Resources

Anglo Info (www.angloinfo.com/bulgaria) Expat site with useful general information.

Beach Bulgaria (www.beachbulgaria.com) Seaside information and beach bookings.

Bulgarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (www.mfa.bg) Visas, consulates and other practical information.

Bulgaria Travel (www.bulgariatravel.org) Official tourism portal.

Lonely Planet (www.lonelyplanet.com/bulgaria) Destination information, hotel bookings, traveller forum and more.

Vagabond (www.vagabond.bg) Features on culture and politics.

Top Tips

  • Carry small bills whenever possible. Especially in rural areas, taxi drivers and mehanas (taverns) baulk at finding change for a 50 lv note (and small museums struggle with even 10 lv notes). Sometimes, you may be simply denied your change with a shrug.
  • If you’re taking rural road trips, ask locally about road conditions – don’t always trust your satnav. Roads to small villages can be narrow and winding, and some are only advisable if you have a 4WD.
  • Don’t rely on small, local tourist offices and book shops to have a good supply of hiking or road maps for their area. Stock up on maps before your trip, or in Sofia.
  • Cobblestoned old towns shred sandals, and some pavements are unmaintained. Even if you’re on a city break, pack one pair of solid shoes.

What to Take

  • Sturdy walking boots, for mountain hikes and unforgiving cobbled streets.
  • Long-sleeved, loose clothing for modest monasteries and mosquito avoidance.
  • Sunglasses and sunscreen for summer (and winter, when rays reflect off the snow).
  • A compact umbrella or light raincoat.

What to Wear

Major cities welcome clothing styles from scruffy to chic, while beach resorts almost expect skimpy beachwear. If you're planning on clubbing (especially in Sofia or Varna), save suitcase space for your best threads and well-polished footwear: you won't pass the door staff of Bulgarian nightclubs without them.

In smaller towns, modest, simple dress styles prevail for ladies and gents; expect stares if you sashay through a remote Rodopi village in hot pants. Bring layers to cope with changeable mountain weather, often sunny and stormy within mere minutes.

Crucially, dress down for religious sites and nearby villages, covering from collarbone to knee. It's very rare for women to be asked to wear headscarves in Bulgarian monasteries, but it has been reported.

Pre-Departure Checklist

  • Check your passport is valid for at least three months after the date you plan to leave Bulgaria.
  • Buy travel insurance and make sure it covers any intended outdoor activities.
  • Book accommodation, especially if you're travelling in high summer or winter sports season.
  • Brush up on the Cyrillic alphabet, or at least bring a phrasebook.