Horseback riding in Bulgaria

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Equestrian tours in Bulgaria

Bulgaria Mini Guide
    Source: World Travel Guide

Overview

Bulgaria's spectacular mountains, swathe of golden beaches and vibrant cities have begun attracting hordes of eager-eyed tourists over the past few years - a dramatic change to how the country was a mere 10 years ago.

In fact, Bulgaria has been through mammoth changes in the last few years, with many of the cities and resorts undergoing construction booms galore, tempting buyers from Western Europe with relatively cheap property and stunning landscapes.

Bulgaria's beautiful beach and ski resorts are expanding quickly as a result and have lured visitors away from more expensive European destinations with low-priced lift passes and accommodation options. The main cities have shrugged off their weary Communist-era image and have become vibrant and attractive, with well-kept boulevards, varied shopping and lively nightlife. In contrast, many towns and villages have preserved the authentic Bulgarian spirit and hospitality and the country is especially proud of its rich folklore traditions.

 

Passport/Visa

Passport Required?

British

Yes

Australian

Yes

Canadian

Yes

USA

Yes

Other EU

1

Visa Required?

British

No

Australian

No

Canadian

No

USA

No

Other EU

No

Return Ticket Required?

British

No

Australian

Yes

Canadian

Yes

USA

Yes

Other EU

No

 

Passports

Passport valid for at least three months beyond length of stay required by all nationals referred to in the chart above except:
(a) 1. EU nationals holding a valid national ID card.

Note: EU nationals are only required to produce evidence of their EU nationality and identity in order to be admitted to any EU member state. This evidence can take the form of a valid national passport or national identity card. Either is acceptable. Please note that validity of the documents -  EU passport and/or ID card issued from one of the EU countries, should be at least three months on the day they leave Bulgaria. Possession of a return ticket and sufficient funds for the length of their proposed visit is required.

Visas

Visas are not required by the nationals referred to in the chart above for the following lengths of visit to Bulgaria:
(a) Nationals of EU countries for stays of up to 90 days; for stays longer than 90 days EU nationals need to register with the local police and obtain the appropriate permit.
(b) Nationals of Australia, Canada and USA for touristic stays of up to 90 days.

Note: Nationals not referred to in the chart above are advised to contact the embassy to visa requirements (see Contact Addresses).

Money

Currency

Lev (BGN; symbol лв) = 100 stotinki. Notes are in denominations of лв100, 50, 20, 10, 5, 2 and 1. Coins are in denominations of лв1 and 50, 20, 10, 5, 2 and 1 stotinki.

Note: (a) The Lev is tied to the Euro at a fixed rate; €1 = лв1.955. (b) Notes dated 1997 and earlier are now out of circulation.

Currency Exchange

Visitors are advised to exchange money at banks, at large hotels and at independent currency exchange offices, where the rates are clearly displayed. Travellers should not be tempted by a ‘better rate' offered at unofficial sources on the street. It is illegal for commission to be charged when changing money at official offices.  No store, bank or bureau de change will accept mutilated, torn or excessively dirty foreign currency.

Credit/Debit Cards and ATMs

American Express, Diners Club, MasterCard and Visa are accepted in large cities, in larger hotels and car hire offices, and in some restaurants and shops, mainly in Sofia. However, Bulgaria is still a country that operates mainly on cash. ATMs are widespread, although it is best to check with the relevant bank/card provider prior to travel. Not all Bulgarian bank machines accept every overseas credit or debit card; it may take more than one attempt to withdraw cash successfully.

Traveller's Cheques

Accepted in major hotels and restaurants, although cash is far more common. To avoid additional exchange rate charges, travellers are advised to take traveller's cheques in US Dollars, Pounds Sterling or Euros.

Banking Hours

Mon-Fri 0900-1600.

Exchange Rate Indicators

Date

Jul 08

£1.00=

лв2.45

$1.00=

лв1.23

€1.00=

лв1.96

 

Health

Vaccinations

 

Special Precautions

Diphtheria

Sometimes

Hepatitis A

Yes

Malaria

No

Rabies

Sometimes

Tetanus

Yes

Typhoid

Sometimes

Yellow Fever

No

Inoculation regulations can change at short notice. Please take medical advice in the case of doubt. Where 'Sometimes' appears in the table above, precautions may be required, depending on the season and region visited.

 

Food and Drink

Mains water is normally chlorinated and, whilst relatively safe, can cause mild abdominal upsets if in remote areas. Some travellers may prefer to drink bottled water for the first few weeks of their stay. Milk is pasteurised and dairy products are safe for consumption. All food is prepared with a good level of hygiene.

Other Risks

Hepatitis B is endemic. Hepatitis C may occur. Tick-borne encephalitis exists. Immunisation against tuberculosis is sometimes recommended.

Health Care

If European visitors or any of their dependants are suddenly taken ill or have an accident during a visit to Bulgaria, free or reduced-cost necessary treatment is available - in most cases on production of a valid European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). All nationals are advised to take out comprehensive travel insurance.

 

Getting There

Getting There by Air

The national airline is Bulgaria Air (website: www.air.bg).

Approximate Flight Times

From London to Sofia is 3 hours.

Main Airports

Sofia (SOF) (website: www.sofia-airport.bg) is 10km (6 miles) east of the city (journey time - 20 minutes). To/from the airport: Buses run from near the arrivals terminal to the city centre regularly throughout the day. Taxis are also available; ensure the meter is used. Otherwise agree a price in advance, taking advice from a local. The airport advises its passengers to use the taxi company OK Supertrans (tel: (02) 973 2121; website: www.oktaxi.net). Facilities: Banks and currency exchange (24 hours), post office, duty-free shop, nursery, restaurant, bar and car hire.

Varna (VAR) (website: www.varna-airport.bg) is 9km (5.5 miles) from the city. To/from the airport: A bus service to Varna city centre departs every 20 minutes from each of the two terminals. Taxis are also available. Facilities: Outgoing duty-free shops, banking and currency exchange (24 hours), Internet, ATM, restaurant, bar and car hire.

Bourgas (BOJ) (website: www.bourgas-airport.com) is 13km (8 miles) from the city. To/from the airport: A bus service departs every 20 minutes to the city centre. Taxis are also available. Facilities: Outgoing duty-free shop, banking and currency exchange (24 hours), restaurant, bar and car hire (by prior arrangement).

Departure Tax

None.

Getting There by Water

Main ports: Bourgas (website: www.port-burgas.com/index.html) and Varna (website: www.port-varna.bg) on the Black Sea.

The official ferry crossing point from Romania is from Calafat to Vidin.

Getting There by Rail

Bulgarian State Railways (tel: (02) 932 4190; www.bdz.bg) connects Sofia with main towns. Reservations are essential during peak seasons and first-class travel is advised. A first-class sleeper is a wonderful way to travel long distances, especially at night.

Rail Passes

InterRail: offers unlimited first- or second-class travel in up to 30 European countries for European residents of over six months with two pass options. The Global Pass allows travel for 22 days, one month, five days in 10 days or 10 days in 22 days across all countries. The One-Country Pass offers travel for three, four, six or eight days in one month in any of the countries except Bosnia-Herzegovina and Montenegro. Travel is not allowed in the passenger's country of residence. Travellers under 26 years receive a reduction. Children's tickets are reduced by about 50%. Supplements are required for some high-speed services, seat reservations and couchettes. Discounts are offered on Eurostar and some ferry routes. Available from Rail Europe (website: www.raileurope.co.uk/inter-rail).

Getting There by Road

Main entry points include Koulata and Novo Selo (from Greece); Ruse, Kardom, Durankulak and Silistra (from Romania); Svilengrad and Kapitan Andrikeevo (from Turkey); Kalotina, Zlatarevo and Vrashkachuka (from Serbia) and Guyeshevo (from the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia). 

Foreign citizens entering Bulgaria in a car must have documentation to prove their ownership of the vehicle and evidence that their motor insurance is valid for Bulgaria. They must also state their proposed border crossing and pay suitable road tax.

Bus:
There are daily bus connections from other cities, including Istanbul, Athens and Thessaloniki to Sofia. There are also daily buses from Varna and Bourgas to Istanbul. Eurolines (tel: 0870 580 8080, in the UK; website: www.eurolines.com) runs regular coach services to Bulgaria. Passes: Travellers can book a 15- or 30-day pass.

 

Climate

Varies according to altitude. Summers are warmest with some rainfall, with the south feeling the influence of the Mediterranean. Winters are cold with snow. It rains frequently during spring and autumn.

Required Clothing

Mediumweights most of the year; warmer outdoor wear necessary in winter.

 

Contacts

National Tourist Information Centre

ploshtad Sveta Nedelya 1, 1040 Sofia, Bulgaria
Tel: (02) 933 5811.
Website: www.bulgariatravel.org

Embassy of the Republic of Bulgaria in the UK

186-188 Queen's Gate, London SW7 5HL, UK
Tel: (020) 7584 9400 or 9433 (general enquiries) or 0906 550 8950 (visa section; recorded information; calls cost £1 per minute) or (020) 7589 3763 (visa section; individual enquiries; Mon-Fri 1300-1500 only).
Website: www.bulgarianembassy.org.uk
Opening hours: Mon-Fri 0900-1800 (general enquiries) or 0930-1230 (visa applications with appointment) or 1230-1400 (visa applications without appointment).

Embassy of the Republic of Bulgaria in the USA

1621 22nd Street, NW, Washington, DC 20008, USA
Tel: (202) 387 0174 or 7969 (consular office).
Website: www.bulgaria-embassy.org

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