Bulgaria Travel Tips
Miscellaneous Travel Advice for Travel in Bulgaria
|Bulgaria Quick Facts|
The Bulgarian national monetary unit is the LEV. Coins of 1, 2, 5, 10, 50 stotinki and banknotes of 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 50 leva are in use. The exchange of currency is unrestricted and there is no compulsory exchange. Upon departure from the country any unused Bulgarian currency may be changed back into the respective foreign currency.
The GBP - BGN exchange rate tends to be more favourable in Bulgaria than in the UK. However, the currency exchange office at the airport does not offer competitive rates and you are better changing money at the resort (hotels or kiosks). The best rates will be obtained at banks in Borovets or Samokov.
Conversion of GBP - Euro can be carried out in the UK at competitive rates at Onlinefx. Euros will be needed if paying in cash for accommodation rental, car hire, etc.
Due to the high commission rates charged for the use of Credit Cards and Travellers Cheques, it is advisable to bring larger amounts of Sterling or Euros in cash.
Visa, MasterCard, Diners Club and American Express might be accepted in hotels, restaurants, shops, car rentals, etc. However, cash payments are the norm, e.g. at petrol stations. ATMs are available at Borovets. Accepted are Visa, MasterCard and Cirrus cards.
Winter: GMT +2 hours (October through March)
Bulgarian is a Slavic language. English, German, French and Russian are spoken in the country's resorts, hotels and restaurants. For those interested in learning the language, Bulgarian4brits sells a language guide comprising a book and two CDs.
Alphabet – Cyrillic (named after its founders, Saint Cyril and Methodius). Signs along international motorways, in airports and resorts are also spelled in Roman letters.
The country dialing code for Bulgaria is +359, followed by the relevant city code.
From Europe dial 00 in place of +
From USA dial 011 in place of +
If phoning from outside Europe or USA please consult your telephone directory for international dialling access codes.
Bulgarian SIM cards can be purchased for less than GBP 10 to eliminate the mobile phone roaming charges applied to UK SIM cards. Several mobile phone shops selling SIM cards are located on the road from Samokov to Borovets.
Bulgaria offers a direct dialing service to 58 countries, which can be reached by adding the prefix 00 to the country code (e.g. 0044 for the United Kingdom). Calls to countries that cannot be accessed by direct dialling must be placed through an operator at 0123. Betcom or Bulgarian Telecommunication Company phone booths require a special card available from kiosks.
Telephone offices are also available and are attached to post offices.
Bulgaria is one of the few countries in Europe that has no peak or off-peak call times.
The country has two mobile GSM operators, and several Internet Service Providers. Internet cafes are on the increase in the big cities.
According to the Constitution of Bulgaria, adopted by the Great National Assembly on July 13, 1991, Bulgaria is a parliamentary democratic republic in which the sovereign power belongs to the people who exercise it through their representative bodies, elected by direct and secret ballot. Every Bulgarian citizen over the age of 18 has the right to elect or to be elected. The National Assembly, elected for a period of four years, is the supreme body of state power.
Religion by population: 85% Bulgarian Orthodox, 13% Muslim
The chief religion in Bulgaria is the Orthodox Christian Church. This religion has been established in Bulgaria since the 4th century and became the official religion in the 9th century.
In mosques, take your off your shoes and cover your legs and arms. However, you likely will not have the opportunity to visit mosques, quite a few of them, f.e. in Sofia, are not accessible to non-muslims.
Customs – YES & NO: Foreigners should be aware that a shake of the head means "yes" and a nod means "no", although allowances are often made for visitors.
Duty Free: Travellers to Bulgaria over 18 years do not need to pay customs duty on 200 cigarettes or 50 cigars or 250g of tobacco; 1 litre of spirits and 2 litres of wine; 50g of perfume and 100g of eau de toilette; and gifts. Prohibited goods include arms and ammunition; narcotics and pornography. Travellers carrying cash or goods to the value of BGN8000 or more must provide details of this on a customs declaration form. Failure to do so will lead to confiscation of currency or goods.
Health & Healthcare:
A fully equipped and functioning hospital is located in Samokov (11 km from Borovets). 24 hour medical facilities are available in Borovets. Dental services and pharmacies are also available in Borovets.
Some medical and all dental services must be paid by cash to the doctors (clinics). They should provide the necessary bills, receipts and invoices describing the service and the cost, so that you can claim back the expense to your insurance company. It's recommended you call your insurance company and inform them in case of injury.
Safety: Most visits to Bulgaria are trouble-free. Violent crime is rare, but criminal groups target casinos and nightclubs and groups of young pickpockets are active in city centres and the Black Sea holiday resorts. Car theft is common.
Tipping: Tips of 10% of the bill are customary in restaurants, while hotel porters and taxi drivers expect the change to round up the bill. With non-metered taxis you needn't add a tip to the fare you agreed on beforehand.