Traveling tips for Bulgaria – what you should know before a trip to Bulgaria

Do you intend to travel to Bulgaria? Bulgaria, a country in Southeast Europe, is known for its extraordinary natural beauty, rich cultural legacy, and distinctive fusion of traditional and modern experiences. Bulgaria caters to all types of tourists, with its charming Black Sea beaches and energetic capital city of Sofia. To make the most of your vacation, you must, however, be aware of a few important details and advice before setting out on your Bulgarian journey.

We’ll provide you insightful information and useful tips on what to anticipate when visiting Bulgaria in this post. Essential topics including language, money, safety, customs, and visa procedures will all be covered. Furthermore, we will discuss where to go, what to do, and how to traverse the nation. This guide will help you get ready for an amazing trip to Bulgaria, regardless of how experienced you are as a tourist.

Let us now go deeper and discover what Bulgaria has to offer! Bulgaria offers a wealth of experiences that are just waiting to be discovered, from its breathtaking mountains and picturesque coastlines to its energetic towns and historic ruins. You’ll be able to sample delectable foods and beverages, become fully immersed in the local culture, and make lifelong memories provided you have the necessary information and preparation.

What to know about Bulgaria before visiting?

Before visiting Bulgaria, here are some key things to consider:

1. Visa Requirements:

Bulgaria is part of the European Union but not yet part of the Schengen Area. This means passport control is in place, and visa requirements vary. Most travelers from countries like Australia, New Zealand, USA, Canada, and most of Europe do not require visas for stays under 90 days.

2. Beyond the Coast:

While Bulgaria’s coast is popular for its beaches like Sunny Beach and Sozopol, the country offers much more. Explore the capital Sofia, the cultural city of Plovdiv, and the former royal capital of Veliko Tarnovo. Don’t miss the Rila Monastery and Belogradchik Fortress.

3. Language:

Bulgarian is the official language, and it uses the Cyrillic alphabet, which can be challenging for Westerners. English is spoken, particularly by younger generations, but it’s less common among older people.

5. Climate:

Bulgaria experiences cold, wet winters and hot, dry summers. The distinct seasons make it a great destination for both winter sports in the mountains and summer beach vacations on the Black Sea coast.

6. Nature and Terrain:

Nearly one-third of Bulgaria is forested, and the country is mountainous, with over 40 mountains. This makes it ideal for activities like skiing, mountaineering, and hiking. The rest of the territory consists of plains used for agriculture.

7. Currency:

The local currency is the Bulgarian Lev (BGN). It’s always a good idea to have some local currency on hand for smaller transactions, as credit card acceptance is not universal.

8. Safety:

Bulgaria is generally safe for tourists, but standard travel precautions should be taken. Be aware of your surroundings, especially in crowded places, and keep your belongings secure

The duty-free allowance for Bulgaria

There are differences in the duty-free allowance for visitors coming in Bulgaria from within the EU vs outside of it. An overview of the 2024 allowances is shown below:

1. Traveling within the EU:

Alcohol and Tobacco: No limits on the amount for personal use, but customs may inquire if you carry more than:

  • 800 cigarettes
  • 400 cigarillos (max 3g each)
  • 200 cigars
  • 1kg smoking tobacco
  • 10 liters of spirits over 22%
  • 20 liters of alcoholic beverages, less than 22%
  • 90 liters of wine (max 60 liters of sparkling wine)
  • 110 liters of beer

2. Traveling from outside the EU:

Tobacco: (For travelers 18 years and over)

  • 200 cigarettes
  • 100 cigarillos
  • 50 cigars
  • 250g smoking tobacco
  • A proportional combination of these goods

Alcohol: (For travelers 18 years and over)

  • 1 liter of spirits over 22% alcohol volume
  • 2 liters of alcoholic beverages up to 22% alcohol volume
  • 4 liters of still wine
  • 16 liters of beer

3. Currency:

  • No restrictions on the importation of currency into the EU
  • Funds over €10,000 must be declared

4. Other Goods:

Medicines for personal use (prescription may be required)

Personal items of non-commercial nature worth up to:

  • €430 when traveling by air or sea
  • €300 when traveling by land
  • €200 for travelers under 15 years of age

5. Prohibited Items:

  • Some weapons (e.g., knuckle dusters, pump guns)
  • Counterfeit currency and goods
  • Pornographic literature involving violence or abuse
  • Narcotics

What to know before going to Sofia, Bulgaria?

Before you visit Sofia, the capital of Bulgaria, here are some useful tips to enhance your experience:


The Bulgarian Lev (BGN) is the local currency. The lev is pegged to the euro at a rate of 1 euro to 1.96 leva, making conversions quite straightforward. It’s recommended to have some cash on hand for transactions where credit cards may not be accepted.


Tipping is appreciated but not mandatory. For good service at restaurants, a 10% tip is customary, and for exceptional service, 15% is recommended. When taking a taxi, rounding up to the nearest lev or adding an extra lev for fares above 10 leva is a common practice.

Credit Cards:

Credit cards are widely accepted in Sofia. However, it’s always a good idea to check if a place accepts cards before making a purchase, especially at bus stations where cash is often required

Public Transport:

Sofia has a practical public transport system that includes buses, trams, trolleys, and a metro. The metro is particularly useful as it connects most parts of the city with the center and has a direct line from the airport. A 3-day card for all lines is available for 10 BGN, which is a convenient option for visitors.


Bulgarian is the official language, and while English is spoken by the younger population, it’s less common among older residents. Learning a few basic phrases in Bulgarian can be helpful.


Sofia is generally safe for tourists, but it’s always wise to take standard travel precautions. Keep your belongings secure and be aware of your surroundings, especially in crowded areas.

Local Insights:

Don’t hesitate to explore beyond the typical tourist spots. Sofia has modern amenities, including a well-maintained metro system, and offers a variety of cultural experiences

How much money do you need to visit Bulgaria?

When planning a trip to Bulgaria, the cost can vary depending on your travel style and preferences. Here’s a breakdown of the average costs you might expect:

  1. Budget Travelers: For those traveling on a budget, you should plan to spend around $28 (BGN 51) per day. This would cover stays at budget accommodations, affordable food options, local transportation, and low-cost activities
  2. Mid-Range Budget: If you’re looking for a bit more comfort, plan for around $68 (BGN 125) per day. This includes staying in typical hotels, eating at standard restaurants, and visiting a variety of attractions.
  3. Luxury Travelers: For a more luxurious experience, you should budget about $159 (BGN 292) per day. This allows for stays in high-end hotels, dining at upscale restaurants, and enjoying private tours and experiences.

For a one-week trip, the average cost for one person is about $477 (BGN 877), which includes accommodation, food, local transportation, and sightseeing. For two people, the average cost for a week is approximately $955 (BGN 1,754).

How to behave in Bulgaria?

When visiting Bulgaria, it’s important to be aware of local customs and etiquette to show respect for the culture. Here are some key points to keep in mind:

  1. Greetings: A firm handshake is a common greeting in Bulgaria and is considered a sign of trust and respect. When meeting someone for the first time, it’s polite to use their title and surname.
  2. Body Language: One unique aspect of Bulgarian body language is that shaking one’s head means “yes” and nodding means “no.” However, Bulgarians may reverse these gestures when speaking with foreigners to avoid confusion.
  3. Social Etiquette: Social interactions in Bulgaria are still rather formal. It’s appropriate to wait for the Bulgarian person to decide when to become less formal with you.
  4. Visiting Homes: When invited to someone’s home, it is polite to bring a small gift. Something from your own country will be particularly appreciated.
  5. Tipping: Tipping is not obligatory but is well received. A ten percent tip is standard for good service at restaurants.
  6. Religion: The majority of Bulgarians are Orthodox Christian, and the church plays a significant role in cultural and social events. Showing respect for religious traditions and practices is important.
  7. Family: The family is the fundamental social unit in Bulgaria, and families tend to be close-knit. Respect for elders and family traditions is valued.
  8. Dress Code: Dressing modestly and appropriately for the occasion is expected. When visiting religious sites, it’s important to cover up and dress conservatively.

Is Bulgaria safe to travel to right now?

Bulgaria is considered safe for travel. The UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) provides updated travel advice and has not issued any specific warnings against travel to Bulgaria.

What is Sofia in Bulgaria known for?

Sofia, the capital of Bulgaria, is renowned for a blend of rich history, vibrant culture, and stunning architecture. Here are some highlights of what Sofia is famous for:

  1. St. Alexander Nevski Cathedral: This is the second-largest cathedral in the Balkan region and can accommodate 10,000 people. It’s known for its grand scale and the beautiful mural of the Lord God Sabbath on the ceiling of the main cupola.
  2. St. George Rotunda: The oldest building in modern Sofia, dating back to the 300s, this red brick church has survived centuries and features detailed medieval frescoes.
  3. Vitosha Boulevard: As the main thoroughfare of the city, it’s lined with posh boutiques and fashion houses, and offers stunning views of the snow-capped Vitosha Mountain.
  4. Hot Mineral Springs: Sofia is one of the few capital cities with hot mineral springs within its city limits, believed to have therapeutic properties.
  5. Ancient Roman History: The city has a rich Roman past, with many remnants still visible today, like the flagstones of a Roman street around St. George Rotunda.
  6. Viennese-style Architecture: The city features beautiful buildings in the Viennese style, reflecting its architectural evolution over time

How common is English in Sofia Bulgaria?

In Sofia, Bulgaria, English is widely spoken, particularly among the younger generation and in the business and tourism sectors. As of 2021, over 90% of Bulgarian high school students were learning English, according to Eurostat.

More than 50% of Sofia’s population is said to speak English as well. This implies that tourists visiting Sofia should anticipate seeing a large number of English speakers, especially in locations that are popular with foreign visitors.

What should I take to Bulgaria?

When traveling to Bulgaria, it’s important to pack smartly to accommodate the diverse experiences you might have. Here’s a general list of items to consider:

  1. Travel Documents: Passport, visa (if required), travel insurance, and any other essential documents.
  2. Money: Bulgarian Lev (BGN) is the currency, so ensure you have some local currency and a way to withdraw more if needed.
  3. Clothing: Pack according to the season. Summers can be hot, while winters are cold, especially if you plan to visit the mountains.
  4. Comfortable Shoes: For exploring cities or hiking in the mountains.
  5. Electronics: Phone, charger, travel adapter (Bulgaria uses the standard European plug).
  6. Toiletries: Personal hygiene items, and it’s always good to have some travel-sized hand sanitizer.
  7. Medications: Any prescriptions you need, plus a basic first-aid kit.
  8. Backpack or Suitcase: Consider the type of travel you’ll be doing; a backpack might be more convenient for mobility.
  9. Camera: To capture the beautiful landscapes and historic sites.

What is Bulgaria famous for?

Bulgaria is known for a variety of cultural, historical, and natural attractions:

  1. Oldest Country in Europe: Bulgaria is one of the oldest countries in Europe, established in 681 AD and has kept its original name ever since.
  2. Sofia: The capital city, which is a blend of culture, business, and tourism with a lively art scene and vibrant nightlife.
  3. Lavender: It is one of the world’s top lavender producers, with high-quality lavender used in various products.
  4. Cyrillic Alphabet: Bulgaria is credited with inventing the Cyrillic alphabet around 800 AD, which is used in several countries today.
  5. Black Sea Beaches: The country boasts beautiful beaches along the Black Sea coast, attracting tourists to resort towns like Sunny Beach.
  6. Plovdiv: Known as Europe’s oldest continuously inhabited city, offering a mix of Thracian, Roman, and Byzantine heritage.
  7. Rose Oil: Bulgaria is a major producer of rose oil, an essential ingredient in perfumery.
  8. Rakiya: A traditional fruit brandy that is a popular local spirit.
  9. Wine: The country has a long history of wine production and offers a variety of local wines.
  10. UNESCO World Heritage Sites: Bulgaria is home to several UNESCO sites, including the Rila Monastery and the ancient city of Nessebar.
  11. Mineral Springs: Known for its numerous mineral springs, which are believed to have therapeutic properties.
  12. Mountains: Offers stunning mountain ranges like the Balkan, Rila, and Pirin, which are popular for hiking and skiing

Is Bulgaria cheap to visit?

Bulgaria is considered to be one of the most affordable destinations in Europe. For most travelers from Western Europe, North America, or Oceania, Bulgaria should come as an incredibly affordable destination. The average cost of visiting Bulgaria is estimated to be around €35-130 per person per day. This means you can enjoy a variety of experiences at a relatively low cost.

Accommodation, transportation, and food are reasonably priced, making it an ideal destination for budget travelers. So, if you’re looking for a destination that offers both rich cultural experiences and value for money, Bulgaria is a great choice!


Bookmark our website for more travel tips and insights. If you have any questions or need further assistance, feel free to leave a comment below. Share this article with others who may be planning a trip to Bulgaria, and help them make the most of their adventure.

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