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'''Bulgaria''' (България) [http://natsr.org/Tourism/tourism.htm] is a country in the [[Balkans]] on the western side of the Black Sea. It is surrounded by [[Romania]] to the north, [[Serbia]] to the northwest, [[North Macedonia]] to the southwest, [[Greece]] to the south, and [[Turkey]] to the southeast. Being located close to the Turkish Straits means the key land routes from Europe to Middle East and Asia pass through Bulgaria.
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'''Bulgaria''' (България) [http://natsr.org/Tourism/tourism.htm] is a country in the [[Balkans]] on the western side of the Black Sea. It is surrounded by [[Romania]] to the north, [[Serbia]] to the northwest, the [[Republic of Macedonia]] to the southwest, [[Greece]] to the south, and [[Turkey]] to the southeast. Being located close to the Turkish Straits means the key land routes from Europe to Middle East and Asia pass through Bulgaria.
  
 
==Understand==
 
==Understand==
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===History===
 
===History===
  
Bulgaria's territory was inhabited by the Thracians (famed for their gold-making, fierce warriors, and the gladiator Spartacus) for thousands of years before being conquered by the Roman Empire and later the Byzantine (East Roman) Empire. The first official data of Bulgaria is in the late 7th century (681 A.D.), when Slavic and Bulgar tribes entered the Byzantine provinces of Thrace, Moesia, and Macedonia and together formed the Bulgarian Empire.  
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Bulgaria's territory was inhabited by the Thracians (famed for their gold-making, fierce warriors, and the gladiator Spartacus) for thousands of years before being conquered by the Macedonian Empire. Thrace was subsequently incorporated into the Roman Empire and later the Byzantine (East Roman) Empire. The first official data of Bulgaria is in the late 7th century (681 A.D.), when Slavic and Bulgar tribes entered the Byzantine provinces of Thrace, Moesia, and Macedonia and together formed the Bulgarian Empire.  
  
 
In succeeding centuries, the Bulgarian and Byzantine Empires dominated South-East Europe, but by the end of the 14th century, the region was overrun by the Ottoman Turks. Bulgaria was subjugated by the Ottoman Empire for five centuries. Bulgaria regained its independence in 1878 largely due to the intervention of the Russian Empire, who clipped the wings of the declining Ottoman Empire in Bulgaria and elsewhere. It installed a minor German prince (the nephew of the Russian tsar) as a ruler of the newly independent country. The country's iconic heroes are all freedom fighters against the Ottomans: whether Rakovsky (Раковски), who mixed revolution and literature, Vassil Levski (Васил Левски) - the Apostle of Freedom, or Hristo Botev (Христо Ботев), poet and fighter.  
 
In succeeding centuries, the Bulgarian and Byzantine Empires dominated South-East Europe, but by the end of the 14th century, the region was overrun by the Ottoman Turks. Bulgaria was subjugated by the Ottoman Empire for five centuries. Bulgaria regained its independence in 1878 largely due to the intervention of the Russian Empire, who clipped the wings of the declining Ottoman Empire in Bulgaria and elsewhere. It installed a minor German prince (the nephew of the Russian tsar) as a ruler of the newly independent country. The country's iconic heroes are all freedom fighters against the Ottomans: whether Rakovsky (Раковски), who mixed revolution and literature, Vassil Levski (Васил Левски) - the Apostle of Freedom, or Hristo Botev (Христо Ботев), poet and fighter.  
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There are four international airports: [[Sofia]], [[Varna]], [[Burgas]], and [[Plovdiv]]. [[Sofia]] is connected to major European cities (and some in the Middle East) via Bulgaria Air as well as other airlines. There are a lot of charter and last-minute flight offers to [[Varna]] or [[Burgas]] leaving from Western Europe, Eastern Europe, and Israel.  
 
There are four international airports: [[Sofia]], [[Varna]], [[Burgas]], and [[Plovdiv]]. [[Sofia]] is connected to major European cities (and some in the Middle East) via Bulgaria Air as well as other airlines. There are a lot of charter and last-minute flight offers to [[Varna]] or [[Burgas]] leaving from Western Europe, Eastern Europe, and Israel.  
  
Recently, several low-cost airlines have also started offering regular flights to Bulgaria, such as Wizz Air and Ryanair. Charter airline companies can offer very good prices to the Black Sea airports from many European cities in the summer (check out: Thomas Cook, TUI Airways, Balkan Holidays Air, Bulgarian Air Charter, Condor, Transaero, Utair and many others).
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Recently, several low-cost airlines have also started offering regular flights to Bulgaria, such as Wizz Air and Ryanair. Charter airline companies can offer very good prices to the Black Sea airports from many European cities in the summer (check out: Thomas Cook, Thomsonfly, Balkan Holidays Air, Bulgarian Air Charter, Monarch, Condor, Transaero, Utair and many others).
  
From the USA, major airlines offer excellent connections to Bulgaria with stops in Western Europe. Lufthansa, United, Delta, American, British Airways, Continental Airlines, Alitalia and Air France are the most popular airlines. These major airlines fly mainly to Sofia, but some also fly to Varna and Burgas.
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From the USA, major airlines offer excellent connections to Bulgaria with stops in Western Europe. Lufthansa, United, Delta, American, British Airways, Continental Airlines, Alitalia and Air France are the most popular airlines. These major airlines fly mainly to Sofia, but some also fly to Varna and Burgas.  
  
 
===By train===  
 
===By train===  
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Travelling from Greece there are several border points to cross into Bulgaria such as Kulata, Zlatograd, and Ivaylovgrad.  
 
Travelling from Greece there are several border points to cross into Bulgaria such as Kulata, Zlatograd, and Ivaylovgrad.  
  
If you travel from Romania, prepare for bridge and ferry tolls when crossing Danube (check prices at [https://www.tolls.eu/bulgaria]).
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In Bulgaria, you have to pay road tax at the border (around €5 for 7 days). You will get a special sticker that you have to place on your car. There are no tolls on Bulgarian roads.
  
 
===By bus===  
 
===By bus===  
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===By taxi===
 
===By taxi===
  
Many taxi drivers know only limited English so it is useful to write out your destination or carry a map. Most taxis in Sofia have GPS units on the dashboard. Taxi fares in Bulgaria are not formally regulated, so they can vary wildly. However, there is a standard "market price" in each of the major cities. One should be <b>extremely careful</b> about using a taxi in Bulgaria. Especially since you are a foreigner, you can definitely become a target of unscrupulous taxi drivers. When in need, get familiar with the most well known taxi operators in your area, your route and expected bill. Generally the safest way of using a taxi is by ordering a taxi by phone. Some fraudulent taxis mimic others' logos and labels on their cars. Definitely avoid using taxis waiting at airports and railway stations! Sofia and Varna airports are exceptions, as they have contracts with licensed taxi companies. Currently only these companies can enter the airport area and pickup passengers - prices are standard. Even drivers working with legitimate companies may try to overcharge you, so make sure they turn on the meter, and keep an eye on it.
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Many taxi drivers know only limited English so it is useful to write out your destination or carry a map. Most taxis in Sofia have GPS units on the dashboard. Taxi fares in Bulgaria are not formally regulated, so they can vary wildly. However, there is a standard "market price" in each of the major cities. One should be <b>extremely careful</b> about using a taxi in Bulgaria. Especially since you are a foreigner, you can definitely become a target of unscrupulous taxi drivers. When in need, get familiar with the most well known taxi operators in your area, your route and expected bill. Generally the safest way of using a taxi is by ordering a taxi by phone. Some fraudolent taxis mimic others' logos and labels on their cars. Definitely avoid using taxis waiting at airports and railway stations! Sofia and Varna airports are exceptions, as they have contracts with licensed taxi companies. Currently only these companies can enter the airport area and pickup passengers - prices are standard. Even drivers working with legitimate companies may try to overcharge you, so make sure they turn on the meter, and keep an eye on it.
  
 
===By car===
 
===By car===
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If traveling by car, it would be helpful if you can read the Cyrillic alphabet at least a bit. Most signs have the direction shown in Latin letters, but some don't.
 
If traveling by car, it would be helpful if you can read the Cyrillic alphabet at least a bit. Most signs have the direction shown in Latin letters, but some don't.
  
If you are a foreigner, its best to rent a car. If you decide to rent a car note that for any minor traffic incidents causing bumps or scratches to the car, whether involving a third party or not, you must immediately call traffic police (phone number: 112) to register the incident, otherwise you will most probably find that your insurance will not cover the damage. In case of doubt, call the insurance company too. Check the Terms & Conditions of your rental agreement closely.
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If you are a foreigner, its best to rent a car. If you decide to rent a car note that for any minor traffic incidents causing bumps or scratches to the car, whether involving a third party or not, you must immediately call traffic police (phone number: 165) to register the incident, otherwise you will most probably find that your insurance will not cover the damage. In case of doubt, call the insurance company too. Check the Terms & Conditions of your rental agreement closely.  
 
 
If you travel by your own car, a '''road vignette is mandatory not even at motorways but at all main roads too'''. It costs €8 for 7 days and you can purchase it at border or at gas stations. It can be purchased online at https://www.bgtoll.bg/.
 
  
 
Driving in Bulgaria can be a bit precarious - many roads do not have defined lanes, are not well marked, and are in poor conditions. Locals often do not observe speed limits and do not signal when changing lanes.  
 
Driving in Bulgaria can be a bit precarious - many roads do not have defined lanes, are not well marked, and are in poor conditions. Locals often do not observe speed limits and do not signal when changing lanes.  
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==Do==
 
==Do==
Bulgaria offers amazing opportunities for all kinds of activities - mountain climbing, diving, bird watching, adrenaline adventures, history tours, city breaks and more.
 
 
==Climbing==
 
In last years climbing becomes more popular among new generation. Especially sport climbing and boulder had been loudly developing. You will discover amazing rocks and such a friendly junkies, with whom you will satisfy your passion.
 
 
===Hiking===
 
===Hiking===
 
It is a popular activity in Bulgaria, where a big choice of regions for a day or multyday walking trips is available. The best time for hiking in the highest parts of the mountains is in summer, between late June and September as the snow is already melted and the weather is dry generally. In winter, snowshoeing and ski trips are possible between December and March, depending on the current snow and weather conditions.The main hiking areas are:
 
It is a popular activity in Bulgaria, where a big choice of regions for a day or multyday walking trips is available. The best time for hiking in the highest parts of the mountains is in summer, between late June and September as the snow is already melted and the weather is dry generally. In winter, snowshoeing and ski trips are possible between December and March, depending on the current snow and weather conditions.The main hiking areas are:
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===Fast food===
 
===Fast food===
  
Traditional bakeries prepare different kinds of pastry products. Banitsa and mekitsa are the favorites. Pizza, dyuner (döner), sandwiches or hamburgers are also very easy to be found at the streets. There are also many local and international fast-food chains such as McDonalds, KFC, Burger King, Domino's, Subway and Texas Chicken. Some of the best and cheapest fast food options in Bulgaria are the ''kebapche'' and ''kyufte'', spicy meat sausage and meatballs.
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Traditional bakeries prepare different kinds of pastry products. Banitsa and mekitsa are the favorites. Pizza, dyuner (döner), sandwiches or hamburgers are also very easy to be found at the streets. There are also many local and international fast-food chains such as McDonalds, KFC, Burger King, Domino's, Pizza Hut, Subway and Texas Chicken. Some of the best and cheapest fast food options in Bulgaria are the ''kebapche'' and ''kyufte'', spicy meat sausage and meatballs.
  
 
==Drink==
 
==Drink==
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For certain people, Macedonia is a sensitive subject to talk about, but feel free to ask your questions, provided you do not discuss it with those more likely to take offence (i.e. nationalists and skinheads). Many Bulgarians feel that Macedonia belongs to Bulgaria, but unless you know the subject and the people you are talking to, just asking questions is the best option.
 
For certain people, Macedonia is a sensitive subject to talk about, but feel free to ask your questions, provided you do not discuss it with those more likely to take offence (i.e. nationalists and skinheads). Many Bulgarians feel that Macedonia belongs to Bulgaria, but unless you know the subject and the people you are talking to, just asking questions is the best option.
  
Most of the Bulgarian people do not feel anger or resentment towards Russians (unlike a number of people from other former Eastern Bloc countries), and Bulgarians tend to have a much better perception of Russians, however caution may sometimes be needed  in discussing issues regarding Turkey. Likewise, discrimination against Turks is widespread.
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Most of the Bulgarian people do not feel anger or resentment towards Russians (unlike a number of people from other former Eastern Bloc countries), and Bulgarians tend to have a much better perception of Russians, however caution may sometimes be needed  in discussing issues regarding Turkey. Likewise, discrimination against Turks are widespread.
  
 
Bulgarians don't really do chit chat, so trying to make conversation with someone at a till in a shop will probably result in odd looks (either from not understanding or not wanting to engage) or they will just ignore you. Likewise Bulgarians are quite impatient and will often honk their car horn at you if you walk in front of a car, especially in winter in the mountains as they try to keep a grip on the road.
 
Bulgarians don't really do chit chat, so trying to make conversation with someone at a till in a shop will probably result in odd looks (either from not understanding or not wanting to engage) or they will just ignore you. Likewise Bulgarians are quite impatient and will often honk their car horn at you if you walk in front of a car, especially in winter in the mountains as they try to keep a grip on the road.

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