Tourism guide for Bulgaria
Useful and complete guide when travelling to Bulgaria
The typical dishes? What to see in Bulgaria? What do you need to know before coming? Prepare your trip to Bulgaria by following these steps and tips in this guide.
Bulgaria is one of those countries that offer a lot to its visitors, but the traveler does not always have the proper access to all the necessary information that can be useful during the trip. The country is much more than the typical and popular places that are often seen in travel guides or the products that many travel agencies offer. We hope you find this information useful for your trip.
The article is sorted by different sections
1 – The national currency is BGN, or named in Bulgarian, “lev”. Bulgaria does not use the Euro, although it is within the European Union. However, the national currency maintains a fixed exchange rate with the Euro and this is € 1 = 1.95 lev (almost the double). It is difficult to find the currency outside its borders and the exchange will be much worse than it can be found in Bulgaria. For this reason, we recommend you to to change the money in Bulgaria. You can find change at the airport, but the change is minimal.
2 – Always exchange money in verified places. There are numeros ATMs at Sofia Airport and if you are planning to have some cash, at the beginning it is advisable to exchange small quantities in order to avoid high commissions. Once in town, the best places for change would be banks (open even Saturday and Sunday in the capital’s shopping malls). The exchange houses in the city also have good exchange rate, so you can trust them as long as they can offer you around BGN 1.95 for every Euro. On the website of www.oanda.com as well as from their app you can check the currency exchange at any time.
3 – Wifi and mobile data work wonderfully around the country. However, not in all places you have open Wifi, so if you need it, just ask for the password and it will be given to you. The telephone companies A1, Telenor and Vivacom, offer prepaid SIM cards with mobile data. It is recommendable to use these ones in case you are going to stay more than 3 days or if you need internet for work issues. According to the latest news when it comes to roaming, if you come from any EU country you can also use your mobile data here.
4 – Some things to keep in mind are:
- Emergency phone number – 112.
- Vaccination is not necessary when travelling to Bulgaria.
- Bulgaria is not a member of the Schengen Zone and some nationalities might need visa permission. You can check here.
- Carry your ID with you when you are around because authorities may request it.
- The local time in Bulgaria is UTC +2.
- Bring with you the European Health Card to receive the same medical treatment as any Bulgarian citizen.
- Electrical plugs are the same as those used in big part of Eurupe (type C and F)
- Tap water is drinkable and safe, but consuming bottled water is aways a better option.
5 – Holidays:
- 1st of January – New Year
- 3rd of March: Liberation Day of Bulgaria – Bulgaria finally declared itself free from the Ottoman occupation. King Alexander Battenberg was elected as the first Bulgarian ruler.
- April 17, 18, 19 and 20: Easter 2020 , called “Velikden” in Bulgaria, which means “Glorious Day”. The most emblematic part of this festivity is that Bulgarians paint colorful eggs in order to make “fights” with them a posteriori.
- May 1: Labor Day – As in many countries around the world, Bulgaria is not an exception.
- May 6: Day of the Bulgarian Courage and the Bulgarian Army, it is the day of the patron saint of Bulgaria, Saint George.
- May 24: Day of the Education, Bulgarian culture and Slavic writing – Schools are decorated with flowers and with the photographs of the two brothers Cyril and Methodius, the inventors of the Cyrillic alphabet.
- September 6: Union Day of Bulgaria – On this date in 1855, Bulgaria and Eastern Roumelia united their territories in order to establish the Republic of Bulgaria as we know it today.
- September 22: Independence Day of Bulgaria – In 1908 the independence of the Bulgarian nation from the Ottoman government was officially declared.
- November 1: All Saints’ Day – The day of national leaders who have preserved the Bulgarian spiritual and cultural values .
December 24, 25 and 26 – Christmas Eve and Christmas. Bulgarians have the tradition to put on the table on Christmas Eve an impair number of vegetarian plates such as 7, 9 or 11. During the 25th of December, Bulgarians celebrate Christmas and gifts are given during the day.
6 – Below we recommend you some useful mobile applications to download for your trip to Bulgaria. They will help you in different daily situations.
- If you want to use the public transport in Sofia > Moovit
- If you want to visit the places and accommodations around > Bulgarito (Android)
- If you want to save yourself trouble with fake taxis > TaxiME
- If you want to see more places around Sofia and you need an electric car > Spark
- If the menu in the restaurant is only in Bulgarian > Google Translate
- If you want to see the events in town> Events (Facebook App)
7 – Security is an essential part of any trip. Bulgaria is in 28th place in terms of a secure country. If you travel alone, do not worry as the country is safe enough for you to travel in peace. Even so, always take the necessary precautions and avoid finding yourself in situations that could endanger your safety. In this link you will find an extensive article with advices when traveling abroad.
Itineraries and trip proposals
8 – Depending on how many days you want to stay, we believe that the best option to see Bulgaria in its entireness, would be to visit the country for 5 to 7 days at least. In this way, the traveler can go to the most outstanding places and get to know the culture, traditions and the environment of that the country offers. Some of the regions that require more time and can be done in this period of time are the Rodope mountain, the coast and some regions in the northeast of the country.
9 – Weekends are also a good option, and you can see much more than the Bulgarian capital. Sofia is an interesting place to see in one day, but if you want to see something else, you must think of a route. Below you can find some interesting combinations that can be seen in more detail here
- Sofia – Koprivshtitsa – Plovdiv
- Sofía – The 7 Rila Lakes – Rila Monastery
- Sofia – Rila Monastery – Melnik
10 – 3 days trip from Sofía:
- North; Prohodna Cave – Cherepish Monastery – Ritlite – Vratsa – Belogradchik – Sofia
- Center; Koprivshtitsa – Plovdiv – Asenov’s Fortress – Bachkovo Monastery – Sofia
- South; The 7 Rila Lakes / Rila Monastery – Melnik – Stobski Piramides – Rozhen – Sofia
11 – 3 days trip from Sofía:
- Sofia – Koprivshtitsa – the city of Plovdiv – Shipka and Buzludzha Monument – Etar Village Museum – Veliko Tarnovo – «Prohodna» and «Devetashka» cave – Sofia
- Sofia – Plovdiv – Asen Fortress and Bachkovo Monastery – “The Wonderful Bridges” – the town of Shiroka Laka – the Dospat reservoir or the Yagodina cave – Rila Monastery – Sofia
Accommodation and transport
11 – If you have already stayed with hosts on platforms such as Airbnb, HomeAway and Couchsurfing, you should not hesitate to do it in Bulgaria either. This type of accommodation contributes an interesting way to the experience during your trip. The best thing would be to find a flat / room with a nice host who can advise you on different activities and interesting places around. Take a good look at the traveler reviews of the host and pay attention on how they treat you before you arrive.
12 – Hostels are a good option for those who have a low budget and want to socialize in the different cities in which you stay. You meet other travelers and the service is friendly in almost all cases. There is a chain called Hostels Mostel that is very popular among travelers and you have accommodation in Sofia, Plovdiv and Veliko Tarnovo. A couple of tips: remember to store your things well when you share a room and respect other people in your room.
13 – Hotels are not an especially expensive service, but you will not always find what you have booked or what you expected in terms of a customer service or product. It would be best to book a hotel with more than 3 stars, since the prices are not so high, and because anything less than that category can end up in a not so pleasant experience. Once you leave Sofia, be aware that you can find places that have a relatively low level of English at the receptions.
14 – We almost forgot about the guest houses. You will find a service similar to HomeAway or Airbnb but it is very likely that the English spoken by the landlords is not very good or they simply do not speak it. Of course, if they have something prepared to eat at any time of the day, they will not hesitate to invite you to join them. A word of advice: don’t reject it for two reasons; first of all because the food will be delicious and second of all, because they want their guests to feel comfortable in their home. Without any doubt, it is the best accommodation option for those who want go deeper into the Bulgarian local customs.
15 – Flying to Bulgaria does not have to be a luxury. As in many destinations, tickets during low season as well as during normal business days are usually cheaper than other dates. The low season in Bulgaria (except for snow sports’ lovers) varies from October to March, given the weather conditions. However, it is not an excessively expensive destination in high season either, since round-trip tickets can be found for less than € 150
16 – There are 3 low-cost airlines flying to Bulgaria; Ryanair, Wizzair and EasyJet. We recommend to read the norms regarding the hand luggage that each company has. SkyScanner app you can choose the cheapest month and find something at a very low price. Sometimes you can get to leave even for less than € 60 round trip by plane. Flights from Spain, England, France or Germany usually take no more than 3 hours.
17 – Travelling by car is the best option if you want to enjoy everything, move wherever and how you want. It is essential to be very attentive to the conditions and policies of use of each company. We recommend to bet on a safe company even if you have to pay a little more. Usually, it is not very expensive to rent a car, but keep in mind that the behavior of Bulgarian drivers is quite liberal. Always be aware when driving in Bulgaria. The main road network is in good condition, in contrast with the rest of then.
Now the “adventures” way is coming, are you ready?
If you cannot rent a car or simply do not feel like doing it, there is the option of traveling by public transport. You have to take into account that the transport network is not excellent, and you can find yourself in different situations, so be patient. These are the websites that you must visit to use the different types of public transport.
18 – Trains (www.bdz.bg) in Bulgaria are quite old and speed is not their strongest point. Usually, they are punctual. To get an idea, to reach a distance of 100km could take 1 hour and 45 minutes. Still it’s very nice to try at least once if you get the chance. The interior is comfortable and through the windows you can enjoy the incredible Bulgarian landscapes.
Train prices (based on rates for 2020)
Sofia – Plovdiv (8 BGN and takes 3h and 20 min)
Sofia – Veliko Turnovo (15 BGN and takes 4h and 30 min)
Sofia – Burgas (20 BGN and takes 6h and 30 min)
One note: there are trains with fewer stops than others and that directly influences the travel time, so take a good look when booking. The duration of the trains mentioned above are those who have fewer stops.
Bus rates based on rates for 2020:
Sofia – Plovdiv (10 BGN and 1h 30min trip)
Sofia – Veliko Turnovo (20 BGN and 3 hours of travel)
Sofia – Burgas (28 BGN and 4h 30min trip)
20 – There is also the option of doing AUTOSTOP and the truth is that in Bulgaria you can easily find someone to take you. Please note that the distances in Bulgaria are quite short. Show a sign with your destination city written on it and don’t carry a lot of luggage with you either. It is recommendable that you learn some Bulgarian words at least to gain a little confidence from people with you. Always consider your safety when hitchhiking in the first place and look for safe places on the road.
21– As for transportation in cities, apart from Sofia, the other cities are relatively small, so having a walk around them would be the best option. And in the worst case, taxis are cheap enough. It is not worth waiting, searching and worrying about where to stop if public transport is used.
According to many travelers, the best way to immerse yourself in the place is to let yourself be lost, so prepare to walk and discover the cities. For what comes to be Sofia, public transport is recommended if you want to leave the center. There is a company called “Spark” that offers electric car rental and it is not a bad option if you want to visit places a little far from the central part of the city.
Expenses and currency exchange
The country is not an expensive destination. Compared to other places in Europe, it is relatively cheap to spend a few days. Of course, if you do not really try to save depending on what situations, you can also spend a lot. The capital has its corners and services that are priced high even for people who come from a country with a better quality of life than Bulgaria.
If you want to spend little, follow some of these tips and you will not regret:
23 – Eat breakfast at local patisseries and for the rest of the meals look for local restaurants in the center with low prices. In the Jewish quarter of the city there are several places with good food and very affordable prices.
24 – If you have rented an apartment or are staying in a hostel, use their kitchens and prepare your own food.
25 – Free tickets for museums or combinations of tickets such as the Bulgarian History Museum and Boyana Church
26 – There is no city in Bulgaria that you cannot do on foot to see the most interesting places. Public transport or taxis are not needed.
27 – With Coachsurfing the accommodation is free. Check if someone wants to stay and do not hesitate to do so.
28 – Go for Free Walking tours instead of paying for a private guide. You have them at your disposal in all the big cities of Bulgaria. Be aware that in winter some of them are not available due to the climatic conditions. Here is the list of all the free tours in Sofia
These tips are entirely up to the traveler. Each one has its own tricks.
29 – Tipping in many of the bars and restaurants is not included in the price and is usually 10% of the final bill. Of course, depending on the service you have found, you can leave nothing (if you did not like it) or leave more than this 10%, since in many of these establishments, salaries are around € 400-500 per month without including tips.
30 – Negotiating in Bulgaria is not very well seen and especially when it comes to very small amounts. If you want to try it, nobody forbids it and sometimes it may result that you are lucky and get away with it, but this does not mean that it is well seen. If you think that something you want to buy has a higher price than the one you would pay for it, try it, why not
31 – ALWAYS exchange money at verified locations. There are ATMs at the airport and if you plan to have some cash, at the beginning it is advisable to take out little amount money to avoid high commissions. Once in town, the best places to exchange money would be banks that are open even on Saturday and Sunday in shopping malls. You can enter the website of www.oanda.com or download its app to check the currency exchange at anytimе.
32 – Always have cash with you. There are many establishments (restaurants and bars included) that do not accept credit cards or their payment terminal simply does not work well.
Language and people
33 – One of the first things you will notice when you arrive is the spelling. We use the Cyrillic alphabet which is known to have been created by the brothers Cyril and Methodius of Bulgarian origin. It is different but there are some letters that have the same phonetics. The Bulgarian language is not that easy and pronouncing some of the words below will not be an easy task. What you should not doubt is that it will be very useful for you and will also help you to break the ice with people. Here are a few easy ones:
- Zdravei – Hello
- Blagodaria – Thanks
- Da/Ne – Yes/No
- Nazdrave – Cheers
- Dovizhdane – Bye
Better leave it here. For those who are curious to know more words in Bulgarian, this dictionary has useful words prepared for your trip in Bulgaria.
34 – Honestly, smiles are not the strongest point of Bulgarians, but this does not mean anything. It will not be difficult for you to realise that with a pleasant conversation is not that difficult to gain the friendship of a Bulgarian. Let yourself go and you can become very good friends during your trip. Where everyone agrees, both Bulgarians and foreign tourists, is that in the mountains of the Rhodopes is where they treat visitors best. Here we leave some characteristic features about the Bulgarians:
- Sometimes they can be quite pessimistic, but you should never characterise them as sad.
- Bulgarians are not very good at arriving on time.
- To say NO, they move their heads from top to bottom and from right to left to say YES.
- They use the word “Opa” to apologize or ask for forgiveness.
- They are very proud of their yogurt, their roses and they history.
- They are a bit closed with people who are sexually attracted to the same sex.
35 – Etiquette
- Bulgarians are good hosts and give importance to even the smallest details. Remember to take off your shoes when entering your host’s house.
- When you go out for a drink or dinner try to be well dressed. In these occasions, Bulgarians always try to be as formal and elegant as possible. Of course, not always and you will also see exceptions.
- Bulgarian men are gentlemen and always try to make a woman feel important and safe. You should also know that when meeting a girl, you have to shake hands and not like in other countries, one or two kisses.
Cuisine and typical drinks
It is considered one of the tastiest in Europe, combining the rich influence of the Ottoman Empire with a style of peasant cuisine that makes the most of Bulgaria’s flavour-soaked vegetables and herbs. Anyone who has had a chance to taste the traditional Bulgarian cuisine will tell you that there is little to compete with a salad of fresh tomatoes and homemade sheep cheese; the delicate flavours of stews over low heat in clay molds; or the many and varied meat dishes that are available.
The cuisine in our house is still very seasonal and although today you can enjoy most of the dishes throughout the year, they are still at their best when the ingredients are fresh and seasonal.
36 – We always start the meal with a salad, usually accompanied by a glass of Rakia, the local spirit made from grapes or plums, or perhaps in the summer months, with a Mastika, an anise spirit similar to the Greek ouzo.
We will start the recommendations of typical dishes and meals in order.
37 -The first dishes you can order in any typical restaurant in the country
Cold soup with yogurt, cucumber, walnut and parsley
It is made from beef tripe, milk, and red pepper.
It has tomato, cucumber, onion, green pepper and white cheese.
They are eggs with yogurt, red pepper and spices.
38 – Main dishes that we highlight are the following, but there are many more that you can find in the Gastronomy section or in the PDF document that you can download in the Guides section.
Dish with pork or chicken, onion, cheese and spices.
Minced beef or pork and different ingredients.
It has tomato, cucumber, onion, green pepper and white cheese.
Rice wrapped in grape leaf.
39 – Desserts
The Bulgarian “churros” that are combined with almost everything
White cheese cake and very typical puff pastry
Similar to Banitsa but with pumpkin and walnuts
Cured cow and sheep milk with honey or other jam
40 – Bulgarian wine is gradually gaining more and more international recognition among the professionals. The investment grows, the development innovates and improves the quality of the wines. Bulgaria has excellent conditions and resources to offer very high-quality wines. There are 9 official routes around the country. Wines like; Mavrud, Ruen, Pamid, Melnik can only be tried in these lands. We are sure that you will love them.
41 – Another alcoholic product is Rakia. It is the Bulgarian pomace and in general, the most popular in the country is the grape’s one. It can be bought from any selling alcohol store in Bulgaria. Instead, the Plum Rakia is based on a technology that has been developing for years in central Bulgaria and the mountainous areas of the country.
42 – Without forgetting the “Boza” or the “Airian”. Its origins come from the East, but they are a widely consumed product in Bulgaria. “Airian” is a mixture of yogurt and water with some salt to give it flavour. The “Boza” is made from wheat or fermented millet, has a dense consistency, low alcohol content (around 1%) and has a slightly sweet and sour flavour.
Restaurants and customer service
44 – It may be that in many parts they cannot answer you in English. Think about technology and use Google Translate to help you with the conversation. You can also use the Google Translator application to translate menus from Bulgarian to English or Spanish (the translation is not so accurate.
45 – In some restaurants or bars you can find that people are smoking. There are not many restaurants that allow it, but if you find it, do not be surprised. Although it is prohibited, there are still places where people smoke while eating or dining
46 – When it comes to customer service, in some places you can find more closed people and sometimes they might be unfriendly, but it is not common at all. If you come across it just let it go. We must also take into account the salary, conditions and professional training of people who work for the client. The best one can do is be prepared for both situations, friendly / edge, and not take it personally.
47 – “Kruchma” is what the typical Bulgarian restaurants are called as, where one can find classic national cuisine, utensils and “table” music as they say here. It is folk music and sometimes you can even find live music with singer and orchestra. It is in those moments when you can see a large part of the restaurant dancing the typical national dance called «Horo»
48 – If for some reason you do not decide what to order or it is simply impossible to understand the menu and the waiter, take a look at the dishes that the Bulgarians have ordered around. That always works and you will surely be amazed at your random choice.
Bulgaria by seasons
According to the data collected in 2017, Bulgaria is visited especially in the summer months between June and August (almost 50%). During the spring and autumn season, the tourism is around 30% and finally winter with a total of 20%, taking in consideration the total arrival of tourists in 2017.
49 – The seasons in Bulgaria are clear; in summer beach and heat and in winter snow and cold. The spring months are very green and autumn is full of colors. Because of that, you have many different types of tourism that you can practice in Bulgaria, according to the season without going into many details
50 – In winter temperatures can go below the 0 degrees. Apart from visiting the city of Sofia and its Vitosha mountain, there is the possibility of practicing winter sports tourism at very competitive prices. The main places are: Bansko and Borovets. On the other hand, visits to villages or attending some of the most interesting traditions (Yordanov den, Kukeri and Trifon Zarezan) are other of the many possibilities the country offers.
51 – Spring and autumn are those seasons that you can practice all types of tourism, except skiing or sun and beach. Variety of routes, festivals, rafting and hiking and interesting destinations are the entertainments you can do around here.
52 – For summer, the same rule explained above is used, adding sun and beach tourism as an option. There are a variety of beaches that are worth going if you are close, but these are the 3 that seem to be the most interesting: Silistar, Bolota, Irakli
Roses and Bulgarian yogurt
53 – Bulgarian yogurt is our national pride. There are different yogurts depending on the type of animal such as: cow, sheep, goat, buffalo or a mixture. This product has been deeply involved in the traditions and customs around the country. Yogurt not only has nutritional properties but also indisputable healing properties. We cannot forget to mention the name of Dr. Estambre Georgiev who was the discoverer of the bacteria. The yogurt museum is located in his hometown, Studen Izvor. It is mandatory to try it and we assure you that you will not be disappointed
54 – The rose that is used for industrial purposes is named Rosa Damascena, and the place where these beautiful flowers grow is the so-called “The Valley of Roses”, about 100 km long. To obtain 1 liter of oil you need 3500 kg of rose petals. Another fact that will catch your attention is that Bulgaria produces 70% of rose oil on an international level. In many gift shops you will see different purchase options related to the rose. The rose festival in Kazanlak between June 1 and 3 is something very interesting to see if you are visiting Bulgaria at this time
55 – These are the places most visited by tourists according to Trip Advisor during the year 2019:
The old town of Nessebar
Alexander Nevski Cathedral
The old town of Plovdiv
The 7 lakes of Rila
The old town of Sozopol
Tsarevets Fortress in Veliko Tarnovo
The Vitosha Mountain in Sofia
Boyana Church in Sofia
- Sofia and its historic center
56 – The Bulgarian monarchy has left these places that have been built during the 20th century for the Bulgarian King, Tsar Boris III. The ones mentioned below are the most prominent, but not all are open to tourists.
• Exinograd – is located in the Varna sea park
• Royal Palace in Sofia – today there is the National Gallery.
• Vrana Park – is located on the outskirts of Sofia and also has a Royal palace.
• Royal Palace in Ruse – today it houses the Ruse History Museum.
• “Tsarska Bistritsa” royal house.
• Royal house in Balchik.
• Krichim royal house
• Saragiol royal house
This list summarises some of the places that are most worth visiting as cities and towns. Each of them has something to teach. For more information on each of these places, take a look at the page and the section that interests you most.
57 – The big cities are: Plovdiv, Veliko Tarnovo, Burgas, Varna, Ruse and Pleven.
58 – Small towns are: Melnik, Nessebar, Tryavna, Bansko, Lovech and Sozopol.
59 – The picturesque villages are: Koprivshtitsa, Kosovo, Shiroka Luka, Kovachevitsa and Bozhentsi
60 – Cultural heritage: Rila Monastery, the old town of Nessebar, Thracian tomb in Kazanlak, Boyana church, Madara rider and the churches Ivanovo
Old town of Nessebar
Thracian tomb in Kazanlak
61 – Intangible heritage: Bistritsa’s grandmothers, “Chiprovski” rugs and the ancient tradition of the “Nestinari”
62 – Natural heritage: National Park Pirin and Natural reserve “Sreburna”.
National Park Pirin
National reserve "Sreburna"
In Bulgaria there are many monasteries and to be exact there are 122. The vast majority of them are located on the outskirts of cities / towns or in the mountains. (Add a short story about them without going into details). In many of the monasteries you have the option to stay and sleep there. Of course, the conditions are not like in a hotel, but as an experience it will be interesting.
63 – These are the most visited monasteries in Bulgaria: Rila Monastery, Bachkovo Monastery and Rozhen Monastery. Always keep in mind the clothing you wear in religious places in Bulgaria. Of course, there are more very nice monasteries scattered throughout the territory and you can see the list of them here. We recommend you to visit these places in long pants and T-shirts that cover the shoulders
64 – The countries next to Bulgaria are also pretty. Geographically, the country is located on the Balkan Peninsula and shares borders with: Romania, Serbia and Macedonia, Greece and Turkey. Coming to Bulgaria one can visit one of the surrounding countries that most attracts his attention, since the distances are quite short. Large differences in culture (Greece) or religion (Turkey) is highly recommended if you have the time to experience it. From Sofia, the distances and the time you will need can be seen below if you go by your own transport. If you go by bus you can add between 1 and 2 hours more. If your option is train, then the journey can be even longer and you can only get to Istanbul by train.
65 – The Soviet army arrived in Bulgaria in 1944 and began to exert a strong influence on the Bulgarian government. In the beginning of 1946, Bulgaria officially became a communist state, but separate from the Soviet Union which lasted until the fall of the Berlin Wall in November 1989. Without going into much detail about this part of the story, below, we will show you the most outstanding places related to this time.
Socialist Art Museum in Sofía
1300 years of Bulgaria en Shumen
Socialist monument in Varna
Alternative tourism is also a modality that can be practiced in Bulgaria and we have briefly summarized which are the ones that predominate and can catch your attention. We hope you like them
66 – Sports tourism that will offer you an opportunity to check how you are and where your physical limit is. The places they pass through are really impressive.
• Dunav Ultra (Cycling) – done by bicycle and the route is along the Danube river. The total distance is 732 kilometers and ends in the Durankolak village located along the Black Sea coast.
• Pirin Ultra (Running) – As the name suggests, this competition takes place in the Pirin mountain. The routes that can be done are 38, 66 and 160 kilometers.
• Persenk Ultra (Running) – It has 3 different routes with a distance of 50, 110 and 160 kilometers. The tour passes through what is considered the most beautiful mountain in Bulgaria, Rhodope.
• Tryavna Ultra (Running) – It has 4 different routes with a length of 23, 42, 76 and 141 kilometers. They all pass through the Balkan Central mountain.
67 – Ecological or green tourism offers great opportunities for tourists to enjoy the diversity and beauty of the Bulgarian nature. You can have nice walks to protected areas through the more than 60 official ecological trails observing birds and animals, conquering peaks and getting acquainted with the unique flora, collecting herbs and mushrooms. Just to mention that Bulgaria has more than 4500 caves found and that many of them can be reached or are open to tourists in exchange for the entrance fee.
68 – Entertainment tourism – without going into details about this type of tourism, just to mention that there are casinos in almost every corner and that alcohol in these places is free if you play and you can do it non-stop, since they are open 24 hours
69 – Medicinal tourism – among the most popular are the SPA centers and specifically the city of Velingrad, considered as the SPA capital of the Balkan peninsula with the best conditions for the practice of this tourism. Bulgaria is the second country with the most geysers in Europe after Iceland. Apart from these characteristics, there are some price advantages with dental specialists and some operations whose costs are well below than the ones other more developed countries have and the quality of these medicinal services remains high.
Traditions, festivals y customs
70 – There is a variety of traditions that are celebrated throughout the year in different parts of the country, but these are among the most popular. They are arranged chronologically. A more detailed description of these traditions can be found on the web.
Yordan’s day – Do you know another mammal, apart from the polar bear, that jumps into the water when there is snow outside and the air temperature is -15 Cº? In our country we have a tradition that is celebrated after New Year’s Eve, that day is January 6. The most suitable place to see it is the city of Kalofer, about 150 km from Sofia.
The Kukeri – If you want to see whimsical faces and terrible masks, this is the place. No, this is not Halloween, but it is something similar that is celebrated throughout our lands during the month of January and February depending on the region. The most popular festival is held in Pernik, the last weekend of January
Tryphon Zarezan or the version of the Bulgarian Valentine’s Day, on the 14th of February. Well, in Bulgaria it is also celebrated, but February 14 is more popular for the love of wine. In the Melnik region very interesting events related to the wine of that area are held annually.
Baba Marta (Grandmother Marta) – Have you seen a Bulgarian with a red and white bracelet? Baba Marta is one of the most important Bulgarian traditions and is celebrated from March 1 to the end of the month. It is quite long, true?
Easter – Painting eggs, kneading “kozunak” and roasted lamb are only part of the tradition around Easter or said in Bulgarian, Velikden. Each year is celebrated on a different date and this depends on the first full moon in spring.
Nestinarstvo – Dancing in fire have ever crossed your mind? Probably not. It is a popular festival that turns into a show with fire and is celebrated on the night of Saint Konstantin and Elena. Where it has been celebrated for many years and the authenticity of the tradition continues to be preserved is the village of Balgari, very close to the border with Turkey and the Black Sea
71 – Festivals are gaining more and more popularity. Some of them are a true natural experience due to their location. In the following list we name some of the most popular in Bulgaria:
Surva International Festival in Pernik Surva.org (the last weekend of January) It is the largest festival in the Balkans and one of the largest in Europe for national games and masks. They are masked men in long hair dresses that look more like animals than people. Apart from this festival, in many parts of the country they are celebrated during the month of January and in some regions, in February.
Chiprovski Carpet Festival (Held on May 5) Rugs are Unesco’s in-material heritage and is celebrated in the village of Chiprovtsi.
Rose Festival in Kazanlak (1-3 June)
Rozhen Festival July 17-19
Solar Summer Festival
International Bagpipe Contest in Gela (the first Saturday in August)
International Jazz Festival in Bansko (August 8 – 13) Banskojazzfest.com It is the largest summer music forum in Bulgaria. The major bands in the jazz world have made it one of the most important international cultural events in the Balkans.
Bulgarian National Folk Art Festival in Koprivshtitsa (mid-August) Held in the picturesque village of Koprivshtitsa. The festival popularizes Bulgarian folklore in an incredible way, bringing together singing and dancing groups from all over the country.
National Folk Costume Festival in Zheravna (The weekend after August 15) It is one of the most picturesque festivals in the country. Every year it is celebrated in the town of Zheravna and it is a “parade” of folk costumes and also national dance competitions. You have to be dressed in the typical clothing for these dances, but take into consideration that the use of “modern technology” (mobile phones, cameras, tablets) is very controlled and you can only use the mobile phone in specific places. What the organisers are trying to do is fully immerse yourself in the festival. I think they achieve it.
Beglika Fest in Rhodope (August 22-27) Beglika.org Organizers describe the festival as follows: “Powerful high abies, gentle barefoot meadows, cool and glamorous waters, and the beaches of Big Beglik. At night: bonfires and drums, a big moon from a black blanket, sweet and sweet stories of strangers who meet once a year. Music during the day all that does not let you leave the dance. And suddenly you are lost in discussions, seminars, yoga and tea.
The YES(s) and NO(s)
72 – Take advantage and join a “HORO” if you can.
73 – Listen to what the Bulgarian bagpipe sounds like
74 – Taste of everything as typical dishes or drinks
75 – Avoid drinking on the street because you can be fined.
76 – Always carry your ID with you because it is mandatory.
77 – Do not turn off your car lights during the day, it is mandatory to be turned on.
78 – Do not cross in zebra crossings without being sure that the car will stop, since here they do not always stop.
79 – Do not get into the taxi if you have not checked the rate in its window.
Tips for responsable tourism
We will explain exactly what sustainable tourism is and some tips that will help you practice it on your trip to Bulgaria or any other destination. You will see that there are not only tips to preserve the environment.
- Don’t waste food. Try ordering or filling your plate with the amount of food you can actually eat.
- Any interesting event during your trip? Do not hesitate and go. Learn and socialize with the locals. Live the event like them.
- Learn to say a few words in the local language. This can help you connect with the local community and its people in a more meaningful way.
- Do some research online and give preference to staying in places or buying only from companies that you know have sustainable practices and are not harmful to the environment.
- Stop printing booking confirmations and boarding passes, instead have digital copies of these documents.
- We know, it’s difficult, but avoid creating your latest collection of tourist brochures. Then they all end up in the same place. Try to find everything you need on the net.
There are many more and you can find them here.
Choose gifts well
For lovers of gifts and you want to buy something that differs from the typical magnet, postcard or keychain, there are some very interesting gift options that will most likely surprise those who take them away. This is a list of gifts that, depending on their characteristics, will come closest to your expectations: kilim, tarlutsi, toy gaida, Gifted Sofia and other great places for gifts.
Luggage and lockers
All of us at some point in our trip need to leave our bags somewhere for a certain time. The fastest and best option is where you stay; hotel, hostel, Airbnb, etc. If this possibility is not available, bus, train and airport stations can offer this service. In Sofia there are several places in the center where they can store your suitcase for a certain time. Currently they are as follows; Gifted Sofia, and the central train station.