Bulgaria Travel Notes

Print Page
Australian Consulate General in Bulgaria

37 Trakia Street
Sofia 1504
Bulgaria

Tel +359 2 946 1334
Email [email protected]
www.greece.embassy.gov.au

Smartraveller

The Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade website has advice for travellers.
www.smartraveller.gov.au

Time Zones

Bulgaria is on Greenwich Mean Time +2 time making them 9 hours behind Australian Eastern Standard Time. When on daylight saving time (GMT +2) they are 9 hours behind Australia. Daylight Saving starts on the last Sunday in March and ends on the last Sunday in October.  To obtain the current local time and date in cities and countries in all time zones.
www.worldtimeserver.com

Voltages and Plugs

Bulgaria use 220 volts. Plugs are of the two-round-pronged European type.
www.korjo.com/Adaptor-Guide

Currency

To obtain the most up-to-date exchange rate you may wish to visit
www.xe.com/currencyconverter

Although Bulgaria is a member of the EURO-zone, its official currency is the Lev. The Lev is divided into 100 Stotinki
The Leu comes in denominations of 1, 2, (coins) and 2, 5, 10, 20, 50, 100 (notes)
The Stotinki comes in coins of 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 50

Credit Cards and ATM machines

ATMs are the easiest way to access your money. They are becoming common in all tourist towns and cities, virtually all accept Visa, MasterCard, Electron, Cirrus, Maestro and InterBank cards. ATMs sometimes run dry on weekends in smaller towns. Do not expect to find them in villages and rural areas.

Please note that using a credit card in foreign countries usually requires a new “chip-and-pin” credit card with an embedded microchip and an associated PIN number (the PIN is specific to each credit card). If you have questions about using your credit card in a foreign country, please contact your bank prior to departure from Australia. Check with your credit card company for details of merchant acceptability and other services which may be available.

Cash

Foreign currency is not accepted. Currency can be exchanged at banks, exchange bureaux and larger hotels, though you may get a better exchange rate at the ATMs. Do not change money in the street, it is not safe.
Travelers Cheques are NO longer accepted.

Telephone & Communication

Mobile telephones
Most mobile telephones work in Bulgaria and coverage is excellent. Check with your local provider that your phone can switch on ‘Global Roaming’ and that your provider has coverage in the places you are visiting. Mobile phones can be very useful for SMSing  (especially if you get lost!). International calls are often expensive, as is checking your message bank as calls have to be routed through Australia.

Should you choose to purchase a local sim card please check with your local provider prior to departure to make sure your phone is unlocked and will accept another sim card.

Internet
Internet access is widespread and available throughout Bulgaria. Many hotels and cafes now offer access, some you need to pay while others have free Wi-fi zones.

If you have Web access while traveling, you might consider a broadband-based telephone service (in technical terms, Voice over Internet Protocol, or VoIP) such as Skype or Vonage, which allows you to make free international calls between online computers and phones, and cheap international calls if you’re calling a normal phone number. Most cybercafes throughout the country will be using these programs already, complete with headset, microphone, and webcam.
www.skype.com    www.vonage.com

Business Hours in Bulgaria

Offices  09.00 – 17.30 Monday to Friday.
Banks   09.00 – 17.00 Monday to Friday.
Shops   10.00 – 18.00 week days / 11.00 – 19.00 weekends Malls stay open to at least 21.00. Opening hours will vary in smaller towns.

Sales Tax

A sales tax (TVA) of 20 %. VAT Refund – VAT refund offices can be found at any airport near passport control.

To claim you Sales Tax Refund please make sure that:

  • Your purchases were made at a store which can issue a legal invoice/receipt  as well as a tax refund form
  • You have the original receipts and store identified VAT Refund forms validated by the Customs Office

Personal Safety

  • We strongly recommend the use of a money belt to keep your cash, cards and travel documents safe. This should be kept under your clothes at all times. This is a precaution that should be taken anywhere due to the difficulties that can be experienced in trying to replace stolen items.
  • Take photocopies of all important documents (passport, credit cards, airline tickets, insurance) and keep one copy securely in your luggage and leave another copy at home.
  • It is generally helpful to take a business card from the hotel you are staying at. This can assist hugely if you get lost. If you also have a key card for your hotel, make sure you keep these two cards separate or you run the risk of allowing a thief access to your room
  • Take extra care in crowded places and try not to ‘advertise’ the fact that you may be carrying valuables by having something like an expensive camera over your shoulder. Put it in your bag or under your coat. And men, try to avoid keeping your wallet in your hip pocket.
What to Pack

Clothing (general)
The time of the year you visit this destination will dictate the type of clothing it is appropriate to bring. It would always be advisable to take a rain coat or a water proof windbreaker. For daytime activities, we suggest a wardrobe that is versatile, casual and comfortable. It is recommended that “layered” clothing might offer the best comfort in a variety of conditions. Always expect the weather to be changeable.

Beyond the normal wardrobe we suggest

  • comfortable walking shoes (very important)
  • sunglasses, sunscreen and a hat
  • folding umbrella and/or light raincoat
  • ladies should have a scarf with them at all times in case it is required to cover shoulders or head when entering religious sites
  • prescription medicines for the full duration of your time away and a written copy of your prescriptions including what they are for, provided by your doctor
  • extra prescription eyeglasses (if required)
Etiquette

No attempt should be made to photograph anything remotely connected with the armed forces or in the vicinity of defence installations. Many people do not like being photographed. Always ask before photographing someone, they may try to obtain money from you.

Tipping is expected in restaurants, coffee shops, taxi’s etc – the expected amount is 10%

Clothing (Churches, Mosques and Monasteries)
Although ‘foreigners’ do not have to adhere to a strict dress rules, women should wear a head covering (ie a scarf) in active churches. Men must remember to remove their hats in religious buildings. In churches it is polite to stand around the edges of the building, rather than in the centre. It is acceptable for foreigners to light candles.

Useful websites

Bulgarian Tourist Board
bulgariatravel.org

Sofia Guide
www.sofia-guide.com

“In Your Pocket” and select the relevant country or city
www.inyourpocket.com

Climate

We suggest that prior to departure you check the weather forecast for the most up-to-date information.
www.worldweatheronline.com

The climate in Bulgaria differs according to region. The south of Bulgaria has a Mediterranean climate (warm) and the centre a continental climate (extremes of temperature).

Average minimum/maximum Temperatures (˚C)

City Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Sofia -5/4 -4/7 0/12 5/17 9/21 13/25 14/28 15428 10/23 6/18 0/10 -4/4
Plovdiv -4/5 -2/9 -1/14 6/18 10/23 14/28 16/31 16/31 12/25 8/19 2/11 -3/5