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Bulgaria Travel Guide: All you need to know to visit Bulgaria in 2023

Welcome to Bulgaria

Bulgaria is located on the Balkan Peninsula, between Greece and Turkey. It has a population of around 7 million people, and the capital city, Sofia, is home to more than 1.5 million inhabitants.

The country has a rich history, culture, and natural beauty that has been attracting tourists for centuries. It offers visitors the chance to explore its ancient ruins, enjoy its beautiful landscapes and experience its vibrant nightlife.

Here you will find the ultimate Bulgaria travel guide to plan your next vacation.

Document checklist for Bulgaria

  • Visa

  • Health Declaration

  • Valid passport

  • Sufficient funds

  • Return airline ticket

Essential Bulgaria travel information

  • Currency - The official currency is the Bulgarian Lev (BGN). USD 1 is equivalent to approx. BGN 1.90.

  • Daily budget for 1 person - The daily budget per person is around BGN 100 (USD 52).

  • Languages - Bulgarian.

  • Socket type - For Bulgaria, there are two associated plug types, types C and F. Bulgaria operates on a 230V supply voltage and 50Hz.

  • Time zone - Eastern European Standard Time (GMT+02:00).

  • Top 3 cities to visit - Sofia, Plovdiv, and Bansko.

  • Top 3 landmarks/monuments - Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, Stadium of Philippopolis in Plovdiv, and Tsarevets Fortress.

Visa information for Bulgaria

Although we don’t carry out the Bulgaria visa process at the moment, we do offer a very important document for your trip, the Bulgaria Travel Declaration.

Bulgaria Travel Declaration explained

The Bulgaria Travel Declaration is a health form introduced by the Bulgarian government that is aimed at reducing the risks associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.

This document is valid for a Single Entry; you must apply for one every time you travel to Bulgaria. It is only valid on entry to the country.

Typical costs and budget for Bulgaria

Here you will find an essential guide to the average cost of living when visiting Bulgaria.

Daily spending per person - You will spend around BGN 100 (USD 52) per day.

  • Meals - Each meal is about BGN 24 (USD 12).

  • Transport - Local transport BGN 20 (USD 10).

  • Hotel - A room for one is around BGN 54 (USD 28), and BGN 108 (USD 56) for a couple.

A week-long vacation to Bulgaria usually costs around BGN 697 (USD 366) for one person. Consequently, a two-person trip to Bulgaria costs around BGN 1,395 (USD 732) for one week.

As you can see, it’s relatively cheap to visit this unexplored jewel in Southeastern Europe!

Transport and ways to travel around Bulgaria

Public transport has improved as more travelers visit Bulgaria, so it will be pretty easy to get around in this country. It has short and long-distance bus routes that will take you to various different places within cities. This is the most popular and most economical method of transport. You will also find trains that connect to neighboring countries such as Turkey, Greece, and Serbia, among others, and that also connect to other cities in Bulgaria.

If you are going to take a taxi, check the fare before boarding because otherwise, your trip may be more expensive than you thought. Keep an eye on the taxi meter!

Finally, if you want to have more freedom, you can rent your own car. The price is reasonable, and it’s the best way to discover places and see the country's beautiful landscapes.

Safety in Bulgaria

Bulgaria is a very safe country to explore. Crime rates are low. However, you should always take care to travel safely, so you don’t have any problems.

Bulgaria is generally very safe, and its people, just like in other Balkan countries, are quite friendly. However, even though it is secure and crime rates in Bulgaria are not high, you should always use your common sense when outside and around the main tourist destinations.

Weather in Bulgaria

You should choose the season to travel depending on what you like and want to see in Bulgaria.

Bulgaria has several seasons; between June and August, you have the longest but hottest days, with 30°C (86°F) or higher, on which you can enjoy the sandy beaches.

Suppose you don’t want to be there during the summertime because the heat is not your thing, in that case, you can visit in the spring season, from April to May. When the temperatures are perfect, especially on the Black Sea coast, due to the climatic influences of the Mediterranean.

However, if you want to do winter sports, Bulgaria has cold temperatures starting in October: the perfect plan for those who like this type of season and like to see the beauty of the snow covering the roofs of houses and buildings.

Popular cities and towns in Bulgaria

We give you a small list of the most beautiful and major cities you should get to know when you visit Bulgaria.

  • Sofia - Bulgaria’s capital and the biggest city, where art and culture mix to create a vibrant and beautiful place. Its architectural splendor will leave you speechless, as it has a variety of historical monuments and tourist attractions. It is a lovely metropolis with a great city center where you can eat, drink coffee and enjoy the good life. If you want a panoramic view of the city, you can go to Vitosha mountain, which is perfect for watching the sunset as well.

  • Plovdiv - The second largest city in Bulgaria, with an impressive ancient history surrounded by Balkan mountains. How about enjoying a good glass of wine while enjoying the city's cultural vibe? Wine cellars are very popular in this city, so you can enjoy a good drink wherever you are. You can also explore incredible places in the city center: the 2nd-century Roman Amphitheater, the Ethnographic Museum, or the Balabanov House, as well as churches with staggering architecture.

  • Bansko - A city known for its ski slopes in the Pirin mountains, which compete with France and Switzerland's slopes at much lower prices. Here you can practice different snow sports, enjoy good restaurants and enjoy jazz bars and Bulgarian taverns.

  • Burgas - Burgas is a secret wonder to visit. The western Bulgarian coast is welcoming as not many tourists visit it, making it even more special if you want to escape the crowds and relax on a good beach.

  • Varna - One of the best-known cities in Bulgaria, with many things to surprise you. The city is located on the coast of Varna Bay on the Black Sea. You can visit the Archaeological Museum of Varna, and the Cathedral of the Assumption of the Virgin, and explore the Golden Sands. A place to relax on your holiday, as you can find spas, beaches, and exceptional restaurants. It’s no wonder the old Roman Empire vacationed in this part of Bulgaria; its very relaxing.

Must do and see in Bulgaria

There is much to explore in Bulgaria. This territory was once the tremendous Bulgarian Empire, and you can still appreciate the details left behind by the empire. You will also find significant and symbolic contrasts with the Ottoman Empire that preceded it.

Check out these historic sites and the most incredible beauty of nature in Bulgaria:

  1. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral - One of the most important and symbolic buildings in Bulgaria. It’s located in the capital city of Sofia, and it’s among the ten most significant Eastern Orthodox Christian church buildings. Its grandeur robs all the attention of visitors who wish to explore and know more about this cathedral built between 1882 and 1912. The cathedral was created in honor of the Russian soldiers who died during the Russo-Turkish War, as a result of which Bulgaria was liberated from Ottoman rule.

  2. Stadium of Philippopolis in Plovdiv - It is an ancient theatre that should be a must-see when you are in Bulgaria. The theatre was built in the 2nd century AD and is one of the oldest theatres in the world. It’s still used for performances, so you could try to go to one.

  3. Tsarevets Fortress - It is one of the most impressive fortresses in Europe, dating from medieval times. It’s where the royal and patriarchal palaces were located during the Second Bulgarian Empire, which ruled the region between the 12th and 14th centuries AD. You’ll find ancient ruins and more than 400 houses and churches that will make you feel as if time has remained intact. Climbing the fortress is not easy, so wear comfortable shoes to explore it.

  4. Pirin National Park - It is a national treasure that preserves the natural grandeur of 70 glacial lakes, forests, and different species of animals, such as brown bears, wild boars, and gray wolves, among others. The park is perfect for hiking, cycling between the alpine meadows, or fishing by the waterfalls.

  5. Rila Monastery - One of the most beautiful monuments in Bulgaria. It’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a place not to be missed, located between the Rila mountains. It was founded in the 10th century and had great historical and cultural significance. This Eastern Orthodox monastery is an architectural beauty. Still active, it is home to 60 monks living and working in tranquility.

Typical Bulgarian food to try

Local food will always be one of the best options to know a country, and Bulgaria is no exception. Here are some of the best dishes of Bulgarian food you should try.

  • Shopska salad - It is Bulgaria's most traditional and popular salad. Its ingredients are cucumbers, tomatoes, and white cheese. Its straightforward to make and delicious.

  • Tarator - A cold summer soup. Its ingredients are cucumbers, yogurt, and water. Very delicious and perfect for cooling down in summer.

  • French fries with sirene - Bulgarians love fries, so you’ll find this dish in every restaurant. These particular fries have salted cheese, making their flavor stand out uniquely.

Are you ready to taste Bulgarian cuisine?

Vaccine information for Bulgaria

Here you will find all the Bulgaria travel tips and information you need about the Covid vaccine and other requirements to enter the country. Just click on the CDC website.

Bulgarians invented Cyrillic

The early Cyrillic alphabet was developed during the First Bulgarian Empire, and it’s used across Russia, Ukraine, and many Balkan countries.

Fun facts about Bulgaria

  • Bulgaria produces between 70% and 80% of the world’s rose oil, making it the largest producer on the planet. Rose oil obtained from roses produced in the Rose Valley in the country is called “Bulgarian Gold.”

  • The best yogurt in the world is produced in Bulgaria. The bacteria that gives you the taste of yogurt is only found in this country.

  • Bulgaria is the second European country with the most extensive natural mineral spring resources.

  • The Varna Gold Treasure is the oldest in the world: a collection of ancient gold found in a cemetery on the outskirts of the Black Sea city of Varna.

  • Bulgaria has been part of the European Union since 2007.

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  • iVisa is NOT affiliated with any government agency. This site does not provide legal advice and we are not a law firm. None of our customer service representatives are lawyers and they also do not provide legal advice. We are a private, internet-based travel and immigration consultancy provider dedicated to helping individuals travel around the world. You may apply by yourself directly on the various government websites. The source of information: https://www.mfa.bg/en/services-travel/consular-services/travel-bulgaria/visa-bulgaria
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