22 Fun Facts About Bulgaria Through My Own Experiences

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I first heard about Bulgaria when reading Harry Potter – the character Viktor Krum is Bulgarian. Visiting Bulgaria has been on my bucket list ever since, and I’m so glad I finally visited!

A trip to Europe wouldn’t be complete without stopping here. I’ve learned a ton of fun facts about Bulgaria from my travels and I’m so excited to share them with you!

1. Fire Dancing is a Bulgarian Custom

I’ve only seen fire dancing in Hawaii prior to visiting Bulgaria, and the Bulgarian version differs greatly.

Known as Nestinarstvo, this style of Bulgarian fire dancing is amazing to behold. Dancers literally walk through fire before exploding into dance! They cross the embers at least three times, often carrying portraits.

Fire Dancing in Bulgaria

It is practiced in the Strandzha mountains in several villages on June 3rd and 4th.

2. Football (Soccer) Is the Most Famous Sport

Football has been a popular sport in Bulgaria since the 1990s. The National Team of Bulgaria has won several international competition medals and has qualified for the World Cup five times!

3. Birthplace of Cyrillic Script

Two monks from the ancient city of Thessalon created the Cyrillic alphabet in the 9th century. It is used in many Slavic languages today, and is over a thousand years old!

4. Home of the Baba Marta Holiday

Grandma March or Baba Marta is celebrated in March every year.

someone placing a martenitsas on a wrist

Bulgarians gift red and white tassels called martenitsas to each other as part of the celebration. They are supposed to be worn until the wearer sees a stork or swallow, which are birds associated with the season of Spring.

5. Nation’s Flag Designed by a Poet

The poet Petko Slaveykov, writer of the Bulgarian national anthem, also designed the nation’s flag. It features white, green, and red representing peace, love, freedom, hope, bravery, and strength.

6. Home to 250 Mineral Springs

You can find bottled mineral water everywhere in Bulgaria in a variety of brand names.

The water actually comes from the 250 natural mineral springs that Bulgaria is famous for. Once touted as a cure-all, water from these springs is now consumed en masse for how delicious it is.

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7. More than 350 Monasteries in Bulgaria

Bulgaria has over 350 monasteries, some of which are ancient. Monasteries in Bulgaria are typically built in remote areas. Surrounded by nature, these monasteries are peaceful and provide a background for stunning photographs.

However, other monasteries can be seen while visiting larger cities and may be more accessible. Some of the most visited churches include the Boyana Church, Rila Monastery, and the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, which feature stunning architecture.

8. You Can Visit Rose Valley in Bulgaria

Have you heard of Bulgarian Rose in perfume?

3 women wearing roses while holding baskets at a rose farm in Bulgaria

The Rhodope Mountains, south of Sofia contain the world-famous Rose Valley. Bulgarian roses are grown here to be used in rose oil production, the same as they have been since ancient times.

Bulgaria is the second largest exporter of the world’s rose oil supply.

9. National Dish is Banitsta

I love anything made with filo dough.

This Bulgarian pastry also features cheese and eggs and is typically served for breakfast. It is common enough that you can find it at just about any restaurant and shouldn’t be missed!

10. Bulgaria Has World-Famous Cheese

Cheese from Bulgaria has a unique flavor profile and a creamy texture.

Bulgaria has been awarded international prizes for cheesemaking and recognized by the World Cheese Awards and honored with the Golden Cheese Award.

Sirene and Kashkaval are my favorites!

11. Yoghurt is Considered White Gold

Bulgarian yogurt is called sour milk, although it doesn’t taste like any sour milk I’ve ever had. Yogurt is often featured in Bulgarian cuisine and is a staple of the Bulgarian diet.

They love it so much they call it ‘white gold’ and it is unique from other types of yogurt as it is made with lactobacillus bulgaricus!

12. Rakia is the National Drink

Since we’re talking about all the things you should eat while in Bulgaria, why not throw in the national beverage?

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A shelf in a store offering Rakia

Rakia made in Bulgaria is famously strong (80 proof) so you should be careful. It is made with grape, plum, apricot, cherry, pear, and apple. I prefer mine diluted with fruit juice and ice.

13. Bulgarians Can Be Superstitious

I love learning about local superstitions wherever I travel.

I found that Bulgarians do not gift knives to each other. It’s thought that knives can sever relationships between people while whistling indoors is not practiced because it causes one to lose money. Also, stepping on cracks should always be avoided lest you break your mother’s back!

That last one I also heard growing up in America, so some superstitions transcend borders!

14. No Means Yes and Yes Means No

Bulgaria is one of the few countries where nodding means no and shaking your head side to side means yes! It may be a little confusing and take some time to get used to it.

15. The National Instrument is Bagpipes

I’m sure I’m not the only one who associates bagpipes with Scotland.

However, the national instrument of Bulgaria is Gaida, which is another word for bagpipes!

Man playing the bagpipes in Bulgaria

I heard them being played in Nessebar when I was visiting some of the local ruins. Definitely check out Nessebar if you’re in Bulgaria – the town often has festivals and Gaida players are often part of the festivities!

16. A Bulgarian Dish Called Shopska Was Named The Best Dish in Europe

The European Parliament once held a contest to determine the best dish in Europe. Bulgarian Shopska (a salad) won the contest.

Made from tomato, cucumbers, peppers, onion, and serene (a type of cheese), this cold salad features mostly raw ingredients. It is served in nearly every restaurant if you want to try it!

17. Coca-Cola Bulgaria holds A Guinness World Record

The largest mosaic made from glass bottles in the world was created using 72,933 Coca-Cola bottles in Bulgaria. It covered 250 square meters!

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18. Bulgaria has Incredible Biodiversity

Out of all the Eastern European countries, Bulgaria is ranked third for the number of plant and animal species found within its borders.

Pirin National Park with mountains, river and rocks

Bulgaria has 3,500 types of plants and 415 species of birds! Pirin National Park is one of the best locations in Eastern Europe to hike and experience the best of Bulgaria’s biodiversity. Pirin National Park also has the distinction of being a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

19. The Oldest Gold Artifacts in the World

Bulgaria is home to golden artifacts that are over 7,000 years old. These processed gold vessels were found in the Varna necropolis, mostly within tombs.

The vast majority of gold was found in select tombs, which is the oldest evidence of human hierarchy ever found. These artifacts can be seen in the museum in Varna.

20. Bulgaria is the Only Country in Europe to Never Change Its Name

Every country in Europe has changed its name aside from Bulgaria. What you may not know is that the official name of Bulgaria is actually the Republic of Bulgaria.

Scholars have theorized that Bulgaria’s unique geographic location on the Balkan Peninsula near the Black Sea has helped the country from changing hands as many times as other countries have.

21. A Bulgarian Folk Song Was Recorded and Sent into Space

“Izlel e Delyu Haydutin” by Valya Balkanska is a famous Bulgarian folk song that was sent into space. It is part of the Golden Record aboard Voyager I which contains a collection of artifacts sent from earth to any extra-terrestrials who may stumble upon it in the future!

22. The Stone Wedding in Bulgaria is Really Cool

A natural rock formation called the Stone Wedding is one of Bulgaria’s most famous locations. The rocks are an interesting blend of pink, brown, and red.

The famous stone wedding landmark in Bulgaria

Each rock has been given a name, and the two largest are called the Bride and Groom.


Christina loves to travel and recently moved from America to Austria to experience everything Europe has to offer. Her passion for travel is rivaled only by her love of writing. Armed with her English degree, she funds her travels writing for several websites including MyCountryFacts!

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