Sometimes, you just want to travel and stay away from any of the things that are stressing you out in your daily life. Visiting a foreign country does not only let you see new places, but also meet new people and relax like you’ve never done before. Bulgaria may not be the first choice to a lot of people when it comes to traveling, but it doesn’t mean you should toss it off your list altogether. Besides being very cheap, it also has breathtaking mountains, cathedrals, monasteries, castles, and mouthwatering food.
At the same time, visiting any new place always makes you worry about your safety and security, and here’s where the “Is Bulgaria safe to visit” question pops up. After all, you want to travel to free your mind of worries, not being concerned about someone possibly hitting your head with a baseball bat at any time.
That being said, you’ve most likely accessed this Bulgaria safety guide to familiarize yourself with the safety level in the country, thus being ready for what’s to come. Luckily for you, you will find the information you seek below, along with some Bulgaria safety travel tips for you and your loved ones.
Highest Risks You’re Exposing Yourself to When Visiting Bulgaria
Overall Risk: LOW
For the most part, Bulgaria is a country where you can travel without being concerned and on alert all the time. Not only the general safety level is very high, but the Balkan people are usually very warm and welcoming towards tourists. As such, you’ll feel safer and generally better near country locals.
At the same time, you shouldn’t take anything for granted, and have some common sense. There’s probably no place that’s completely safe and free of thieves and other such people, which is why you should still keep a certain level of vigilance. So, when you’re outside the main tourist areas for example, you should be careful and make sure you notice it if anything is out of the ordinary. Dark streets at night can be another danger you should try to avoid, because perpetrators could try to take advantage of it and take you by surprise.
Organized crime is usually a serious issue throughout the country, but it doesn’t affect tourists for the most part. Even so, Bulgaria is much safer compared to other European countries, so there’s that. In crowded areas, scams and pickpocketing are common crimes, but they can happen anywhere else as well. Still, they’re not things that occur exclusively in Bulgaria, meaning it is not certain whether you’ll encounter such a situation there or not.
One crime that travelers may encounter is car theft. That being said, if you’re the happy owner of an expensive car, you should pay some additional attention. The car should never be left in parking lots that are not guarded, as well as secluded streets at night. If you do so, the risk of attracting criminals increases, and you surely don’t want to be left without such a valuable belonging.
Terrorism isn’t at such a high level in Bulgaria, but that doesn’t mean you should rule it out altogether. Moreover, there may be protests across the country too, and considering it’s hard to predict the outcome of a demonstration, it’s a better option to avoid them.
There is also a small risk of natural disasters, such as earthquakes and flooding, as well as wildfires. This is why monitoring the local news before visiting the country is important.
Theft and Pickpocketing Risk: MEDIUM
This is a question that pops up in your mind easily when traveling just anywhere, but as we’re discussing Bulgaria’s safety, it is applied to our specific case. In other words, when you’re thinking about the possibility of choosing Bulgaria to spend your holiday, you can’t help but ask “How safe is Bulgaria for tourists?”. Regarding pickpocketing and theft, there is a risk to consider, although maybe not as big as it is in other European countries. At the same time, the possibility of coming across individuals who are into stealing exists just anywhere on the globe.
To no surprise, pickpockets are more likely to try their little schemes with a tourist, as the tourist is not familiar to the place, and rather adventuring in the unknown. Still, it’s important to look as normal as possible, and not signal that you’re not a local. Although passing for a Bulgarian national may not be possible, you can do things to avoid standing out. For example, it’s not ideal to flash your money in public, as well as your jewelry or expensive belongings. Moreover, if you’re full of luggage or shopping bags, it may be an indicator as well.
Tourists are also at risk in Sunny Beach and other resorts is they’re spotted by thieves. You should avoid bringing valuables to the beach, and avoid driving on poorly lit roads near the resort at night. Furthermore, even burglaries from hotel rooms in the area have happened, which is why you should take more precautions and lock your doors and windows. Your valuables should be locked somewhere safe too.
Bag snatching or other similar things are scenarios that can easily become real if you let your guard down. For that reason, you should always keep your bag secured and hold it tightly in front of you.
Scams Risk: MEDIUM
“How safe is Bulgaria for tourists when it comes to scams?” may be one of the questions keeping you up at night. There’s definitely a risk when it comes to scams, and tourist areas are particularly at risk. Scammers are like wild animals, preying on you from afar and striking when the moment is right.
Some of the scammers may use popular tactics, such as offering to help you with your luggage, when in reality they are looking for an opening to steal from you. Even though it is also possible that someone is just trying to be nice and considerate, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Also, when you are buying or negotiating something, you should always check your change twice. Situations where tourists were given a smaller change than they should have are not unheard of, and you don’t want to be the protagonist of such a story. Also, you should never try to pay upfront, as you may be left without money and the product you wanted to buy in the first place.
Another type of scam may be that of you being surrounded by a group of people, who start throwing tantrums and making a lot of noise. It does sound like it’s straight out of the jungle, but it’s more than that. These people are trying to distract you and direct your attention towards them, while someone else comes and pickpockets you.
In any case, you should always remember to stay vigilant and never let your guard down, regardless if you’re in a tourist area or outside of it.
Road Travel Risk: LOW
“Is Bulgaria safe to visit when it comes to road travel?” you might find yourself asking. Road accidents are so common anywhere that it’s only normal you start imagining terrifying scenarios.
Thankfully, Bulgaria is pretty much safe regarding its roads, but that doesn’t mean you should take it for granted. There are still some things to take into consideration. For example, despite the high level of safety, there are still roads that are either unlit or unmarked, or in poor condition. These roads increase the risks of accidents, which is why you should be ready to confront such a situation.
You may encounter aggressive drivers, but staying away from them is the right thing to do. Also, it’s indicated to make sure you own a vehicle that is roadworthy, and that you stick to the speed limit at all times. Minor violations may end with you being charged a fine, and it’s certainly not something to long for.
Terrorism Risk: LOW
The world has come to a situation where they fear for their safety a lot, especially when they see all of the terrorist attacks that took place in the recent years. It’s not wrong to feel unsafe, thinking about the global threat of terrorist attacks. As such, you may be looking for an answer to the “Is Bulgaria safe to visit regarding terrorism?” question.
Well, the general level of safety when it comes to terrorist attacks is high in Bulgaria, meaning there’s a small possibility of encountering an attack. Nevertheless, ruling terrorist attacks out is a mistake, because you can’t predict whether an attack is imminent or not. Even places frequented by foreigners are at risk, because a terrorist doesn’t ask you whether you’re a local or you’re just there to enjoy a well-deserved vacation. Therefore, it’s better to not look at the situation through rose-colored glasses.
Back in 30 December 2016, the Bulgarian Minister of Interior made an announcement. In all cities, places of large gatherings and winter ski resorts, heightened security measures were announced, in order to protect people from a possible attack. In other words, this shows that the possibility of an attack happening is still there, despite the fact that recent history doesn’t show any attack.
Risks for Women Traveling Alone: LOW
Being a solo female traveler is hard, because not only you have family members scolding you about how you should stay safe all the time, but you start worrying too. As a woman, you may become an easier target to any type of criminal, which is why you start wondering “Is Bulgaria safe for solo women travelers?”.
Women are generally safe when visiting Bulgaria, so there shouldn’t be big problems. At the same time, a certain level of caution should be taken, because there are still some minor risks, especially around Sofia. Since it’s the capital of the country, many tourists are visiting it, thus thieves and other criminals may target it.
As a woman, you should always dress accordingly and never flash money, jewelry or any valuable in public. A handbag should be always carried carefully, and held tightly in public transport and crowded areas. Also, remember to always be cautions in poorly lit areas, as well as bars and clubs, where spiked drinks could become a concern.
Natural Disasters Risk: LOW
Natural disasters are scary because it’s hard to predict them, and it’s even harder to avoid becoming a victim of the power of Mother Nature. Bulgaria may not be the worst country regarding natural hazards, but it doesn’t mean the occurrence is not possible.
Sometimes, there may be small earthquakes occurring, while certain parts of the country are subject to heavy rains which may lead to flooding. Flooding has resulted in deaths in some cases, so you should monitor the weather forecast before your travel date is due.
Furthermore, throughout the summer and early autumn period, there’s an alert for wildfires, and they may spread really quickly. Once again, keep an eye on the news, so you are aware of any ongoing issue in Bulgaria.
List of Vaccines You May Need When Visiting Bulgaria
Make sure you pay a visit to your doctor before you go to the unknown land. You may need some vaccinations, such as:
- Routine vaccines
- Hepatitis A
- Hepatitis B
Conclusion: Is Bulgaria Safe to Visit?
Bulgaria is a wonderful country, so you shouldn’t miss it if you ever get the chance to visit it. The stunning beaches, mountains, and the large number of monasteries and cathedrals are surely something that shouldn’t be missed.
Regarding safety, despite the country being relatively safe, you should always take it with a grain of salt. Risks exist just anywhere, so it doesn’t mean that just because a country is safer than another one, you are out of any danger.
That being said, make sure you take every safety measure that you can, and that you never let your guard down. Hopefully, this Bulgaria safety guide was of help to you. The only thing that’s left is enjoying the beautiful Balkan country.