Like many former communist countries, Bulgaria is one with a certain mysterious air to it. As a result, this often yields questions about the country from people intending to travel there and experience it for themselves. In this section, we’re going to answer the most frequently asked questions about Bulgaria in order to give you a better insight into this fascinating Balkan country.
Where is Bulgaria?
Bulgaria is a fairly large country and as a result borders various Balkan neighbors as well as the stunning Black Sea. Bulgaria is located on the Balkan Peninsula in Southeast Europe. It borders Romania in the north, Greece and Turkey in the south, Serbia and Macedonia in the west, and the Black Sea in the east.
Do they speak English in Bulgaria?
Naturally, Bulgarians speak Bulgarian, which is a south Slavic language. It is similar to other Slavic languages such as Russian, Serbian and Czech. Bulgarian speech is at least partially understood by other Slavic language speakers, and vice versa. However, these days an increasing number of Bulgarians speak English as it is taught in schools there. So to find an English speaker your best bet is to aim for people under 30.
Is Bulgaria in the EU?
Yes, Bulgaria is an EU state but with a twist. Bulgaria joined the European Union in 2007. The immediate benefits of membership are funding for infrastructure and other projects, participation in European political structures, and fewer border restrictions for Bulgarian travelers.
However, at the moment Bulgaria is not a member of the Eurozone, which requires several administrative control steps to be passed before a country can adopt the common currency. The process of euro adoption is likely to last several more years.
What is there to see in Bulgaria?
Bulgaria is a small country with a lot to offer tourists. The natural beauty of the region is abundant and there are nine locations listed as UNESCO World Heritage sites. These include physical and cultural landmarks, including Rila Monastery, Magura Cave, and the Kazanlak Thracian tomb, and the Roman amiptheatre in Plovdiv.
The Bulgarian Tourist Union runs a special program highlighting the top 100 tourist sites around the country. Passports are available at each site for a symbolic price of just one lev. Visitors collect stamps in their passports at each site and win awards by visiting 25, 50 or all 100 locations.
Is Bulgaria safe?
Bulgaria is a very safe country. There are low levels of violent crime and it’s thought to be no less dangerous than any other European country. That said, like many places in the world there are some issues and other worries that potential visitors to the country might want to be aware of such as pickpockets and petty crime, which can be deterred with standard vigilance that you should employ wherever you travel.
Do I need a visa to enter Bulgaria?
For members of the European Union, only a valid identity card or passport is sufficient. For other nationalities outside the European Union, a valid passport is obligatory. Some nationalities may also require a visa. Please contact your local authorities and local Bulgarian embassy or consulate if unsure.
Can I use credit cards in Bulgaria?
In most of the shops, bars and restaurants you can use VISA and Master Card. Less popular are other cards like Diners Club and especially American Express is usually not accepted. Smaller retailers or such in smaller towns may accept only cash. In Bulgaria rarely you would be asked for your ID when making payment by credit card.
Most places require your PIN code to do the credit card transaction. ATMs are well spread around the bigger towns, literally, there is one at every corner and it is very easy to withdraw money. Most of them operate also in English. For the transaction fees, please consult your bank. In general, it is better to be prepared with some cash at all times in case you need it.
How good is the internet in Bulgaria?
Today Bulgaria is in the top 10 of the European countries by the coverage and the speed of the internet. You will have free wi-fi in every hotel and restaurant and in most of the public areas and parks. It’s also very affordable to buy a cheap local sim for 4G internet wherever you are in the country.