What to know about Bulgaria

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Bulgaria is located in the East of Europe and has everything you need for an amazing vacation. There are mountains, historical cities and lies at the Black Sea.

General Emergency number: 112

  • Police: 166
  • Ambulance: 150
  • Fire: 160

General information about Bulgaria

When people go to Bulgaria, most people visit the capital Sofia or go partying or relaxing at Sunny Beach, but this country is so much more than Sofia and Sunny beach.

Some general information that you need to know:

  • Capital: Sofia
  • Currency: Bulgarian Lev (BGN)
  • Official language: Bulgarian
  • Largest religion: Christianity
  • Neighbouring countries: Greece, Republic of Macedonia, Romania, Serbia and Turkey
  • Surface: 110,994 km2
  • Inhabitants: 6,966,899 (2020)
  • Independence: 22 September 1908

Some information that is important to know before you go:

  • In Bulgaria it’s one hour later than in Belgium.
  • Special holiday in Bulgaria: March 1 = Baba Marta.
  • Baba Marta means “Grandma March”, it is a mythology of a feisty lady who begins spring cleaning in early March. She knocks out the mattresses and feathers swirl out of them. This symbolizes the last snow of the season. Winter is over, and spring has begun. So, on the first of March, people wear a wristband (martenitsa) which symbolizes happiness and health. It is a red and white intertwined thread where the white color represents the man, and the red thread represents the woman. They provide new life. It is also sometimes hung in a tree for good luck in the new year, it protects against evil spirits.
  • In restaurants and cafes, it is customary to leave a tip. In hotels, you can tip 1-2 Lev(a) to the person delivering luggage. For the chambermaid, you can tip 1 Lev per day.

Basic Bulgarian:

  • Hello, good day = zdraveĭte, dobŭr den
  • How are you? = kak se pravish
  • Thank you = blagodarya
  • Good bye = dovíždane
  • Yes = da ; no = ne

Read more about what to do in Bulgaria in my blog 10-day road trip in Bulgaria.

Weather and landscape in Bulgaria

In Bulgaria there are two climates: the Continental climate which is in the North and the Mediterranean climate in the South. The winters can get cold in the North with snowfalls and frosts. Temperatures can even drop below minus 10 degrees Celsius. During the summer it gets hot with temperatures above 30 degrees Celsius.

The best time to book your vacation is between May and September. Keep in mind that in July and August it can get really hot.

The landscape is diverse from swamps to mountain peaks. Through Bulgaria runs the Balkan Mountains (a mountain range in Europe). The highest peak in the Balkans is the Botev (2,376 meters). Wolves, bears, and wild boars are found in this mountain range.

The highest mountain in Bulgaria is Musala, located not in the Balkans but in Rila Mountains. The Musala is 2,925 meters. Then you have the Vihren (2,914 meters), this is also not in the Balkans but in the Pirin Mountains.

Read about hiking in the Rila National Park in my blog Seven Rila Lakes in Bulgaria.

Transport in Bulgaria

It’s easy to take public transport between big cities like Sofia, Varna, Burgas, Plovdiv and Ruse and it’s not expensive but it takes a long time to get to your destination. Most of the time it takes a few hours extra and sometimes almost double the time that you would do by car. You can check out their website. You can take busses to villages and other places which you can check out at the Tourist office. Bulgaria is a good country to backpack around, you will always find a way to get somewhere.

An easier and faster way to discover Bulgaria is by car. The roads are good, and they drive quite safe in this country. You can also visit the big cities by public transport and rent a car for the last day(s) to discover some remote places.

Food in Bulgaria

Breakfast is often coffee with sweet or savory rolls. The many snack bars, where you can get a dönner kebab, sandwiches and pizza, make sure you won’t get hungry. In Bulgaria you will also find “sladkarnitsas” which are a sort of tearooms with delicious cakes.

Lunch and dinner are usually both hot meals. Bulgarians often eat stew with grilled meat, along the coast it’s mostly fish. Often used ingredients in Bulgaria are Yogurt and cheese, herbs like dill and chubritsa which is similar to oregano.

  • Popular mezes as an appetizer: grape leaves stuffed with smoked ham and Bulgarian cheeses (sirene and kashkaval).
  • Sirene po shopski: dish prepared in an earthenware pot. It is melted cheese, tomato, egg and bell bell pepper.
  • Tarator: cold cucumber soup with yogurt, dill, walnut and garlic.
  • Shop cheese salad: bell pepper, onion, tomato and grated sheep’s cheese.
  • Bell peppers and puff pastry flap filled with cheese.
  • Baklava (from Turkey) and moussaka (from Greece) can also be found here.

If you order a coffee in Bulgaria, they assume you mean espresso (i.e., you get a small cup of strong coffee, just like in Italy). For a normal coffee, ask for a Schwartz café or Dulgo kafé (“long coffee”).

Ayran is often drunk, it’s a yogurt drink originally from Turkey.

Bulgaria has many of its own wines and beers. A well-known brandy made from apricots or grapes that is drunk there is called rakija.

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