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Bulgaria - Traveling

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Entry requirements

Organizing your trip

Means of transport recommended in town

Sofia, the capital, is served by major European airlines including Air France, Alitalia, Austrian Airlines, British Airways, etc.
Car rental from Hertz, Avis and Budget and others are available.
Taxis are affordable. It is advisable to call ahead to a reputable taxi company for radio dispatch for personal security as well as to avoid overcharges.
Visitors of Sofia can take a taxi from the parking zones in front of the Sofia Airport, Central Railway Station, Central Bus Station and other key positions in town like entertainment places, points of interest and shopping areas.
Companies like O.K. Taxi, Yes Taxi, S.M. Taxi, Euro Taxis, Sof Taxi are sure and reliable and their prices are about 0,50 BGN per one kilometer.
There is a close – meshed public transport network in Sofia: buses, trams, trolleys and underground transport. The price of one ticket is 0.7 BGN. and there are other options like 10 tickets per 6 BGN, daily card for the whole public transport net per 3 BGN. Most of the stops offer maps of the routes that make the orientation easier.
Maps of urban networks: Maporama

Means of transport recommended in the rest of the country

Roads are not well-maintained.
Trains are slow however it is the best way to travel in the region because of the connections with Belgrade, Munich, Moscow, etc.
Rail companies: Bulgarian State Railways
Airlines
Name Type Domestic flights International flights
Bulgaria Air Major yes Yes
Lufthansa Major no Yes
Alitalia Major no Yes

Traveling by yourself

Recommendation: Years of underinvestment have also left many roads in a poor state, and there’s only one motorway-quality road, running from Sofia to the border with Turkey. Bulgaria’s mountainous terrain and harsh winter conditions leave most roads potholed and dangerous and some impassable.
Bulgarian roads have a reputation for being potholed tracks frequented by farm animals and agricultural machinery.
Common hazards on Bulgarian roads include cars driving at night with damaged or no headlights.
Driving in Bulgaria is very dangerous, train or taxi seem to be the best ways to travel.
Find an itinerary: Multimap

Visiting

Different forms of tourism

Historical: Situated at the crossroads of the East and West, Bulgaria has been home to many civilizations - Thracians, Romans, Byzantines, Slavs, Proto-Bulgarians, and Ottomans. Although Bulgaria is rich in historical artifacts, many of the museums and monasteries still need to be properly advertised and maintained, and some of the most interesting heritage sites may not be easily accessible, due to poor infrastructure.
For further information, visit the website Bulgaria Travel.
Cultural: Listed among the favorite sites of cultural tourism in Bulgaria are the Kazanluk tomb and the Sveshtari tomb, included in the list of the UNESCO-protected world cultural heritage. The KazanlÅ­k Tomb, discovered in 1944 on the outskirts of town, is a Thracian burial tomb from the 4th or 3rd century b.c. The fine murals that decorate the entire tomb distinguish it from 13 similar known examples. The town also has a museum, theatre, opera house, and art gallery.
Sveshari tomb, discovered in 1982 near the village of Sveshtari, is a 3rd-century BC Thracian tomb that reflects the fundamental structural principles of Thracian cult buildings. The tomb has a unique architectural decor.
For further information, visit the website Bulgaria Travel.
Nature: A network of 3 national parks has been set up, 9 natural parks, reserves, as well as 2,234 protected territories and natural landmarks. Of them the "Pirin National Park" and the " Sreburna" biosphere-reserve have been included in UNESCO's world heritage list. Together with further 16 biosphere reserves they offer wonderful conditions for photo-hunting, scientific-and-cognitive tourism and hobby tourism.
Religious: The most famous monasteries are:
- Rila Monastery
- Rozhen Monastery
- Bachkovo Monastery
- Drianovo Monastery
- Pomorie Monastery
- Sokolsky Monastery
- Troyan Monastery

For more information, visit the website Pictures of Bulgaria.

Thermal: Thermal tourism is well-developed in Bulgaria, particularly in the Razlog region.
Beach: The most famous cities on the Black Sea coasts are Nessebar, Sozopol, Varna and Bourgas and the resort town Slanchev briag, named "Sunny Beach".
Winter sports: Winter sports are currently the second most important Bulgarian tourist attraction. The Pirin, Rila and Rhodopes mountains and Mount Vitosha (whose Aleko ski slopes are less than an hour from Sofia) are the locations of important resort hotels.
Outdoor activities: While Bulgaria is well known for its skiing, few foreigners realize its potential for activities such as hiking, climbing and caving, nor the country's wonderful natural history. Bulgaria's mountains and lowlands are incredibly rich in wildlife (especially flora and birds) as the country has features of both the Balkan and Mediterranean eco-systems, and is visited by hundreds of migratory species.
You can find below the list of outdoor activities in Bulgaria:
- Hiking: Hiking was first popularized in Bulgaria in the late nineteenth century, when it had patriotic connotations. During Communist times it was regarded as an ideal activity for citizens, and a network of trails and huts ( hizhi ) was created.
- Climbing and caving: Bulgaria's mountainous terrain means that the opportunities for climbing are practically limitless. The most popular areas with mountaineers and rock-climbers are Mt Malyovitsa in the Rila Mountains.
- Mountain-biking: Mountain-biking is slowly catching on in Bulgaria, especially in the Pirin, Rhodopes and Stara Planina, where you can rent bikes from hotels in Bansko and Pamporovo and tourist offices.
- Bird watching: Bulgaria is great for bird watching , being a nesting ground for most European species in spring (May-June) and on the migratory path of many Asian ones in autumn (Sept to mid-Oct), totaling around 400 species in all.
- Zoology, botany and geology: Aside from birds, Bulgaria's fauna includes most of the Balkan and Mediterranean reptiles (over fifty species) and mammals . Mountainous areas are the habitat of bears, boars, wolves, wild cats, deer, foxes and badgers.
Shopping: The main shopping area is the Vitosha Boulevard in Sofia. Bulgarian products, handicrafts, wines, spirits and confectionery can all be purchased.
Tourism organizations: Bulgarian Tourism Board

Living conditions

Health and safety

Health precautions: While Bulgarian physicians are trained to a very high standard, most hospitals and clinics, especially in village areas, are generally not equipped and maintained to meet Western European standards. Basic medical supplies and over-the-counter and prescription medications are widely available, but highly specialized treatment may not be obtainable. Pediatric facilities are in need of funding and lack equipment.
All foreign citizens traveling to Bulgaria may be asked to present valid evidence of health insurance to the Bulgarian border authorities in order to be admitted into the country.
No vaccines needed.
For further information on sanitary conditions: World Health Organization

Time difference and climate

Map of the time zone: Sofia (GMT+2 in winter, GMT+3 in summer)
Summer time period: Summer time from March to October.
Climate: Temperate; cold, damp winters; hot, dry summers.
Tempetures vary from -1°C in January to 30°C in June.

Eating

Food specialties: Bulgarian food is close to the traditional European cuisine. Traditional Bulgarian menu includes bread, yogurt and fresh milk, cheese, tomatoes, paprika, potatoes, onions, beans and fruits, grappa and red or white wine. Restaurants offer wide variety of cuisines. Along with the traditional Bulgarian dishes, many restaurants offer Italian, French, Greek, Chinese, German, Arabian, Hungarian, Latin American, Indian and Russian food.
A breakfast in an ordinary restaurant costs about 4 GBL, a dinner between 10 and 15 GBL.
Drinks: - Rakia: hard liquor from the brandy family
- Boza: one of the most typical Bulgarian soft drinks
- Ayran: made out of yogurt and water
For further information visit the website Findbgfood.
Dietary taboos: No restrictions.

Speaking

Getting some knowledge: You can find some basic vocabulary below:
- "dobeur dèn" (phonétique) = hello
- "bwagodaria" = Thank you
- "molia" = Please
Visit the website Learn Bulgarian.
Free translation tools:
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