Travel guide to Bulgaria

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With the coast of the Black Sea as a natural main attraction - extensive mountain ranges and the glittering Danube - Bulgaria is deeply rooted at the Balkan Peninsula. Besides the fabulous scenery the country has a great climate and an rich, vibrant culture on offer.

Facts

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Capital
Sofia
Size
110.994 km2
Principal Languages
Bulgarian. It is worth noting that the Bulgarian alphabet is not the same as Latin and it can therefore be difficult to read the signs etc.
Principal Religion
Bulgarian orthodoxy
Inhabitants
8.283.200 (1997)
Government
Republic
Geography
Geographically Bulgaria has a lot to offer. Situated on the Balkan Peninsula - Bulgaria has the Black Sea to the east, and the Danube functions as a natural border with Rumania. Furthermore the river is responsible for the Danube plain - an incredibly fertile area which covers close to a third of Bulgaria. In addition to this Bulgaria possesses several mountain-chains, also covering a third of the country.

Travel preparation

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Best time to visit

In Bulgaria the summers are hot and dry and the winters are cold. In the summer the average temperature is 28 degrees centigrade, whilst in the winter the average temperature drops to 6 degrees below freezing. The best time to visit Bulgaria is between May and October. The average rainfall is 31 millimetres (February) and 90 millimetres (June).

Local conditions

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Currency

Lev (Lv)

In case of emergency

To call for help in Bulgaria you must dial: Police (166) Ambulance (150) Fire department (160)

Tipping

Tipping is not 'officially' necessary in Bulgaria, but it is a good idea to give 5-10 percent to taxi drivers, and to generally round up the amount when you visit a restaurant.

Timezone

When it is 12 O'clock in Britain it is 2 O'clock in Bulgaria.

Weight and Measures

In Bulgaria the following measurement is used: Weight: kilo Length: metres

Photography

Photographing public buildings is, as in most eastern European countries, prohibited in Bulgaria. Furthermore, it is advisable to show courtesy and ask before photographing.

Drinking water

It is recommended only to drink bottled water in Bulgaria, not directly from the tap.

Electricity

In Bulgaria the following power source is used: 220 volts AC, 50Hz

Behaviour

In Bulgaria there are no specific behaviour demands, but showing respect and politeness to the local inhabitants will get you far.

Business Hours

Banks are normally open from 8 AM to 12 and from 1 PM to 5 PM (Monday-Friday) and 8 AM to 11 AM (Saturday). Shops are open from 9 AM to 7.30 PM (Monday-Saturday), however, many shop are closed for lunch from 1 PM to 2 PM. Offices are open from 8.30 AM to 5.30 PM (Monday-Friday).

Food and drink

Bulgarian cuisine is dominated by fish, soups, mutton and lamb. Bulgaria furthermore produces a wide variety of good wines in addition to several different distilled spirits.

Holidays

New Year's Day: January 1st Liberation day: March 3rd Worker's day: May 1st Education day: May 24th Christmas: December 24th-25th

Accommodation / Hotel

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Camping

In Bulgaria the camping sites are centred around the major tourist areas. The sites are categorised from I-III - the sites at the top of the scale are reasonably comfortable, whilst the sites at the bottom of the scale offer very little.

Hotels

Bulgarian hotels use the European star system, and several hotels are determinedly ascending this ladder. But in general the quality is still pretty bad.

Bed og breakfast or guesthouse

In Bulgaria the guest houses are centred at the coast areas. Here it is possible to rent a room in a private villa for a reasonable price.

Hostels

You will find youth hostels in the 30 biggest cities of Bulgaria.

Local transport

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Planes

The Balkan-Bulgarian Airlines operate with eight routes and they are only a little more expensive than train fares.

Trains

There are more than 4200 kilometres of rail roads in Bulgaria by which most of the bigger cities are connected. It is necessary to book tickets in advance, and travelling first class is recommended.

Taxi

Hailing a taxi will not be a problem in most big Bulgarian cities.

Car rental

It is possible to rent a car in most big cities in Bulgaria.

Boat or Ferry

River boats have a regular schedule and sail along the Bulgarian side of the Danube, connecting several cities.

Other Transport

In Sofia there is an extensve underground system which is at present being extended even further. This will make it possible to reach almost all parts of the city by underground.

Find your travel arrangement to Bulgaria here

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