Bulgaria

bulgaria essential Information

 

Bulgaria - complete budget travel guide

Visas

Mostly stress free, especially if you’re from Europe

NOTE: Bulgaria is a country of the European Union, but the Schengen zone is not yet implemented. A visa for Bulgaria does not necessarily authorize entry to the Schengen countries.

ⓐ No Visa needed & Entry with ID

Citizens of the EU, EFTA (Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway) and Switzerland only need an officially approved ID card (or a passport) for entry.

Visa free policy for those who have permission to enter Schengen Area.

Nationals of the following non-EEA countries do not need a visa for entry into the Schengen Area:

Albania*, Andorra, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina,Australia, Bahamas, Barbados, Bosnia and Herzegovina*, Brazil, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Israel, Japan, Macedonia*,Malaysia, Mauritius, Mexico, Monaco, Montenegro*, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Saint Kitts and Nevis, San Marino, Serbia*/**, Seychelles,Singapore, South Korea, Switzerland, Taiwan*** (Republic of China), United States, Uruguay, Vatican City, Venezuela, additionally persons holding British National (Overseas), Hong Kong SAR or Macau SAR passports.

These non-EU/EFTA visa-free visitors may stay no more than 90 days in a 180 day period in the Schengen Area as a whole and, in general, may not work during their stay.

Holders of a Schengen visa have the right to enter and reside in the Republic of Bulgaria for a period of no more than three months in any six-month period from the date of the first entry, without needing to have a Bulgarian short-stay visa.

(*) nationals of Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia need a biometric passport to enjoy visa-free travel,
(**) Serbian nationals with passports issued by the Serbian Coordination Directorate (residents of Kosovo with Serbian passports) do need a visa.
(***) Taiwan nationals need their ID number to be stipulated in their passport to enjoy visa-free travel.

 

For the rest of world, these are the options

  1. Visa A (for airport transit) The airport transit visa entitles the foreigner to cross or to stay in the international transit zone of the airport in the case of a transit landing or of changing flights for the purpose of continuing travel to another state. Not interesting for hitchhikers, but anyway, you can download the information HERE
  2. Visa C (for a short stay for the purpose of transit or a planned stay)

A short-stay visa for the purpose of transit is issued to a foreigner who wishes to transit through the territory of the Republic of Bulgaria en route to another state, for which he/she has a visa, if required. The transit visa entitles the foreigner to one, two, or as an exception – three, transit passages each for a term of 2 (two) days and may be with a validity term of up to 12 months. The overall duration of stay on the territory of the Republic of Bulgaria with a transit visa may not exceed 90 days within every 6 months as of the date of the first entry.

A short-stay visa for the purposes of planned stay is issued to a foreigner who enters the country once, twice or multiple times for a total term of stay up to 90 days within each 6 months as of the date of the first entry. With some additional paperwork there is an option of obtaining multiple short-stay visa may be with a validity term of up to twelve months or, as an exception – up to five years.

You can download the information HERE.

  1. Visa D (for a long stay)

A long-stay visa is issued to a foreigner who wishes to settle long term or permanently in the Republic of Bulgaria. The duration is usually of up to 6 months and a right to stay of up to 180 days.

A long-stay visa with a validity term of up to one year and a right to stay up to 360 days may be issued to foreigners who perform science research, students under tuition programmes for up to one year, post-graduate or trainee students, foreigners sent on assignment by a foreign employer for the performance of specific tasks, related to control and coordination of a tourist services contract as well as foreigners sent on assignment by a foreign employer for implementing investments under the Investment Promotion Act.

You can download the information HERE.

All visa information obtained from The Bulgarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. [Dec’ 14]. Check with the nearest Bulgarian Consulate if you have any doubts.

Advantages of hitchhiking in Bulgaria

Bulgaria is a beautiful and not very populated country with a diversity of mountains and access to the Black Sea coast. A small country that, as Marta says, hides little jewels here and there, joined by roads that take you through wonderful landscapes. Taking trains is interesting, but hitchhiking is definitely worth the travel.

People in Bulgaria know what hitchhiking means, you may often meet drivers that used to hitchhike when they were young, you may find young people hitchhiking at the edge of Sofia to visit their families in other towns for a weekend, and in summer many will hitchhike to the seaside, plus it is common to hitchhike in between villages.

Bulgaria_Roving Snails leaving Sofia

Disadvatages of hitchhiking in Bulgaria

The road infrastructure in Bulgaria is undergoing a long reconstruction process. Apart from highways between the biggest cities, most of the roads are two-lane affairs with narrow hard shoulders, and drivers who overtake cars on the right and left and often ignore the road signs. When hitchhiking, be sure to pick a safe spot with enough visibility and room for cars to pull over.

Some minor roads may not have much traffic, and you may get stuck for a few hours on small roads in the Rodopi mountains or around Strandja.

Travelling in winter may not be easy. Temperatures drop under zero, heavy snow is common and it is not advisable to hitchhike without good equipment (specially thermal or warm clothes and a proper winter sleeping bag).

Bulgaria_Sofia Ringroad under construction

Bulgarian food and drink is as diverse as in all Balkans cuisine, with considerable Turkish and Greek influence. Locally grown vegetables and fruit and the fact that Bulgaria is a wild herbs paradise, make the food much more complex than one would think at first glance.

Food & Drink

What to eat

Meat is an important part of the current Bulgarian diet, and people may proudly boast about the wonders of ‘kebabche’ (minced meat sausages), ‘kiufteta’ (minced meat hamburgers), ‘shishche’ (chicken, pork or beef skewers), ‘lukanka’ (smoked sausage) and the traditional tripe soup ‘shkembe’. However, there is much more than meat on Bulgarian menus, and when we asked Bulgarians what they considered traditional meals and what they usually eat, the vegetarian and vegan options greatly surpassed the meat ones.

In autumn, Bulgaria smells of roasted peppers. It is traditional to roast vegetables and prepare conserves for the winter. Lutenitza (лютеница: peppers and tomato sauce), kyopolu (кьополу: roasted aubergines and peppers), turzhia (туршиа: pickled vegetables) and pickled cabbage are some of the delicacies that Bulgarians enjoy over winter.

Bulgaria_peppers

Shopska salad (шопска салата: tomatoes, cucumber, white cheese) is served as a starter in every Bulgarian home. Another favourite is Snezhanka or snow white (снежанка: cucumber, garlic, yoghurt). French fries with white cheese (картофи със сирене: without for vegans) is a must with a beer.

An advantage for vegetarians are many soups like bob chorba (боб чорба: bean soup) and leshta (леща: lentil soup) are vegan and tarator (таратор : yoghurt, cucumber, garlic) is vegetarian. Of course others like, pileshka (пилешка: chicken), topcheta (топчета: meatballs) and shkembe chorba (шкембе чорба: tripe), are obviously are meat based.

For main dishes try, sarmi (сарми: vine or cabbage leaves filled with rice and often meat), musaka (мусака: oven-baked dish of potatoes, minced meat and white sauce), patatnik (пататник: oven baked potatoes), mishmash (мишмаш: scrambled eggs with veg) or one of our favourite meals gyuveche (гювече: either vegetables, or eggs and cheese, or meat cooked in a ceramic pot in the oven).

The nation holds in high regard its dairy traditions. Although we recommend getting dairy products from local producers, it’s up to you to decide. Kiselo mlyako (кисело мляко) is yoghurt and is the base or the accompaniment for many meals. It is sold in ½ litre pots and costs around 1 lv (0.5€). A variation of it is ayran (айран), a liquefied and salted yoghurt to drink. And there are two main types of cheese: sirene (сирене), similar to what greeks call feta, and kashkaval (кашкавал), a yellow cheese similar to cheddar.

Bulgaria_Manatarki

Cheap Eats – Snacks and street food

Banitza (баница) is the star of fast food in Bulgaria. A pastry filled usually with cheese, but sometimes with leek or spinach too costs 1 lv – 2 lv, 0.50€ – 1€. It is followed closely by prinzessa (принцеса), a large slice of bread covered with melted cheese or ham or pate and cheese (2 lv, 1 Euro). It is common to find sandwiches, donner, falafel or pizza in shops with windows to the street.

What to drink

You can get beer (бира) in bars, bistros, restaurants (½ litre, 2-3 lv.) or shops (½ ltr, 1 lv, 2 ltr, 2 lv). It’s common for young people to buy beers in shops and sit around drinking in parks. Bulgaria is not France, but has some nice wine (вино) at quite affordable prices – Targovishte and Melnik are good examples. In villages, people often make home-made wine and liquors. Rakya (ракия) is a strong alcohol made from plums or grapes, and a meal starter. When visiting a Bulgarian family, you will be expected to toast before the meal even starts. For non-drinkers, your only excuse is antibiotics, or making sure to keep your glass full, or they will fill it up! Tea is not usually black, but herbal. Coffee is just alright. There are always juices on offer. Boza (боза) is a cereal drink speciality, and аyran, which we already mentioned is a traditional dairy drink.

Muskatova_Rakija_from_Bulgaria

Muskatova Rakija from Bulgaria by Vammpi. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Where to buy food

Markets can be found in all towns and in the different neighbourhoods of big cities, like Sofia. Fruit and vegetables in the markets are affordable, although often need to be purchased in too large quantities for a backpack (i.e. 1 Kg).

Supermarkets are all around and sell the industrial versions of traditional conserves plus sarmi and other dishes. The cheapest onе is probably “Fantastico”. Dumpster diving is very common in Bulgarians, especially amongst people with low income, that even your trash may be useful to somebody else, but usually the hygienic conditions of trash bins are not the best.

Small bistros and family restaurants are quite affordable. With a portion of french fries or a salad or a soup costing around 2 – 3lv.(1 to 1.5 Euros) and a half-litre beer costing 2 lv (1 Euro).

In villages one can purchase local products from small producers. We spent one year buying milk, cheese and eggs only from the grandmas in the village. And you will find out that Bulgarian cheese is much more varied than what is sold in supermarkets.

Bulgaria_Sofia_Womens Market

Accommodation

Where to set up your tent

Camping is easy in Bulgaria. Wild camping is common, and although officially forbidden, it is tolerated as long as one is discreet and respectful to the environment. Camping on the beach on the Black Sea is common amongst young people and families during the summer months, especially on the beaches of Karadere and Irakli, although it has recently been expressly forbidden in the latter. In villages you may be able to camp in peoples yards or fields. There are also many camping sites around Bulgaria (10-15 €). Urban camping might be a bit tricky, given the possibility of petty thefts in parks and urban areas. Use your common sense, hide well and, if possible, stay away from the city centres while urban camping.

Other sleeping option

If you change hitchhiking for hiking in mountainous areas, there are two types of huts along the trekking trails: paid huts (5-10 €) – accommodation in large dormitories, basic facilities and a common dining area where food can also be purchased or free huts – smaller edifices or shelters, often built by local people in the mountains. In both cases you may also camp nearby and use the facilities or dine in the common areas.

There is a good range of accommodation in hostels in the cities and guesthouses in smaller towns (10-20 €.). In tourist hotspots it is apparently common to pay for accomodation in people’s homes. But in many places people will simply take you home.

Bulgaria_Free camping_Eastern Rodopi

Weather

What to expect and beware of regional differences

Bulgaria prides in having four beautiful seasons, with two prominent in terms of climate: hot, dry summers and cold, wet winters. Throughout the summer months, from June to August, temperatures in Bulgaria climb to around 30°C while the low fluctuates between 20 and 25°C. Spring is generally the rainiest season, with May being traditionally the wettest month. Temperatures fall gradually during the winter months, from late November till March, and heavy snow is common during these months. January is considered the coldest month of the year when the high temperature hardly climbs to 6°C and the low fluctuates between -2 to -4ºC but can reach around -15ºC

There are small regional differences: Southern Bulgarian and the Black Sea coast enjoy warmer temperatures, while the Danube is influenced in winter by the continental extremes of Central Europe, and mountainous areas suffer the heaviest snows during winter months, with access to villages becoming difficult.

The best times to visit

The best time to visit is spring (April-June) when the country dresses in green, herbs abound and even culturally the country wakes up to a whole range of festivals, exhibitions and activities or Autumn (specially September – October) when the caducifolias forests turn the countryside into a colourful painting. In Summer, travellers concentrate on the Black Sea coast, and in winter snow sports and winter hiking are the main attractions.

Bulgaria_Free camping_Western Rodopi

Safety

Crime Issues

Bulgaria is generally a safe country to travel. You may often hear people referring to the Bulgarian mafia, and organised crime is a big issue for the country, but it is not likely to affect you as a traveller and hitchhiker. A problem that you might be more likely to encounter is petty theft, especially in city centres and tourist areas, or while sleeping in parks, so keep the general precautions – avoid showing money, stay attentive and hide when sleeping outdoors.

As hitchhikers you are not usually asked for money, although, as always, try to clarify you travel for free before entering a car. If, by any chance, you need to take a cab be very careful as taxi scams are an everyday issue – always check the price per km written on the window (it should by all means be below 1 lev per km. If it says 6lv, get off straight away). It is common for taxi drivers to keep small change, adding a few “stotinki” (cents).

Health Issues

The cities, especially Sofia, are home to many stray dogs. Although they are not generally aggressive, and sometimes may walk home with you in exchange for some food, beware of them during winter months or when they are in packs. If you are bitten by a stray dog follow the rabies precautions – wash the injury with soap straight away, if possible observe the dog for rabies symptoms and get a rabies vaccine (if you are an anti-vaccines person, at least consider it, rabies kills). When hitchhiking in the countryside or hiking in the mountains you may have encounters with wild animals; Bulgaria is still home to bears and wolves, although you may be more likely to see foxes or hear jackals so take precautions while camping.

Bulgaria_Eastern Rodopi

Festivals

Festivals, gatherings, and other stuff

Especially from Spring to Autumn, Bulgaria hosts many different festivals, of all sorts (Music, Film, Arts), that might be interesting for travellers and hitchhikers, simply because most (if not all) of them accept volunteers or host free activities. A curious one is the traditional Kukkeri festival, featuring masked men and women dressed up to scare away the winter spirits and welcome the spring (February in several towns. Famous in Pernik). Goat Milk (free participatory arts and crafts festival in Bela Reshka, a village of the Bulgarian North West), Beglika (collaborative festival focused on arts and nature), The family of One Design, Architecture and Dance Weeks (taking place throughout the year), WaterTower Art Festival, Sofia Jazz Festival, Sofia Film Festival, In the Palace (International Short Film Festival in Balchik, by the Black Sea) are just some of the things to check out. Furthermore, in August, Shiroka Luka hosts a bagpipes festival.

Bulgaria_Kukkeri_Pernik

Types of Roads

There are around 37,300km of roads in Bulgaria, of which all but 3,000km are paved. However, around 18,000km of road falls into the lowest international ratings for paved roads. The highways of Bulgaria cover around 625 km (388 mi), with another 149 km (93 mi) currently under construction.

Bulgaria hitchhiking essentials: Bulgaria motorway sign① Bulgarian highways are dual-carriage ways with controlled-access prepared for high speeds. They can be motorways (Avtomagistrala/ Автомагистрала) , with emergency lanes and speed limit of 140 km/h OR expressways ( Skorosten pat/ Скоростен път). that do not have emergency lanes and where the speed limit is 120 km/h. There are two main highway projects: Sofia – Bourgas (finished) and Sofia – Varna (unfinished). There are no tolls, but a vignette (road tax sticker) is required from drivers (which should not affect hitchhikers)

Bulgaria hitchhiking essentials: Bulgaria national road signNational roads are two-lane roads with narrow or no hard shoulders and a speed limit of 90 km/h. There are nine of them plus the Sofia Ring Road. Although the conditions are gradually improving, they might be undergoing reconstruction in several parts, so count on travelling at much lower speed due to the road conditions, especially in the winter months.

Municipal roads are roads maintained by the different municipalities, which are often in need of repair. Speed limit, within the cities and towns is 50 km/h and outside towns is 90 km/h like on National Roads.

Bulgaria hitchhiking essentials: Bulgaria speed limitsSpeed limits for cars:

  • 50 km/h within towns
  • 90 km/h outside towns
  • 120 km/h on expressways
  • 140 km/h on motorways

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Road map of Bulgaria

Bulgaria hitchhiking essentials:  Bulgaria road map

source: ezilon.com

Absolutely essential hitch-hikers phrasebook

Bulgarian language belongs to the southern Slavic family, and like many it is written using the Cyrillic alphabet.

Greetings

Hello – Здравейте [zdra-VEY-te]

Good day – Добър ден [do-bar den]

Good morning – Добро утро [do-bro u-tro]

Good evening – Добър вечер [do-ber ve-cher]

Goodbye – Довиждане [do-VIZH-da-ne]

Thank you – Благодаря [bla-go-DA-rya]

Yes –  да [da]

No – не [ne]

To make things easy you can always use:

Hi! – (Colloquial) – [zdrasti]

Bye – (Colloquial) – Чао – chao (like in Italian)

Thanks – (colloquial)- Мерси – merci (like in French)

Hitchhikers vocabulary

Hitchhiking – автостоп [av-to-stop]

Road – път [pat]

Highway – магистрала [ma-gis-tra-la]

Petrol station – бензиностанция [ben-zi-no-STAN-tsia]

Ring road – околовръстно (шосе) [o-ko-lo-vrast-no (sho-sse)]

Roundabout – кръгово [kra-go-vo]

Crossroad – кръстовище [kra-sto-vi-shte]

Map – карта [kar-ta]

Bus stop – (автобусна) спирка [(av-to-bus-na) spir-ka]

Directions

Where are you going? – На къде отивате? [Na ka-de o-ti-va-te?]

I’m going to … – Пътувам към … [Pa-tu-vam kam …]

From – от [ot]

To / towards – към [kam]

Through – през [prez]

(To the) left – (На) ляво [(na) LIA-vo]

(To the) right – (На) дясно [(na) DIAS-no]

Straight on – Направо [na PRA-vo]

Other important info

Please stop here – Моля, спрете тук [Mo-lya spre-te tuk]

A bit further – Малко по-напред [Mal-ko po na-pred]

I don’t have money –  Нямам пари [Nya-mam pa-RI]

Small talk

What is your name? – Как се казваш? [Kak se KAZ-vash?]

My name is… – Казвам се…. [Kaz-VAM se…]

Where are you from? – Откъде си? [Ot-ka-de si?]

I am from… – Аз съм от… [Az sam ot…]

What is your profession? (be ready for sign language, or have a pen at hand) – Какво работиш? [Kak-vo ra-bo-tish?]

I work in… – Работя…[Ra-bo-tya…]

Beautiful – Красиво [Kra-si-vo]

Tasty – Вкусно [Vkus-no]

Sleeping and eating

Where can I camp? – Къде мога да си сложа палатката? [KA-de MO-ga da si slo-ja pa-lat-ka-ta]

Can I sleep here? –  Може ли да спя тук? [MO-je li da spya tuk]

Where is the market? – Къде е пазара? [KA-de e pa-za-ra?]

Do you have…? (for shops) – Имате ли…? [IMA-te li?]

and for vegetarians and vegans…

I am vegetarian – Вегетарианец съм [Ve-ge-ta-RIA-nec sam]

I am vegan – Веган съм [Ve-gan sam]

I do not eat meat – Не ям месо [Ne yam me-so]

I do not eat meat, cheese or eggs – Не ям, месо, сирене и яйца [Ne yam me-so, yai-ca i si-re-ne]

Have you got something without meat? – Имате ли нещо без месо [IMA-te li nesh-to bez me-so?]

A peculiarity

When Bulgarians say “yes” (da) they nod their heads horizontally (like saying “no” in the rest of the known world). When they say “no” (ne) they move their heads vertically (like your “yes”). Confusing? Good luck!

Bulgaria Border Crossings

Bulgaria neighbours 5 different countries: Romania (to the north), Turkey (south-east), Greece (south), Macedonia (south-west) and Serbia (west).

Bulgaria – Romania

There are seven border crossings between Bulgaria & Romania

  • Vidin (Bulgaria) – Calafat (Romania) (E 79) – a small ferry border crossing in the north-east. It is used mainly by trucks and it does not have fixed timetable – the ferry leaves whenever it is full. This crossing is a good spot if you are hitching towards Timisoara or Hungary.

  • Ruse (Bulgaria) – Giurgiu (Romania) (E 85) – the main border crossing between Bulgaria and Romania. A bridge over the Danube connects both countries. Walking on the bridge is prohibited. There is plenty of traffic here. Most of the cars and trucks are going to / coming from Bucuresti.

  • Durankulak (Bulgaria) – Vama Veche (Romania) (E 87) – a small and beautiful border-crossing on the north-east, running next to the Black Sea. Usually, not much traffic.

Bulgaria & Turkey

There are three border crossings between Bulgaria & Turkey

  • Kapitan Andreevo (Bulgaria) – Kapikule (Turkey) (E80) – the main border crossing between Bulgaria and Turkey (near Edirne). Plenty of traffic and easy to hitch a ride to Istanbul, to Bucharest or to Sofia, depending on your direction.

  • Malko Tarnovo (Bulgaria) – Kirklareli (Turkey) (E87) – a small border crossing in the isolated Strandja mountain. Scenic area with not much traffic.

Bulgaria & Greece

There are six border crossings between Bulgaria & Greece

  • Kulata (Bulgaria) – Pramochanas (Greece) (E79) – a big border crossing with plenty of traffic heading to / coming from Thessaloniki.

  • Ilinden (Bulgaria) – Eksohi (Greece) (19/57) – a small border crossing, but with healthy amount of cars passing by (especially in summer) and a short and direct way to the shores of the Mediterranean sea.

  • Zlatograd (Bulgaria) – Themas (Greece) (86) – a beautiful tiny border crossing in Rodopi mountain. Extremely scarce traffic, but worth taking if you have time. The nearest big city on the Greek side is Xanthi.

Bulgaria & Macedonia

There are three border crossings between Bulgaria & Macedonia

  • The principal border crossing is the most northern and can be found on the European highway E871 at Gyueshevo (Bulgaria) – Kriva Palanka (Macedonia). It connects the capital Sofia with its Macedonian counterpart Skopje and is the main route for most long distance traffic.

Bulgaria & Serbia

There are five border crossings between Bulgaria & Serbia

  • The main border crossing is located at Kalotina (Bulgaria) – Dimitrovgrad (Serbia) on the E-80 motorway. The crossing connects the Bulgarian capital of Sofia to Serbia, and attracts lots of trucks and summer holidaymakers, so expect long queues in the summer. Furthermore, you can easily walk across the border.

Bulgaria border crossings map

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15 Bulgaria Top Destinations

We believe there are not must sees in this world…so we are not sure you can build an itinerary with these indications, but you can surely get lost in between. Here are a few nice places and some of our favourite corners in Bulgaria:

Alexander Nevsky Cathedral 4 - Sofia, Bulgaria① Sofia

The capital of Bulgaria and our home, has a relatively small city center (that can be walked around in a day if in a rush), hidden secrets (like Roman ruins, temples, mineral water fountains, neighbourhood markets, cafes and tea-houses) and a mountain that one can reach with a 20 minutes bus ride. If you stay around Sofia, do not miss it. Half an hour ride by city bus 64 (costs 1 lv), the northern side of the mountain is always busy with people on the weekends. Take an easy walk from Boyana church to Boyana waterfalls or climb up to Cherny Vrah for tea and pancakes on one of the numerous trails.

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Plovdiv - the main street in the old town② Plovdiv

The second largest city in Bulgaria, home to a well preserved Roman Theatre and to an old town of traditional Bulgarian houses and mansions among other wonders. It is also becoming a hub for contemporary arts, hosting arts and design festivals, especially during spring and early summer time. The nearby town of Hissara, with its Roman ruins, is a nice place to pass by too.

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Bulgaria_Veliko Turnovo③ Veliko Turnovo

The medieval capital of Bulgaria and one of our favourite destinations. Crowned by the Tsarovo fortress and adorned by the meanders of Yantra River, it is a wonderful place to get lost in the streets of its artisans quarter. There are beautiful towns (like Arbanasi) and villages nearby, in the mountainous range of Stara Planina.

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Bulgaria Top Destinations: Varna - wikipedia.org

④ Varna & Bourgas

The main port cities by the Black Sea. The first one is mostly known for the Thracian Golden Treasure hosted in its Archaelogical Museum. The second one is an industrial town, probably best-known for a large music festival happening in summer by the beach – The Spirit of Bourgas.

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Bulgaria Top Destinations: Koprivshtitsa - wikipedia.org

 Koprivshtitza

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Koprivshtitza is a restored traditional town, where you may not see what is real life in Bulgarian, but may enjoy walking in and out of museum houses. It’s worth the visit for the tourist-minded.

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Bulgaria Top Destinations: Arbanasi Monastery Interior - wikipedia.org

⑥ Arbanasi

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Arbanasi is a well preserved town near Veliko Turnovo, home to beautiful churches and chapels, of which the most famous is the Nativity Church for its impressive 17th century frescoes.

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Bulgaria Top Destinations: Melnik - wikipedia.org

⑦ Melnik

Melnik is a wonderful little town (actually the smallest town in the country), in south-western Bulgaria. It is surrounded by an impressive background of sand formations, and is home to some of the best wines of the country (check for local wineries, and try young wines). It is possible to walk from the town to the nearby Rozhen Monastery, a well preserved medieval gem.

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Bulgaria Top Destinations : Monastery of St. John of Rila - wikipedia.org

⑧ Monastery of St. John of Rila & the Rila Mountains

The Monastery of St. John of Rila (120 km from Sodia) is a milestone of Bulgarian cultural identity and a UNESCO Heritage Site, probably the most famous monastery in the country, but not the only one. Bachkovo, Troyan, Rozhen or Arbanasi are just some of the other names or a large network that would make for a whole itinerary.

In addition to the famous monastery, the Rila mountain range in the south-west is home to the highest peak in the Balkans – Musala (2925 m) and the famous 7 lakes trail, a walk uphill pass 7 alpine lakes, a place where a local spiritual sect Danovisti (Дъновисти) gathers to celebrate in spring.

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⑨ Belogradchik

Bulgaria_Belogradchik.

Another jewel, this one hidden in the Bulgarian north-west. It’s main attraction is a rock castle and walks around rock formations. The Belogradchik Fortress, also known as Kaleto, is one of the best-preserved strongholds in Bulgaria and  one of the most important cultural monuments in the country. The fortress has a total area of 10,210 m2 and its walls are 2 metres thick and 12 metres high.

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Bulgaria Top Destination: Begliktash - wikipedia.org⑩ Perperikon & Begliktash

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Perperikon and Begliktash are old Thracian holy sites located respectively in Rodopi mountain (near Kradzhali) and in Strara planina (on the black sea shore, near Primorsko).

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Bulgaria Top Destination: Rodopi mountains - wikipedia.org⑪ Rodopi mountains

The Rodopi mountains, in southern Bulgaria are undoubtedly one of our favourite parts of the country. Divided in two main sections – eastern and western, the mountains are scarcely populated and wild. A travel through Rodopi villages and a bit of trekking makes for one of the best holidays. If by any chance you are around the town of Haskovo, try to get to the surreal Madjarovo and say hello from us to Pesho and Kamelia in Trakia Gesthouse. They know everything you could wish to know about Rodopi!

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Bulgaria Top Destinations: Pirin mountains - wikipedia.org⑫  Pirin

Bordering the Rila mountain range in the south-west of Bulgaria, are more alpine mountains offering a range of fantastic hikes. Mount Vihren (2914) and mount Sinanitza (2516) are amongst Boris’s favourite places, although accessible only in summer.

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Bulgaria Top Destinations: Stara Planina - wikipedia.org⑬ Stara Planina

Stara Planina cuts across Bulgaria from West to East. It’s old name – Balkan – gave name to the peninsula. As in the rest of the mountains in the country, hiking trails and lodging options are abundant. Besides hikes, there are many picturesque towns (Kalofer, Karlovo, Bozhenci) and villages that beg to be visited.

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Bulgaria Top Destinations: Strandja - wikipedia.org⑭ Strandzha

Strandzha is the most unexplored and mysterious of all the natural parks, hidden away in the far south-eastern corner of the country next to the Turkish border. Strandzha is more of a home to wild animals and Thracian monuments than people, a hilly mountain with dense forests, where it is quite easy to get lost, so be careful.

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And what would you recommend?

Bulgaria map with question mark.

What should be our number 15 in your opinion? We are very curious to hear where you’ve been and what you liked, so please share your knowledge and experience in the comments!

We will add the best recommendations to our map!

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Bulgaria Top Destinations Map

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Photo credits:
– Veliko Tarnovo, Bulgaria – photo by Roving Snails
 Varna Plage – photo by Harrieta171 used under CC BY-SA 3.0 (Wikimedia)
– Koprivshtitsa – photo by Nikola Gruev used under CC BY-SA 3.0 (Wikipedia)
– Arbanasi, Church of the Nativity of Christ – photo by Svilen Enev used under CC BY-SA 3.0 (Wikimedia)
– Panoramic view of Melnik – photo by Klearchos Kapoutsis used under CC BY-SA 2.0 (Wikimedia)
– Рилски манастир – photo by Rusalina used under CC BY-SA 3.0 (Wikimedia)
– Belogradchik castle – photo by Roving Snails
– Main Begliktash BG – photo by Filipov Ivo used under CC BY-SA 4.0 (Wikimedia)
– Vacha dam – photo by Klearchos Kapoutsis used under CC BY-SA 3.0 (Wikipedia)
– Pirin mountains in Bulgaria photo by Amorphisman used under CC BY-SA 3.0 (Wikipedia)
– Central Stara planina – photo by Evgord used under CC BY-SA 3.0 (Wikipedia)
– Strandzha Mountains, Bulgaria. – photo by Evgeni Dinev used under CC BY-SA 2.0 (Wikipedia)

Boris & Marta’s Experience

Boris is Bulgarian himself and has been hitchhiking his country for almost 10 years. Marta moved to Sofia (from Spain) and fell in love with the city and the country, she especially liked taking trains to wherever they went. But since they met, they have mostly hitchhiked the country west to east and south to north a few times, gone to the mountains, travelled to the Black Sea, hitchhiked to their village house. They claim that in Bulgaria hitchhiking is often faster than taking bus, but admit that sometimes they have been quite stuck on small pretty roads. They have been taken into homes, invited for meals, enjoyed coffee by the roadside or homemade rakia in hidden villages, walked with wild animals and always, always had wonderful experiences. They are travelling at the moment, but if you have any questions, they will be happy to hear from you, and respond asap: rovingsnails@gmail.com.

Bulgaria_Roving Snails in Chuipetlovo

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Roving Snailswritten by: Marta & Boris (Roving Snails)

Roving snails are Boris (Bulgaria) and Marta (Spain). They have been hitchhiking together since the day they met. After covering Bulgaria west to east and Europe north to south they left home in October 2013 on a long travel east searching for an overland way to India. they are still searching…

Follow their blog at rovingsnails.com

 

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