Frequently Asked Questions

  • 1. Where is Bulgaria?

    Bulgaria is located on the Balkan Peninsula in Southeast Europe. It is bordered by Romania on the north, Greece and Turkey on the south, Serbia and Macedonia on the west, and the Black Sea on the east. See a map of Bulgaria.

  • 2. Do I need a visa to enter Bulgaria?

    For residents of the EU and the USA, no visa is required for up to a 90-day stay in Bulgaria. For information about other countries, see the following site: http://www.mfa.bg/en/pages/109/index.html

  • 3. Is it safe for foreigners in Bulgaria?

    Bulgaria is a relatively safe country with little crime. Old world hospitality is still alive and well in most parts of the country. People tend to be friendlier to foreigners, especially those in need of help, than they are to their own countrymen.

  • 4. Is it safe to be out at night?

    Generally speaking yes, although there are certainly neighborhoods in the big cities where you would not want to be out at night. Check with your hotel or friends to make sure you avoid dangerous areas.

  • 5. What is the country’s emergency telephone number?


  • 6. What Bulgarian customs should I be aware of?

    Bulgarians famously shake their head sideways for "yes" and up and down for "no". This is confusing for foreigners and can lead to many amusing misunderstandings.

  • 7. What currency is used for daily transactions in the country?

    At present, only BGN (lev) is accepted. The official currency of the country is the lev, which is equal to 100 stotinki.

  • 8. What is the best way to exchange currency?

    Foreign cash may be exchanged in licensed change bureaus, banks or hotels. Banks and Hotels generally charge commissions or offer slightly less favorable rates, but change bureaus carry the risk of hidden fees that can be exorbitant. Ask a trusted local for advice before changing money in a change bureau, or have them do it for you.
    The Bulgarian Lev is pegged to the Euro in a fixed exchange rate of 1.95576 Leva to 1 Euro.

  • 9. Is the use of credit cards wide spread?

    In large stores, hotels, and catering and entertainment establishments, the following credit cards are generally accepted: Visa, MasterCard, American Express and Diners Club. In smaller stores, hotels, and catering and entertainment establishments, it is necessary to pay in cash. Cash is available from banks and ATMs all around the country. Some ATMs accept only local cards, so be sure to use a machine clearly labeled with the international symbol of your card company.

  • 10. Is the water in Bulgaria safe to drink?

    Bulgarians are proud of the high quality of their drinking water and are usually offended by foreigners who filter tap water for no good reason. There are many public springs and faucets, which are usually OK to drink. If you are unsure, ask a local for advice.

  • 11. Where are the international airports in the country?

    There are international airports in Sofia, Plovdiv, Varna and Burgas. Direct charter flights are available to the Black Sea airports in Varna and Burgas during the summer season.

  • 12. Which are the mobile operators in the country?

    Vivacom, Telenor and Mtel. They cover the entire territory of the country. They maintain 2G, 3G and 4G networks and GSM 900/1800.

  • 13. What are the speed limits for motor vehicles in Bulgaria?

    50 km/h in populated areas;

    90 km/h outside populated areas;

    130 km/h on limited access highways.

  • 14. Can I rent a car in Bulgaria?

    Visitors can hire motor vehicles from one of the international rent-a-car companies such as Hertz, Budget, Eurocar, and others. Also, many hotels now offer this service through licensed Bulgarian car rental companies.

  • 15. Bulgaria is located in which time zone?

    Bulgaria is located in the Eastern European Time Zone, which is GMT (Greenwich Mean Time) +2 hours.

    Bulgaria Timezone

  • 16. What is the electric voltage in the country?

    220 V,

    50 Hz.

  • 17. What is the climate in Bulgaria?

    Bulgaria has 4 seasons. Most of the country enjoys lengthy spring and fall seasons, and short but intense winters and summers. Winter is longer at high elevations. Weather forecasts are available online. The climate in the country is temperate continental, with Mediterranean influence in the southern parts. The Black Sea influences the climate in the eastern part of the country. There are about 2,000 sunny hours from May to October. During the winter, the mountains are particularly suitable for winter sports.

  • 18. Which season is best for visiting the country?

    The most appropriate time for a visit depends on the reason for your trip. The most suitable months for skiing are December, January, February and March. If you are interested in visiting the Black Sea beaches – June, July, August and September. If you are a hiker or camper, or taking a cultural tour of Bulgaria, the most appropriate times are the late spring, the beginning of summer and early autumn. Any time of year is a good time to visit one of Bulgaria’s many spa resorts.

  • 19. Which are the largest sea resorts?

    Sunny Beach, Golden Sands, Albena, Dyuni, Elenite, MMC Primorsko, St. Konstantin and St. Helena and the cities of Varna and Burgas.

  • 20. Which are the country’s best-known mountain resorts?

    Borovets, Pamporovo, Bansko and Vitosha.

  • 21. What are the typical Bulgarian foods ?

    Bulgarian cuisine is relatively simple and delicious, packed with fresh foods, cheese, yogurt, and many regional specialties. Here are some of the most common foods you will find around Bulgaria:

    Banitsa - A hand formed pastry usually filled with feta cheese. Can also be filled with leeks or spinach. Sometimes filled with pumpkin or apple as a special treat. You can find it sold on the street or at shop windows fresh from the oven.

    Shopska Salad - The shopi region is the area around Sofia, but this salad is popular everywhere in the Balkans and is offered at almost every restaurant in Bulgaria. It consists of chopped cucumbers, tomatoes, onions and peppers, garnished with a mound of shredded feta cheese piled on top.

    Moussaka - A baked dish similar to shepherd’s pie. Made of ground meat and potatoes covered by a blanket of cream and eggs. Sometimes offered using eggplant in place of ground meat.

    Lyutenitsa - A delicious pepper and tomato spread used as a condiment with various meats and as a topping on bread or toast.

    Shkembe Chorba - Tripe soup. A classic Bulgarian meal served warm with garlic,vinegar and hot peppers. Not for the faint of heart, but definitely a must try culinary experience for the intrepid traveler.

    Tarator - Cold yogurt and cucumber soup. Served with dill and often garlic. A refreshing lunch staple in warm weather, it can be found all year round.

    Kebapche - Grilled mincemeat shaped like a cigar. Often sold in multiples of 2 or 3, served in an oblong bun. Sometimes garnished with lyutenitsa, salad, or other condiments. Very popular among children and students.

  • 22. Is there tipping in Bulgaria?

    Tipping is slowly catching on in Bulgarian life. Restaurant tips up to 10% of the bill are common in better restaurants, possibly a bit more in the finest restaurants catering to the expat community. In everyday restaurants Bulgarians usually just round up to the next banknote. For example, normal practice would be to leave 30 leva to cover a 28 leva bill plus tip. A small tip, called bakshish, given to someone who does you a good turn is not uncommon and always appreciated.

  • 23. What is the drinking age in Bulgaria?

    Bulgaria has no legal minimum age for consuming alcohol, but you must be 18 years old to purchase alcoholic beverages.

  • 24. How smokers and cigarettes are treated in Bulgaria?

    Bulgaria has one of the highest percentage of smokers in Europe. Efforts to curtail smoking in public places have encountered resistance and opposition from local merchants, restaurants, and pubs who consider such regulations either intrusive or pointless. Nevertheless, the Bulgarian government continues to implement restrictive policies favored by the EU. There are high fines for smoking in public buildings and other non-designated places.

  • 25. Can I get by in English?

    There is more English being spoken every day. In the major cities, you can almost always find someone who speaks a little English. In Sofia, almost all young people understand some English, even if they are shy about speaking. English is a rarity among the older generations, and less common outside the major cities and resorts. It is not uncommon in towns and villages to have no English speakers around.