Why Bulgaria? Bulgaria is a country in southeastern Europe. While it may not be as well-known as a tourist destination, there is plenty to do and see.
With its beaches, mountain huts, hearty food, historical monasteries, beautiful cathedrals, and Roman ruins, Bulgaria has a lot to offer.
This Bulgaria travel guide will help you plan your next vacation.
Fast Facts about Bulgaria
- Power voltage is 230V at 50 Hz.
- The official currency is the Bulgarian lev and 1 lev is equal to 0.57 USD.
- The best way to get around is by car.
- To enter, you will need a U.S. passport valid for three months after entry.
- You do not need a visa if your stay is under 90 days.
- Vivacom, M-Tel, and Telenor are the most popular mobile providers. A prepaid SIM card can be purchased through either of them.
- The sales tax rate is 20%, with a reduced rate of 9% for hotel services.
Things to See and Do in Bulgaria
- Come explore the largest public park in Bulgaria. Located in Varna, the park includes beautiful gardens, a zoo with tigers, kangaroos and bears, and an aquarium.
- National Historical Museum: Come see the largest museum in Bulgaria. Featuring a vast collection of 650,000 historical items, there is plenty to see and learn here about Bulgarian history.
- Alexander Nevsky Cathedral: One of the largest Eastern Orthodox cathedrals in the world, come explore this majestic cathedral in Sofia.Dating back to 1912 and reaching heights of 148 feet, this cathedral holds numerous mosaics, murals, and royal thrones, as well as an Orthodox museum.
- Come see these Roman ruins. Built in the 2nd century AD, these ancient thermal baths were how the Romans once bathed.The third largest Roman ruins complex in Europe, the roman baths are a fascinating glimpse into the past.
Bulgaria Travel Guides
Budget – You can find prices for a hostel for about 18-22 leva. Enjoy dorm-styled or private rooms, free breakfast, storage lockers, and great locations in the city.
Mid Range – For mid-range hotels, expect to pay between 60-80 leva per night. Stay in private rooms, workout at the fitness center, dine at the hotel restaurant and bar, and swim in the pool (indoor or outdoor).
High End – Upscale hotels will range from 150-300 leva per night. Take in the best with top-of-the-line service, polished guest rooms with minibars and refrigerators, room service, multiple restaurants and a nightclub, babysitting services, outdoor pools with a pool bar, and more.
Check out our favorite booking platforms Booking.com, Tripadvisor and VRBO for the best deals on accommodation in Australia
Food: The cuisine of Bulgaria favors vegetables, dairy, meat like pork or chicken, seafood, and spices as staples. Shopska salad (tomato and cucumber salad with Bulgarian feta cheese) and tarator (cold yogurt soup) are popular dishes.
If you’re out for breakfast or want a treat, try a banitsa, a pastry with cheese and yogurt. Expect to pay around 10-20 leva per meal for an average restaurant or 30-50 leva for high-quality restaurants.
The Best Ways to Get Around Bulgaria
Getting to Bulgaria:
Getting to Bulgario: The Sofia International Airport is the main airport and is just 6 miles from the center of Sofia, Bulgaria’s capital. Other major cities like Varna and Plovdiv also have their own airport, though only Varna takes flights from the US.
Flights: You can check for the best flights on Skyscanner
Train: Trains, especially overnight trains, are a good way to get a more scenic view of Bulgaria.There are three types of trains express (ekspresen), fast (barz) and slow (patnicheski). Go from the capital Sofia to Varna in 7.5 hours for 25-30 leva.
Buses: Buses are a cheap way to get around and can be found throughout major cities and towns. Fares start at about 1 lev.
Metro: Sofia has its own metro that travels throughout the city, with speeds up to 50 miles per hour. Prices start at 1.60 leva. The metro operates from 5 AM to midnight, with new trains arriving every 7-14 minutes.
Taxis/Uber : Taxis are an alternative way to get around. Most taxis have meters, though rates will vary. You can find taxis with a starting fee of 0.70-0.80 lev and a meter of 0.70 lev per kilometer traveled. Take a taxi from the airport to the city center of Sofia, for example, for about 15 leva.
Car Rental: To rent a car, you need to be at least 21 years old and have a U.S. license as well as an International Driver’s Permit. Prices average around 60 leva per day.
You can also compare prices here
When to go To Bulgaria
The best time to visit is right before or after the summer (April-May or September-October).
In these months, you can find lower prices while still having pleasant weather (about 70-75 degrees Fahrenheit for spring, 65-70 degrees Fahrenheit for autumn) for outdoor activities.
If you are going to Bulgaria to ski, then December-February is the best time, though note that some of the smaller towns will be shut down during this time.
Where to Stay in Bulgaria
Les Fleurs Boutique Hotel: Stay in this trendy four-star hotel in the capital of Sofia. Attractions like the National Palace of Culture and the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral are both just a short trip away. Once you’re done exploring, come back to relaxed rooms with minibars and flat screen TVs, complimentary breakfast, and the hotel’s restaurant.
Ramada Plovdiv Trimontium: Stay in the heart of Plovdiv at this great four-star hotel. Great attractions like the Plovdiv Roman Theater and the ruins of Nebet Tepe are just a 15-minute walk away. The hotel comes with free breakfast and Wi-Fi, an outdoor pool, and a casino.
Grand Hotel Varna: Be right by the Bulgarian Black Sea at this all-inclusive 5-star hotel in Varna. Stay in great rooms with balconies and sea views, head to the gym, swim in the outdoor pool, relax on the private beach, and dine at one of the 3 restaurants. Nearby attractions include the Sea Garden, the Aladzha Monastery, and Evxinograd, the 19th-century palace.
What to Pack for Bulgaria
- Power Adapter: As the voltage is higher than the US, a power adapter will ensure all of your electronics can be charged properly.
- Walking Shoes: Keep your feet comfortable with a sturdy pair of walking shoes.
- Modest Clothing: If your trip itinerary includes going to monasteries, make sure to bring clothes that cover your knees and elbows
See our packing tips: packing tips
Bulgaria Travel Guide: Best Booking Resources
Whenever we travel to we make sure to start with these companies. We have tried a lot of different ones over the years and all of these have consistently proven to be the best when it comes to offering great prices.
We have used every one of these personally and continue to do so.
- Booking.com: This is our go site to when comparing prices for accommodation. It usually has the cheapest prices, especially in Europe and we love their interface. Not to mention you get free cancellation and you are guaranteed the best price.
- Trip Advisor: What we like about Trip Advisor is that we can look at all the reviews and then book our accommodation. TripAdvisor is where we go when we want to compare prices with multiple accommodation providers.
- VRBO: is the main search engine we use when we are looking for a home or apartment rental. It can sometimes be cheaper than hotels and it is the best way to stay in areas that offer a more local feel.
- Hostelworld: With one of the largest databases of hostels in the world, Hostelworld is the go-to site when you are looking for budget accommodation.
- Skyscanner: This is the first place we check for flights. It consistently comes back with the cheapest and best options. It allows us to compare a lot of airlines to get the best price.
- Rome 2 Rio: If you want to see how to get somewhere by plane, train, bus, ferry or car Rome2Rio lays it all out for you as well as related costs.I love how they show it all to you on a Google Map and it works offline.
- Get Your Guide: For all your day trip and city guide needs, we use Get Your Guide. It has the world’s largest collection of things to do with more than 30,000 activities in 7500 destinations.
- World Nomads Insurance: When traveling to Italy you should always have travel insurance. We have found the best bang for your buck is by far World Nomads.