Essence of Bulgaria

Essence of Bulgaria

Style: TravellerCultural discovery away from the crowds
Duration: 12 days
Type: GroupTravel with a small group of other travellers


Important Information

Foreign Office Travel Warnings
We constantly monitor the advice posted by the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO). In particular we will always advise clients of any travel warnings. At the time of writing there are no travel warnings in place for areas that we visit in Bulgaria. It should be noted that this information applies to British citizens. Other nationals are asked to check the current position of their respective government.

Accommodation and Meals

Hotel Check-in Times
As a general rule most hotels will allow guests to check-in from 2pm. Please note that the price of your tour does not include guaranteed early check-in. Therefore, please advise us if you would like to ensure that your room is available for an earlier arrival. This is particularly relevant on the first day of the tour and for early morning arrivals. One option is to pre-book and pay for an extra night at the beginning of your tour which will guarantee your accommodation is available irrespective of what time you arrive. Please contact us for information and costs.

It should also be noted that on many of our tours we have set-aside Day 1 of the itinerary as an ‘arrival day’. For this reason and because tour participants are likely to be arriving at different times, and often from different countries, guided sightseeing or other activities are not included. If you are arriving early or before the start date of the tour and would like to organise some extra arrangements on a private basis please contact us.

Accommodation Rating
On this tour you can expect to stay in comfortable tourist class hotels and family-run guest houses. You can expect rooms to be en-suite, with private bathroom. In general you will find your hotel has a restaurant and/or bar.

We welcome solo travellers and single rooms will be allocated subject to the applicable tour supplement. Please note that on occasions you may not always be allocated a double or twin room, as some hotels have designated single rooms. These may be smaller in size. However, the supplement payable takes this into consideration.

Food & Drink
The daily meal basis is shown in the tour itinerary; breakfast (B), lunch (L) and dinner (D). Please note that lunch may be a picnic. Drinks are not included and will be payable locally in cash. Tap water is generally safe and drinkable, but may have an odd taste.

To limit unnecessary plastic waste, we would appreciate if you could bring your own water bottle or flask that you can refill with drinkable water for the whole length of stay, or alternatively, a bottle will be lent to you on arrival for the duration of your tour.

Dietary Requirements
If you have any special dietary requirements you must notify us at the time of booking. While we will make every effort to cater for you, we cannot guarantee that this will be possible.

Budgeting for your Tour
You will need some extra money to cover meals and drinks not included in the tour price, any optional sightseeing, souvenirs and items of a personal nature such as laundry.

Bulgarian food is similar in many ways to that found in Greece and Turkey: filo pastries; tomato, cucumber and white cheese; moussaka and stuffed vine leaves are among the shared dishes. The use of sunflower instead of olive oil for cooking and flavouring is the main difference. A salad or a selection of meze often start a meal, both traditionally accompanied by a glass of rakiya, the local brandy. The costs for meals may vary depending upon location, type of restaurant and number of courses eaten and so the prices given are an average guide for a meal including a few mezes, a main dish and a dessert. Local restaurants located off the beaten track may be less expensive, whereas an upmarket restaurant located in the centre of the major cities such as Sofia and Plovdiv may charge more.

Lunch/Dinner: (BGN) 20 lv. – 30 lv. (£8 - £13)

The prices for drinks can vary greatly depending upon location and the prices detailed below are an average guide. In general you would expect that drinks purchased in a supermarket or local bar to be less expensive, whilst drinks in an upmarket bar or restaurant may be more expensive.

Bottle of Beer: 2lv – 4lv (£1 - £2)
Mineral Water – 500ml: 1 lv. (£0.50)
Ayran (Sour yoghurt): 1.50 lv. (£0.70)
Soft Drink – 250ml: 2lv - 3lv (£1 - £1.50)

If you are satisfied with the services you receive from your local guide and driver, then you may consider leaving a tip. This amount is obviously left at your discretion although, for our group tour, a reasonable amount to tip the driver would be around EUR20-30 per person and for your tour guide EUR25-40 per person, depending on the group size. Expectation of a tip for hotel staff is rare, however in restaurant, bills rarely include service and it is customary to leave a tip of about 10%.

Foreign Exchange

ATM Availability: ATM machines are common and can be found in all sizeable towns and cities but not in the villages
Credit and Debit Card Acceptance: Credit cards are commonly accepted in hotels, restaurants and shops in the big cities and towns but acceptance is less widespread in more rural areas. You cannot rely on using a credit card exclusively while in Bulgaria.
Local Currency: Bulgarian Lev (BGN –always abbreviated to lv.)
Recommended Currency for Exchange: Euros, US Dollar or Pound Sterling
Where to Exchange: Your guide will advise you on arrival

Joining your Tour

Flight Information
You are able to book this tour on a 'land only' basis or as a ‘flight inclusive’ package. Your flight inclusive package will be fully protected by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) ATOL protection scheme.

Joining Tour Abroad
Customers booked on the ‘Land Only’ arrangements will receive a free airport transfer, both on arrival and departure. In order that the transfer can be arranged please ensure that you advise us of your flight information once available. Please advise the date, time and flight number for your arrival/departure. If we have not been advised of this information at least 2 weeks before travel, then you will be required to make your own way to the hotel on Day 1 of your tour.

Travel Insurance
It is a condition of booking with Undiscovered Destinations that you have adequate valid travel insurance. It is your responsibility to arrange appropriate travel insurance and ensure you have read and understood the full terms and conditions of your travel insurance policy to ensure that you are covered for all activities you intend to undertake whilst on the tour, including all optional activities. Your Insurance Policy must fully cover you for medical expenses and emergency repatriation to your home country and be valid for the entire duration of your holiday.

Visa Information
Many nationalities including British, US, Canadian, Australian, New Zealand and EU passport holders do not require a visa to visit Bulgaria for stays of less than 90 days.

Regulations do frequently change though, so we advise that you check the current requirements with your nearest embassy.

It is your responsibility to ensure that you are in possession of a full passport, valid for at least six months after the date of return to the UK.

We strongly advise that your passport contains a minimum of two blank pages, as this may be a requirement of the local immigration authorities. In addition certain countries will stipulate that the two blank pages are opposite each other. If you are unable to meet these requirements you may be refused boarding by your airline or denied entry by the immigration authorities.

For specific information about the requirements for your destination please check with the country’s embassy or consulate. Alternatively UK citizens can visit

Vaccinations & Protection
For visits to Bulgaria, there are no compulsory vaccinations. However, we strongly recommend that you contact your Doctor’s surgery or a specialist travel clinic for up-to-date information, advice and the recommended vaccinations. For a visit of less than one month, almost certainly you will be advised to have immunisations against the following: Diphtheria and Tetanus, Hepatitis A and B, Polio and Typhoid.

The legal status and regulation of some medicines prescribed or purchased in your home country can be different in other countries. If you’re travelling with prescription or over-the-counter medicine, read this guidance from NaTHNaC on best practice when travelling with medicines. For further information on the legal status of a specific medicine, you’ll need to contact the embassy, high commission or consulate of the country or territory you’re travelling to.

Preparing for your tour

Bulgaria has four distinct seasons, with a warm spring, a long hot summer, a mild autumn and a cold winter, with significant snowfall in the mountain areas. In the South and Eastern parts, temperatures are usually mild and representative of a Mediterranean climate. Spring presents Bulgaria at its most beautiful, with both open countryside and city parks bright with lush green grass and flowers in full bloom. Autumn is also generally a very pleasant season to visit as the weather usually remains reasonably mild well into November, with little rainfall. Consequently, we advise that the best time to visit the country is from April to October.

Access to the Internet
Access to the Internet via Wi-Fi should be available in every location on your tour. Wi-Fi is usually available in the rooms, however at some occasions, will be only available at the restaurant or main lobby of the accommodation. Nevertheless, we can never guarantee that Wi-Fi connection will be working when you stay at the properties.

Driving times
The driving times stated in the itinerary are given in the best of faith. Driving times may on occasion be longer due to unforeseen circumstances such as poor weather, road construction activity, mechanical problems etc.

When it comes to clothing it is usually recommended that lighter clothes are worn through the day, and warmer ones at night. A hat is also advised to be worn through the day to protect from the sun, along with at least one piece of waterproof clothing for any days that the weather may be wet although this will be rare in summer. For the mountainous areas, it is advisable to bring warmer clothes especially for night time and early mornings and even during the day it can be cold. When visiting a church, a monastery or a mosque, you should be appropriately dressed, covering your shoulders and wearing pants or shorts which should be at the knee or below. When visiting a mosque, you will be asked to remove your shoes and women should cover their head, arms and legs.

The first thing on your list should be a first aid kit. Whilst there is no undue cause for alarm, travellers are best advised to travel well-prepared and to be adequately immunized. Suncream/sunblock is a must – please ensure you bring enough as it may not be available locally. Insect repellent, including a bite spray will also be useful to have. It is highly recommended to also bring a torch or flashlight, especially for the nights in Trigrad and Melnik to assist with walking around hotel/lodges at night. For walks, telescopic poles will be available for you to use in the vehicle – please advise before the departure if you need.

Footwear is a main priority on this tour. Comfortable walking shoes/boots with closed toes and ankle support are recommended for the walks, as well as a pair of sandals for general travelling.

Luggage on tour
Your luggage should not exceed 20kgs (44lbs). One large rucksack, and one small hand luggage rucksack is acceptable.

Electric Supply & Plugs
Electricity in Bulgaria is 220V, with a frequency of 50Hz or 230V, with a frequency of 50hz. Plugs have two round pins like most European countries and correspond to plug types C and F.

Recommended literature before to travel
We advise a short selection of contents which you can find interesting to see and read to get a better understanding of some of the places you will visit during the tour.

  • Movie: The World is Big and Salvation around the corner, 2008. – The movie it set in Karlovo
  • Poems from Hristo Botev, the revolutionary poet from Kalofer
  • Book: Bay Ganyio from Aleko Konstantinov – Typical satire about how the Balkan people used to be in the 19th- 20th
  • Modern literature: Natural novel and Physics of Sorrow by Georgi Gospodinov

Itinerary Versions
Please ensure that you have an up-to-date copy of these tour notes immediately before you travel, as from time to time our itineraries may be amended, either for operational reasons or in response to feedback from customers. You will be informed of any major changes to your tour but small changes may just be added to these tour notes. These tour notes were updated on 27th December 2019.