Saturday, January 15, 2022

Money & Shopping in Bulgaria

EuropeBulgariaMoney & Shopping in Bulgaria

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Money in Bulgaria

The Bulgarian currency unit is the Lev (лев, abbreviated “лв”, plural: Leva), which comprises one hundred Stotinki. The Lev is pegged to the euro at 1.95583 Leva to the euro (which is the same rate as the old Deutsche Mark, to which the Lev was previously pegged at 1 to 1).

Traders and other businesses in Bulgaria generally do not accept foreign money, although many accept the euro. In rural areas, Bulgaria remains a predominantly cash-based economy, but in the larger cities credit cards are generally accepted.

In most cities, there are many exchange offices which are signposted with “CHANGE” signs. Most are legitimate, but some can rip you off. For example, they advertise a very competitive rate on the outside, but on the inside there is a small sign with “official” rates, and these are much worse – so always make sure you ask how much leva you will get for your money before you actually hand it in, and calculate for yourself (for example, using your mobile phone) how much money you expect to get. If you now refuse the transaction because the rate has suddenly changed, they will make all sorts of unjustified claims (for example, “I’ve already entered it into the computer, it can’t be stopped”), but if you threaten to call the police immediately while raising your voice so that other tourists look in your direction, they will usually let you go immediately.

It is much safer to exchange your money in a bank. Banks charge little or no commission and generally offer good rates, although they are slightly lower than those charged by (non-criminal) exchange offices. Higher commissions may apply to traveller’s cheques. Old, dirty or heavily worn banknotes may be refused. Never change money in the street. Beware of people on the street who offer high exchange rates or who may ask you to give them change.

In recent years, the network of ATMs in Bulgaria has grown considerably, making it relatively easy to obtain cash from the numerous ATMs in Sofia, as well as in all other major cities and seaside resorts. The national credit/debit card circuit BORICA [www], to which all ATMs in the country are connected, accepts VISA/Plus, Visa Electron, MasterCard/Cirrus, Maestro, American Express, Diners Club and a number of other cards.

Prices in Bulgaria

Prices for some items in Bulgaria are about half those in Western Europe, and it is possible to get good deals on shoes and leather goods as well as other clothing. Note that clothing from major international brands, perfumes, electronic equipment, etc. are often more expensive than in other parts of Europe.

Supermarkets in Bulgaria

In Sofia and some major cities you can find branches of international hypermarket chains such as Kaufland, Hit, Billa, Metro, and others. There are also many local supermarket chains such as Fantastiko, Familia and Piccadilly. All Bulgarian supermarkets sell European quality products.

How To Travel To Bulgaria

By planeThere are four international airports in Bulgaria, located in the cities of Sofia, Varna, Burgas and Plovdiv, but the traditional national airlines (such as Lufthansa, British Airways, Turkish Airways, etc.) only serve Sofia International Airport. However, there are numerous offers for charter and last-minute flights to Varna or...

How To Travel Around Bulgaria

By busThe fastest way to travel around the country is by bus. Buses often connect all major cities (you may need to ask for a taxi or have a taxi take you to the bus station). Timetable information in English is available online ( or ). Always confirm timetables...

Visa & Passport Requirements for Bulgaria

Bulgaria has committed to implementing the Schengen Agreement, although it has not yet done so. For citizens of the European Union (EU) or the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) (i.e. Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland), an officially recognised identity card (or passport) is sufficient for entry. For other nationalities,...

Destinations in Bulgaria

Regions in BulgariaNorthern BulgariaLocated between the Danube to the north and the Balkans to the south, it is a lowland region. Also called Moesia in Roman times, the region is full of the remains of ancient fortresses in northern Bulgaria, including the large port city of Sexaginta Prista in...

Accommodation & Hotels in Bulgaria

Finding accommodation in Bulgaria is very easy, regardless of the price. You can find everything from hostels in Sofia and Plovdiv, from very cheap guesthouses along the coast to cheap hotels in all cities and luxury hotels in the big cities. There are many "mountain huts" or villas to...

Things To See in Bulgaria

There is a great variety of historical, natural, religious and artistic sights to see in Bulgaria. Throughout the country there are remains from different eras and periods, societies and peoples, spiritual and artistic figures, creating a beautiful blend of ethnic culture full of unique traditions and rituals, combined with...

Things To Do in Bulgaria

Hiking - This is a popular activity in Bulgaria, where a wide choice of areas for day or multi-day hikes is available. The best time to hike in the higher parts of the mountains is in summer, between the end of June and September, as the snow has already...

Food & Drinks in Bulgaria

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Festivals & Holidays in Bulgaria

Holidays in BulgariaThe hanging of Vasil Levski, 19 FebruaryThe day when the Bulgarian people will pay tribute to the life and work of the revolutionary Vasil Levski - the apostle of freedom. (it is not a public holiday)Baba Marta (in Bulgarian: Баба Марта, which means grandmother Marta), 1 MarchA...

Traditions & Customs in Bulgaria

Bulgarians are incredibly friendly and very interested in talking to foreigners. Bulgarians tend to be much more open than some other Eastern Europeans and it is very advisable and useful to engage in dialogue with them. In small towns, especially in the Rhodope Mountains, people may invite you to...

Internet & Communications in Bulgaria

Domestic PhonesDomestic telephone service is available in almost all population centres (regardless of size) via PSTN or VoIP.Mobile phonesMobile phones are very common in Bulgaria - many people have two or three phones with different providers. There are three networks (M-tel, Globul and Vivacom), all of which use the...

Language & Phrasebook in Bulgaria

Bulgarian is a South Slavic language that uses the Cyrillic alphabet.Bulgarian is mutually intelligible with Macedonian (considered by many Bulgarians to be a variant of Bulgarian) and also closely related to Serbo-Croatian. Russian and other Slavic languages are more distant, but still similar. If you know some of them,...

Culture Of Bulgaria

Traditional Bulgarian culture contains mainly Thracian, Slavic and Bulgarian heritage, as well as Greek, Roman, Ottoman, Persian and Celtic influences. Nine historical and natural objects have been inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List: the Madara Horseman, the Thracian tombs of Sveshtari and Kazanlak, the Boyana Church, the Rila...

History Of Bulgaria

Prehistory and AntiquityHuman activity on the territory of present-day Bulgaria dates back to the Palaeolithic. It is believed that the animal bones carved in the Kozarnika Cave are the first examples of symbolic human behaviour. Prehistoric societies organised on Bulgarian soil include the Neolithic Hamangia culture, the Vinča culture...

Stay Safe & Healthy in Bulgaria

Stay safe in BulgariaBulgaria is generally a safe country and the people are quite friendly. However, you should use common sense when staying outside the main tourist areas, i.e. don't show too openly that you have money, don't dress too much like a tourist, be careful with your belongings,...

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