One of Europe’s best-kept secrets, Bulgaria is still relatively untouched and less crowded than other destinations. While tourism here has been mostly under the radar, it's no surprise Bulgaria is fast gaining popularity. Tourist attractions include the capital city, Sofia, a pretty place with varied shopping and vibrant nightlife as well as a variety of excellent museums to visit and sights to see.
In the summer, Bulgaria’s mountains are a popular choice for hikers, while the country’s beautiful Black Sea beaches are a major drawcard. Expect plenty of exciting watersports and a charming atmosphere, with quaint cobbled streets and historic buildings. Bulgaria boasts seven unique UNESCO World Heritage Cultural Sites – plus three that are listed as Natural Heritage Sites – so there’s plenty of history and beauty just waiting to be discovered.
Why visit Bulgaria
- Skiing is excellent and more affordable than other European destinations.
- It’s home to age-old sites, including the 3,000-year-old city of Nessebar and the ancient ruins at Plovdiv.
- The numerous Black Sea beach resorts – including Varna with its Roman baths – are legendary.
- Its wines are world-famous.
- Bulgaria boasts over 120 monasteries including the 10th-Century Rila Monastery.
- A holiday in Bulgaria is excellent value for money.
Whether you’re an adventure sports enthusiast keen on canoeing, hiking, skiing or snowboarding, or prefer to explore ancient sites and museums, Bulgaria has plenty to offer families, friends, couples and solo travellers. Holidays here are relaxed, scenic, affordable and fun. Let us put together a fabulous Bulgaria holiday package for you to explore this exciting destination.
What to do in Bulgaria
Whether you’re looking for a fun-filled beach holiday or action-packed ski trip, you’ll find it in Bulgaria, where the country's amazing offerings are now on every traveller’s radar. You can also enjoy a selection of adventure activities such as canoeing, hiking, mountain climbing game viewing, horse riding, fishing and mountain biking.
If you prefer sightseeing to see ancient sites, stepping back in time more than 4,000 years, you can do that as well. You can sample famous wines and eat excellent food, enjoy several fabulous festivals and marvel at medieval fortresses. And that’s just a taste of what’s in store on holiday in Bulgaria.
Things to do in Bulgaria
- Rise before dawn to pick roses in Rose Valley.
- Explore Bulgaria’s best-preserved medieval castle, Baba Vida.
- Visit magnificent Alexander Nevsky Cathedral with its gold-plated dome.
- Discover Devil’s Throat Cave with a waterfall inside it.
- Go skiing in the famous resort town of Pamporovo.
- Marvel at the ancient rock-hewn churches of Ivano.
- Walk on breathtaking mosaic floors in Saint Sofia Church.
- Enjoy a beach holiday at the Black Sea resort of Albena.
- Photograph Roman ruins in Plovdiv, the ‘City of the Seven Hills’.
- Take a walking tour of the fascinating capital, Sofia.
A treasure trove of experiences is waiting for you on holiday in beautiful Bulgaria, whether you’re travelling alone, on a family holiday, with friends or a loved one. Bulgaria’s tourist attractions include ski and beach resorts, stunning towns and villages, ancient ruins and natural wonders. Let the experts create the perfect holiday for you in this delightful destination. Call Thompsons Holidays and make a booking right away.
Know before you go...
- The best time to visit Bulgaria is in spring (April and May) or autumn (September and October).
- High season is during the summer months, June to August.
- Winter months (November to March) are the low season, although the Festive Season is popular.
- Flight duration from Johannesburg to Sofia, Bulgaria: 13 hours, 40 minutes.
- Public transport within Bulgaria is by train, minibus, bus and car.
- South African passport holders require a visa to enter Bulgaria. These are available from Home Affairs
- Passport must be valid for 6 months after your trip. Visa will not be issued if there are no blank pages.
- Bulgaria is on Central European time, one hour behind South Africa during the winter (November to March) and the same time as South Africa in the summer months (last Sunday in March to last Saturday in October).
- The official currency is the Bulgarian lev (BGN).
- Euros, British Pounds and US Dollars are all accepted in Bulgaria.
- Credit cards are widely accepted and ATMs are readily available.
- Tipping is customary for taxis, hotel porters, guides etc. Restaurants charge a 10% service fee.
- Bulgarian is the official language.
- English is spoken by around 23% of the population.
- The main religion is Bulgarian Orthodox.
- Other religions include Roman Catholicism, Protestantism, Muslims and Judaism.
- When visiting sacred sites and temples, dress conservatively. (See ‘What to pack’).
- The drinking water is relatively safe in Bulgaria. Alternatively, drink bottled water.
- Many public restrooms charge a small fee for use, so keep change on hand for this.
- Vaccinations are / are not currently required but check with your travel clinic before you go.
- Smoking is not permitted in public areas such as restaurants, bars and indoor work places as well as on public transport. Airports offer designated smoking rooms.
What must I pack?
- Lightweight clothing in summer, warm layerable clothing for winter.
- Dress modestly when visiting sacred sites – no shorts or tank tops. Legs and shoulders must be covered. Long, loose pants and long-sleeved cotton shirts are best.
- Comfortable walking shoes, sandals.
- Sunscreen, lip balm, hat and sunglasses.
- Mini first aid kit and regular prescription medication.
- Hand sanitiser and insect repellent.
- Travel adaptor.
What can I do to be a responsible traveller?
- Wherever possible, buy local food and souvenirs and support local artisans.
- Avoid single-use plastic; rather take fabric shopping bags with you and use refillable water bottles (when local drinking water is available).
- Respect each other's cultures and customs and avoid imposing your beliefs.
- Do not support animal encounters and wildlife activities that are harmful or unethical.
- Always have a map (or app) on hand, especially when travelling at night.
- Be safety conscious: don’t display cash or valuables. Leave jewellery and expensive watches at home.
- Keep your belongings safe – use the hotel safe for passports and valuables and watch out for pickpockets and bag snatchers when out and about.
What do I do in an emergency?
- If passports or valuables are stolen, report the theft to the hotel/police immediately.
- Contact the Thompsons Holidays 24-hour care line to assist.
Out of season
We’re sorry! The holiday you’re looking for is not in season. Luckily, we have loads of other exciting options. Take a look!