Language: The official language is Bulgarian.
Currency: Bulgarian Lev
Time Zone: Eastern European Standard Time = GMT+2, Eastern European Summer Time = GMT+3
Tipping: Tipping is usually expected these days, around 10% is standard.
Bulgaria, located in The Balkans, is one of many countries whose history is a little shaky but if you look beyond Ottoman rule, you'll find a beautiful destination filled with traditional folklore and a variety of UNESCO World Heritage Sites to explore on Bulgarian tours.
The lure of Bulgaria for the majority of visitors is the stunning beaches along the Black Sea Coast where you will have plenty of time to lap up the sunshine. The sunny beaches of Bulgaria include picturesque bays that are perfect should you wish to get away from it all on holiday. Aside from the sandy beaches, you will find lush mountainous landscapes pocketed with forests that are suitable for hiking or horse-riding. Wildlife spotters should visit the Rila and Pirin Mountains as these have been known to inhabit bears, lynx, rare birds and other formidable flora and fauna that is becoming scarce throughout the rest of Europe.
It's very easy to get around in Bulgaria as the public transport here is cheap and efficient, meaning you can travel between cities and rural villages with ease. As you explore on your Bulgaria coach tour, you'll come across monasteries that are multi-coloured. Visit the most photogenic town along the Black Sea Coast, Nesebâr, explore the cobblestone streets of Tryvana, go trekking through the Standzha National Park, see the Roman fort in Belogradchik or click into your skis and join hundreds of other skiers in the trendy ski resort of Bansko.
Sofia is a captivating cosmopolitan city that must be visited during your Bulgaria tour where modern meets traditional, from the onion-domed churches and Ottoman mosques to glamourous shopping malls and nightclubs, this city really has it all. Take a step back in time and you'll come across the winding cobbled streets and traditional Bohemian cafes of Bulgaria's second city, Plovdiv where life carries on at a much slower pace compared to Sofia. Although tranquil, Plovdiv still provides a great deal to keep visitors amused from the perfectly preserved Old Town packed to the rafters with museums and art galleries, fabulous antiquities and Roman amphitheatres.
Now that Bulgaria is part of the European Union, prices have certainly risen but it is still a relatively cheap holiday destination and travelling around it can be enjoyable too once you have mastered the famous Cyrillic alphabet! If you're looking for some sunshine, visit Bulgaria during the summer months, July and August are particularly dry and hot with temperatures known to reach around 28°C. The winters here tend to be cold and wet with temperatures averaging 3°C during December through to February. Expect heavy rainfall or snow in the mountains of Bulgaria.
Bulgaria tours typically include; return flights, accommodation, meals and a variety of included or optional excursions so you can really see the best of the resort you're visiting. Some of our cruise holidays, particularly those along the Danube, will feature ports of call in Bulgaria providing plenty of time to explore at leisure.
Things to do
From caves, shady woods, Bulgarian Folklore and UNESCO heritage to the beautiful Black Sea and stunning mountains, Bulgaria has more to offer than you may think:
Take a sightseeing tour around the fifth largest city in Bulgaria. On the right bank of Danube, Rousse is known for its 19th and 20th century Neo-Baroque and Neo-Rococo architecture, and is often referred to as the 'Little Vienna'. Nearby is the Roussenki-Lom Valley where you can appreciate the wonderful rock dwellings.
Set on a picturesque peninsular, Nessebar is known as the 'Pearl of Balkans'. This quaint town encompasses a museum to explore, cobbled streets to meander down and flower gardens to marvel at. The historic churches and old Roman and Turkish bath houses are fascinating places to visit.
One of Bulgaria's oldest towns full of character and charm. Wander down the cobbled lanes to the harbour, where you can relax with a drink and a bite to eat. Or visit nearby Ropotamo and sail down the stunning river and soak up the natural beauty of your surroundings.
Pomorie is a gorgeous seaside town if you can escape the smell of seaweed! Here you will find St George's monastery and perhaps enjoy some wine tasting at the Chateau Medovo winery. The town is also famous for its salt lakes and fabulous spa treatments – perfect for rejuvenating after a hard days sightseeing!
Thinking of travelling to Bulgaria? Check out the average temperatures for when you plan to visit courtesy of BBC Weather
Tips & Advice
To help you have an enjoyable holiday in Bulgaria, take a look at these useful tips and advice provided by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO):
Health and Travel Insurance
When visiting Bulgaria you should always obtain a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) prior to departing from the UK. The EHIC isn't a substitute for medical and travel insurance, however it entitles you to state provided medical treatment should it become necessary during your trip. Any treatment provided is given on the same terms as Bulgarian nationals. The EHIC does not cover medical repatriation, on-going treatment or non-urgent medical treatment, so in addition to having an EHIC you should ensure you have adequate travel insurance and accessible funds which will cover the cost of any medical treatment and repatriation.
Casinos and nightclubs are prone to criminals and prostitution is common during the night. Rarely do serious crimes occur and if not associated with these groups you are unlikely to be involved. Overcharging does happen to tourists in some late night bars and clubs.
Sunny Beach has been the target for robberies. Be careful here and avoid carrying lots of cash and valuables with you.
Bulgaria has been prone to deliberate car tyre punctures which are used as a distraction to the driver so that criminals can then steal any items that are on display in the vehicle. You should be wary if this event occurs to you.
Residential areas have been the target of break-ins, particularly in Sofia, Pleven and Topolovgrad Seek.
When in Bulgaria, you can call 112 for all types of emergency or 166 for the police.
Local Laws and Customs
Drug and sex-related offences are taken very seriously, and can result in custodial sentences. Drunken, disorderly and hooliganism behaviour are also taken more seriously than in the UK.
Potentially sensitive areas such as military establishments should be avoided when taking photographs, and if unsure ask permission.
Passports must be valid for the whole of your stay if staying in Bulgaria for up to 3 months.
British citizens do not require a visa to travel to Bulgaria. Check entry requirements with the Bulgarian Embassy prior to travel if you have a different type of British nationality.
If you desire to stay for more than 3 months, you must register with the police and get a permit. If you are a dual British-Bulgarian national, your Bulgarian passport, British passport and Bulgarian travel documents are required to enter and exit the country.
UK Emergency Travel Documents (ETD) are accepted for entry, airside transit and exit from Bulgaria.
Any other nationality looking to visit Bulgaria must contact the local embassy to check visa requirements.
For more informationt about visiting Bulgaria you can visit the official tourist website for Bulgaria at bulgariatravel.org