The following travel tips have been gathered from many sources
including personal experience. You should always apply common
sense when travelling, whether at home or abroad.
Visitors from all Schengen-Treaty European countries travel
to Bulgaria without a visa. A Bulgarian visa (entry or transit)
may be obtained at any Bulgarian Embassy or Consular Office
in the countries needing such a visa. Citizens of the United
States and Canada, the European Union, Japan, Australia, New
Zealand and Israel, travelling on regular passports, are not
required visas for stay in Bulgaria not exceeding 30 days.
If planning to stay more than 30 days, or travelling on diplomatic
or official passport, a visa is required and must be obtained
The number of foreign tourists in Bulgaria has gone up by
8.55% for the first nine months year of year 2002, according
to the Tourism Department at the Economy Ministry. In September
2002, the number is up by 10.72%. The number of foreigners
who have visited Bulgaria as tourists that year is 2,443,296
- almost 20% of them are German. The number of German tourists
for the first nine months of the year is up by 27.5 %, British
- by 64 %, and Swedish - by 14%. The Economy Ministry projected
an increase in tourists of 9% for 2002 in comparison with
the previous year. The number of Russian tourists has decreased
by 25 %, due to introduction of the visa regime for Russians
and by 45 % in the number of Ukrainian tourists. The Tourism
Department announced that the government will allot 20 million
BGL for promotion of the Bulgarian tourism abroad.
The peak time to visit Bulgaria is late spring, early summer.
During this time-period the weather is very stable and warm;
the days are long (over 12 hours), and rainfalls are far rarer
than in the spring. Temperatures in late summer often reach
30°C (degrees Celsius) and sometimes even higher. Wear
light clothes, T-shirts, shorts (more comfortable than long
trousers), sandals, sunglasses, and those who wish could bring
bathing suits also. To protect from the sun in the mountain
elevations, always wear hats and a face cream with very high
SPF. It is desirable to have a pair of comfortable walking
shoes (again for the mountain areas) as well as a raincoat
or a jacket in case of summer showers. Don’t forget
a sweatshirt – to cover your shoulders on a colder night.
If you happen to be here in the heat of July and August,
remember these points and you will find it is completely possible
to be fresh and energetic, in spite of the heat:
Bulgaria, as the rest of Europe, uses the metric system.
Unfamiliarity can cause some confusion.
As you travel, consider these points:
Telephones in Bulgaria:
International dialling code for Bulgaria is +359; the Sofia
city code is 2, Plovdiv is 32 when dialled from abroad (if
you already happen to be in Bulgaria, the city codes all acquire
a 0 in front: Sofia 02, Plovdiv 032, etc). Coin and card phones
are available both for local and long distance calls at hotels,
phone boxes and Post Offices. Direct telephone communication
from Bulgaria to all countries is possible through the BTC
(Bulgarian Telecommunication Company) phone booths or by phone
cards, but not all operators will speak a foreign language.
Carry a telephone calling card with you from your long distance
carrier. Be certain you know their access code in the countries
you will visit, including Bulgaria. Telephone calls, telegram
and fax services in the country and abroad are also offered
by the Post Offices.
The system is extensive but antiquated, generally due to
a low rate of capital infusion and less support to the infrastructure.
More than two-thirds of the lines are residential; telephone
service is available in most villages; a fairly modern digital
cable trunk line now connects switching centres in most of
the regions, the others are connected by digital microwave
radio relay international: direct dialling is available to
58 countries. Telephone numbers, which may be useful, include:
150 - Emergency Medical Aid
160 - Fire Department
166 - Police
140 - Sending of telegrams
144 - Telephone information service
146 - Emergency Road Service
165 - Traffic Police
175 - Weather forecast
180 - Time service
0123 - Operator for international calls (if no direct-dial
phone call is possible)
121 - Operator for long-distance calls within Bulgaria
120 - Wake up call
Regarding your passport:
Hotels in Bulgaria, as well as in parts of the European Union,
are entitled to take your passport in order to give your details
to police (they like to know who is coming into their country).
They hand it back next morning, or when you leave the hotel
for shopping, sightseeing, etc.
No one, except at a hotel, bank or a bona fide policeman
will normally ask to see it. You should consider keeping a
photocopy of the two key pages in some safe place. Such a
copy helps your consul issue a new one fast, if a pickpocket
steals your passport.
It is not required, but strongly suggested that you register
with your country’s Consular Office in Sofia during
your stay in Bulgaria (all Embassies and Consular Sections
are situated in the capital city Sofia; there are only two
consular offices in Plovdiv – of Greece and Turkey).
They can also record the essential information from your passport
and, in case of loss or theft, can replace the document in
a matter of hours.
You will always find your journeys more pleasant if you sit
back and relax. Remember - pickpockets apart, nobody is out
to get you. To protect yourself against pickpockets who will
attack you most often in public transportation: try to always
carry your money, Ids or other belongings in a string wallet
hanging on your neck. It is also advisable to put some Velcro
lines on your pockets (both front and rear ones) - If someone
attempts to remove your wallet from any pocket, you can feel
it and, of course, hear it.
Crime against persons is rare by the standard of cities in
the United States. It is possible to walk around late at night
and never feel threatened. The only "crime hotspot"
to beware of is near the Hotel Pliska in Sofia. Regardless,
don't be stupid - don't flash money or jewellery around, etc.,
keep a low profile - and you should be OK. Property crime
is much more common, and auto thefts seems to be a Bulgarian
specialty. In downtown, people are pretty much jaded towards
visiting foreigners. Many are quite friendly; very few are
rude or hostile. The majority of people are merely indifferent.
But if you go anywhere smaller, especially the places that
Bulgarians think tourists should see, you'll find a lot of
people who are still fascinated that a foreigner is kicking
around in their country. And most important ... they will
do all they can to help you.
If you are inexperienced with travelling in this part of
Europe, it is recommended that you be in no hurry to drive
here, although automobile rental is becoming more popular
with tourists who wish to feel free to visit the many "off
the travelled path" sights. While walking in the city,
be mindful that although there are pedestrian crosswalks,
there are also pedestrian tunnels at or quite near every major
intersection. As a bonus, many of these tunnels also are the
location for some quite wonderful shops, cafes and other attractions.
It is often tempting to merely walk across a street at a traffic
light, but the drivers usually consider their own need to
be in the intersection more important than any pedestrian,
and you may have a very long wait just to walk across any
Regarding Credit Cards (also see our page
Over the past four years the ATM network in Bulgaria has
grown considerably, making it relatively easy to obtain cash
from the numerous ATMs as in all major cities and resorts.
The national credit/debit card operator BORICA (www.borica.bg,
to which all ATMs in the country are hooked up, accepts VISA/Plus,
Visa Electron, MasterCard/Cirrus, Maestro, American Express,
Diners Club, and a number of other cards, including local
ATMs in Sofia, Plovdiv and the other major cities are available
at most banks, many Shell and OMV gas stations, and big stores
as well as at numerous other locations, mostly in the downtown
area. ATM withdrawals are undoubtedly the most reasonable
way to bring money to Bulgaria. All withdrawals are received
in Bulgarian Leva (BGN), at the inter-bank exchange rate,
which is generally better than that of any change bureau.
In addition, BORICA does not charge a commission fee whatsoever,
which, although quite unusual, is obviously of great advantage.
Furthermore, credit/debit cards do not have to be declared
at customs, unlike cash. And last, but not least, credit/debit
cards are definitely safer to carry around and use to obtain
local currency than any other financial instruments. We strongly
advise against "Traveller’s Cheques" as these
can be very difficult and expensive to cash. Reasonable "out-of-pocket"
expenses per person per day in Bulgaria should not normally
exceed 20 USD. Naturally, you are advised to follow some common-sense
procedures, such as keeping your cards in a safe place, not
sharing the card numbers, expiration dates or PINs with anyone,
and abstaining from using badly-lit ATMs alone at night.
Credit or debit cards can be also used to obtain cash from
all banks and most change bureaus. Those, however, usually
charge commission fees for the withdrawal and/or the currency
exchange. The amount of those fees varies, and is often not
openly stated, so make sure you inquire about it before requesting
Unfortunately, most retailers in Bulgaria, especially those
in smaller cities and rural areas, do not accept credit or
debit cards yet. Only a few - particularly hotels, gas station
chains, restaurants, airlines and some other retailers in
bigger cities have been switching to that practice (however,
be aware that paying with cards at such places can be a little
more risky that obtaining cash from an ATM). It is recommended
that you only use your credit/debit cards at locations that
you have a reason to trust. For example, you probably should
not be concerned about card payments at Sofia Sheraton Hotel,
the TZUM Central Department Store, a Shell or OMV gas station,
or the Clinique store. Also, remember to keep or carefully
destroy any receipts on which the full card number appears.
If you plan to use your credit/debit card(s) in Bulgaria,
it is highly recommended that you contact your financial institution
in advance, and inform them about your travel plans. Often
credit/debit card usage is limited to your home country, so
you should ensure that you would be able to use your cards
abroad. Informing your financial institution about your travel
plans in advance will also prevent the unpleasant event of
your cards being cancelled due to extraordinary transactions.
U.S. visitors please note that Discover Card is not accepted
overseas except for Internet purchases and transactions through
Bear in mind that you will most likely be unable to obtain
your balance from an ATM that uses a currency different than
the one in your account. Therefore, when your account is in
currency other than the Leva, you should ensure easy telephone
or Internet access to your card account, in order to regularly
monitor your transactions. Those may also be of vital importance
in the unpleasant event of your cards being lost or stolen.
As you may know, banks/credit institutions generally waive
unauthorized charges made on your card only if you have reported
it missing beforehand. Only regular magnetic stripe cards
are usable at ATMs in Bulgaria. Smart Card, AMEX Blue and
other microchip-only cards are currently not accepted.
Keep in mind that your bank/credit institution may be at liberty
to charge you a transaction fee for ATM withdrawals abroad.
For more information, please contact your financial institution.
To obtain cash from your credit/debit card at an ATM, you
will need to use your four-digit Personal Identification Number
(PIN). If your PIN consists of more than four digits, or if
you do not have a PIN yet, please contact your financial institution
There is an excellent collection of travel tips - including
a list of possible scams - at "Round The World Travel
We highly recommend that you read and put into practice as
many travel tips and pieces of advice as possible.
Disclaimer: This information is current as of June 2003.
The PlovdivGuide declares that the information above is true
and accurate to the best of our knowledge. However, PlovdivGuide
does not bear any responsibility for its accuracy. All trademarks
mentioned above are the property of their respective owners.
Bulgaria is a moderately developed European nation, undergoing
significant economic changes. Tourist facilities are widely
available. Although not an “exclusive vacation spot”,
sometimes your countries’ Bureaus of Consular Affairs
draw a rather unfair picture of all the
As in every free-market country, Bulgaria's economic marketplace
sets prices at affordable levels for the average Bulgarian
wage-earner, about 205 USD per month. The urban elderly survive
on monthly pensions of 50 USD. To the tourist, this means:
The kids want pizza? Head for the nearest Verdi Pizza Place
(ask to see their English menu) - a large pizza for three
will cost the equivalent of about 4 USD - wash it down with
a half-litre of Coca Cola for 0.80 USD (half a litre of beer
is 0.60 USD). If you prefer a full dinner for the family -
plan on 9-11 USD per person (including drinks) at most of
the "very-good-quality" restaurants throughout the
A taxi ride almost anywhere in the city? Plan to spend no
more than the equivalent of 4-5 USD. Taxis are painted yellow
and always have a sign on top of the cars. If you phone-call
for a taxi (you could easily spot the phone numbers of the
different taxi-agencies written on the car-doors) there is
always a discount. A helpful receptionist at the hotel you
are staying at might always call for a taxi.
We might give you a good piece of advice – try to use
a local tour-guide, a person of knowledge of the city and
of course your language, and who could take you to all the
key places to see and will make your visit truly unforgettable
- instead of the do-it-yourself-method which will definitely
deprive you of the pleasure to see the city or the country
from a “local point of view”.
If your shoes wear out from walking through the Old Town,
a new pair in your size in a quality leather shoe is no more
than 20 – 30 USD. Avoid slick-soled shoes; the cobblestone
streets can become very slippery.
You get the main idea - Plovdiv is an affordable vacation
spot! Bring your camera and take plenty of photos. Enjoy yourself!
If you need any help – please do not hesitate to contact
us! There are phone numbers you could find in the Contact
Us section, or you could send us e-mail. If there is any additional
information you require - read through our message
forum by clicking this link. Often, some other website
visitor has already asked a similar question and we have not
yet updated this "tips" page. For that reason, we
are preparing an FAQ list for this web site. You might also
want to subscribe to our free Newsletter.
Electrical power (220 V.A.C., 50 Hz) is supplied through
a 2-pin connecting plug which is similar to that used in most
European countries but it is different from those used in
the US, UK and Japan.
DHL, UPS or TNT are all reliable international express freight
carriers in Bulgaria. DHL have an express centre inside The
Plovdiv Fair administration building, and the main Plovdiv
office at 9 Svoboda Boulevard. TNT’s office is also
close to the Plovdiv Fair grounds, at 52 Tsar Boris III Obedinitel
Blvd. The staffs are extremely courteous and speak good English.
Bulgaria abides by the East-European time, 2 hours ahead
of universal GMT time (the time of Greenwich Observatory in
Great Britain). Daylight saving time is used from 0 hours
on the last Sunday of March, till 24 hours on the last Saturday
If you would like to suggest an idea to be included in our
'Bulgarian Travel Tips' address your comments to Webmaster.