Useful Tips You should know when travelling to Bulgaria

International Travel Information

Bulgarian International Airports

Sofia Vrazhdebna Airport (SOF) is situated 10 km east from the city (travel time – 20 minutes). Buses run approximately every 10 minutes to the city centre during the day and every 20 minutes between 21.00-00.30. Shuttles are available if arranged in advance through tour operators. Taxis are also available, although taxi drivers may not use their meters and travellers are advised to negotiate the fare beforehand. The airport facilities include banks and currency exchange (24 hours), a post office, a duty-free shop, a nursery, a restaurant, a 24-hour bar and rent-a-car (Hertz, Avis, Budget, Europcar, etc.). www.sofia-airport.bg

Varna Airport (VAR) is located 9 km from the city. A bus service to Varna city centre operates every 20 minutes. A shuttle transfer is available by arrangement with various tour operators. A taxi service is also available. The airport facilities include outgoing duty-free shop, banking and currency exchange (24 hours), a restaurant, a 24-hour bar and car hire by prior arrangement with travel agents. www.varna-airport.bg

Bourgas Airport (BOJ) is 13 km from the city. A bus service departs every 20 minutes to the city centre. A shuttle transfer is available by prior arrangement with tour operators. A taxi service is also available. The airport facilities include outgoing duty-free shop, banking and currency exchange (24 hours), a restaurant (06.00-22.30), a 24-hour bar and car hire (prior arrangement needed). www.bourgas-airport.com

Plovdiv (PDV) is located 12 km. from the city of Plovdiv. A bus service departs every hour to the city centre. A shuttle transfer is available by prior arrangement with tour operators. A taxi service is also available and not expensive. The airport facilities include outgoing duty-free shop, banking and currency exchange (24 hours), parking - and car hire (prior arrangement needed). www.plovdivairport.com

Getting to Bulgaria

By air. Airline companies which offer flights to Bulgaria are: Bulgaria Air, Turkish Airlines, Swiss Air, Olympic Airlines, Lufthansa, LOT Polish Airlines, KLM, Czech Airlines, British Airways, Austrian Airlines, Al Italia, Iberia, Air France, Air Algerie, Syrian Airlines and etc.

By water. Traveling to Bulgaria by water is also possible. There are two Black Sea ports located in the biggest Bulgarian seaside cities Varna and Bourgas. There are direct links to Ukraine, Russia and the countries from the Mediterranean basin. There is also good access to Central and Western Europe through the Danube River. The biggest Bulgarian port on the Blue Danube is located in Rousse and another smaller one is located in Vidin.

By train. The main European railway routes pass through Bulgaria. There are frequent services between Sofia and Budapest, Belgrade, Bucharest, Thessaloniki and Istanbul. Sofia is also directly connected with Paris, Vienna, Munich, Berlin and Istanbul. Dining car facilities are available on all routes. If you prefer travelling to Bulgaria by train we recommend visiting the official site of the Bulgarian State Railways which provides direct or non-direct transportation to the main European and Mediterranean cities: http://bdz.bg/index-en.php

By bus. You can visit http://www.centralnaavtogara.bg/ where you will find more information on international and interurban bus schedules; you are able to make online reservations as well.

By car. If you travel to Bulgaria by car you can use your national driving license if it complies with the international standards. A regular Danube car ferry connects Vidin with Calafat in Romania.

Serbian Border Kalotina - Motorway E-80
Vrushka Chuka – Belgrad – Zajcar – Koulata - Sofia Motorway
Strejimirovci
Negotin
Macedonian Border Gyueshevo – Sofia – Kyustendil - Skopje Motorway E-871
Stanke Lisichkovo - Stip-Delchevo – Blagoevgrad - Sofia Motorway E-79
Zlatarevo – Strumica – Petrich - Sofia Motorway E-79
Greek Border Koulata - Motorway E-79
Kapitan Petko Voivoda - Motorway E-85
Turkish Border Kapitan Andreevo - Motorway E-80
Malko Turnovo - Motorway E-87
Romanian Border Rousse - Motorway E-85
Yovkovo – Constanta – Dobrich - Kula Motorway 27
Durankulak - Motorway E-87
Silistra - Motorway 7

The speed limit in Bulgaria is as follows: 50 km/h in populated areas, 90 km/h outside populated areas, and 120 km/h on motorways. Petrol stations are located at every 30 to 50 km.

Travel Information in Bulgaria

By air. Bulgaria Air operates domestic services connecting Sofia with the main cities on the coast and within the country. The journeys from Sofia to Varna and Bourgas take about 1 hour.

By train. There are over 4,200 km of railways in the country. Bulgarian State Railways connects Sofia with main towns. Reservations are essential and first-class travel is advised.

By car. There are over 13,000 km of roads linking the major centres; their quality is variable. Traffic drives on the right. International road signs are used, although roadworks are often not signposted. Speed limits are strictly adhered to: 50kph in built-up areas, 90kph outside built-up areas and 120kph on motorways. The nationwide alcohol limit is 0.05 per cent. Taxi: Available in all cities and also for intercity journeys. The price is calculated per km and asking about of the price per km is advisable before taking a taxi.

By bus. There is a good network of intercity buses. On the website of the Sofia central bus station, there is plenty of information regarding online reservations and schedules for buses from and to the capital.
Sofia central bus station

Metro, public buses, trams and trolleybuses operate in Sofia. Tickets must be pre-purchased at the bus stops. Failure to show a regular ticket for public transport to the ticket inspectors results in receiving a fine.

Travel times from Sofia to Air Road Rail
Varna 1.00 5.00 6/7.00
Bourgas 0.45 3,50 5/6.00
Plovdiv - 1,50 2.00
Ruse - 5.00 7.00
Veliko Turnovo - 3.30 4.30
Vitosha mountain - 0.30 -
Borovets ski resort - 1.30 -
Pamporovo ski resort - 3.30 -
Golden Sands resort - * 0.30 -
Albena resort - * 0.40 -
Sunny Beach resort - ** 0.45 -

* Travel time from Varna to
** Travel time from Bourgas to

Money

Currency

Lev (Lv) = 100 stotinki.
Notes are in denominations of Lv 100, 50, 20, 10, 5, 2 and 1.
Coins are in denominations of 1 Lv; 50, 20, 10, 5, 2 and 1 stotinki.

Note:
The Lev is pegged to the Euro at a fixed rate; € 1 = Lv 1.95583
Notes dated 1997 and earlier are now out of circulation.

Currency exchange

You can safely exchange money at all Bulgarian banks and at most of the exchange bureaus without a commission for currency exchange. A bordereaux receipt indicating the amount of currency exchanged should be received. Visitors are advised not to use exchange bureaus at the hotels and airports where less favorable currency rates are offered. Please, note that it is highly recommended money to be exchanged at change offices and banks, and not on the street! There are ATMs available in all cities and towns in the country.

Credit & debit cards

The following major international credit cards are accepted in many hotels, restaurants and shops in Bulgaria: Diners Club, American Express, MasterCard, Carte Blanche, Visa, Eurocard, etc. They can be used for the payment of all standard services: hotel accommodation, restaurants, nightspots, shopping, car rentals, plane tickets, etc.

Social Profile

Remember that in Bulgaria a nod of the head means "No" and a shake means "Yes".

The best time to visit Bulgaria is late spring, early summer, when the weather is very stable and warm, the days are long (over 12 hours) and rainfalls are far rarer than in April and May. Temperatures in the peak of summer (July, August) often reach 30°C (degrees Celsius) and sometimes even higher. Wear light clothes, T-shirts, shorts (more comfortable than long trousers), sandals, sunglasses. To protect from the sun on the beach or in the mountains, always wear hats and high SPF sunscreen lotion. 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.

Visa Requirements

Citizens of the United States and Canada, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, and Israel, travelling on regular passports, are not required visas for a stay in Bulgaria not exceeding the period of 30 days. If they are planning to stay more than 30 days, or they are travelling on diplomatic or official passport, a visa is required and must be obtained in advance. A Bulgarian visa (entry or transit) may be obtained at any Bulgarian Embassy or Consular Office in the countries required to get such a visa.

Personal travel documents

Hotels in Bulgaria, as well as in other countries of the European Union, are entitled to take your passport in order to be able to provide your personal details to the police, if needed. They usually hand back the documents on the next morning, or when you leave the hotel. You should consider keeping a photocopy of your passport in some safe place. Such a copy helps your consul issue a new one fast, in case of a loss or theft.

Most important phone numbers

Calling Code for Bulgaria: +359
Sofia calling Code: 2 (when dialled from abroad); 02 (if you already happen to be in Bulgaria)
Roaming Mobile Operators: Vivacom, M–Tel, Globul
112 — Emergency Medical Aid, Fire Department, Police
0123 — Operator for international calls (if direct-dial phone call is impossible)

Local time

Bulgaria abides by the East-European time, 2 hours ahead of the 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 of October.

Electrical power

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, the UK and Japan.

Where to go & what to see?

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