Useful facts to help you plan your visit to Bulgaria
- Public Holidays
- Weights & Measures
- Money, Banks etc.
- Useful Telephone Numbers
Bulgarians love festivals. Christmas and New Year are big, and other major festivals include “Ladouvane” – a festive ritual for young girls on New Year’s Day or Midsummer Day (24 June), Shrovetide and Mummers’ Games which take their beginnings from the Dionysian festivals of the Thracians and mark the start of spring, ‘Lazarouvane‘ – an Orthodox festival dedicated to love and the family, Trifon Zarezan (Vinegrower’s Day) and St. George’s Day, linked with health and abundance.
There’s also “Baba Marta” or “Martenitsa“(March 1st), when everyone gives each other ‘martenitsas‘ – small figures made of white and red threads (representing blood and snow), a symbol of the awakening, of spring, health and happiness.
The Bulgarian oleaginous rose yields 70 percent of the world’s attar of roses, used by every major perfume company as an essential constituent of its products. If you’re around in late May – early June, the rose-picking season starts in the Valley of Roses which stretches between the Balkan Range and the Sredna Gora Mountains.
But you’ll have to be up early. Rose-picking starts at dawn, before sunrise and before the rose fragrance has had a chance to disappear. The Festival of Roses is celebrated on the first Sunday in June in Karlovo and Kazanluk with carnivals, processions, folk songs and dances.
|New Year’s Day||Jan 1|
|National day of the Liberation from Ottoman Domination||Mar 3|
|Easter Sunday (Orthodox)||Apr 20|
|Easter Monday||Apr 21|
|St. George’s Day||May 6|
|Day of Bulgarian Enlightenment and Culture and Slav Script||May 24|
|National Day of Bulgaria’s Reunion in the year of 1885||Sep 6|
|Independence Day||Sep 22|
|Day of the Bulgarian Revival Leaders||Nov 1|
|Christmas Day||Dec 25|
|St Stephen’s Day||Dec 26|
|New Year’s Eve||Dec 31|
Most of the foreign citizens entering Bulgaria don’t need visa but they must carry their valid international passport. The list of the countries which citizens need visa, when entering Bulgaria, can be found at www.mfa.bg.
The official language is Bulgarian, and this is written in the Cyrillic alphabet (after its founders – Sts. Cyril and Methodius) which has 30 letters. Fortunately you can often find things also written in the Roman alphabet, but not always by any means! It pays to learn to recognise a few important words in Cyrillic…
- Good morning/day/evening = Dobro utro/ Dobar den/ Dobar vecher;
- Hello = Zdraveite;
- How are you = Kak ste;
- My name is … = Az se kazvam …;
- Thank you = Blagodaria;
- Excuse me = Izviniavaite;
- Would you please help me = Bihte li mi pomognali;
- How much does it cost = Kolko struva tova;
- Numbers: edno (1), dve (2), tri (3), chetiri (4), pet (5), shest (6), sedem (7), osem (8), devet (9), deset (10).
Bulgaria poses few health risks and there are no vaccinations required for entry. BUT, medical treatment can be expensive and payment is expected immediately. As the facilities in local hospitals are not of the greatest, it’s important to come with insurance that includes emergency evacuation.
GMT (London) + 2 hours, East-European time (Germany) + 1 hour (GMT+3 from last Sunday in March to last Sunday in October).
220V, 50Hz, 2-pin (round) plug
Metric (same as France)
- The Bulgarian Lev (BGN) is pegged to the Euro. 1 EUR = 1.955 BGN. Coins are called “stotinki” (100 stotinki = 1 lev). You can exchange currency at any bank branch (hours are listed below) and in any of the numerous exchange offices (some of these are open during public holidays). Euro-cheques may be cashed at many banks. Don’t be tempted to exchange money in the streets or outside banks and currency exchange offices despite the better rate offered. No prizes for guessing that the odds of getting ripped off are NOT in your favour
- Bank Opening Hours: The working hours of the banks are 9 a.m. – 4 p.m., Monday to Friday. Currency exchange offices are open to 6 p.m., some 24 hours a day.
Check out the current Euro exchange rate with your currency here (close the new window to return): TRAVELSIGNPOSTS CURRENCY CONVERTER
Dialling code for Bulgaria from abroad: +359. You can make local and international telephone calls at automatic street telephones; these use tokens and calling cards. Tokens for local calls (0.20 leva) and calling cards can be bought from any post office or places where newspapers are sold
- Police 166
- Fire Brigade 160
- Emergency Medical Aid 150
- Operator for international calls 0123
- Operator for long distance calls within Bulgaria 121
- Business Directory Enquiries 144
- Residential Directory Enquiries 145
- Emergency Road Service 146
- Weather forecast 175
- Time (“speaking” clock) 180