About Bulgaria

Bulgaria officially the Republic of Bulgaria tr. Republika Bǎlgariya, pronounced is a country in southeastern Europe. It is bordered by Romania to the north, Serbia and Macedonia to the west, Greece and Turkey to the south, and the Black Sea to the east. With a territory of 110,994 square kilometers (42,855 sq mi), Bulgaria is Europe's 16th-largest country.

Organized prehistoric cultures began developing on current Bulgarian lands during the Neolithic period. Its ancient history saw the presence of the Thracians, Greeks, Persians, Celts, Romans, Goths, Alans and Huns. The emergence of a unified Bulgarian state dates back to the establishment of the First Bulgarian Empire in 681 AD, which dominated most of the Balkans and functioned as a cultural hub for Slavs during the Middle Ages. With the downfall of the Second Bulgarian Empire in 1396, its territories came under Ottoman rule for nearly five centuries. The Russo-Turkish War of 1877–78 led to the formation of the Third Bulgarian State. The following years saw several conflicts with its neighbors, which prompted Bulgaria to align with Germany in both world wars. In 1946 it became a one-party socialist state as part of the Soviet-led Eastern Bloc. In December 1989 the ruling Communist Party allowed multi-party elections, which subsequently led to Bulgaria's transition into a democracy and a market-based economy.

Bulgaria's population of 7.2 million people is predominantly urbanized and mainly concentrated in the administrative centers of its 28 provinces. Most commercial and cultural activities are centered on the capital and largest city, Sofia. The strongest sectors of the economy are heavy industry, power engineering, and agriculture, all of which rely on local natural resources.

The country's current political structure dates to the adoption of a democratic constitution in 1991. Bulgaria is a unitary parliamentary republic with a high degree of political, administrative, and economic centralization. It is a member of the European Union, NATO, and the Council of Europe; a founding state of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE); and has taken a seat at the UN Security Council three times.

Capital Sofia
Largest city Sofia
Official language and national language Bulgarian
Area 110,879 km2 (42,811 sq mi)
Total Water (%) 0.3
Population 7.128 million
Currency Lev (BGN)
Time zone EET (UTC+2) / EEST (UTC+3)
Country Code +359

The Do’s and Don’ts of Traveling to Bulgaria

We’re pleased you’ve found this post about Do’s and Don’ts, and it’s become very popular.
We see a lot of people coming from many different countries who are completely unaware of culturally-appropriate behavior, the acceptable way to behave in Bali and Indonesia.

In this brief post, we’re going to talk about proper behavior when visiting another country, specifically Indonesia and its island of Bali. If you pay attention to local etiquette, how the locals act and what they consider to be acceptable behavior, you will have a much better and safer time here, and your presence here will be much more appreciated than someone who doesn’t care for the local culture.

The Balinese are very protective of their culture, and although they are tolerant of tourists, this only goes up to a certain point. The rest of Indonesia is much less tolerant of tourists, and behavior that is considered out-of-line can be met with a variety of responses, not many of them positive.

DO’s

• Do spend more on regional specialties - Rose oil perfume from Kazanlak, raspberry wine from Trastena, green cheese from Cherny Vit or Rhodopean mursal tea with honey are just a few options. Authentic Bulgarian dresses are masterpieces to look at, especially when worn by singers who enchant you with outlandish voices in a concert. In the summer, go to Burgas and ask around where you can observe barefoot fire dancing. You can also meet these dancers at the Wake Up festival near Plovdiv or Jeravna’s folklore festival.

• do enjoy Bulgaria's exquisite villages - The capital is worth visiting, but nearly 4/5 of this country is actually rural. Our villages depopulate, 10% are already empty and a few hundred have less than 10 inhabitants, mainly seniors. But despite all dark demographic statistics, there is enormous potential for rural tourism to be developed. Hurry up and go there before tourists flood these places. Dolen, Ravnogor, Turiya, Trigrad are just a few suggestions that are hard to reach by public transportation, but are still untouched by mass tourism.

• Do give guesthouses and family-owned small hotels a chance - Good hosts will treat you with homemade food in the morning, friendly talks and a place with amazing views of nature. Rhodope Mountains is where you will find plenty of such family-owned places to stay. Go to Trigrad and try Arkan Han hotel’s legendary baklava, then ride a horse up the wild trail leading to an abandoned village.

• Do visit the resort's neighbors - Nearby cities like the fast developing Burgas also offer great nightlife, without its totally-wasted-rolling-on-the-floor-naked side. And you can meet locals there, unlike Sunny Beach, which becomes a ghost town in the winter.

• Do drink responsibly - When ordering hard liquor, you should know that a double vodka is 100ml here. Be a mindful traveler and buy your shots from reputable bars, or get your liquor from supermarkets. It is perfectly affordable to drink a cocktail or two in a sleek nightclub with good music and quality clientele.

• Do slow the pace down for the scenic journey.

• Hop on the Septemvri - Dobrinishte panoramic narrow gauge line that passes through the gorges of two mountains (Rila and Rhodope) and gets you to Pirin. Its nostalgic coaches are well maintained, stopping at stunning mountain stations that are otherwise hard to reach. But almost any Bulgarian train journey will be a scenic delight, so instead of swearing about the lack of comfort just relax, meditate and enjoy the view.

DON’T

• Don't be an arrogant cheapskate - Just because you are in an inexpensive country doesn’t mean you can get everything you want for next to nothing. A sure way to embarrass yourself is to try bargaining for a discount on a magnet souvenir that costs 1 lev ($0.56). You might really need the small change for your next big purchase. A 1.20 lev ($0.68) pizza slice that is. Pay no respect for our culture by dragging your local friend, who is excited for you to try Bulgarian beans soup and shopska salad, across town for a dirt-cheap fast food meal you can find in your home country. To make a cheapskate nickname last longer, act like the 20 lev bill in your pocket can buy a whole clothing store, along with the shop keeper.

• Don’t limit your trip to Sofia - Don't strike Bulgaria off your list just because you have spent 2 days in Sofia as a stopover on your way to Istanbul or Halkidiki. Parliament, media, administration, nightlife, culture, social environment, businesses – most action is centralized in the capital. Even us locals often have to remind ourselves that "Sofia is not Bulgaria".

• Don’t trust hotel star rating - You would normally expect a 4 star hotel to offer great service and luxury. This is not always the case in Bulgaria, unless part of a famous hotel chain. The spirit of the standards set by the old Balkantourist from totalitarian times is still haunting our tourism industry with its outdated “they can’t get out of the country anyway” approach. A place that pretends to be expensive can greet you with gold-plated plastic in the bathroom, a creaky bed with a hard mattress, boring fiberboard furniture and heavy red-brown satin bed linens. Most certainly, you will hear your neighbors arguing or moaning. The typical breakfast buffet consists of coarsely chopped cucumbers and tomatoes, hard-boiled eggs, margarine and thin slices of ham, regardless of the season. A private hostel room often offers a better looking and more comfortable space.

• Don't go to Sunny Beach in the summer - Overbuilt, overcrowded, overpriced and full of 'alcohol tourism' — this is what the overestimated Sunny Beach actually has to offer. There was nothing sunny about a wasted foreign girl who once threw up all over my new leather sandals. After this, a taxi took me from the club and drove me to my hotel at the price of a bus ticket to the other end of the country (250 miles against 3). If you are looking for a local experience then this is not the place – Sunny Beach is something like the Little United Drunk Kingdom.

• Don't abuse the cheap booze - If you choose to ignore the above advice and go to Sunny Beach anyway, then be warned that inexpensive alcohol can get you in sticky situations like paying 180 levs to call an ambulance. A recent police check in this same resort confiscated 273 liters of fake alcohol. Another check found an apartment factory for counterfeit drinks production and 3000 liters of various liquids. Both crimes were solved in the same year, 2015. Will these be the last ones? Are there more? All-you-can-drink pub crawls are a bad idea here, even if the booze is regular. Unless you want to play a "we will survive" game with your friends.

• Don't expect Bulgarian trains to be fast - Many times I have traveled in trains that stop all the time or slow down to 25 miles per hour. The trains are ancient and will take you back in times when passenger comfort and speed weren’t a priority. "First class" is a misleading label for something that has the same old dirty seats with a little more seating space and less people. The Bulgarian National Railways is famous for its atrocious service. What they do is just get you there (unless you are unlucky to board a train that breaks midway and waits for hours).

Demographics

The population of Bulgaria is 7,364,570 people according to the 2011 national census. The majority of the population, or 72.5 percent, reside in urban areas approximately one-sixth of the total population is concentrated in Sofia. Bulgarians are the main ethnic group and comprise 84.8 percent of the population. Turkish and Roma minorities comprise 8.8 and 4.9 percent, respectively; some 40 smaller minorities comprise 0.7 percent, and 0.8 percent do not self-identify with an ethnic group

Largest cities or towns

1. Sofia 2. Plovdiv
3. Varna 4. Burgas
5. Ruse 6. Stara Zagora
7. Pleven 8. Sliven
9. Dobrich 10. Shumen

Languages

All ethnic groups speak Bulgarian, either as a first or as a second language. Bulgarian is the only language with official status and native for 85.2 percent of the population. The oldest written Slavic language, Bulgarian is distinguishable from the other languages in this group through certain grammatical peculiarities such as the lack of noun cases and infinitives, and a suffixed definite article

Religion

• 87.2% Islam

• 9.9% Christianity

    • 7.0% Protestantism
    • 2.9% Roman Catholicism

• 1.7% Hinduism

• 0.7% Buddhism

• 0.2% Confucianism

• 0.3 %others

Culture

Nine historical and natural objects have been inscribed in the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites: the Madara Rider, the Thracian tombs in Sveshtari and Kazanlak, the Boyana Church, the Rila Monastery, the Rock-hewn Churches of Ivanovo, Pirin National Park, Sreburna Nature Reserve and the ancient city of Nesebar. Nestinarstvo, a ritual fire-dance of Thracian origin,is included in the list of UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage. Fire is an essential element of Bulgarian folklore, used to banish evil spirits and diseases. Bulgarian folklore personifies illnesses as witches and has a wide range of creatures, including lamya, samodiva (veela) and karakondzhul. Some of the customs and rituals against these spirits have survived and are still practiced, most notably the kukeri and survakari. Martenitsa is also widely celebrated.

Slavic culture was centred in both the First and Second Bulgarian Empires during much of the middle Ages. The Preslav, Ohrid and Tarnovo literary schools exerted considerable cultural influence over the Eastern Orthodox world. Many languages in Eastern Europe and Asia use Cyrillic script, which originated in the Preslav Literary School around the 9th century. The medieval advancement in the arts and letters ended with the Ottoman conquest when many masterpieces were destroyed, and artistic activities did not re-emerge until the National Revival in the 19th century. After the Liberation, Bulgarian literature quickly adopted European literary styles such as Romanticism and Symbolism. Since the beginning of the 20th century, several Bulgarian authors, such as Ivan Vazov, Pencho Slaveykov, Peyo Yavorov, Yordan Radichkov and Tzvetan Todorov have gained prominence. In 1981 Bulgarian-born writer Elias Canetti was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature.

Bulgarian folk music is by far the most extensive traditional art and has slowly developed throughout the ages as a fusion of Eastern and Western influences. It contains Far Eastern, Oriental, medieval Eastern Orthodox and standard Western European tonalities and modes. The music has a distinctive sound and uses a wide range of traditional instruments, such as gadulka, gaida (bagpipe), kaval and tupan. One of its most distinguishing features is extended rhythmical time, which has no equivalent in the rest of European music. The State Television Female Vocal Choir is the most famous performing folk ensemble, and received a Grammy Award in 1990. Bulgaria's written musical composition can be traced back to the early Middle Ages and the works of Yoan Kukuzel (c. 1280–1360). Classical music, opera and ballet are represented by composers Emanuil Manolov, Pancho Vladigerov and Georgi Atanasov and singers Ghena Dimitrova, Boris Hristov and Nikolay Gyaurov. Bulgarian performers have gained popularity in several other genres like progressive rock (FSB), electropop (Mira Aroyo) and jazz (Milcho Leviev).

The religious visual arts heritage includes frescoes, murals and icons, many produced by the medieval Tarnovo Artistic School. Vladimir Dimitrov, Nikolay Diulgheroff and Christo are some of the most famous modern Bulgarian artists. Film industry remains weak: in 2010, Bulgaria produced three feature films and two documentaries with public funding. Cultural events are advertised in the largest media outlets, including the Bulgarian National Radio, and daily newspapers Dneven Trud, Dnevnik and 24 Chasa.

While major sections of Bulgaria's media are controlled by state entities, including Bulgarian National Television, the Bulgarian National Radio, and the Bulgarian Telegraph Agency, reporting is generally deemed to be unbiased by direct government interference, although there is no specific legislation to maintain this. Written media has no legal restrictions, and a large number of private television and radio stations also exist. Despite this, traditional Bulgarian media outlets are experiencing negative economic and political pressures, and instances of self-censorship have emerged. Meanwhile, internet media is growing in popularity due to its lack of censorship and the diversity of content and opinions it presents.

Festivals

Want to know when is the best time to visit Bulgaria? I will tell you – NOW! Summer is the time when you will fall in love with the country wherever you go. There are so many places and events you can embark on a journey of magic music, art and smiley faces. Check out the best summer festivals in Bulgaria and promise me that you will visit at least one this summer.

Meadows in the Mountains - This year the hearth of the mountains will hold the “Meadows in the Mountains” – festival that immerses audiences around the world in a unique party atmosphere, innovative music on two stages, conceptual art and good mood. The festival attracts with its oddities and unusual approach that does not fall for modern trends or foreign music festisval concepts.

Holi Festival of Colours - On June 21 Sofia will turn in the most colorful city in Bulgaria. On this day the capital will celebrates the first festival of colors in the country. The popular Indian tradition, uniting people in the name of spring, love, freedom and the victory of good over evil, will arrive in “Academic” stadium in Sofia especially for the longest day of the year.

Water tower Art Fest - The eight edition of the Watertower festival will take place in Sofia. The Bulgarian art festival is an initiative led by artists that began as a small-scene event and over the years has grown significantly. The event is a major international forum for the presentation of national and international artists working in the contemporary visual arts.

WakeUp - WakeUp! Bulgaria – “Back to the Roots” is held over the meadows of the town of Kuklen on the road to the monastery St. “Kozma and Damian”, 15 km from Plovdiv. This year the Bulgarian music festival offers a 60 hours set of non stop music in 20 different styles and 3 scenes with over a 100 artists. The daily program is also varied, filled with children workshops, crafts and art studios.

Voinegovtsi Wrong Fest - This music Bulgarian festival is held in Voinegovtsi village near Sofia. The main goal is the facilitation of the Bulgarian rock, alternative, ska, and metal scene. 14 bands are included this year, which will be thematically divided into a “Right day”(21.06) and “Wrong Day” (22.06) and the headliners are Superhiks ans Smallman.

Egulya Fest - Egulya Fest is an annual meeting of smiling people who love to have fun and dance under the sky. And this year this festival in Bulgaria will be held on the meadows of Plana. Fresh green forest and enjoyable Reggae, Ragga, Jungle, Drum and Bass, Ska music and many more electronic stiles which will surround all the guests.

Broken Balkanz - The Drum & Bass outdoor festival, will be held for 14th year at the foot of Vitosha mountain near Sofia. Big names like S.P.Y, Chris.Su and Teddy Killerzand Balkans will hit the ground again on the 8th birthday of the national park Vitosha, accompanied by camp, extreme activities and non-stop drum and bass music.

Kavarna Rock Festival - On the 28th adn 29th June 2014 the Bulgarian music festival will be visited by world famous groups – Europe, Helloween, Sabaton, Krokus, Gotthard, Pretty, Maids, Jorn and Gus G. On Junr 27th a rock competition will be held “Black Sea Battle of the Bands” with a vast numbers of representatives from Bulgaria, Romania, Moldova, Georgia, Turkey and Ukraine.

Sofia Rocks - The fifth edition of the biggest Bulgarian Rock Festival shall take place at the Academic Stadium in Bulgaria’s capital city (Manastirska street). The fans of the solid and hard sound in Bulgaria will have the chance to meet the extremely popular rock bands like 30 Seconds to Mars, The Offspring, Mando Diao, Skillet, Alcest, Ossy and many more.

FunCity - The Bulgarian festival called FUNCITY will take place at the sea garden in Varna. The festival focused on the diverse interests, abilities and activities of young people in the city and motivates them to be actively involved with their ideas. The program contains music, extreme sports, street dance, new forms of visual and applied arts, crafts, workshops and entrepreneurship.

Nature All Hip-Hop - This festival in Bulgaria devoted to the Bulgarian Hip-Hop and reggae culture. The seventh edition of the festival will be held close to Veliko Tarnovo. The line up makes up to about 30 groups and graffiti artists which within 2 days will explode the Hip-Hop fans. Tickets – at the festival only.

Artmospheric - The Bulgarian music festival comes out from a symbiosis between Art and Atmosphere. During this festival has evolved as a regional leading event for conceptual electronic music, targeted to advanced listeners and fans of alternative culture.

The Great Desert of Rila - The festival “The Great Desert of Rila” will climb to the highest hut in Bulgaria – “Ivan Vasov” in the Rila mountain. The first edition of the high mountain festival will combine the beautiful Rila landscape with appropriate music. The visitors will be able to listen to the music of Tulpa, Kayno Yesno Slonce and Zeyra at a 2300 m high in the mountain.

Uzana Fest - This Year Usana festival will change attitudes and inspires followers near Gabrovo, Bulgaria. This is the creativity and the energy center of the best green ideas, happening at the middle of the country. You may expect eco-innovation for sustainable development, organic farming, eco education, management of resources and lots of music.

BlueBerry Festival - Another amazing Bulgarian festival will be held in late July. This is the first blueberry festival in the country. The place is Ambaritsa hut in the Stara Planina mountain. You can expect many competitions with prizes, screenings, music and more. The Suntribe Fest - The Suntribe music festival has become a tradition for the fifth consecutive year. It will brings together music maniacs from all over the country on the Otmanli meadows near Burgas. Again with minimal resources and maximum desire the psyched team will create an atmosphere which everyone can feel.

International Festival of Kites - For the second year the Bulgarian festival of kites will be held on 16 August 2014 at Asparouhov beach, Varna. This year the festival became an international – participants from Bulgaria, Italy, Turkey, Romania and other countries will show their own original models. The program includes a parade of kites, a competition for the most attractive models, demonstrations of model aircrafts, gliders, other flying objects and workshop kites in place.

Climate

Bulgaria has a dynamic climate, which results from its being positioned at the meeting point of Mediterranean and continental air masses and the barrier effect of its mountains. Northern Bulgaria averages 1 °C (1.8 °F) cooler and registers 200 millimeters (7.9 in) more precipitation annually than the regions south of the Balkan mountains. Temperature amplitudes vary significantly in different areas. The lowest recorded temperature is −38.3 °C (−36.9 °F), while the highest is 45.2 °C (113.4 °F). Precipitation averages about 630 millimeters (24.8 in) per year, and varies from 500 millimeters (19.7 in) in Dobrudja to more than 2,500 millimeters (98.4 in) in the mountains. Continental air masses bring significant amounts of snowfall during winter.

Top