Your guide for a cheap and comfortable holiday in Bulgaria

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Is Bulgaria safe

Is Bulgaria safe?

As one of the oldest countries in Europe, Bulgaria is a reputable tourist destination for travelers from across the globe. Old towns, architecture and fortresses, beautiful mountains, gorgeous beaches, and more – there’s a lot to see in this small Eastern-European country. That, however, raises the question every tourist asks before going anywhere – Is Bulgaria safe? And the short answer is – Yes.

Is it safe to travel to Bulgaria?

For starters – is it safe to travel to Bulgaria? Yes, Bulgaria may not be the most well-known country in Europe, but it’s still in Europe, it is part of the EU. As a result – getting there is quite easy. Bulgaria has four active airports that service international flights:

  • In Sofia, the capital;
  • In Plovdiv, the second biggest city in the country and one of the most ancient, still-existing European cities;
  • In Varna and in Burgas – the two biggest coastal cities.

Is Bulgaria in Europe for travel insurance? Vaccinations for Bulgaria?

Additionally, since Bulgaria is a European country, insurance is really simple to get. Vaccinations are also not an issue, for the same reason.

Bulgaria crime. Bulgaria crime rate

Ok, great, but is the country Bulgaria itself safe? – One might ask, and quite justifiably so. After all, you need to know what to expect where you’re going.

Since it’s located on Europe’s border with the Middle East and Northern Africa, and since Europe has an open borders policy, car thefts and other property-related thefts in Bulgaria are more common compared to other European countries. The fact that Bulgaria is not as rich as most of its other European counterparts also contributes to this statistic. In fact, according to U.S. law enforcement, Bulgaria is the number one source country for ATM and credit card skimming-related crimes in the world.

Statistics such as this one can seem quite frightening at first, but Bulgaria is not an unsafe country. In fact, every worldwide database, like this OSAC report for 2015, describes Bulgaria as “A welcoming country for tourists”. And to accent that point, here’s another statistic - the murder rate in Bulgaria is less than half of that in the United States.

Bulgarians are overwhelmingly warm and welcoming people and hosts, both political and religious crimes in the country are well below the average for most countries, and apart from small property thefts, Bulgaria is a quite safe destination for anyone. With standard precautions for your wallet, luggage, and phone, every smart tourist should feel at ease in Bulgaria.

Bonus safety tip: When traveling between cities, use buses instead of trains – trains are notoriously unsafe in Bulgaria, and since they are also slower, buses and cars are almost always the better options.

And before we wrap this up, let’s address some of the other traditional questions that come up when visiting an unknown country:

Can you drink water in Bulgaria?

Yes, tap water everywhere in Bulgaria is perfectly safe, in additional to bottled water being available even in the smallest villages. Still, if you’re worried, or if you’re visiting a particularly small and obscure place (some of the best tourist attractions in Bulgaria and in such villages!), simply ask your host about the quality of the tap water.

Can you use euros in Bulgaria? Does Bulgaria use the euro?

Bulgaria is one of the EU countries that does not use the euro. Instead, Bulgaria’s currency is the lev – the lev is connected to the euro in a 2:1 ratio (2 levs for 1 euro). However, every change bureau in Bulgaria will readily accept your euro, as well as all other major currencies. So if you’re unable to get levs before you leave for Bulgaria - don’t worry.

How is driving in Bulgaria?

Bulgarians drive on the left side of the road, as most other countries. As for the roads themselves – there are a couple of good, inter-city highways in the country, particularly the one between Sofia and Burgas. Quite a few of the inner-city roads, however, as well as the smaller country roads, are not in the peak conditions that most US and Western-European tourists are used to. So, if you’re going to use a car – have that in mind. Additionally, Bulgarians, similar to Romanians, are notorious for reckless driving, so caution on the road is strongly advised. Still, all that is in comparison to European and US standards, so don’t expect third-world roads and drivers – it’s still an EU country after all.

Do Bulgarians speak English?

Articles, such as this by Jakub Marian’s, show that the percentage of Bulgarians that are able to speak English is ~25%. That puts Bulgaria above Spain and Hungary, but still – below the average. Keep in mind, however, that as with most other first-world countries, Bulgaria is also entering a demographic crisis, which influences such percentages. Simply put – 9 out of 10 people below the age of 30 in Bulgaria speak English quite comfortably, which is pretty much all a tourist can ask for. As long as you’re not in an extremely small village, populated only by elderly people – you’ll be perfectly fine talking in English with Bulgarians.

So in conclusion – How safe is Bulgaria? Is Bulgaria safe?

Bulgaria is perfectly safe to travel to, and quite safe to be in, aside from small, petty theft. As a European country, Bulgaria offers all luxuries and securities of an EU country.