Why You Need To Go To Bulgaria

published by Bren

Last updated: November 8, 2023

I had zero expectations for Bulgaria. I’d never met a Bulgarian, I’d never met anyone who’d been to Bulgaria and I’d never read or seen anything about the place. Bulgaria travel blogs aren’t exactly flooding the net either. Not that I went looking for any. I was going into Bulgaria completely blank, and that was actually nice for a change.

I did have high hopes, however. After a forgettable experience in Turkey, I needed a place to make me smile again, and while the bus ride over the border was of the I-want-to-punch-someone-in-the-face variety, somewhat of a fitting farewell gift from the Turkish, I still had hopes that Bulgaria would be different.

It was!

I freakin’ love Bulgaria. As I think back over my three weeks in the country, I struggle to remember any negative experiences at all. My only regret is that I couldn’t stay longer and explore.

What’s so great about it? I’ll tell you.

Bulgaria is cheap!

One of the top reasons to visit Bulgaria – it’s affordable!

It’s one of the cheapest countries I’ve ever been to, and since the country has abandoned its plan to adopt the euro it’s likely things will stay that way.

Average salaries range around $300 per month and things in the country are priced accordingly. That means $2 for a cab ride, $3 for a restaurant meal and $5 for a movie ticket.

My hostel in Plovdiv was beautiful; we had real beds instead of bunks, ultra-fast wifi, and a daily breakfast of salami, ham, tomatoes, cucumbers, olives, cheese, fruit, toast, jam, muesli, tea and coffee (most hostels just give you bread and jam).

All up it cost me around 45 euro for five nights.

Gin and tonics at the bars rarely cost more than $3.

Getting connected with a sim card with internet cost me around $5.

I managed to get great Airbnbs, bang in the city centre in both Plovdiv and Sofia, for around $20-$30 a night.

If you’re looking for an affordable place to travel in Europe, it doesn’t get much better than Bulgaria.


Chicken and vegetables in #Plovdiv. My favourite. 5 bucks.

A photo posted by Bren (@brenontheroad) on

Bulgaria’s internet is lightning quick

According to Bloomberg, Bulgaria has the 8th fastest internet in the world – faster than the US, and definitely faster than New Zealand.

For someone who works online this certainly had me smiling every morning.

If you’re travelling in Bulgaria and decide to take a lazy day of Youtubing, take comfort in knowing you won’t be punching your phone waiting for videos to load (in HD, too!).

Bulgarians are awesome

On my first night in Plovdiv I met up with a Couchsurfer and we headed out for some traditional Bulgarian food before hitting up Fabric – a grungy little bar in Plovdiv’s centre. A few of her friends were there and invited us to sit with them, and we spent the night sipping cheap black russians and chatting the night away. They all spoke great English, welcomed me enthusiastically to their country and were super laid-back and friendly – exactly my kind of people.

As it turned out, this hospitality would continue for the remainder of my visit. Making friends was effortless in Plovdiv, and while I planned to only stay a couple of days I ended up staying in town for two weeks. During my stay I was invited out every single night – to a dinner, a jazz bar, a club, a party – everyone doing their best to ensure Plovdiv left a smile on my face (it did).

On my final night in Plovdiv I decided to do it easy, so I headed to one of my favourite bars for one last drink, alone. Yet during the walk home I bumped into two friends who refused to let me head home early for the night. Until the final hour, I was in good company in Plovdiv.

After Plovdiv I only had three short days in Sofia, the capital, but even there it was more of the same. Just friendly, awesome people, everywhere I went. I love Bulgaria.

Bulgaria is a little off the grid

Other than Sunny Beach and Varna on the east coast, not many people seem to visit Bulgaria.

I probably wouldn’t have either, had I not been trying to run away from Turkey just next door.

But as I’ve learned, places like this are always the most fun to explore – few hustlers, low prices, and a genuine look into the country without a sparkling tourist façade.

The free walking tours in Sofia and Plovdiv only collected around 6-8 people per day (in bigger cities, you can get up to 30 or 40+) and even the free Sofia food tour, where we ate for free in some of Sofia’s hippest joints, only had about 12.

The foreigners you do meet will generally be Erasmus students or people just passing through.

If you’re looking for somewhere in Europe that isn’t crawling with tourists a la Paris and London, Bulgaria could be the perfect choice.


If you’re ever in #sofia, jump on the pub crawl. They take you to some pretty rad off the grid places.

A photo posted by Bren (@brenontheroad) on

Bulgaria is safe

Like all places Bulgaria has its shady areas but I wandered around alone during early mornings and late nights and never felt in danger once. Walking home alone past midnight in Plovdiv and Sofia felt safer than most big cities, especially as the streets were generally calm and well lit. Even around 2am I regularly saw girls walking home alone – usually a good sign that the streets are considered safe.

Of course you should take your usual precautions and avoid the rough parts of town, but for the most part you can rest easy in Bulgaria.

Everyone in Bulgaria speaks English!

Well perhaps not everyone, and perhaps not perfectly, but most will speak enough to understand you and indulge in small conversation. I also met many Bulgarians who spoke near perfect English which was a quite a surprise to me, especially after coming from Turkey where English is almost non-existent. I had been prepared for a big language barrier on my arrival, so it was nice to find I was understood by almost everyone I came into contact with, whether it be in a hostel, a store, a restaurant or coffee shop.

Of course, you should still make an effort to learn a little Bulgarian, too. Nazdrave!

Bulgarian food is AWESOME

While not known for their food, Bulgaria makes some pretty delicious stuff.

You can start off your day with a few pieces of banitsa, a greasy, delicious, crispy baked pastry filled with something awesome (usually egg, onion or potato).

Follow up with a few gallons of ayran – a traditional Bulgarian yoghurt drink (best yoghurt in the world!)

Next you might want to indulge a few gulps of tarator, a cucumber, garlic and yoghurt soup.

Then get serious and prime yourself with a classic shopska salad – Bulgaria’s trademark cucumber, tomato, onion, cheese and parsley mix, enjoy their very chunky oversized skewers of traditional barbecued meat, eat a few loaves of bread with spreads of Bulgarian lyutenitsa, a tomato and capsicum spread, indulge in a couple of famous Bulgarian kyufte, or stuffed meatballs, and of course, don’t forget a few rounds of rakia, their trademark drink to end the night.

Need pics? Here you go.


#Tarator – a Bulgarian yoghurt, cucumber and garlic soup. Farkin’ awesome.

A photo posted by Bren (@brenontheroad) on


On the free food tour in #sofia you’ll get to try #lyutenitsa – a tomato and capsicum dip/spread. Awesome stuff.   A photo posted by Bren (@brenontheroad) on


You ain’t tried #meatballs til you tried stuffed #Bulgarian #kyufte meatballs.

A photo posted by Bren (@brenontheroad) on


Drinking ayran in #Bulgaria. These cats make some of the best #yogurt in the world.   A photo posted by Bren (@brenontheroad) on


They take their #barbecuing seriously in #Bulgaria. This hearty #chicken skewer had me struggling.   A photo posted by Bren (@brenontheroad) on


A classic #Bulgarian #salad. Simple yet classy.

A photo posted by Bren (@brenontheroad) on


#rakia – A drink that may put you on your ass in #Bulgaria   A photo posted by Bren (@brenontheroad) on

And for you foodies, here’s a more thorough guide on Bulgarian food to get you going.

Bulgaria is developed

It’s not Tokyo, but it’s not Phnom Penh, either.

Most of your Western comforts will be available if you want them, from McDonalds to H&M to a nice steak dinner at a fancy pants restaurant.

I was surprised that it only took me a couple of days before I found an actual juice bar; one that juices real vegetables with a real juicer (more than I can say for France).

Bulgaria tends to have a reputation as rather poor and backward in this department, and it is not a rich country by any means, but I found it to be refreshingly modern, at least in the major cities. If I were forced to live here for a year, I’d have no problems at all.


#Sunday afternoon in #Plovdiv. Miss this place.

A photo posted by Bren (@brenontheroad) on

Bulgarians know how to party

Damn, they go hard in Bulgaria.

The drinks are cheap, they smoke like chimneys and the bars are widespread.

Yet despite all that, the drinking culture doesn’t seem to be a bingey, ‘get f*cked up as fast as possible’ type gig; it’s more of a ‘enjoy your drinks and enjoy the night until the early morning’ type thing. I quite like it.

Whatever your flavour, just know you’ll never be drinking alone in Bulgaria.


Keepin it classy tonight in #Plovdiv

A photo posted by Bren (@brenontheroad) on

Bulgaria is beautiful

Most importantly, Bulgaria is just a beautiful country.

After being part of several empires, there is so much history here and you will notice this instantly in the architecture and layout of the cities. Plovdiv is considered the most ancient city in Europe, and the free walking tours in both Plovdiv and Sofia will open your eyes to how many layers of history are hidden here.

There is a calm and laid-back energy in Bulgaria, one that makes it easy to visit and easy to like. The people are humble and polite, the streets are calm and it is easy to simply wander and enjoy the country for what it is.

I had only planned on staying a few days before moving on, but ended up staying for almost three weeks and still wasn’t quite ready to leave.

I’ll end this post with a massive thank you to all the Bulgarians who showed me love and made my visit something to share and remember. I only hope if you ever visit New Zealand, we manage to do the same for you.

In the meantime, if you’re currently planning a Eurotrip and looking for recommendations, Bulgaria officially has the Bren on the Road stamp of approval.


Heading to Bulgaria? A few tips:

  • For affordable accommodation in the cities, I highly recommend using Airbnb. You will find many good offers that will be cheaper and more comfortable than hotels and hostels. I found very nice places in both Plovdiv and Sofia for about $25 a night. You can get $25 of free Airbnb credit using this link.
  • Try and visit in the summer! Bulgaria’s cities are very walkable and safe if the weather permits. It also means you can head to the coast and visit the beaches too. While Bulgaria in the winter will still be beautiful it will be signficantly harder to travel through.
  • I highly recommend purchasing travel insurance for Bulgaria. Travel in Bulgaria is not dangerous, but it is not a widely travelled country so be sure you’re prepared for the unexpected. I use World Nomads. They offer affordable coverage with generous limits and it’s super simple – you can literally be covered within two minutes. I use them often.Have fun!

Disclaimer: World Nomads provides travel insurance for travelers in over 100 countries. As an affiliate, we receive a fee when you get a quote from World Nomads using this link. We do not represent World Nomads. This is information only and not a recommendation to buy travel insurance.

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  1. Thank You Bren. Its the story of everyone I meet. I hear a lot of great things when they meet Bulgarians or go to Bulgaria BUT on main stream news papers, I never hear a damn good thing about Bulgaria.

    Bulgaria & Romania are the two most hated or negative reported country in Europe. I’m sure you will love Romania as well if you plan to go there and yes, it has the fastest Internet in whole of Europe and top 5 in the world.

    I just had an opportunity to work in Bulgaria for couple of years and I turned it down, now I’m kicking myself, after reading your experience, I’m planning to go back now. Thank You.

          1. Uhm, well, technically there is. Peoples means “народи” in Bulgarian. I’m sorry, I just couldn’t help it. I confess, I’m a grammar nazi.

      1. I don’t wanna spoil the party but Bulgaria’s bad reputation is due to corruption and bad leadership. It has nothing to do with “people who are not Bulgarian but hold Bulgarian passports”. This is simply racist. This person is referring to the Roma (gypsies), who have recently been moving to other EU countries to escape excessive poverty and discrimination in Bulgaria and making headlines there. It’s a complex question, but firstly, these people ARE Bulgarian. Bulgaria is a multiethnic country and everyone in the country is responsible for its image. Gypsies have been discriminated against, mistreated and kept out of active social participation for centuries and very actively in the last decades. It’s no wonder they tend to be the poorest people in the country. Many (perceived) ethnic Bulgarians like to blame gypsies for the problems in Bulgaria but that is just a lame excuse.
        Secondly, Bulgarians and Bulgarian politicians never got the memo that creating a positive image for your country is very important. There are problems in every country and good PR practices are important no matter what. I am Bulgarian living in New Zealand. I see a lot of social and other problems in NZ that the rest of the world simply has no idea about, because NZ does an amazing job at maintaining its positive image.

        And, finally, I don’t wanna leave you with the wrong impression. I love Bulgaria and the food and how affordable it is. Not a big fan of all the cigarette smoking though. Oh, and amazing natural beauty. Countless opportunities for outdoor activities, which (I’d say luckily) have so far escaped the attention of mass tourism.

      1. I actually live here in Bulgaria and have lived here for two years and find your reply inaccurate. Plovdiv is not mostly a student city. In fact, there are far more universities and students in Sofia. Walking down the main pedestrian streets of Sofia and Plovdiv give off two entirely different vibes. You are much more likely to encounter families and more individuality in Plovdiv. The whole area is much more lively and cultured. In Sofia, you will see more young people and businessmen with little variety in style and fashion. Overall it feels much more sterile and lacks the vibrancy of Plovdiv and other cities in Bulgaria. Further, as a whole, your experience with everyone speaking English is rare and mostly because you stayed on the beaten path, as do most tourists, albeit a small path indeed. The true Bulgaria lies outside of Sofia and until you venture out into countryside and the middle of the country, you’ve experienced a very small portion of what this country has to offer. I do hope you managed to explore Bulgaria outside of Sofia and Plovdiv having had been here for 3 weeks. If not, I highly recommend you turn around and come right back as you will love the country even more.

          1. Hey! Plovdiv is the second largest city in Bulgaria and we consider it rather a big one 😀 Also Sofia has more than 25 universities ( 52 in total in Bulgaria) but the students are mainly concentrated in a neighborhood called “Students’ city” so maybe that’s why you didn’t see so much of them while you were there. Plus most of the students leave Sofia during the summer to go to their home towns 🙂

          2. not that ‘student heavy’ is a bad thing particularly…nice to see young blood around, in the Village I live in it seems like mostly older people, pensioners really.

        1. Dear Paul,
          As visitor we sure are not able to explore everything and mostly depend on our guides. I myself visited Bulgaria in August, 2001 and spent a month there. I had few Bulgarian friends there at that time. I also spent most of the time in Sofia, visited Rila and various Museums. I found english was not used much in those days… it was only for my bg. friends who would keep translating for me.. one week i spent at Black Sea beach…i think it was Keatons. But one thing i assure you that your country is lovely… it is beautiful. I could not visit bg. again so far but it is always on my mind to go there atleast once again.

    1. Loraine,are you really sure about that?I live in Bulgaria and I can confirm it is beautiful and charming,but the payment…..If you have a high classiffication it is ok,but if you havent,you will have some really bad time in Bulgaria.The life is hard for many of the people and I just want to warn you.I am in the middle class,my dad recieves about 1000 leva,but the life is still hard for us.So i just want for you to think about that.

      1. Отрицателните коментари за България под тази прекрасна блог статия за нашата родина идват само от българи. Чужденците се спукват да хвалят страната ни, българите като теб са негативни и плюят. Гади ми се….

        1. Пораженческото мислене и самосъжаление са факторите, които съсипват обществото и духа на развитие.
          Надявам се съвсем скоро хората да проумеят най-после, че промяната започва в съзнанието ни и ние сме тези, които я прилагат на практика.
          I definitely love this post and feel sad for everyone, who argue against it. Obviously you want to feel bad about yourself, do it if you must, but do not distroy the nice thing someone else has experienced.
          Why dont you instead listen to those people, who have been around a lot and cherish your country more than you would ever have the eyes to see why, AND LEARN TO LOVE IT?!?!
          Why don’t you try to change the things you disagree with?! Obviously there are people who would support your ideas from both camps – the arrogant lazy waining fellas and those who love Bulgaria?!
          Seriously … why dont you just for once freaking stop complaining for Heaven’s sake!

  2. Hi Bren,

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts on Bulgaria and us- the Bulgarians. It’s so refreshing to see someone who really enjoyed his stay and the only thing I can think of is – “Welcome back!’

    Maybe then you can go to Veliko Tarnovo, ‘Prohodna’ cave and ‘Krushuna’ waterfall, ‘Kaliakra’ cape, ‘Pirin’ and ‘Rila’ mountains and many other places to explore.

    Really enjoyed reading your article and you made my day!

    The most interesting part here- is that my dream is to go to New Zealand one day (and unlike Bulgaria- I know that it’s expensive there 😉 and visit all the amazing parts of this land.



  3. Thank you so much for writing this, Bren!

    As a Bulgarian (currently living in Denmark) it makes me so sad that my country has such a terrible reputation all around Europe. I have never heard a foreigner hate it after visiting, and your post put a crazy big smile on my face. Next time definitely visit Romania as well, I feel like the countries with the worst things about them stated in the media, are the best to visit. Glad you’re not one of the people who follow that bullshit! 🙂

    I hope you go back at some point, many more beautiful cities to explore, not to mention the mountains!!! Best part of Bulgaria 🙂 You’re always welcome!

      1. Hello Bren, if you ever decide to come in Varna give me a shout, I’ll show you around and we’ll have some quality time. I love my city and my country, I am glad to hear that you had some great time here in Bulgaria! There are some interesting sights outside Varna but nearby, like “Pobiti kamani” also the oldest man made artifacts of gold were found near Varna. There is so much history here as well as many beautiful places, good hotels and restaurants, beaches combined with forests. Golden Sands is another place to go when you visit Varna. It’s a top notch holiday complex!
        Thank you for this article, it’s good to hear some good stuff for our small but beautiful country.
        I wish you all the best and safe trips!

  4. Hey Bren.. I am an English-born Australian living in Paris married to a Bulgarian!!! (Count the nationalities there!) Great article. I have been there several times.. and in fact my wife and I had a traditional Bulgarian wedding in Sofia. Now THAT was an experience!! Awesome country with amazing traditions, culture a-plenty, and beautiful people. I hope you got to learn some Bulgarian dancing while you were there!!! Cheers!! Jon

  5. I’m Bulgarian and saw your article when a friend of mine posted it in fb. It was a real pleasure to see such a positive text for my country (I got tired of seeing some of the BBC materials – I don’t know where they film it but they always present us like a giant ghetto or somethin’). You definitely made my day. Glad you came around and spread the word – we don’t see many tourists in our towns and most of them stop by coincidence.
    For all foreigners who find problem with communication in English I strongly suggest to ask younger people – elders speak mostly russian but people around 20 usually have at least what my ol’ teacher called survival-level-of-english -knowledge. If you stay for a couple of days it’s maybe a good idea to look if they have a folklore based theater spectacles – they present well our beautiful songs and dances and at the same time have a modern vibe.

  6. Having lived in Bulgaria for half my life now, I can definitely say that the best thing about the place is the people, old and young, English-speaking or not. They have such a deep wisdom, coupled with an unbound optimism. Although I’ve lived in Sofia for more than two decades, I do quite like to get out and see the smaller towns and the countryside. Plovdiv has a special charm, and is as beautiful as I’ve ever seen it. Welcome to all of you who wish to visit–you won’t be disappointed!

  7. Hi, Bren! I am a bulgarian and I really enjoyed reading your post, it made me smile. You must know that most of young people here do understand and speak English- it’s the main foreign language we study at school. And it is cheap for you here, but for many bulgarians it’s hard to afford even a summer holiday in Varna. But no matter how poor we are, we always manage to party and enjoy ourselves. 🙂 So, welcome back, explore and enjoy our beautiful country! Nazdrave! 😉

    1. Сигурен ли си? Знаеш ли, че в България по индекси за благополучие е в първата третина на държавите в света? Това означава (да ти го преведа), че 2/3 от държавите по света са по-бедни от нас. Аман от оплаквачи.

  8. Hello Bren!!
    Your pictures are so mouthwatering! I wish to visit the places where you’ve been to see and taste this yumminess 🙂
    There is a Bulgarian community in NZ. I have a friend there. You can hang out with them if you miss the Bulgarian spirit when you are home.

    I am from Plovdiv and live in Sofia. Your story made me fall in love with the places all over again.

    Keep having fun in your travels!

  9. Bren..so refreshing to see a positive take on Bulgaria. My father was Bulgarian and we traveled there from the United States multiple times in my life. We had relatives/friends all over Bulgaria and I was able to see many areas, big cities as well as country sides. Varna was my favorite city. Between the beaches and mountain ranges there is something for everyone. I make Banitza for my family, they love it. But you are correct, no one ever believes me when I say Bulgarian yogurt is the best. I remember as a little girl my grandfather would head to the marketplace every morning and buy yogurt for us for breakfast. I have never tasted anything better! I enjoyed your article, thanks for bringing back fond memories!

    1. The reason you like the bulgarian yogurt so much is “Lactobacillus Bulgaricus”. This bacterium can thrive only in Bulgaria and some areas near the borders. Meaning every other environment will kill that bacterium. That’s why if you eat yogurt, that is made outside Bulgaria, will have different taste, even if they used the same Lactobacillus Bulgaricus exported from Bulgaria. Basically, the biggest importers of the bacterium are Japan, the USA, and the EU, but they also use other stuff to maintain it alive and thus the difference in the taste. You can read more about the yogurt and it’s healing effects here – http://www.bacillusbulgaricus.com/lactobacillus-bulgaricus 🙂

      So, here in Bulgaria, most of the families makes their own home yogurt. 🙂 You just need a sample from a yogurt. Best is from some farmer who makes his own yogurt, but you can also just buy it from the store, use 1 spoon for each jar filled with hot milk…and when you have the first batch of homemade yogurt, you just keep half of a jar for the next batch. This way you make sure you have clean the “impurities” that they put in the yogurt from the store to keep it with a longer consumer live. And as an end result you have a wonderful yogurt, free of any unnatural chemicals, just pure yogurt. 🙂 Of course, if you buy the milk from some farmer and you will get 100% purity. 🙂 I bet if you try homemade yogurt, made from fresh milk straight out of the cow, goat, sheep, bull… well… 🙂 This is one of my favorite things to eat when I go to my village. 🙂

      p.s. You can try to make your own homemade yogurt, but you will need to choose a good sample yogurt from the store and also good fresh milk(not pasteurized). Probably it might be a challenge if you live in a big city, but it will worth it. 🙂 The recipe can be googled easily. 😉

  10. You should not miss the medieval capital of Veliko Turnovo, its fortresses and “Sound and Light” show, as well as the city of Russe on the Danube River, dubbed the Little Vienna.

    Of course, the mountains in the south are truly gorgeous, the Seven Rila Lakes, Melnik and Rozhen there are all unforgettable sights.

    And if you are a football fan, you could pass by the town of Razgrad with its FC Ludogorets which dominates Bulgarian football as of late.

  11. Some tips from a native bulgarian to all tourists who plan to visit:
    1. Don’t be a dick and you’ll find more friends, hospitality and and care that you are used to (that’s how we roll), assuming you’re avoiding the tourist traps at the seaside(in the summertime) or the mountainside(during the ski season). Both worth visiting, though.
    2. Try to get your hands on some local produce. If you get your hands on some home grown or farmer’s vegetables, meat, yoghurt, cheese, rakia or any home-cooked meals it’s very probable that you’ll faint before you realize you should’ve stopped eating/drinking 2 hours ago. There’s always a marketplace where those can be found, don’t be shy – ask around.
    3. Get a good health insurance – while our medical care is cheap and mostly free for citizens, there might be some complications for foreign patients, so ask your insurer.
    4. You can safely drink the water, but be warned of the tripe soup (shkembe chorba) 😉

    Hope to see you soon, enjoy your stay.

  12. Hallo Bren! I am Bulgarian currently living in US. I am amazed by the punctuality in your article. Every time when an American (or any foreigner) asks me about Bulgaria, I try to give them the picture you described in your article. I kind of miss a lot of it. A lot! And by the way I left Turkey, when I was visiting a few year ago, with the same feeling. I didn’t like it. Funny! If you have trip in or near California, you are more then welcome to spend some quality time with Bulgarian folks 🙂

  13. Thank you, Bren! It was great joy reading about your trip to my lovely country. I love Bulgaria as much as you do, no matter how hard it seems sometimes to live and be here for me, as a Bulgarian.
    So happy to hear that you find friends and liked our food. Plovdiv indeed is a great city, one of my favourite. I was born and now live in Sofia, nut have been many times in Plovdiv and I am in love with it 🙂
    If you come back again, go and see our beautiful sea , you will love it very much, I promise! And go to some mountain trip, we have many and they are very beautiful 🙂
    Also go to some monastery to feel the spirit, you will be surpised!
    Also don’t forget to try boza next time, it’s for drinking and it goes very well with banitza.
    Have safe trips and great great time!!

  14. Hey Brendan 🙂 I loved the article, mate. One of the best articles about Bulgaria that I’ve ever read. And it made me smile – even though I’m Bulgarian, you showed the things prettier than I see them. And thank you for that – I came back to live in my country but I miss so much to meet travelers .. and unfortunately we don’t have so many here – just a stop between Turkey and Europe … hopefully that will change one day 🙂

    Thanks, mate and take care on your road

  15. I’ve lived in Plovdiv for a few years now and it was refreshing to read your account as a new visitor, it bought back a lot of memories for me. I came for 3 weeks and instantly fell in love with the city, so much that I ended up moving here. I later met my wife in Fabric bar and got married at Constantin & Elena church in your first photo 🙂

    As other people have said, you really need to see Bulgaria outside the big cites too. Veliko Turnovo, Elena, Koprivshtitsa, Rila – the list goes on and on. These places will take your breath away. I’ve lived in a lot of different countries and I can’t see myself ever moving on from Bulgaria now.

  16. Hey there my man,

    since I’ve been to the US 4 times (for half a year), have traveled half Europe, have invested (and lost LOL) in my country milions and have been living in Bulgaria for 30 years already, I thought I’d be a good idea to share this and that….

    Avarage salaries are below $300/month

    The food here is extremely expensive having in mind what people make.

    Bulgarians are kind to strangesrs but not to each other since they have that slavish knd of thinking… you’ll always be welcome here if you have benjies LOL, if you know what I mean.

    Bulgarians (just some) talk good english cause they are being expoited by foreign companies that require english speaking.

    I’m not even going to talk about the mafia ruling the country and all that crap…

    The Internet here is really the best though!

    I can see why you had fun, it’d be cool for a week or so for anybody.


    PS Diggin your blog 🙂

  17. Hey, that is such a great article, sending it to all my friends to lure them to come visit my beautiful country with me. All foreign visitors out there, don’t miss my hometown Varna: our Sea capital, great in all seasons, amazing in the summer! If you are looking for beautiful nature and cultural sights, check out this “from above” video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5hlBp0DJfyI

  18. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and experiences, I enjoyed reading your story. Bulgarians need to know they are appreciated and seen in positive light right now, so … thanks. I myself am Bulgarian who’s been living abroad (Germany, Luxembourg) for the last 15 years and I must admit distance has taught me to notice the positive changes back home.
    Next time you visit, try to see the nestinari – the people who dance on glowing embers. Quite impressive.
    I was sorry to read that you had bad experiences in Turkey. I lived in Istanbul for a year and enjoyed it immensely. But that was back in 1999-2000, perhaps a lot has changed since.

  19. Hallo,
    My English is bad, still im Bulgarian. Why other countries hate us? Bulgaria is small Country with huge History, some People say that it is before Greece and “Bulgarians” was just another Name of running Trac’s from Rome Empire and after that coming back and taking their own lands with force. So Rome wrote only bad things for us…Bulgarian’s were constantly fighting with Rome Empire, but after all another enemy arised – The Turk’s, they colapsed East Rome Empire and took Bulgarian lands, and Bulgarians were 500 years slaves, killed and raped like animals. Still not many Turk’s wanted to live in BG, because they could die from any angry Hand. Turk’s wanted to destroy our culture, but they could not manage it. After one war between Turk’s and Russians, Bulgarians have paid to Russia alot of Gold to help us and they did it, of course that was paid, after that we were together with Greece, Serbia and today Macedonia fighting against Turk’s to free all lands, still mostly Bulgarian’s were killed for the freedom of the others. First World war all countries arround us were atacking us just to get some land, we managed to beat them all and they still hate us, but still after that Russia and England were pressing our Country and still we have lost alot of our lands, because we cannot fight back against such big enemy. Second World War we were pressed from Hitler to be of their side or they could ruin the Country, still we did not atack any Country Hitler has killed our king who saved all Jewish People in our lands from Hollokost and did not atacked Greece. After this war we have lost 30 % of our lands, some of them today are very nice touristic places in Greece. Russians after the war made the worst ruining of our Country, they have killed the whole intelligence in BG, the whole Parlament, my grandgrandfather was killed there too. 250 000 were killed from Russians, because they had land or they were doing bisness just to ruin the Country so we could not exist of the map…Still after 45 Propaganda from Russians in BG we are here, we have our borders and we could be much better if we were not so nice People…We have given to Greece the coulture, they were Pirates in mediterenian sea before that…Knowing the history will lead you to many interesting stuff in Bulgaria. Of course many hate us because we are still there, because our gypsies are many and they go arround EU, but we cant do anything, they dont want to go to scool or to work and they are not true Bulgarians. When you come to BG look in Google Pictures you can see some amazing places and dont talk with gypsies they would like to take your Money, probably not with force but still we dont like to talk with them, so ignore them and you will have huge fun. And dont stay just in some big City, Bulgaria has one of the best’s Nature go outside…Take a mountinbike or go to the Sea.

    1. You seriously need to learn some history mate. Especially from 1st world war and onwards. Greece stole. from you your land? When and what land you talking about? You were a Hitler ally on 2nd world war and and yes you did attack and killed other countries, see north Greece, Serres occupation by Bulgarians.
      You have given Greece the culture, they were pirates before? Are you out of your mind? Greeks existed before you showed up in the history so shut up, what’s the old name of Plovdiv? (Filippoupoli) Yes is a Greek name. Learn some history and don’t be so disrespectful.

  20. Hi Bren!
    I enjoy much reading your thought! We have similar story actually. I went there last year for 2months internship in Sofia. At first I didn’t have a big expectation about it because it is not a tourist-wellknown-country like the countries in west europe area. But after I live there, It is beyond my expectation! All of the good things you mentioned above are so damn true!! I wish that I can go back there again someday just to take a look what is changing. The place that I love the most is Fantastiko in Studentski Grad. It sells a lot of thing you need in one place. Haha

    1. Hi Linda even in a small City like 20 000 you can find 24/7 shop…In every small town you can find a bike shop or to repair it (but dont leave your bike alone, gypsies can steal it, they will never do something directly, they do never atack or something like that but when you left something shiny even for 1 euro cost they still think that it is a huge and interesting Thing). I was one time in one small City in Bulgaria arround 20-30000 and there was one Disco Club it was very strange that they have made it with capacity of 1000 People lol…But every friday everyone is going out some old People go in restourants other in Disco and in one Moment there was full with People- amazing…You cant see any small cafee in Bulgaria empty they are full with talking People, just chating for everything. Bulgarians talk alot they like to have big fun. If you have someone who does Problems just go away it works 100% noone realy cares to chase you or to do something bad, still the Girls should care more if you see someone who wants something from you but you dont want that just say it at the beginning it is very rare that he will bother you after that if it is so when you are going home do it together with someone, but as i said it is very very rare and unusual. It is unusual because normally all People talk alot with each other and when someone has crazy ideas they ruin his ideas or in one Moment he will be beaten, so risks from rape or other Troubles are from my oppinion are quite minimal. Who can help you in Bulgaria? Ist not the Police ist not the Family ist not the Money, your friends will help you and sometimes even in worst moments just make friends and tell them your Story. So first Thing that you have to do when you visit Bulgaria is 1. Make some friends 2. Stay low Bulgarians dont like People who want to “Show” themselves(in Disco probably you can do that) 3. Ask pollite 4. Dont become crazy when you find some strange stuff because you can be ignored 5. Just ask when you find something strange dont judge 6. Ask what other People do in strange situations (because in Bulgarian there are “ways to do something”) 7. Dont get involve with Bulgarian Mafia(just ignore them) or to Show how much Money you have 8. Ignoring gypsies will make your day easier (Bulgarians can Chat with gypsies and they can do some things together but they dont trust them, gypsies are easily to recognise they are Little bit braun) 9. Ask the Taxi Driver how much Money he will take to certain Destination(some taxi Drivers are waiting for People just like you, to take more Money from them, when you sit in look how much Money it costs you and if you think that it is too much, just tell him to stop, pay him and go to the next one, normally bad taxi Drivers are not so many) There are not many places that you should avoid, probably only 1 small part of Sofia and 1 in Plovdiv where the gypsies live of course you can go there too but dont try your luck… Still Bulgaria is not Sofia or Plovdiv there are many interesting cities and Nature like in Switzerland and it is just 2h away, cheap cars to rent cheap and good Hotels, nice People everywhere…Just smile and you will be welcome everywhere even if you dont have Money they can feed you and you can have a place to sleep of course the last today is not so common but still exists…

      1. It really depends, street taxi drivers can try to make you pay more. You have to be local to be able to recognize an official taxi from a scammer. Even the locals sometimes fail, and pay double or triple.
        If you are in Bulgaria for a short time and don’t want to spend time on cheesy taxi drivers, there are some companies with English speaking drivers and with fixed prices. A bit more expensive, but no risk.

  21. Great article dude,
    I am Bulgarian too, and it is always good seeing the perspective of people who are not involved with, or know of, the political, or economic nonsense. Your observations are so true, and the sad part is that the Bulgarians themselves fail to see and recognize them, and are just taken for granted. There are major issues, but as people see, once you detach yourself from them, as tourists do, you only get to see the good side. It would be so much better if the locals managed to do this as well, it would definitely have a positive effect on all.
    Your article really made my day. Hope to see more like it. Glad you enjoyed your stay, spread the love, come back, and you’ll have an event better time, I promise.
    Full disclosure…I currently live in NYC.

  22. Hi Bren,

    great post, you really managed to see the best of Bulgaria and the Bulgarians during your stay!

    As a Bulgarian no longer living there and currently only visiting as a tourist, I also agree with a couple of the other commenters, that you stayed on the safe beaten path – the real magical Bulgaria starts where the paved roads end, the countryside and the mountains are the most beautiful and amazing part of Bulgaria. It’s an experience like no other!

    Next time you’re there (I’m sure you’ll come back soon!), please visit the Rhodope mountains, anywhere in these mountains is magical and life changing, believe me 😉 As for the Black Sea coast, please research very well before you head to the beach as there are lots of once beautiful but currently destroyed by greedy people places… I’m sure some of your readers will be happy to share their tips 🙂

    Take care and happy travels!


  23. Sorry Bren but as seen you’ve liked Bulgaria so much. Why? Because you find it so cheap right. Why don’t you move yourself and whole your family to Bulgaria. Stay there to the end of your life? While in Bulgaria have you asked a Bulgarian citizen on the street how they make their life been in this country? All visitors from western countries always like Bulgaria but just to visit because is cheap. Go and try to live there as a resident surviving on $200 monthly wage and you going to start thinking in different way. Try it and come back with another article. I am curious to read it.

    1. One more Bulgarian being unhappy in Bulgaria. But this article is not about money, but about experience, and the truth is that no matter the difficulties Bulgarian people have, we always find a may to party and have fun, we are very welcoming and the food is great. And this is what he wanted to say. And in the end he added that Bulgaria poor but far from being the poorest. Let’s stop being pessimist for once!

    2. Yes people struggle in Bulgaria, but also a lot live quite well, new cars, buy clothes in modern malls, dine, and drink in very nice restaurants and bars. You live in a wonderful country, as so do I. a lot still has to change to make life better for those on a low wage, and also the ageing people of Bulgaria on a very low pension . I think things will improve in time. I could think of worse places to live. If people sit on their ass and wait for change, nothing will happen. M

  24. Hi Bren,

    I loved your story and I couldn’t help but thank you for sharing your great experience and welcome you back to Bulgaria 🙂

    I thought I could share more great places to visit in the Bulgarian countryside from my perspective as I couldn’t agree more that the real Bulgarian spirit is outside the big cities.

    Koprivshtiza and the festival,Ruse,Silistra and Srebarna National Reserve Park,Burgas which is my home city 😉 , see the fire dances original from village of Bulgari, Jeravna,Bozhenci,Tryavna,Kovachevitsa,Leshten ,Omaya,Delchevo,Rila,Sokolovski and Troyan monastery,Rozhen peak in the Rhodope mountain and the festival,Gela and the Bulgarian Kaba Bagpipe competition, Bansko, Zlatograd,Yagodina cave and the Devil’s troat cave, peak St Ilia and Orlovo oko-eagle eye where you see panoramic view of the Rhodppe Mountain, The Belogradchik Rocks, Melnik and the Sand Pyramids and so on and so forth 🙂 I hope you and people who read your blog will enjoy visiting them 🙂


  25. Bren, I am super happy to read your excited article about Bulgaria. Thanks for taking the time to write about our beautiful country! However, can’t help but ask you to please rename your first section from “It is so cheap” to something a little more sensible to the economic reality of most Bulgarians, your hosts. Although yes, it is “so cheap” for tourists like you visiting from developed countries, it is not at all “so cheap” for the average Bulgarian. In fact, hard-working highly educated people are living paycheck to paycheck, if that. While the elderly cannot even cover their electricity and heating bills. Amidst all that, our warm hospitality and our dignity persist. So, out of respect for your experience, please consider renaming the “It is so cheap” section to something else.

  26. It is nice to read something positive about Bulgaria, however, the reality for the most people there is a bit different. It is cheap indeed, but wages are incredibly low, especially in smaller cities, apart from Sofia and Plovdiv. A huge amount of people face problems paying their bills, nearly half of the population is directly or indirectly endangered of living below the poverty line. Well, on the other side, some bulgarians love to exaggerate and state they are the poorest nation in the world.

    Apart from the economical problems, education in Bulgaria is getting worse and worse- secondary as well as university level.

    I see that you praise the aspect “it is cheap” quite a few times. This is of course true, but as a whole, the situation in Bulgaria is getting worse, otherwise how can you explain the fact that almost 2 milions of bulgarian people live abroad?

    To be honest, i understand your position. I visited Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia a month ago. These countries are even worse developed compared with Bulgaria. I nevertheless enjoyed the trip enormously, also due to the fact that it was even cheaper compared with Bulgaria.

    However, people there also suffer. So every coin has two sides.

  27. Great article. I’m a kiwi (hey Bren) married to a Bulgarian. We live in London and try to get back once a year at least. Beautiful country with such diverse ecology – beach, forest, mountains, which is rare for Europe, particularly in such a small territory like Bulgaria. Incredible people, music, food, history… Hopefully some of the country’s young educated people decide to stay and help Bulgaria become more prosperous.

  28. I felt proud reading it and shared on my FB instantly for the world to see. Seconds later three of my friends had shared it.
    All who whinge about the”cheap” comment must realise the article was written from the perspective of a traveller. It hits the right spots for potential tourists. If I was to visit another country an article like this would help me make the decision – should I or should I not!? And, don’t forget that, no matter where one comes from, cost is vital when travelling the world, exploring and visiting new places. Who out there wants to spend a fortune? Any sensible folk would choose wisely and for many money would be the decisive factor.
    Be proud people! Be very proud! It doesn’t happen often enough (lately) that we, our country, get such praise and attention. Love it or hate it, “cheap” will bring us fortune.

      1. Sorry you feel that way Natalia. Clearly the line states “it’s so cheap” rather than “THEY are so cheap” as you may have interpreted it.
        I am proud that we can offer plenty for less. There are so many overpriced places on this planet that have a third of what Bulgaria has to offer. There are too many amazing places that one cannot afford to visit in a lifetime. Cost is a tipping point for many.
        All the bickering and disapproval, the political and economic statements about the reality in the country will ruin it for any potential visitors.
        Article is only directed to potential tourists. It is an opportunity. It is someone else’s view.

  29. Hello Bren,

    Thank you for sharing that positive experience. I lived many years in USA and Canada, few months in Germany, and there was nothing in these material worlds that could make me happy and make my life as complete as it is in Bulgaria. This is not a country you can visit only once, you must return again and again to realize that most valuable things don’t have high price on the label. We remember the time spent with good people and positive emotions much longer than the moment we bought a new car or another pair of the latest model fancy shoes…

    [links removed]

  30. Thank you for the good and honest /not mainstream/ words you’ve put up for my country and my home city of Plovdiv. which by the way is considered more of an artistic and culture rich city /we have many different festivals. art galleries. museums. an ancient but still working amphitheatre and many more activities. even recently voted European culture capital for 2019/ than a student’s city. even though the atmosphere is casual and laid-back can be found everywhere. But like some of the other people have replied in their comments you’ve certainly missed the most unique people Bulgaria has to offer – amazing and divine mountains and bio diversity and a relaxed and welcoming beaches and sea, even if they are filled with tourists.
    And as you undoubtedly have to come back again I welcome you, and promise to show you more genuine pictures and taste of Bulgaria, nazdrave with some 30year old home made rakia.

  31. Bren, thank you so much for writing this! It is so good to hear something good for my motherland from people who have visited it, I am really glad you like it! However, people always say there is a big difference between living in a place and just visiting it and I myself could experience this when I came to Germany. You write it is very cheap in Bulgaria for foreigners and Bulgarians as well, but unfortunately this is really not the case. That’s why there are so many emigrants like me who leave this beautiful country hoping to find a better place, where the conditions are more bearable and we can afford the minimum of a normal living. Still, I do not want to criticize, that wasn’t the main point. I just wanted to say thank you than even though you read so many negative things in the newspapers or watch them on TV, you decided to come and experience it by yourself, see it with your own eyes. Thanks for giving Bulgaria a chance!

    With all the best regards,
    – Maria

      1. Affordable, Bren. “Affordable” is a better word, which won’t tick off so many of us for its negative connotations. By world standards Bulgaria is very affordable (for middle and upper class travelers!). You can clarify with numbers when you write to make your point that it’s “cheap” by some standards. By the way, I am a “traveler” and often a visitor to Bulgaria just like you, hence why I keep commenting that this wording has nothing to do with the traveler’s perspective. It has everything to do with respect. I hope you understand my point. More so, I hope Bulgarians understand my point.

          1. Fair enough, if that’s how you see it. Keep doing what you are doing – your site is amazing, inspiring and thought-provoking. Cheers to travel!

  32. Hi, Bren!
    There’s a legend about our country:
    “When God created the Earth and gave all goods of nature to
    different countries, some took the beautiful mountains, some
    took the generous lands, and others the azure coasts and seas.
    And when finally it was Bulgaria’s turn everything had already
    been given and there was nothing left. So, God reached out and took a piece of
    paradise and gave it to Bulgaria.”
    <3 <3 <3

  33. Hi,Brendan your post is absolutely amazing but I think if you want to see the greatest places in Bulgaria you should come back and visit the coast . There are a lot of incredible beaches like Irakli and karadere for example,and other really interesting places which must be seen . You also ought to go to the mountains and see the beautiful nature. In Bulgaria there are many cool towns ,too. You definitely must come back because you have to see a lot more of Bulgaria and I am sure you will like it .

  34. Hi Brendan

    What a wonderful article. I spent a couple of weeks in Bulgaria and stayed with Bulgarian people. I have never been so amazed in my whole life. The people are very welcoming and generous. I had no idea how rich in culture Bulgaria is and I especially didn’t expect to see Roman ruins, an ampitheatre and the roman stadium which is partly excavated underneath the city in Plovdiv. As you say the people are wonderful and the food very affordable and yummy. Venture out to places like Veliko Tarnovo and Arbanassi next time you go. You can stay in the Palace which the last Bulgarian dictator built. The Black Sea is wonderful and there are many towns on the coast with fabulous hotels and gorgeous restaurants perched on the clifftops which are also very affordable. I would probably avoid Sunny Beach as it’s a holiday destination for foreigners and fish and chips seems to be the staple food. Venture a few kilometres away to Nessebar for a Bulgarian experience. I was driven all over Bulgaria and saw so many wonderful places, including stunning churches that nobody else was visiting. In Spain or France people would be queuing up around the block desperate to get in. The Boyana Church on the outskirts of Sofia looks very humble from the outside but inside is filled with frescoes dating back to 11th-12th-century. Another jaw dropping moment was seeing the golden treasures in a little museum in Panagyurishte. To me it was like seeing a Picasso in a local art gallery. Bulgaria is full of surprises and I can’t wait to return, hopefully at the end of this year.

  35. Hi Bren! Thank you so much for the amazing article! Glad you enjoyed your stay and it inspired you so much, that you shared your experience in such a positive way!

    I too am Bulgarian and funny enough – its been my dream to visit NZ! I currently live in Denmark, and reading your nice words made my day! Thank you for that!

    Best of luck on your next travels, and hope someday you will return to Bulgaria and discover even more of its hidden charms 🙂

  36. Bulgaria is an incredibly beautiful, friendly and misunderstood county. I had the honor of visiting in the summer for two weeks and again last november before the snow. I stayed in a wonderful spa hotel in Bankya. (Bankya Palace) right outside Sofia both times.

    Over the course of two trips I visited Sofia, Kazanluk, Varna, (The Black Sea) and on the second trip Varshets; a secluded cozy town 2-3 hours from Sofia up in the mountains. This country is EXTREMELY BEAUTIFUL with a very rich history, a secret European treasure like the others mentioned. The views are gorgeous, Sofia is surrounded by mountains, Greece being just on the other side. The malls are huge rivaling most western malls.

    The food is fantastic as mentioned, one of the greatests experiences though was getting to have dinner with a Romani (Gypsy) Baron at a compound type house you see in movies. His whole family was there and the group of people I was getting to experience Bulgaria with. (As a native Texan the BBQ style dinners reminded me of home.) This was a very rare experience I’m told and something I will remember forever.

    A lot of the youth or school age population speak decent english but don’t expect many of the older generations unless business types to speak english. The people are very welcoming and love to try and learn english, they will also teach you Bulgarian in return. Kazanluk was a very interesting place, sunflower and rose fields for miles. Bulgaria produces about 80% of the worlds rose oil used in perfumes etc. I wanted to visit Plovdiv, it seems to be the other main city to visit but we did not get a chance during our time there. Hotels and meals are very very cheap, Bulgaria is a wonderful place for a budget vacation, I was very honored to get to experience the country and the people in a way that most tourist would not. If you get a chance to have a local show you around, DO IT. I made many friends and hope to return as soon as possible.

  37. Hi Bran im Bulgarian born in Burgas and live in UK i love ur way to travel like a full time nomad as u sad hihihihi enjoying life THANK U FOR UR GOOD FEEDBACK FOR BULGARIA find me in FB I have friens who live in Sofiq and Burgas and love to go in every mountein s firest doing horse ridings and on and on just PM me when ur ready for adventures in Bulgaria i ll conect u with my people

  38. thank you, Brenon!!! For your super nice words and for giving my home country a chance! I hope that more people and more people are going to be open minded like you. Sharing is caring and that’s why i am super greatful for your pictures and information. this is definitely going to reach a lot of people 🙂 unluckily, a lot of the media coverage is only about the bad sides of Bulgaria or about a certain type of minority which is then considered by most of the foreigners for the native people of Bulgaria (of course i am not implying that there is a minority which is responsble for the bad image or smth like that, but i just dont like the ignorance of people who see some bad examples and then attribute them to all of the people of Bulgaria)
    thank you!
    Cheers from Munich 🙂

  39. Hi, Bren!

    Great article! As someone who is Bulgarian but has been living and studying in Denmark for 3 years, I can see what you’re talking about! It’s really hard to see positive changes when you are living there and don’t have an outer perspective 🙂 There’s also the fact that a lot of Bulgarians tend to be overly pessimistic, though.

    Anyway, if you want awesome places to visit next time, I can really recommend you a website I got to know about from a Danish friend – http://www.kashkaval-tourist.com/

    Here’s their Facebook page too: https://www.facebook.com/kashkavaltourist

    Have safe travels and we hope to see you again as a visitor 🙂

  40. So I’m a Bulgarian and recently I graduated in the Netherlands. Having a Dutch boyfriend, last summer we went to BG together to visit my parents and introduce him to them. I come from a small village really close to Greece, so I wasn’t able to impress him with the big Bulgarian cities and the history. However, we went to the sea coast and we had great time. He ended up taking a 2l bottle of rakia back to the Netherlands 😀 Of course the food left the greatest impression of his experience. One year later we prepare ourselves to go on a vacation there again! Looking forward to it, cause i miss my family and my country! This way I can continue showing him around Bulgaria and expose the many colours of it.

    Your article is like fresh air. It is awesome to be able to read positive things about somebody’s own country for a change! Thank you so much! 🙂

    Good luck with your journey and be save!

  41. Excuse me, but the yoghurt is Bulgarian and actually the Turkish have adopted quite a lot of out cuisine and drinks, as well. 🙂 I do not say that we haven’t do the same with some of their meals, which is absolutely logical if you look at our common history and experience.
    It’s lovely to hear such great words for my country and I am so proud so see quite a lot of tourists every day who feel welcome and satisfied in Plovdiv. There are some things I do not agree, as well, as a person living here (I think there is a huge number of tourists and Plovdiv is not a student city. It is the second largest in Bulgaria and many young families chose to live here. Sofia attracts young people from all around Bulgaria with the opportunities for getting education and a well-paid job. Conscequently most of them settle down in the capital.)
    However, these are your own observations, your own impressions and feelings and I was really happy to read such a lovely article for my country and my hometown. I really love the fact that you felt in such a way in Plovdiv, because this is the way I feel here, too. You just added one reason to the long list of the reasons why I am proud to be Bulgarian. Thank you and we expect you to come back soon.

  42. I am from Puerto Rico and I just spent almost 2 weeks in Bulgaria for a business trip, most on Sofia, but a weekend in Veliko Turnovo. I can agree with you about how friendly bulgarians can be. I made a hole bunch of new friends there. The beers are awesome: Kamenitza and Zagorka. The food is awesome, specially if you had dinner at Happys or Shtastliveca. And I will not complain about the prices either. Hopefully I will come back someday to do some mountain biking and go to Plovdiv.

  43. Great article, I am glad that you liked your time here. There’s one thing that is not true though. Average salaries are waaay bellow 600$/month. 🙂 About half of the working population is near or below the poverty line…
    Anyway, I hope you get to visit us again. I strongly recommend you the mountains and Veliko Tarnovo. Then you will have seen real Bulgaria. 😛 :)))

  44. Hi Bren,

    Just wanted to say thank you for writing such a great article about your experiences in Bulgaria. I’m a Bulgarian who’s lived in the UK for the past 17 or so years and it’s a breath of fresh air to see something like this, especially in recent years, considering all the bs in the media. Glad you enjoyed your stay as much as you did (the food is amazing indeed!) and next time you’re there, you should also give Sofia a few more days (in addition to the coast and mountains, etc.) Any friends that have come with me when I visit during holidays have also always had the same impression as you 🙂

    As for everyone complaining about the word ‘cheap’, well, it is if compared to pretty much the rest of Europe! And for tourism, that’s a GOOD thing. Having said that, it does depend on what types of places you go to and although Sofia is still cheap (sorry, ‘affordable’) by foreign standards, most places are at least twice the price of those throughout the rest of the country (incl. Plovdiv). Yes, the average wages are very low, but then there are also large numbers of people, especially in the cities, earning waaay more than any of the figures quoted. And for those who don’t know, Bulgaria is nevertheless in the top 25% in the world in terms of wealth and development – ie. 75% of the world is poorer! So not brilliant, but could be much, much worse! Plus it has one of the lowest deficits in the entirety of the EU, if getting nit-picky about economy…

    As a Bulgarian, I just wish Bulgarians themselves could in time learn to look at things a little more optimistically, at least partially like the way people do when they visit, and stop self-sabotaging and depreciating.

    Anyway, thanks again for the fab article, it made my day and I hope more people see this and decide to visit this beautiful country as a result!

  45. Hello Bren
    First of all Thank you for the kind words!!!
    Can I back up you with another blog of Caro and Matt:
    I hope you will enjoy reading despite it is relatively old….
    Be sure to come again cause we are looking forward for you!!!
    You’v made my day!
    Thanx a lot!
    P.S. Could you write something about Caro and Matts views on Bulgaria?

  46. Hello Bren,

    Thank you verry much for the kind words for our country!
    Such comments are quite rare and trust me, they are very valuable for us! 🙂
    I am more than just happy to see or hear from a foreigner that he/she had such a great
    time in our country! 🙂 Stories like that just fill up my heart with hope and joy!
    Once more one big hug and one big ‘Thank you’ and you are always welcomed to come and visit again

    Best regards and take care,

  47. Hi Bren,

    By the way, your article has been translated in Bulgarian language and this is how I run into it. Later on I read your article in English.
    First of all, thank you for the very optimistic article. It is great that your thoughts are from your hearth and the way you feel it.
    Stories like this make my day. We Bulgarians should take this as an example and appreciate what we have and stop complaining.
    You compared Turkey and Bulgaria and I am very proud to hear your accounts. This confirms that Bulgaria is really in Europe.
    The youth in Bulgaria is on the right way and we can do it.


  48. I was in Bulgaria for a solid month. Looks like you got a pretty good taste of it too. though i spent most of my time in Sofia and Varna.
    I can definitely say i enjoyed reading this blog and agree with pretty much everything you said. (i’m from the US btw, but my girlfriend is Bulgarian, and she seemed to enjoy this article too …she’s actually the one who sent it.)
    I also Highly recommend a trip to Bulgaria for anyone who wants to do some travelling ^^

  49. I just stumbled upon this article through an internet search. This was a great article to read. I’m visiting my family in Greece during August and decided I want to visit another European city before I go to Greece. I currently live in the U.S. Can someone recommend a good city/neighborhood to visit in Bulgaria?. I am travelling alone and I’m very personable and simple minded. I love music, dancing spending time with good people exploring cities and spending time talking with locals. Thanks to all who may offer some advice..

  50. Hi Bren !
    I was so amazed after reading your article, it made me think is this the same country I’ve been raised an spent the most part of my life ? But when I saw where exactly have you been, I understand you – Plovid is my favorite town in BG. I am from Sofia, but in my opinion it’s a good thing you’ve spent the most part of you visit in Plovdiv – it’s much cheaper, safer and quiet than Sofia. Also it’s just simply beautiful. Sofia is much bigger, and as a conclusion – no so safe, there are more people with not so good intentions and it’s more expensive. If you visit us next time, try Veliko Turnovo and other smaller, but quite picturesque towns 🙂 Good luck man with your traveling

  51. Sounds like you have had a great time and really enjoyed Bulgaria. Myself and my other half moved here nearly 5 years ago. We live about 45 mins drive west of Plovdiv, in a village…. I know you said most people speak English ..?? Well in the cities they do, and in some larger towns the younger generation (teens or 20’s age group) may also speak some English…. but in the villages you have to learn the language to get anywhere! lol
    We can get by, and have a kind of conversation, but it is not an easy language to learn, interesting though and challenging as the dialect changes so much .. varies almost from one village to the next.
    Glad you enjoyed your time here in BG and hopefully you will come back and explore some more 🙂 x

  52. So happy you enjoyed Bulgaria. Myself and my husband have been going for over 10 years now and we love it. After our first two visits we bought a apartment at Sveti Vlas, on the Black Coast – which we really like (perhaps ignoring Sunny Beach, been ruined by tourists we think).

    If you do find yourself on the Black Coast, I’d recommend Sveti Vlas, a small town with a lot of locals and is very welcoming to tourists looking for a bit of sun. Also, Nessebar is great! A small fishing town with a lot of culture and history. Can get quite busy in the tourist season, but is definitely worth a day to walk around. There’s also a lot of fish restaurants there which are very nice, albeit quite expensive for Bulgaria.

  53. I was browsing for information for my estate manager business plans but you just made me cry. I was specifically looking to find what people come here in Bulgaria. I stumbled upon this article and then I read all the comments and I just cannot go on without sharing what they mean to me.

    Bren, you have no idea how it feels like to hear someone from outside who understands and likes your culture. We are a small country and for us someone to show a slight interest towards us is flattering. This is all ironical. In our country are born many great minds and almost none of them have worked here. This is maybe one of the reasons they have become so great, because they’ve left, but this is also the reason why nobody knows about our country. It has been doomed with selfish and ignorant people, despite of what you’ve seen.

    Maybe you have noticed how many Bulgarians have commented on your article from throughout the world. They are our pride as well as our biggest burden. This is something that is so wise, and obvious and yet it has been ignored by Bulgarians ever – it is said by khan Kubrat, who established the Great Bulgarian Confederation 635 AD to his sons – to “never separate their place of dwelling from one another, so that by being in concordance with one another, their power might thrive”. They separated. And Bulgaria has been divided many times and it is continuing to fall apart.

    Actually our culture and language are spread all over East and Central Europe but our country has been failing to accredit, share and sell our historical and cultural impact as well as everything else it is supposed to do.
    I was also on my way of leaving Bulgaria. Actually I had left to Scotland to spend four years there in university. However, now I am in my hometown trying to make a difference, yet watching my family “fall apart” as my bigger sister has a successful carrier in the US and my brother has perfect SAT scores and will be following her steps soon :). Unfortunately, this is the rational way to go if you have the opportunity.

    It is my personal weakness that I feel so emotionally bound to my country but I am trying to turn it into strength and motivation. In my family, we have many revolutionaries and fighters against the fascist government and when I go back to the place where they have lived and fought, I think I know why they did it and how they felt doing it.

    The most important thing is to succeed – the attempts do not count even if they were for the noblest causes. Yet I would rather fight and fall for something that might make a difference. I hope I will find followers in our country as if we want things to change, we will have to do it here…

    …For business we will need people from outside – with money – the reason I am here……

  54. Heeeey! You are right. Everything written is true! I’m glad you had such a great time here and I hope you’ll be back again! 🙂 And when you do , you should definitely go to Varna-my home town. It’s not just because it is my home town but because it’s true I consider it one of the best cities in Bulgaria. Also could go to Balchik and Nessebar(all of them on the sea side, so it’s best to visit them during the summer. They are really beautifull then although they are sometimes a little overcrowded in the middle of the season. But not as much to bother you. Me myself, I dont like places with too many people but I never found it a problem in these cities 🙂 ) So yeah, I think you would have a great time in Varna during the summer… Considering you liked Sofia and Varna is like 10 and a half times better than Sofia 😀 🙂
    Thank you for the great article. I like your way of writting ( not just because you wrote nice stuff about us 😀 ) . Oh, and one last thing more – As far as I know, the yoghurt itself is a bulgarian thing… It’s like … we invented it 😀 So it’s normal to be the best here. 🙂
    Greetings from Bulgaria and Nazdrave! 🙂

  55. Hi Bren,

    I went to Bulgaria last summer. Only for a week but I also fell in love with this country.
    We also did the free Sofia and free Plovdiv tour (2 groups of 25 people in Sofia and a group of 20 in Plovdiv!) Very nice to do! What you said is true, the tours make you open your eyes.
    After this cities, where people speek English quite well, we moved on to the Rhodope mountains and to the Rila mountains. There are almost no tourists at all in that area! (Except for the Rila monastery, that was crowded) Great to be there and be welcomed by the locals. We got lots off questions how we’d decided to go there, because it’s very beautiful but nobody seems to know it. Lots off people doesn’t speek a word English in that area so we used our hands and feet. The mountains are great, and I really wanna go back there for some more and longer walks.

    Greetings from the Netherlands!

  56. Hi Bren. I am a Scot and moved to Bulgaria a couple of years ago. It has been so good to read such a positive review of your short time in BG. It is a beautiful country and the Bulgarian people are so hospitable and generous. I think your review has hit the nail on the head. Thanks.
    BTW, I live in a small village between the cities of Ruse and Veliko Tarnovo.

    Well Done.

  57. Hi Bren

    great to read such a positive and well written article about my adoptive country. I’m an Aussie (so we are practically brothers) and I have been living here for almost 10 years now. My Bulgarian wife, children, extended family and I live in and around Plovdiv and have no plans to ever leave.

    I have been very lucky to experience, first hand, the progress this beautiful country has been making over these last years and I can only see it becoming better and better. I like it so much that I haven’t left since I first got my visa…not even for a day!!

    I hope you get the chance to come back and see the rest of the country…very soon.


  58. This article is great, and I’m glad that someone graded everything here in Bulgaria as excellent. We really try.

    But here’s a thing I noticed in the article and it really messed with my head – I don’t know whoever lied to you that the average salary is $600/month but they’re terrible terrible people. The average salary is more like $300/month – and I’m not talking about big cities like Plovdiv and Sofia; things are way different in the countryside where I live. This may sound ridiculous, and the prices about going to restaurants and bars you enlisted may seem really cheap to you but as someone who receives $280/month paycheck, I’d say they’re preposterous.

    Other than that, it was a real pleasure reading this article not because it’s a positive feedback to my country but rather because every aspect is true – the food, the people, the parties, the safe streets and the beauty.

  59. I have just returned from a week in Sofia.
    This article reflected perfectly my own experience. I was doubting my sanity loving the country so much for all the reasons stated so it was good to read it.
    Coming from London and being there for the ‘sales’ I was a happy bunny.
    I am a European tour guide so I know about what makes a good hotel. The hotel was one of the best I ever stayed in.
    What you did not mention was the spas. Another reason to go to Bulgaria.
    I miss the place very much. It is sad that so many young people have to leave for economic reasons.

  60. I’m headed to Bulgaria next month to meet up with my mom, so glad to hear that it’s a hidden gem! If you want to check out another undiscovered country, you should go to Albania. I had a similar positive experience there last summer. Can you recommend any smaller towns other than the places you listed on this post? Oh, and where did you go in Turkey that nobody spoke English!? I’ve been 4 times and always found people who speak English!

  61. To be honest I heard a lot of bad rumors about Bulgaria – racism, lots of violence, intentionally speaking Bulgarian in front of foreigners and lots more, to only find out that wasn’t true in the slightest. When me and my family visited Sofia, all we saw were kind and delightful people who are always willing to help you find a sightseeing location or navigate you to a destination that you are looking for. The banitsa that you mention and the Shipska salad were simple yet, very tasty. I strongly recommend that you visit Plovdiv – the old city, beautiful place with preserved antiquity. Best way to schedule everything is with a travel agent and a rent-a-car service. I would strongly recommend [link removed], great professionalism , personal touch and cheap prices. Other than that, with the beautiful weather that is to be in the summer, you can do nothing else but enjoy Bulgaria in its entirety.

    Very satisfied with my trip!

  62. No idea where you were in Turkey but Ive lived there nearly 6 years and its been fabulous. People are the most welcoming and generous that Ive ever met and we’ve travelled a lot.
    In Bulgaria now visiting friends. Bit if a culture shock after living alongside the most helpful people to cross the border and come across the most sullen people Ive ever seen. We went to 4 petrol stations to get the vignette for the roads and were met with shrugs.
    Next stop an overnight hotel in Yambol. Reception staff didnt even look up let alone smile or say hello unless we spoke first.
    Shop and restaurant staff equally miserable.
    Don’t know where you were that they spoke English. The restaurant in Yambol didnt even have a translation or any pictures.
    oh and your Ayran and koftes…theyre Turkish.

  63. I’m a serial expat who lived in Dublin, Antwerp, Vilnius, Warsaw, Vienna and Sofia.

    This blog is inaccurate and not to be taken serious. All previous locations I lived in were developed, Bulgaria is not. I lived here for 1 year and now will leave asap.

    Sofia has the worst English of all places I lived in and visited. Outside of Sofia don’t even bother.

    The food is good at first but lacks the quality and variety you find in other countries. Living in Sofia I can say I never met more underdeveloped people trough Europe. Working in Sofia I can say I’ve never been in a more corrupted & disorganized place as well.

    What is true is that it is cheap but I advice people to go to the Baltics or Poland as it is cheap as well and way more advanced in everything else.

    1. I don’t understand your point. Life is better in Vienna. Of course it is. If you can afford to live there. Same for Dublin, Antwerp. Six cities (three of which are among the most expensive and developed in the world) is not a good sample size to be definitively telling people whether Sofia is “developed” or not. I would say Sofia, dollar for dollar, is one of the best value cities in Europe. I personally would choose it over any city you mentioned, maybe bar Warsaw.

    2. Your point is idiotic. You don’t go to Bulgaria to find what you can find in other countries. As for you meeting ‘underdeveloped’ people, while the country might be undeveloped, the average person in Bulgarian cities is more educated than in the UK where I am from.
      I never found a bar or restaurant as nice as some that I found in Sofia from the point of vie of decor and atmosphere.
      The fact that there is corruption is well known, but obviously it was not to you. .

  64. Kiwi gal married to Bulgarian guy. We have two gorgeous kids and often go visit Bulgaria.Brendan you nailed it. It has got to be one of the best road tripping countries out there. Where else can you buy baked trout with a pint of beer for $5 at a petrol station?