors, too, are wise to Bulgaria’s coast, thanks to gorgeous seaside resorts such as Primorsko (and prices that compete well with Western Europe). Even the coast’s two big cities, Varna and Burgas, have attractive beaches within minutes of their urban hearts. And while Sunny Beach, Sozopol and other favourites are thoroughly developed, there are still plenty of undiscovered coves north and south of the major hubs.

Churches & Religious Art

No visitor to Bulgaria can fail to be impressed by its religious art, from vast gold-domed churches to miniature icon paintings. Sofia’s Aleksander Nevski Church and 10th-century Rila Monastery draw visitors and pilgrims galore, while Tryavna’s wood carvings and Bachkovo’s apocalyptic murals are gathering fame. But Orthodox churches in even the tiniest villages have much to admire: emotive paintings of saints, often set in carved wooden screens (iconostases), appear magical when bathed in flickering candlelight. Almost as spectacular are the settings of many sacred buildings: granite cliffs, thrashing streams and lonely mountain passes.

Mountains & Forests

Bulgaria’s untamed landscapes quicken the pulse of hikers, mountain bikers and skiers. Seven mountain ranges ripple across the country; glacial lakes sparkle between these snow-dusted peaks, and tangles of forest conceal wolves, bears and lynx, a glimpse of Europe’s primeval past. Networks of trails and hizhas (hiking huts) allow access to such raw beauty as mist-cloaked panoramas in the Stara Planina range and sunrise from Bulgaria’s second-highest peak, Mt Vihren (2915m). Between trekking among Rodopi villages, thundering across ski fields in Bansko or birdwatching in Pirin National Park, Bulgaria has much to delight (and exhaust) lovers of the great outdoors.

Ancient History

Whispers of history emanate from Bulgaria’s fortresses and ruins. Caves secreted in Bulgaria’s river-sculpted wilds hold traces of Neolithic settlements. The mysterious Thracians left behind dazzling hauls of gold and silver, and tombs that can be explored to this day. The Romans built cities of breathtaking scale, the bathhouses, walls and amphitheatres of which sit nonchalantly in the midst of modern cities such as Varna and Plovdiv. Successions of tsars strutted along the ramparts of Tsarevets Fortress at former capital Veliko Târnovo. And these histories are no less relevant today, with Thracian art and Bulgaria’s victory over the Ottomans continuing to inspire.

Money

The monetary unit in Bulgaria is the Bulgarian Lev (BGN). 1 Lev = 100 Stotinka.
There are many exchange bureaux in Bulgaria that normally accept major currencies. Check the rates of exchange before making a transaction. Where possible, change money in banks, large hotels, or exchange bureaux. Don’t use sellers on the street. There is a large network of ATMs that accept standard international credit and debit cards. Check with card provider whether you will be able to use these machines to with draw Leva

Eating and Drinking

Bulgarian food is fairly loyal to its roots as the mountainous country hasn’t had a great number of foreign influences nor has it adopted many of those that arrived. Even today much of the cuisine is based on local fruits, vegetables, dairy products, and grilled meats. Even cooking techniques are generally traditional as grilling and slow boiling or heating foods in a single pot remains common. The greatest outside influences have come from the Greeks, Turks, and other Slavic groups. Of these, the Turks have the most noticeable influence as many Turkish desserts were introduced during Ottoman Turkish occupation and remain on menus today.

Bulgaria offers soft drinks, juices, milk, and any other non-alcoholic drink one desires, but none that are especially local or unique. Coffee is perhaps the most common pleasure of the people in the morning or with desserts.
The country’s pride comes in the form of wine and they produce a shockingly large amount of wine each year, generally helping supply the Russian and Eastern European markets. Some of the more local varietals include ‘red plonk’, ‘dimyat’, and ‘misket’, although more well-known varietals like merlot and riesling are also common. Despite the wine industry, the national drink is still considered rakia, which is a distilled liquor similar to brandy, which is generally distilled from plums or grapes, but can be produced from just about any fruit. A couple other local specialties are rosaliika (a rose-colored liquor) and mastika (aniseed liquor similar to ouzo). Local breweries are also growing in popularity and all popular international drinks are also available, including beers, wines, and hard liquors.

Tipping

You should tip about 10% of the bill for good service. Some restaurants might include service on the bill though so you should check first and make sure it goes to the staff. It is very common to tip hotel and maids in Bulgaria. You should tip 1.50 BGN per bag and the maid about 1 BGN a night. Tipping guides at the end of excursions and treks etc is always appreciated and your tour leader will advise you on the amount for this.

Australia Government Travel Advice

The Australian Government provides up to date information on the safety of travelling to various countries, and all travellers should take note of this advice. Liberty Tours recommends that all travellers take out appropriate Travel Insurance to cover the entire duration of their absence from home. Liberty Tours can assist with obtaining Travel Insurance.

Follow this link for current official assessment:

https://www.smartraveller.gov.au/destinations/europe/bulgaria

Advice on health risks and vaccination recommendations can also be found using the same link.

Weather

Bulgaria has a temperate climate, with cold winters and hot summers. The barrier effect of the Balkan Mountains has some influence on the climate throughout the country: northern Bulgaria experiences lower temperatures and receives more rain than the southern lowlands.

What to pack

In winter: bring warm clothes, such as a sweater, a down jacket, a hat, gloves, a scarf, and a raincoat or umbrella.
In summer: bring light clothes, a T-shirt, but also long pants, a light jacket and a sweatshirt for the evening, and an umbrella.

Facts

Time Zone:

Bulgaria is 2 hours ahead Greenwich Mean Time

Electricity:

230 volts/50 Hz – Sockets are of European two-pronged round pin variety.

Language:

Bulgarian 85%, Turkish 10%, Roma (Gypsy) 4%.

Religion:

Bulgarian Orthodox 83%, Muslim 12%

Links

Bulgaria Official Tourism Office

https://www.bulgariatravel.org/

Gallery

See the sights

Europe Tours

Shades of Ireland

From history-filled Dublin to the rolling green hills and dramatic coast, experience Ireland’s charms on a journey through the Emerald Isle. Choose how you explore

Read More »

Treasures of Greek Islands

Welcome to Greece. With spectacular beaches and majestic scenery, the relics of four millennia of ancient culture and some of Europe’s best party spots, those who

Read More »