Country Profile: Bulgaria
Currency: Bulgarian Lev ($1= ~1.6 Bulgarian Levs check for changes)
Visa Required?: Click your country here.
Most Visited Cities: Sofia, Plovdiv, Varna, Burgas
National Train: Train
Major bus line: Bus
Random Fact: When in Bulgaria, nodding mannerisms are opposite. Therefore, if you nod up and down to say yes, you are actually communicating ‘no’ in Bulgaria. Affirming requires moving your head from side to side. Also, the Cyrillic alphabet traces its origins to Bulgaria.
Brief Overview: Bulgaria is located at the center east of what can be called the Balkans in Eastern Europe. It is a place where you can go and experience some of the nice sites that the east has to offer. Bulgaria also makes a nice central location for visiting other Balkan or Eastern European destinations, as it borders Greece, Turkey, Romania, Serbia, and Macedonia.
The culture of Bulgaria is slavic in nature and evidence of this is easily seen by its language and religion. Most places, such as Sofia and Plovdiv, are somewhat common destinations year round whereas coastal cities like Varna or Burgas really come alive during the summer and warmer months. Varna and Burgas are renowned regionally for the beautiful beaches and extensive nightlife. In addition, Bulgaria has waterfalls, mountains, mineral springs, the Black Sea, and operas.
Visiting the area is great for backpackers because it offers them a central location. It is relatively inexpensive, and interesting culturally. In the winters, the weather can become quite cold, but the same can be said about the entire region.
How to get around?
Your main two options for transport around Bulgaria are train and bus. From my experience, I would recommend taking the bus. The bus schedule is frequent and the busses are not expensive. The train is an option, but it is not consistent, and you do not always know what you are getting into. I remember my “7 hour” train ride from Belgrade, Serbia to Sofia, Bulgaria. It was with a Bulgarian train company. The ride actually took 12 hours and left us about 30 kilometers outside of the city of Sofia. I suppose that the people forgot to factor in the customs officials checking every compartment of the train for contraband, which took some time.
What is it like to cross the border into Bulgaria?
For me, it was very simple. The customs officials came to our cabin, took our passports away and stamped them. After that they returned 20-30 minutes later to give them back.