Bulgarian is the oldest written Slavic language. It is the official language of Bulgaria and the mother tongue of just over 85 percent of the population. Most schools encourage students to learn a second language; English being one of the most common. Writing, including most road and information signs, uses the Cyrillic alphabet.
The lev (BGN) is the official currency of Bulgaria, with one hundred stotinki to the lev. The plural is leva and the value is pegged at 1.95583 euro. Foreign money is not generally accepted in shops, but cash and travelers’ checks can be changed at banks and offices marked ‚ÄòEXCHANGE’. Banks are usually the safest option, charging little or no commission for notes although travelers’ checks often attract transaction fees. There are lots of ATMs in the capital of Sofia, but are less common elsewhere.
Bulgaria is situated in the Eastern European Time Zone (EET), which is two hours ahead of GMT (GMT+2).
Bulgaria uses electricity at 50-230V with type C and F plug sockets. Visitors who bring electrical appliances with different voltages will require a transformer, while machines with different plugs will need an adapter. Devices from other countries in Europe will normally work in Bulgaria, while electronics from America will almost certainly not.
The dialing code for Bulgaria is +359 and area codes are in use, with Sofia being 2, for example. Bulgaria’s top three mobile network operators are Vivacom, Mtel, and Globul, with coverage available across most of the country. Bulgaria has good internet speeds, and internet caf√©s are common in cities, towns and some villages, mainly in tourist regions. Wi-Fi is often available at airports, hotels, restaurants, malls, gas stations, sometimes for free, sometimes for a fee.
International passengers arriving by air are subject to the following duty-free allowances: 200 cigarettes or 250 gm smoking tobacco, one liter of alcohol over 22 percent proof and two liters of liquor below 22 percent proof. There is no limit for still wines and beers. Visitors arriving overland should be aware that the duty-free limit for cigarettes is much lower, 40 cigarettes and 50 gm of smoking tobacco, designed to limit illegal trade from cheaper neighboring countries.
The official tourist portal of Bulgaria is http://bulgariatravel.org/.
Consulates in Bulgaria
US Embassy, Sofia: +359-2-937-5100 Australian Consulate, Sofia: +359-2-946-1334 British Embassy, Sofia: +359-2-933-9222 Embassy of France, Sofia: +359-965-5110
Emergency services: 112 Police: 166 Ambulance: 150 Fire Department: 160