A fascinating destination with a rich and colourful past, Bulgaria today is a rapidly modernising yet proudly traditional country. With striking Alpine scenery contrasted with the glorious golden Black Sea coast and the vibrant, dynamic cities of Sofia and Plovdiv contrasted with the quaint timber-framed villages such as Koprivshtitsa, a trip to Bulgaria is bound to be truly unforgettable.
The climate in Bulgaria varies greatly across the country. Generally, summers tend to be hot and dry with winters usually cold and wet, often with heavy snow. Rain is to be expected during spring and autumn. Southern Bulgaria and the Black Sea coast are the hottest and sunniest areas with Sandanski boasting the highest temperatures. Areas with higher altitudes suffer from the harshest conditions and severe winters. Sofia's climate is generally favourable with warm summers and mild winters.
Bulgaria acknowledges a number of public holidays including:
New Year's Day
3rd March - National Day (Day of Liberation)
1st May - Labour Day
6th May - St George's Day
24th May - St Cyril and Methodius Day
6th September - The Unification of Bulgaria
22nd September - Independence Day
1st November - Day of the Bulgarian Revival Leaders
New Year's Eve
The main airports in Bulgaria are Sofia International Airport (SOF), Varna International Airport (VAR) and Bourgas International Airport (BOJ). Some domestic services operate connecting Sofia and the Black Sea coast.
Frequent services operate between Sofia and Budapest, Belgrade, Bucharest, Thessaloniki and Istanbul. Services also operate directly between Sofia and Paris, Vienna, Munich and Berlin.
Domestic services link Sofia with all major towns and cities. It is advisable to reserve seats in advance during peak season.
Daily bus services operate from Istanbul, Athens, Thessaloniki and other cities to Sofia, Varna and Bourgas.
Domestically, Bulgaria has a good network of buses with comfortable long distance services.
Driving is a good way to see the Bulgaria. There are various entry points from neighbouring countries. Be sure to have all the correct paperwork before travelling. Be wary as road quality varies and driving standards can be poor. Roads tend to be badly lit so be careful when driving at night outside of major cities.
Traffic drives on the right. Tolls are charged on motorways and main roads outside of towns and cities. Speed restrictions apply and are as follows: 120kph (75mph) on motorways, 90kph (56mph) outside built-up areas and 50kph (31mph) in built-up areas.
Bulgarian is the official language. The Cyrillic alphabet is used. A number of minority languages are spoken including Turkish and Macedonian. English, German, French and Russian are spoken in major tourist areas. However, here are a few key phrases in Bulgarian:
Hello - Zdravey/Zdrasti
Goodbye - Dovizhdane
Please - Ako obichate
Thank you - Blagodarya
Do you speak English? - Gavorish li Angliyski?.
The currency in Bulgaria is the lev (leva plural) which comprises of 100 stotinki. Prices are often quoted in Euros in major tourist areas.
The domestic electricity voltage is 220 volts, 50 Hz. Standard European two-pin plugs are used.
In an emergency dial the following numbers:
Police - 150
Fire - 160
Ambulance - 166
General European emergency number - 112.
The international dialling code for Bulgaria is +359.
Bulgarians shake their heads for 'yes' and nod for 'no'.
Smoking is still relatively popular and widespread in Bulgaria. Most restaurants, cafés and nightclubs have smoking and non-smoking areas.
Bulgaria is still a largely cash based society although the use of credit cards is slowly increasing in larger towns and cities.
ATM's are becoming rapidly more common and can be found in all sizeable towns and cities.
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