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When Bulgarians nod their heads up and down, they mean NO. When they move their heads from side to side, they mean YES.

High European standards high value for money
Typical prices:
1 bottle of table wine £1.50
1 bottle of quality wine £3.50
1 pint of beer 90 pence
Three course meal for two with wine £10.50

Tipping is now generally expected at between 10-15% of the bill. In any event don't always expect to get the exact change as often the bill is rounded up to the nearest complete unit of currency!

Smoking is a very common habit among Bulgarians and non-smoking sections in restaurants are quite rare. A new law is change this in 2005, but it is still doubtful how effectively it will be implemented.

Driving In Bulgaria
Cars are allowed to cross any of the many border points to enter Bugaria. Any national drivers license is valid. Insurance coverage for Bulgaria is required, and can be arranged from home or purchased at the border.

Make sure to choose a reliable company, like OK Supertrans (call 973 2121 from Sofia) or Yes & Yellow, Radio CB Taxi or Taxi C Express. See that the driver turns on the meter at the start of the journey and try to keep an eye on the figures that sometimes may seem to be running unusually fast. On arrival at your destination point always demand a printed receipt for the fare since drivers are bound by the law to issue such.

Bulgaria is linked by train to Istanbul, Thessaloniki and Athens in Greece, Belgrade, Bucharest, and points on such as Budapest. Veliko Turnovo is on the route of the Orient Express from Bucharest to Istanbul.


Toilet facilities are improved compared to 10 years ago, but still some can be rather off-putting, particularly in older establishments and outside the larger cities. Most modern gas stations, restaurants, hotels and bars have facilities of an acceptable standard. But elsewhere you may be confronted by nothing more than a hole in the floor, and no toilet paper. Always carry Kleenex with you. Many places will charge you for the use of toilet facilities, usually in the 0.20 - 0.50 Leva range.

Exporting works of art and other objects of historic, artistic, or scientific value is forbidden.

Going To The Movies
Unlike other countries, going to the movies in Bulgaria is a foreigners-friendly experience. Cinemas show only sub-titled movies with their original soundtracks. The same applies to rented videocassettes. Only Disney features or other films made for children are usually dubbed.

Official Holidays

January 1 New Year
March 3 Bulgaria's Liberation National Holiday
May 1 Labour Day
May 24 the Day of Bulgarian Enlightenment and Culture and the Cyrillic Script
December 25 Christmas

Time GMT + 2. Bulgaria follows daylight saving time in summer.

Useful Phone Numbers
To call Bulgaria from the UK, dial + 359 plus the local number. Omit the 0 from the area code. (For example, to call Veliko Turnovo from the UK, you would dial + 359-62 plus the local number; to call from within Bulgaria you would dial 062 plus the number.) Pay phones in Bulgaria take telephone cards available at kiosks and shops: orange phones take Bulfon cards and blue phones take Mobika cards.
0123 - operator for international calls (if no direct phone call is possible)
121 - operator for long-distance calls within the country
140 - sending of telegrams
144 - telephone information service for office phone numbers
145 - telephone information service for home numbers
146 - Emergency Road Service
150 - Emergency Medical Aid
166 - Police/Road patrols
175 - weather forecast
180 - exact time ("speaking" clock)

Wine in Bulgaria
Bulgaria Regions can be geographically divided into five wine producing regions as follows:
Eastern Region
Covering the territory along the Black Sea coast between the Northern border with Romania and the Southernmost point on the Black Sea coast where Bulgaria borders Turkey. The wines from the Eastern region are made mostly from white grapes. Almost all renowned white grape varieties can be found along with the native Misket and Dimiat.

Northern Region
Between the Danube river and the Balkan mountain range from North to South and between the Dobrudzha Valley and the Yugoslav border from East to West respectively. High quality wines are produced from a number of different grapes, red as well as white. The reds are made from the local Gamza as well as from the Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot varieties. Chardonnay, Riesling, and Sauvignon Blanc are the most prominent whites. This region is home to the fine wineries of Suhindol and Rousse.

Southern Region
Southern Region includes the Thracian Valley from the Balkan Range to the Greek border that boasts almost Mediterranean climatic conditions and is particularly good for Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot production. The best Bulgarian variety grape -Mavrud grows in the Thracian Valley. Reds coming from this region are renowned. Jambol and Haskovo are two fine examples.

South Western Region
South Western region covers what is known as Pirin Macedonia. The Struma Valley runs along it and brings strong Mediterranean influences in terms of climate. Fine Cabernets are produced there. The appellation of Melnik is home to the Melnik variety.  Damianitza is a winery of note. Another interesting local variety is Keratzuda, a rose type wine produced only in the appellation of Kresna.

Sub Balkan Region
The Sub Balkan Region exists at the Southern area of the Balkan Mountains. These deep valleys produce unique micro-climates. The famous Sungurlare Misket comes from the region as well as the excellent Sungurlare Eau de Vie. White wines from different grapes are a local speciality. Slavjantzi is a popular winery from this region.

Bulgarian wine is characterised by its high quality and low prices; wines from Preslav, Novi Pazar, Suhin Dol, Melnik and Khan Krum (Shoumen Region) are regarded as the best, Sungularski Misket (dry white) is one preferred brand.

There are hundreds of Bulgarian folk songs about red wine, and only one about white: "why can't the white wine be red?" Red is drunk in the winter, white in the summer, both with almost everything!
The best red wines are produced from the Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon varieties. High quality, rich, and Bordeaux-like. Local grapes include:

Gamza - Late ripening the most widespread type producing an earthy, light bodied red wine good for simple fare and everyday use. Distributed mainly in the central and northeastern part of Northern Bulgaria - Suhindol, Kramolin, Pleven and Novo Selo.

Mavrud - A full bodied, spicy red that can age to more than 8 years.  Distributed in south Bulgaria - the regions of Assenovgrad, Plovdiv, Pazardjik, Chirpan, Stara and Nova Zagora. The leaf is large as is the grape coloured in dark blue. The wines produced from this variety are thick, well coloured and ideal for continuous ageing.

Melnik - Very late ripening red wine and its name from the region where it is most widely distributed - the town of Melnik. The leaf is large and slightly flattened. The grape is medium in size oval and juicy. The skin is thick, tough, coloured blue/black upon ripening with a thick wax coating. The wines are characterised with a dark red colour and thick. Upon continuous aging the taste improves further still. 

Pamid - One of the oldest Bulgarian wine types with a middle to early ripening season. Distribution is greatest in southern Bulgaria. The wines produced from this type are characterised by a slightly coloured appearance with a lightness making for easy drinking!

White wines are produced from renowned varieties such as Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Riesling as well as from the local varieties of Red Misket and Vratza Misket, Ottonel and Dimiat which has a wide distribuition on the Black Sea coast in particular the regions of Shoumen, Preslav and Chirpan. Whites are not nearly as good as reds but they are improving constantly.


Wine making traditions have endured during the Middle Ages and the Ottoman rule in Bulgaria. After liberation from the Ottoman, wine making prospered and fine wineries evolved such as Sjarovi Brothers for example. The wine cellar may also be a Bulgarian invention since Bulgarian monastic orders had first been reported to have stored wine in cool vaults deep under the ground level!

As a whole though Bulgaria has continued the traditions of South and East European wine making, producing light, often over oxidized wines for immediate consumption.

At the present time Bulgaria is now the second largest exporter of bottled wine in the world, second only to France. It has four times the area planted with Cabernet Sauvignon of California and the industry is rapidly growing. The annual average production of wine in Bulgaria ranges between 200-220 million litres depending on the crop. In the Bulgarian wine industry, traditional classic technologies are applied, as well as refined, and modern ones borrowed from the leading wine producing countries like France.


Lakes & Rivers.
The rivers rise mainly in the highest mountains, and flow into the Black Sea (via the Danube) and into the Aegean Sea. Bulgaria has 526 rivers longer than 2.3 km. The only navigable river is the Danube, which flows along the northern Bulgarian border.

There are good opportunities for adventure tourism: wild water rafting and canoeing, diving, delta- and para-gliding in the valleys of the Vatcha, Iskar, Chepelarska, Struma, and Mesta rivers.
The Longest Rivers in Bulgaria


Length (Km)


















Louda Kamchiya


Roussenski Lom


Natural lakes are about 330 in number; the largest are the Black Sea lakes (Alepou, Arkoutino, Pomorie, Beloslav, Bourgas, Varna, Shabla lakes); the most numerous (more than 260) are the high glacial lakes in the Rila and Pirin mountains.

Dams have been built as a part of waterpower systems Iskar, Arda, Batak Water Power System, Belmeken-Sestrimo, Dospat-Vucha, and a great number of smaller dams

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