Bulgaria from A to Z

A
Accommodation

It is still best to arrive in Bulgaria with pre booked accommodation, as it is often cheaper than booking locally. There have been major developments in the availability of modern, clean and well-run private hotels throughout the country - in particular popular tourist destinations.

Adventure
River rafting, scuba diving, horse back riding, rock climbing, mountain biking and paragliding are available in Bulgaria. Bulgaria has to offer an adventure in more than 100 amazing caves. To reach most of them you will need special equipment and guides. If you seek for adventures visit recently built eco-trails in different regions of the country. The eco-paths are combinations of tiny wooden bridges situated over the roaring waters of a certain river and wooden ladders that climb almost vertically steep rocky precipices.

Airport
Sofia's airport is located ten kilometres (six miles) east of the city centre. Aiport facilities include several 24 hour change offices (but change rates at the airport are really bad); as well as left-luggage facilities, bars, fast-food outlets and car hire from Avis and Hertz. No arrival or departure tax.
Bulgaria air and Hemus air are main airline companies in the country. Wizz Air is the first low cost airline landing in Bulgaria since September 2005. All main European airlines have flights to Bulgaria: Malev, British airways, Air France, Lufthansa ect.

ATM
You will find a lot Aautomatic Teller Machines in the centers of big cities, at Sofia airport, at the central rail stations. Most accept credit cards are MasterCard, Maestro, Cirrus, JCB, Visa, Visa Electron. The maximum amount depends on the issuing ATM provider. Please contact your bank.

B
Banks

Several banks offer accounts for foreign currencies. One of them is Bulbank, the main branch is opposite to the Sheraton Hotel in Sofia. Working hours of banks and financial institutions are 9.00 a.m. to 4.00 p.m.

Beaches
Bulgaria is a place endowed by the Creator's generosity. Sandy beaches along the Black Sea are waiting for you in summer to relax and have great fun. Whether it is unspoiled nature or a non-stop party you are after, you can find it at the Black Sea.

C
Cars

Cars speed limit inside the city is 50 km/h, outside 90 km/h, on the higways 120 km/h. Trucks, buses inside the city 50 km/h, outside 80 km/h, higways 100 km/h.
Keep right.You can use your national license. Road signs follow international standards. Fastened seat belts are obligatory. No highways fees now, but there are plans to introduce them.

Climate
All season destination. Bulgaria has a continental climate, summers are generally hot, winters are cold. It is the coldest in January (average -2 degrees Celsius; between -5 to 5), warmest in August (average 22 degrees Celsius; 26 to 30 degrees Celsius). Annual rainfall 645mm (25.4 inches).

Clubs
Bulgaria's nightlife is divided into discos for dancing, flash nightclubs for watching and occasionally dancing, trendy bars with DJ music after 10.00 p.m., plentiful strip clubs and the latest craze - piano bars.

D
Disabled Access

Generally the consideration for people with disabilities in Bulgaria is lamentable. Since the European Year for disabled, gradual improvements are being made. Most office buildings do not have wheelchair access, though some new business centers do. Slowly non-governmental organization are changing the situation and an eco-trail with disables access was opened recently near Bansko in Pirin Mountain.

Doctors
The general opinion is that there are many good doctors in Bulgaria but the healthcare system as a whole is outmoded by several decades. Emergency medical care is rendered to all persons by the closest health care institution. Not all countries have reciprocal health care agreements with Bulgaria, and you should check whether you are covered.

Drugs
Drug use is illegal. It is illegal to import drugs, or take any back home with you.

E
Eating out

Bulgarian cuisine is one of the tastiest in Europe. Fresh fruits and vegetables are half the secret of Bulgarian food. There are plenty of nice restaurants serving Bulgarian traditional dishes and a few specialized on other cuisines. Although restaurants vary widely in terms of decor, service and prices. They are usually open between 11.00 a.m. and 11.00 p.m.

Embassies
A big number of embassies and diplomatic missions are settled in capita of Bulgaria. Such include: Albania, Algeria, Argentina, China, Denmark, Egypt, Morocco, South Korea, USA, UK, Spain ect.

Entry
Foreign nationals may enter the country with a valid international passport and a visa where required. ID cards are not accepted.

Exit
Visitors not staying in a hotel must register at the local police station within 48 hours, together with the ID card of their host. Be advised not to stay more than what the permit allows you, otherwise you might face some unpleasant charges.

F
Folklore

Bulgarians are proud of their folklore – music, dances, crafts and traditional holidays. Justifiably as the music is highly developed artistically, and is greatly respected worldwide. A song from Rodope Mountain “Izlel e Delyo Haydutin” was sent to open space together with the music of Beethoven and Mozart to seek for other forms of life in the Universe.

Flag
Three equal horizontal bands of white (top), green, and red. Colors as taught to schoolchildren: white for the snow capped mountains, green for fields and the valleys and red for the blood shed in the fight for freedom.

G
Golf
At the present time there are only 3 golf courses in the whole of Bulgaria: one at Elin Pelin, near the capital, Sofia, and two owned by Air Sofia. These are located at Ihtiman, opened in 2000, 40km from Sofia, and at Sliven, opened in 2004, 90km from the Black Sea. Because of the increasingly rapid rise in foreign interest in Bulgaria recently, several more golf courses are proposed. One of these will be located at Razgrad, in the north-east, about 90km from the Black Sea. More are scheduled to open in the next few years: two at Kavarna and one at Primorsko, near Sozopol...

Government
Republic of Bulgaria is an independent parliamentary democracy. Chief of the state is the President. While executive power lies with the Chairman of the Council of Ministers (Prime Minister) and cabinet elected by the National Assembly

H
Hitchhiking

Hitchhiking during the summer is relatively safe, still you need your 'hitchhiker's sence' to consider which person's car you can hop. The good thing about Bulgaria is that there's nowhere forbidden zone - you can wave your thumb whenever you want. Using a boards with names of the cities is not common, also on a gaz stations but you can give it a try.

Hospitality
Bulgarians can over-whelm with hospitality. Most importantly remember that shaking your head means “yes” and nodding means “no”. It can cause great confusion and it is best always to say word.

I
Insurance

Insurance of foreign citizens is normally included in the tourist packages. Foreign tourists may also enter with insurances by foreign insurance companies or they can be insured in Bulgaria.

J
Jacuzzi

Just for the last year 3 five stars spa complexes were opened in different areas of the country. All the ski resorts and hotels on the Black Sea offer accommodation with fitness centres, swimming pools, saunas, fully equipped gyms and all sports and spa facilities. There, you can revitalize, relax, exercise, lose weight and enjoy some exotic body pampering.

K
Kilometers

Bulgaria uses the European metric system for weight, lengh, distance and area. 1 mile – 1.609 kilometers, 1 pound (lb) – 0.45 kilograms, 1 galon – 4.55 litres

Kukeri
One of the most interesting festivals in Bulgaria is Kukeri Games. Local men in animal costumes and grotesque masks drive away evil spirits with orgiastic dances and mark the start of spring. Memorable folk festivals from January until Easter take place in Razlog, Pernik, Eleshnitsa and Shiroka Laka.

L
Local info

Republic of Bulgaria
Population: 7,517,973 (2003), where of 1.189.043 (2003) in Sofia (estimated)
Capital city: Sofia
Initials: BG
Area: 110.994 sq. km
Bordering countries: Greece, Macedonia, Romania, Turkey, Serbia and Montenegro
Ethnic: Bulgarian 83.9 percent, Turk 9.4 percent, Roma 4.7 percent, other 2 percent (including Macedonian, Armenian, Tatar, Circassian) (2001)
Religion: Bulgarian Orthodox 82.6 percent, Muslim 12.2 percent, Roman Catholic 1.7 percent, Jewish 0.1 percent, Protestant, Gregorian-Armenian, and other 3.4 percent
Daylight Saving Time: Last Sunday of March til last Sunday of October
Time: Central European Time (CET). Normally GMT + 2 hours except from the last Sunday in March until the last Sunday in October (summer time counting) GMT + 3 hours.
Electricity: 220 Volts, round two-pin plugs are in use.
Video system: PAL/SECAM
International Country Code: +359, Sofia +3592, mobile phone codes: 0888 0887 0886(M), 0898 0899 (Globul), 048 (Mobikom)
Language: Bulgarian, Cyrillic alphabet
Money: Bulgarian Leva – BGN; one Lev is made up of 100 stotinki, coins: 5, 10, 20, 50 stotinki & 1 Lev;
Banknotes: 2, 5, 10, 20, 50, 100 BGN, it is tied to the Euro and the exchange rate is fixed at
EURO 1 = BGN 1,95
(Some of the exchange offices located in the center charge commission)

M
Mountains

Bulgaria is walkers' paradise. Thousands of kilometers of way marked trails join a network of mountain huts, offering access to remote and beautiful alpine terrain. The meadows, forests, ridges and circuses of ranges like the Rodopi and Vitosha mountains were the hideouts of the patriots, poets and revolutionaries who fought for the nation state that is modern Bulgaria.
Bulgaria offers the walker an unspoiled solitude not to be found in other European countries. Routes are spanning seven mountain ranges, from the 30-day crossing of the country via Stara Planina to the compact delights of the Vitosha traverse, which can walked in a long weekend from Sofia.

N
Nudity

Almost every beach along the Black Sea has areas for nudists. Even some of the wildest areas are places where nudist built their camps and live natural life of Adam and Eva.

Nestinary
Nestinarstvo (dance on fire), which nowadays can be seen at any tourist resort on the Black Sea, originates on a Thracian solar ritual. Man and women in traditional costumes dance with an icon on burning coils in trance for prosperity and fertility.

O
Orthodox monasteries

During the Ottoman domination (l5th -l9th century), and particularly during the period of the National Revival (l8th-l9th century), the monastic communities acquired a key role in Bulgaria's public life as the monasteries turned into animated sociopolitical and artistic centres. During the same period there also appeared significant works of the Bulgarian church monumental painting. The ornamentation of the main church and the chapels in the Rila Monastery as well as of the churches in the Troyan, Preobrazhenie, Kapinovo, Gornovodene, Lopoushanovo, Gornolozen and other monasteries is exceptional in scope and artistic merit, created by the most distinguished masters, representatives of the major arts centres in Bulgaria - Tryavna, Samokov and Bansko. It was through their artistry that the Bulgarian church painting came out from the standstill and freed itself from the dryness and rigidity that the canonical rules had imposed. The art of painting was already suffused with the vitality and spontaneity inbred in folklore, its bright colours responded to the high and optimistic ideals and the revived spirit of a nation.

P
Paneurhythmy

“The entire world renders homage to me and I render homage to the Master Petar Deunov from Bulgaria” ALBERT EINSTEIN
One of the most interesting philosophers and spiritual leaders of 20-th century is Bulgarian spiritual teacher Petar Deunov. The Mission of the Master Peter Deunov (Beinsa Douno) was to open the epoch of the cosmic-spiritual spring on Earth and to provide practical knowledge for the ascent of humanity into the Kingdom of God. He created The dance of Angels – Paneurhythmy. The dance is based on a deep knowledge of the Laws of energy, radiation, frequency and the correlation between tone, form, movement, color, geometry and an idea. Movements correspond to tones, and as we dance the concept of giving, receiving and renewal, we allow the Earth and Cosmos to do the same. Through us, the Earth opens her portals, her point of power, to give of her energies, to receive of the Light. Paneurhythmy is an inter-dimensional doorway that revitalizes our entire being. Every year at the end of August White Brotherhood gathers near the Seven Rila Lakes. Thousand of people dance in 3 circles of light and love.

Public holidays

  • 3rd of March Signing of the San Stefano peace treaty in 1878, which secured the liberation of Bulgaria from the Turks
    Orthodox Easter (Sunday and Monday), date depends on the year.
  • 1st of May Labour Day
  • 24th of May Day of the Cyrillic alphabet, created by Saints Cyril and Methodius
  • 6th of September Union Day, when the Ottoman protectorate of Eastern Rumelia was freed to join the independent Bulgarian Principality (in 1885)
  • 22nd of September Bulgarian Independence Day (Independence from influence by European countries 1908)
  • 24th, 25th of December Christmas holidays
  • 31st of December and 1st of January New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day

Q
Quality

Bulgaria in the last 10 years changed from post communist country to a modern European state on the Balkans. A financial help from EU and US is helping for economical growth and for political stability. Slowly the image of Bulgaria is changing and you will find Sofia not so different from the other modern European capitals. The ski resorts have to offer great ski runs both for professionals and beginners.

R
Revival

The National Revival is a key period in Bulgarian history. It refers to the revival or renaissance of national culture after centuries of oppression by the Ottoman Turks. A lot of villages kept their unspoiled by modern civilization atmosphere. Nowadays we can visit them as a part of the rural destinations in Bulgaria and to travel back in time..

S
Safety

Be careful with your valuables and better leave them in the safe of your hotel. Some Bulgarians may not be against picking up a camera or wallet if it’s there for the taking.

Sunflower fields
Every summer, the fields of the Balkan Range are bathed in sunflowers, a dazzling sight as you’re driving by.

Shopping
In the case of supermarkets, food and grocery shops regular opening hours are: Mondays until Saturdays 9 am until 7 pm. You can find 24 hours supermarkets and restaurants that operate 24 hours. Also you will find even selling on the streets souvenirs for present. The great variety from traditional art handiworks to old and modern icons.

T
Telecommunications

Local and international telephone calls can be made from hotel rooms and public phones on the streets. New communication technologies are widely available. Local mobile companies have agreements with the major international operators.

Thracian heritage
Bulgaria is famous to entire world with the Thracian gold treasures found in 20-th century on the territory.

Transport
Bulgaria has a well-developed network of public intercity bus and train transportations.

U
Unique

Ritch spiritual traditions, nature miracles, and an intact Old World culture are the treasures of mountainous Bulgaria. Ruins from Thracian tombs and temples, Muslim sacred places, villages were time has known to stand still and ruins of the sacral town of Perperikon can be visited only for 1 day. Lush green hills, fertile plains, magnificent gorges, health spas and amazing waterfalls mixed in such small teritory make Bulgaria a unique destination. Nestling at the heart of East-South Europe, Bulgaria is a museum under the open sky.

V
Valley of roses

Bulgaria is famous for its oleaginous rose, which bloom in the Valley of Roses. The rose picking season starts in the beginning of June with a Festival of the Rose in towns of Kazanlik and Karlovo

W
Water

Bulgaria occupies one of the first places among the European countries and Mediterranean area on the quantity of underwater mineral springs; many of them are unique by their chemical composition and curative effects. Here you can meet any kind of mineral water, existing in nature. The curative mud, extracted from the bottom of coastal bays and estuaries offers the variety of service on curative therapy. The country boasts over 300 curative hot mineral springs, most of them converted today into modern spa resorts, featuring state of the art facilities, equipment and highly trained medical staff.

Wine
Bulgaria may well be the first geographical region where vines were planted and wine produced. As a whole, however, Bulgaria continued the traditions of South and East European wine making, producing light, often over oxidized wines for immediate consumption. Especially after the fall of the communist government Bulgarian wine has been growing in popularity and is making its own niche on Western and World markets.

X
Xenophobia

Not to be tolerated in any form! We are proud to be tolerant and multicultural.

Y
Yogurt

Yogurt is a semi-solid fermented milk product which originated centuries ago in Bulgaria. Home made Bulgarian yogurt is something you should taste in your rural adventure to Bulgarian villages.

Yachting
Yacht cruises and charters are available at most of the big sea resorts in Bulgaria as Sunny Beach, Nessebar, Albena, and Varna. The Black Sea cost has a lot of marinas if you are on travel by your own boat.

Z
Zagovezni

Full of beauty, gaiety and a healthy love of life, the Bulgarian festivals and customs date back to ancient times. Sirni zagovezni - the cheese fasting day is time for forgiveness – the young ask the old for forgiveness, children apologize to their parents, they kiss the hand of the elderly saying: "Forgive me, mother, father...". "You are forgiven, God will forgive you" is the obligatory response that follows.






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