Bulgaria is a country of 7.9 million people located in the extreme south-eastern corner of Europe, sharing borders with Romania, Yugoslavia, Macedonia, Greece and Turkey. Bulgaria is due to become a full member of the European Union (EU) in January 2007. When this happens, the Lev which is Bulgaria’s currency at present will be replaced with the Euro. The Euro – Lev exchange rate is currently fixed at 1 Euro = 2 Lev. This is in preparation for EU membership. This does of course mean that eating and drinking in Bulgaria is very reasonable. To give you an idea, a bottle of local beer might cost 1.50 lev, which comes to about 50 pence. A typical 3 course meal for four people, including wine would typically cost around 75 Lev or £25.
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On Bulgaria’s East coast are the popular white-sand beach resorts on the Black sea, while in the South-West you will find the mountainous landscape, one of the most popular hiking and skiing destinations in Europe.
Bulgaria is steeped in history and culture with its beautifully decorated churches, fine mosques, wonderfully preserved rustic villages and a great deal of enduring folklore.
The native language spoken by Bulgarians is a Slavic language akin to the Russian language. Although most Bulgarians speak good English. If you would like to test your Bulgarian language skills, visit the BBC languages website.
Flights to Bulgaria
Getting to Bulgaria is easy. Flying direct from the UK and Ireland to Sofia (the capital) takes about 3 hours. Due to the popularity of Bulgaria as a holiday destination, there are an increasing number of airlines now flying to Sofia from London, Manchester and Dublin. See the list to the right for some links to their websites.
Travelling from Belfast or Dublin?
During the ski season, direct flights are available from Belfast and Dublin to Plovdiv through Balkan Tours (see link on the right). Plovdiv is the same distance from the Bansko resort as Sofia. We can arrange your transfer from Plovdiv to Bansko. Bulgaria Air and a number of other airlines listed on the right also fly direct from Dublin.
CSA Czech Airlines
SN Brussels Airlines
LOT Polish Airlines
One of the best ways to pick up a bargain is to use one of the flight search websites that search all of the major airlines for you, doing all the hard work. On the right hand side I have listed some of the best travel sites on the internet.
|The Travel supermarket
Bansko lies in the South-Eastern part of Bulgaria, at the tip of the Pirin National park. The town lies amongst green fields and forests shadowed by the ice-capped Mount Vihren, the highest peak in the Pirin range.
Bansko has a population of around 10,000 people. Unlike most Bulgarian towns, the modern architecture coexists easily with the old quarters, a maze of cobbled streets lined with timber-framed stone houses, churches, shops and bars (known locally as Mehanas). The old quarters date back hundreds of years.
Getting to Bansko
Once you arrive at the airport in Sofia or Plovdiv, there are a number of ways to travel to Bansko. When you book the apartment, we will ask you how you intend to travel and point you in the right direction.
Private transfer – If you choose to use our private transfer, we will arrange for Toshka (your Bansko guide) to meet you at the airport arrivals lounge with your name on a card to make things easier.
Toshka will then drive you directly from Sofia to the apartment in Bansko. Usually stopping half-way for a coffee break. The trip from Sofia to Bansko takes about 2.5 hours as you travel up into the mountains, passing lakes, forests, open plains and through small rural towns.
By Bus – A short bus ride will take you to Sofia’s central bus station. From here, you can catch one of the daily buses to Bansko. Be sure to check bus departure times with your flight arrival time.
|By rental car – There are a number of car rental companies in Bulgaria, but I think it is better to book in advance with one of the more reputable names. To the right, I have included links to a number of rental companies available in Sofia.||Car Hire Centre
Budget Car and Van Rental
Getting to the apartment
The apartment is situated at the south end of the town, towards the Pirin mountains in a new purpose-built development called the Little Snow Jewel. It is just 5 minutes walk to the gondola station and no more than 10 minutes walk to the town square (Nikola Vaptsarov) where you will find lots of street cafes, bars and nightclubs.
If you are arriving by private transfer, Toshka will take you directly to your apartment. If you are travelling by bus, then you will arrive at the Bansko bus station. Use the map on the right to make your way to the apartment on foot, or ask Toshka to pick you up and take you to the apartment. If you are travelling by rental car, use the map on the right and follow the main road into Bansko and continue to the top of the town, where you can meet Toshka in the ‘Happy End’ bar next to the Gondola.
Once you arrive at the apartment, Toshka will give you a brief tour so that you are familiar with the facilities, before leaving you to enjoy your holiday. Of course, Toshka is always available should you need any help.