General information about Bulgaria
Bulgaria is situated in south-eastern Europe, in the north-eastern part of the Balkan Peninsula between 41°14' and 44°14' northern latitude and 22°21' and 28°36' eastern longitude. Bulgaria has a territory of 110 993 square kilometres which is 22% of the Balkan Peninsula. Its maximum length is 520 km and its maximum width is 330 km. The overall length of its borders is 2245 km. Bulgaria borders Romania to the north (the frontier line runs along the Danube river and continues on land to the north-east), to the south - Greece and Turkey, to the west - Serbia and Macedonia (former Yugoslavia) and to the east - the Black Sea. You will surely find this information particularly useful if you are planning for a cozy and elegant holidays to Bulgaria.
Climate and Relief
Climate: Continental temperate with clearly marked four seasons. Hot waves from the Mediterranean Sea are felt in the country's southern regions. The average annual temperature is 10.5°C and the average winter temperature is around 0°C. Average summer temperatures are usually over 23°C.
The relief is extremely varied: large plains and lowlands, low and high mountains, valleys and lovely gorges.
It will fascinate you with its fantastic creativity, squeezing so much beauty onto such a tiny land - curious rock formations and mysterious caves; sunny seashores with golden sands, quiet coves and romantic capes; majestic mountains with fiery peaks, mirror lakes and shady woods full of scent. Bulgaria is famous for its oleaginous rose which bloom in the Valley of Roses. The Bulgarian tobacco brands are world famous.
The Bulgarian fauna is no less interesting, with almost 13 000 animal species and subspecies, or about 14 percent of all European species. Fishing is widespread in lakes, dams, mountain brooks and sea, hunting - in hunting grounds all over the hills, valleys and mountains where permitted.
It will take you back dozens of centuries to Pliska, Preslav and Veliko Tarnovo - the seats of the first Bulgarian khans, czars and kings; to the stone carving of the Madara Horseman; to the Thracian Gold Treasures; to the breathtaking murals of the Kazanlak Tomb and the church in Boyana; to the quiet wisdom of the Rila Monastery and to the towns of Koprivshtitsa, Melnik and Zheravna - Renaissance legends of wood, stone and colour.
You will hear them in the unique rhythm, melody and harmony of the Bulgarian folk songs and chants; your heart will sense them in the merry and healthy joye-de-vivre atmosphere of the rites and celebrations. You will discern them in the everlasting beauty of the handicrafts, finely woven in the ceramic vignettes and wood carvings, colorful rugs and hammered copper-ware. You will find them in the exquisite taste of Bulgarian cuisine and in the fine aroma of Bulgarian wines.
It will be omnipresent in your days with unique finds in the museums, including the world's oldest gold; with beautiful collections of works from self-taught old masters to modern painters in the art galleries; with classical concerts and folklore song-and-dance festivals.
Bulgaria boasts an extensive accommodation network ranging from luxury five-star to unpretentious two-star hotels, small cosy hotels and private rooms, meeting all modern requirements. Reservations through tourist agencies or local accommodation offices.
Throughout Bulgaria you will find catering establishments of different categories serving different foods: renowned luxury restaurants, taverns which serve national cuisine, restaurants serving foreign cuisine, fast food outlets, pizzerias, numerous cafés and pastry shops. Menus are usually printed in both Bulgarian and English. Restaurants stay open from 11 a.m. to midnight, but usually work round the clock in summer, especially in resorts.
Population and Religion: 8,000,000 people speaking Bulgarian language. English is spoken almost everywhere, especially in the resorts, all hotels and restaurants.
German and Russian languages are also very common.
Around 90% of the population is Eastern Orthodox, 10% are Muslims, mainly from the Turkish population in Bulgaria. The Bulgarian Church is autonomous and headed by a Patriarch.
Capital: Sofia (pop. 1,400,000)
Big cities: Plovdiv, Varna, Bourgas, Rousse, Stara Zagora, Sliven, Pleven, Veliko Tаrnovo, Dobrich, Vidin, Yambol, Blagoevgrad.
Around 80 % of the population is urban.
Popular holiday resorts:
Coastal - Balchik, Albena, Golden Sands, Obzor, Sunny Beach, Nessebar, Sozopol, Primorsko, Tsarevo and others;
Ski - Bansko, Borovets, Pamporovo and others
SPA resorts - Velingrad, Sandanski, Hissarya, Pavel Banya, Narechenski Bani, Tuzlata and others
Average distances between some major cities in Bulgaria:
Sofia - Plovdiv: 130 km
Sofia - Varna: 380 km
Sofia - Bourgas: 340 km
Sofia - Ruse: 250 km
Sofia - Stara Zagora: 190 km
Varna - Bourgas: 125 km
Ruse - Veliko Tarnovo: 100 km
Time Difference: GMT: +2 hours
Monetary Units: Bulgarian Lev (BGL); Banknote denominations include 2, 5, 10, 20, 50 and 100 leva, as well as coins of smaller denominations.
- public transport - buses, trams, trolley-buses in all major towns and cities
- taxi - easy to hire it directly from the street or by phone order
- rent-a-car: AVIS, Hertz, Europcar, Budget and International Car Rental in Sofia and most larger towns and resorts; smaller Bulgarian private companies elsewhere
Medical Service: Free first aid and consultation in emergencies
Currency Exchange: In banks and 24-hour exchange offices. The exchange rate is announced every day.
How to Reach Bulgaria:
By plane: The national carrier Bulgaria Air, private Bulgarian airline companies, more charter flights than ever before, as well as many foreign airlines link the country to Europe, Africa, the Middle East and North America.
By car: The country can be entered through any one of the many border checkpoints. Foreign driving licenses are valid on Bulgarian territory. Insurance is compulsory - it can either be taken out beforehand or on the Bulgarian border. The speed limit in the country is as follows: 50 km/h in populated areas, 90 km/h outside populated areas, 130 km/h on motorways. Petrol stations are located at every 15 to 20 km outside populated areas and about every 40-50 km on the motorways.
By train: The main European railway routes pass through Bulgaria. International trains link Sofia with many European capital cities and the domestic rail network ensures access to all large settlements.
Passports and Visas:
No entry visas are required for citizens of the countries with which Bulgaria has a visa - free regime or of organised tourists who have bought a package tour, as well as for citizens of the EU. You will need a passport valid until at least six months after the date of departure. If you are not a citizen of The European Union or EFTA member states, you need an entry or transit visa, which is issued by the embassies and consulates of the Republic of Bulgaria abroad.
No entry visas are required for UK citizens.
You do not have to produce a return ticket on arrival. On arrival, however, all visitors have to register at the hotel or guesthouse they are staying at, or when visiting friends or camping - at the nearest police station.