Bulgaria is a diverse and beautiful country, offering travelers countless reasons to visit. So, if you’re currently on your way to Bulgaria or plan to, consider the following tips, immersing yourself and making the most out of your trip.
Study the Basics of the Language of Bulgaria
It’s always good to prepare yourself when going to a different place. Learning the basics of the Bulgarian language will help you understand and communicate with the locals and show them that you’re involved in your visit.
If you go to Bulgaria, you’ll immediately realize that the overall locality doesn’t speak much English. The younger ones typically speak English, only enough to understand and help you, but you’d have better chances communicating with older people if you talk to them in Russian.
Moreover, keep in mind that most Bulgarian signs don’t have Roman letter translations. That also includes restaurant menus. At least knowing how to pronounce the letters will give you a great headstart.
If you like to keep it fun, you can try learning a few funny expressions. Telling Bulgarians a funny sentence will be sure to break the ice.
Take the Time to Learn Bulgaria’s History
The country has an intriguing past, which involves Byzantines, Ottomans, Thracians, and so many more, and a lot of Bulgaria’s places bear the marks of their history.
Consider looking into their history to understand Bulgaria’s current political state. You can also use it to start small talks with Bulgarians as they love talking about politics and football.
Don’t Forget to Exchange Your Money
Bulgaria may be a part of the European Union, but it’s not part of the Euro Zone. And instead, the country uses the Bulgarian lev (BGN) with an exchange of about 1€ = 2 BGN.
Always Keep Cash with You
If you’re used to paying by card, then you won’t be in much trouble paying in tourist places and larger restaurants, but if you plan to enjoy Bulgaria like a local, be sure to always have cash with you to help you quickly pay in most places.
Don’t Get Bulgarian “Yes and No” Confused
Almost everywhere globally, when people shake their heads, they usually mean “no” and nod for “yes.” In Bulgaria, it’s quite the opposite. If they shake their heads in a “no” manner, they mean to say “yes.”
Don’t Be Confused by the Bulgarian Restaurant Service
Don’t be surprised when ordering from a Bulgarian restaurant. They usually bring the dishes as soon as they’re ready to be served, meaning that if someone orders a complicated meal, you’re likely to find it served much later than others who ordered a simple one.
Don’t Forget to Leave a Tip
Tipping rules may differ from country to country, but in Bulgaria, it’s pretty expected. You can tip with less than 10% of your bill in restaurants. However, if you’re taking a taxi, the driver usually rounds it up and takes the tip whether you allowed it or not. Also, this might surprise you, but you should tip the gas station guy.
Travel by Car if You are Able and by Bus if You Aren’t
Many of Bulgaria’s excellent spots are off the beaten route. You might find it challenging to access them if you don’t bring your car since the transport system is underdeveloped.
If you’re traveling long distances, try taking the bus instead of the train. Both are pretty cheap, but you might find the transport time doubling if you take the train. Except, if you’re going to Istanbul from Sofia, then the train is a good option.
While traveling in Bulgaria, you can try car-sharing if you don’t have a car. However, if you do own a car, consider offering transportation to other tourists.
Don’t Remove the Bracelets Hung on the Trees
Bulgarians celebrate Baba Marta on March 1st that marks the welcoming of Spring that should arrive soon. During the occasion, the people exchange bracelets made of intertwined white and red threads.
They were these bracelets on their wrist until they see a blossoming tree, which they then attach the bracelet to since it’s believed to bring happiness, fertility, and health.
So if you’re planning to visit the country after the start of Spring, don’t try stealing bracelets off the trees.
Be Ready to be Flooded by Roses
Bulgaria being the world’s primary producer of rose oil (over 75%), guarantees that you will regularly smell roses. However, if you fancy drowning in a sea of roses, you can visit the Rose Valley in the Kanalak region and enjoy seeing thousands of roses in bloom.
Bulgarians Take Name Days Seriously
In Bulgaria, name days are a significant thing and are sometimes celebrated as much as birthdays. So if a Bulgarian informs you that it’s their Name Day today, be sure to give your warm congratulations and avoid looking uninterested.