The Ultimate Guide to Being A Digital Nomad in Bulgaria
When you think about being a digital nomad in Bulgaria, what images come to your mind? Is it another European city with preserved architecture, or nature plains?
Did you know that Bulgaria is an up-and-coming destination for digital nomads?
So what does the oldest country in Europe have to offer for those wanting to become a Bulgaria digital nomad?
I will go into detail about why Bulgaria should be next on your list, from local delicacies you should try and cities to check out as well as the best places to stay in and work from.
In this article, I will cover these topics:
- Why Bulgaria
- Cost of Living
- Bulgarian Weather
- Digital Nomad Visas for Bulgaria
- Top Cities for Digital Nomads in Bulgaria
- Cool Coworking Spaces
- Best Places to Stay and Work From (with Great WiFi)
- Bulgarian Foods you Must Try
- Getting Around Bulgaria
- Things You Should Know About Bulgaria
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Why Become A Digital Nomad In Bulgaria?
Bulgaria is an eastern European country strategically located overlooking the Black Sea, covered in an expanse of mountainous plains, hot springs and stunning nature.
Here are the reasons to be a digital nomad in Bulgaria:
- Low Cost of Living
- Nature Haven
- Hearty Food
Low Cost of Living
If you didn’t know already, Bulgaria has a low cost of living compared to the rest of Europe, making it an exceptionally affordable destination.
You’ll be surprised to find out the minimum amount that can get you by as a digital nomad in Bulgaria. I will explain this in detail in the article later on.
If you’re a nature enthusiast, I’ve got great news for you.
Aside from being historically rich in culture, Bulgaria is also blessed with a naturally diverse landscape, consisting of pristine rivers, majestic mountaintops and serene springs.
In between work, you’ll spend time discovering divine sceneries and (quite literally) chasing waterfalls.
The climate in Bulgaria has led to various dishes to accommodate your cravings, regardless of the weather. I can guarantee that you would never go hungry in Bulgaria.
From sweet and savoury treats to cold soups, you will find that meals are ever-fulfilling.
Bulgaria Cost of Living
Digital nomads in Bulgaria enjoy a very affordable cost of living in Bulgaria. It has one of the lowest cost of living in Europe.
To put things into perspective, $1500-$2000 could easily get you by every month!!
Rent and Utilities
On the other hand, for $541/month, you can get a spacious apartment in central Varna.
Utilities will add another $80-$100 on top of your rent.
It’s no surprise if you spend considerably less than you usually do on food, as it’s very affordable in Bulgaria. You will spend at most $250 for monthly groceries, and that’s including the occasional snacks and alcohol.
Dining out in Bulgaria is fairly cheap so you can squeeze in a few meals now and then.
Bulgaria has a continental climate, which means it has mild to warm summers and cold winters.
Thanks to the natural diversity surrounding the country, there are plenty of activities you can take part in as a digital nomad in Bulgaria, whether you’re there during the summer or winter.
Winter Activities in Bulgaria
- Hit the ski slopes in Bansko
- Indulge in hot spring spas in Velingrad
- Check out the annual Surva Festival
Summer Activities in Bulgaria
- Hike up one of Bulgaria’s national parks
- Take a tour and marvel at Bulgaria’s historic architecture
- Get your tan on by Kabakum Beach in Varna
Digital Nomad Visas In Bulgaria
If you’re an EU national, you can stay visa-free in Bulgaria for up to three months.
If you need a visa to stay in Bulgaria, here’s how to go about it. Getting a digital nomad visa for Bulgaria is a bit complicated and lengthy, but not impossible to get.
Before applying for a Visa D (long-term stay visa), you will first need a freelance activity permit. Apply for this permit through Bulgarian Employment Agency.
Once you receive your permit, here’s how to get the Visa D.
Set up an appointment at one of the local diplomatic or consular missions of Bulgaria in your country of residence.
Documents you are required with your application include:
- Passport-sized photos
- Proof that you can financially support yourself (eg. bank statements)
- Medical Insurance
- Rental contract as proof of accommodation
- Background check
Your application will take between one to two months.
Once your visa is approved, you are allowed to stay in Bulgaria for either six or twelve months and may be renewed for an additional year.
Depending on the given period of stay, the Visa D application may cost up to €200 ($241) per application.
The list of required documents for each permit and visa application may vary between countries. Please check with the consulate in your country of residence for a comprehensive list and further guidance.
Top Destinations For Digital Nomads In Bulgaria
As an up-and-coming digital nomad hub, Bulgaria has a multitude of hidden gems to offer.
These are some of the cities which are popular with digital nomads in Bulgaria.
The capital of Bulgaria is the centre of the country’s cultural hub. With over 20 museums to visit and architectural monuments to marvel at, Sofia is perfect for those who prefer a culturally-enriching life in the city.
Check out architectural and cultural sights such as the National Art Gallery, Bulgarian Archeological Museum and the iconic Cathedral Saint Aleksandar Nevski for a taste of Bulgaria’s historic essence.
Despite its status as a city, there is an abundance of natural wonders that you can take a tour of!
Here are some of the suggestions for a quick getaway from the city when you need it:
Over the years, this town in Bulgaria is known as the go-to skiing spot. Nowadays Bansko, Bulgaria is a digital nomad hub that is rising to become one of the top destinations for digital nomads in Bulgaria.
Affordability of luxury living, tax benefits, easy visa renewals and the expanse of nature is what makes Bansko an up-and-coming digital nomad hub.
Other than that, the prevalence of Bansko among digital nomads is highly enticing to those wanting a one-of-a-kind nomad experience.
So, what other places can you see and things to do in Bansko?
- Walk around the charming Old Town and villages
- In the summer, hike up and explore Pirin National Park
- De-stress and relax in Dobrinishte’s mineral spring
Varna has a reputation as the seaside capital of Bulgaria, as tourism contributes a huge chunk to the city’s economy. It encapsulates the coexistence of entertainment and culture.
From art and ballet theatres to beautiful parks, Bulgaria’s third-largest city offers a multitude of experiences for those seeking it.
Also known as ‘The Pearl of the Black Sea’, Varna is exceptionally appealing for nomads looking to let loose as the nightlife and entertainment are some of the best available for digital nomads in Bulgaria.
Here’s a quick guide if you’re staying in Varna:
- Marvel at the Aladzha Monastery and take a tour of the ancient Roman Baths
- Take a stroll around Sea Garden, which houses various informational sites such as the Terrarium and Planetarium
- Choose your nightlife range — Kultura Speakeasy Bar for a chilled night, Cubo to dance like nobody’s watching, and Joker’s Live Music Club for something in between
For digital nomads in Bulgaria, Plovdiv is the equivalent of Chiang Mai in Europe. As Bulgaria’s business and tech hub, the city is well on its way to becoming Europe’s next tech capital, thanks to lower operation costs and the rise of fintech companies in Bulgaria.
Not only that, but Plovdiv was also crowned as one of European Capitals of Culture in 2019, attributed to the long list of preserved cultural treasures, some of which you cannot miss while being there.
These include (but not limited to):
- The Ancient Roman Theatre of Philippopolis, host to musicals and plays during the summer
- Plovdiv’s Old Town, where cultural museums are aplenty
- Trakart Museum, which houses the history of glass production spanning over 9 centuries
Cool Co-Working Places For Digital Nomads In Bulgaria
Now, for one of the most frequently asked questions — where is the best coworking spot in Bulgaria?
I’ve summed up the top coworking spaces for digital nomads in Bulgaria. Check out some of these coworking spaces in Sofia, Bansko, Varna and Plovdiv:
Best Places To Stay in Bulgaria
Some of the best parts about being a digital nomad in Bulgaria are meeting like-minded nomads and networking as well as discovering new places (with great WiFi) to work from.
Here’s a list of ideas for where to stay and work in Bulgaria:
Coliving in Bulgaria
Operating as both a coworking and coliving space, Namasa is Sofia’s first coliving space.
A stay at the 3-storey house will ensure you have a well-balanced mix of work and play, as the residents of Namasa can hook you up with the best sights and food around the city.
Apart from coworking space, Coworking Bansko offers coliving packages to freelancers and entrepreneurs seeking a close-knit digital nomad community in Bulgaria.
A stay in this coliving space gives you access to networking events and volunteering opportunities. You can even conveniently escape for a quick ski break, as the slopes are right by your doorstep.
Choose from the weekly package from €399 ($477) or monthly deals from €549 ($656) for a stay in Bulgaria’s famous ski town.
Coliving.com is a coliving platform specifically for digital nomads and provides affordable accommodation, good wifi and excellent workspaces.
Here are a few useful facts about them:
- Secure payments
- Verified properties and guests
- Flexible lease (from one week to one+ year)
- Largest coliving booking platform
- Lowest price guarantee
- Free cancellation (within 24 hours after booking)
- Advanced search
- Verified guests and hosts
Book using this link to get 2.5% off your first month’s rent
What a better place to unwind and work from than nearby the Balkan Mountains?
RisingSoul is a coliving community that helps you to reconnect with nature without compromising on productivity.
With sustainability as the core of its operations, RisingSoul ensures its residents are catered with responsibly-sourced local produce from the surrounding villages and is perfect for fellow vegetarians and vegan nomads.
Choose from options of dorm, ensuite and twin room. With prices from €10/night ($12), €105/fortnight ($125) and €165/month ($197), you’re guaranteed a desk space, high-speed WiFi, breakfast and access to their daily meditation and yoga practice.
Notable Cafes in Bulgaria with Great WiFi
Need a change of view? I’ve got a list of cafes with excellent WiFi for days when you need a creativity boost.
- Dwell Coffee House, Plovdiv
- Artnewscafe , Plovdiv
- Edno Cafe, Varna
- Stories. Coffee & More…, Varna
- Bug Coffee, Sofia
- Salted Cafe, Sofia
- Barka Coffee Gossip, Sofia
Best Food (and Drink) To Try In Bulgaria
- Bulgarian Yoghurt is the base of a lot of Bulgarian dishes and they are extremely proud of it.
- Rakia, unique fruity alcohol native to the Balkan nations, is a must-try drink in Bulgaria
- Tarator (cucumber soup) is a type of cold soup, usually eaten to help you cool off from the summer heat
- Sarmi is vegetarian-friendly finger food, which are stuffed cabbage leaves filled with rice and yoghurt. Meat-filled sarmi is another variation.
- Banitsa, a flaky Bulgarian pastry made from natural yoghurt, eggs and brined cheese
- Lyutenitsa, a relish mixture of tomato and pepper, often spread on toast or eaten as chutney
- Shkembe may not be for everyone. The Bulgarian tripe soup is a unique delicacy for foodies with an adventurous appetite
- Parlenka is a traditional Bulgarian bread filled with feta cheese and garlic
- Mekitsa takes food to the next level as the dough is made with yoghurt, which is then deep-fried
- Sirene is brined feta cheese exclusive to Bulgaria, which is made from either cow’s, goat’s or sheep’s milk
Getting Around Bulgaria
Thanks to tourism and its rise as the next digital hub, the transportation system in Bulgaria has improved significantly.
Nowadays, you can conveniently get around the country in several ways:
The preferred way to travel between cities in Bulgaria is by its extensive network of buses. With plenty of daily journey schedules and route options, it is also cheap (less than BGN 15 ($15) per single journey!)
You can book your bus tickets in advance from EtapGroup, a one-stop platform for tickets for trips around Europe.
Trains are operated by BDZ, Bulgaria’s biggest railway company.
Although it costs a lot cheaper than buses, taking the train is also time-consuming.
However, you do get a more comfortable and scenic journey. So if you’re not in a rush, sit back and soak in the breathtaking Bulgarian panorama.
Things and Tips You Should Know as A Digital Nomad in Bulgaria
Whether you’re stopping by in another country or staying there for a few months, it’s important to be aware of local customs and mannerisms.
Here are some of the few to take note of when in Bulgaria:
Part of the EU, but not the Schengen Area
Bulgaria joined the EU in 2007, but is not part of the Schengen Area, nor is it part of the Eurozone as they use their own currency (Bulgarian Lev).
Nomads of non-EU nationals and Schengen Visa holders have the option to travel between Bulgaria and the Schengen zone alternately, as technically, they are only allowed to stay for a maximum of 90 days.
Yes Means No, and No Means Yes
Nodding one’s head usually means ‘yes’ and shaking the head means ‘no’. In Bulgaria, it’s the opposite.
It may be confusing at first to see people shaking their heads when they mean to say ‘yes’, but that’s how they roll in Bulgaria.
Beware of fake taxis, especially in big cities like Sofia.
These fake taxis usually use fake stickers to appear legitimate. They tend to charge travellers double the actual fare price, too!
Did you know that rose oil is mostly produced in Bulgaria?
The Rose Valley is a sight to behold — with up to 12 kilometres of Rosa Damascena lining the main Kazanlak Rose Field, it’s become a significant part of Bulgaria’s identity.
The roses are typically harvested between May and June, during which the climate is most suitable.
Be part of the experience and check out the annual Kazanlak Rose Festival.
Bulgaria uses the Cyrillic script as part of their national language.
This writing system is also used in over 50 other languages, including Macedonian, Serbian, Kazakh and Russian.
Ready for a Life-Changing Trip to Bulgaria?
Bulgaria is a refreshing take for digital nomads looking for a distinctive experience and a change in perspective.
As an easy-on-the-pocket destination rich in history, good food and culture, you may eventually find yourself travelling as a digital nomad in Bulgaria.
You’ll get to live by the famous adage ‘work hard, play hard’ thanks to the preservation of natural wonders amidst the meticulous progression in cities.
Have you been to Bulgaria, or planning to head over soon? Share your experience, tips and questions in the comments below!