Bulgarian culture is so diverse

Bulgarian culture is steeped in tradition and is shaped by various cultural influences such as Thracian, Slavonic and Byzantine culture. Bulgaria is a country with a rich culture. For centuries, Bulgarians have eaten traditional dishes which have been passed down from one generation to the next. The Bulgarian people are proud of their national cuisine and are proud to cook it for their guests. Bulgarian culture is varied and fascinating and it is well worth learning more about it.

Bulgarian cuisine

The national dishes reflect the diverse cultural influences, ranging from Turkish and Ottoman to German, Slavonic and Russian influences.


The Bulgarians love their salads and as a consequence they are always an important, almost indispensable, component of Bulgarian cuisine.

Shopska salad (Шопска салата)

Shopska salad is a traditional cold salad which is one of Bulgaria’s national dishes. The salad is often served in the summer and consists of chopped tomatoes, cucumber, onions, roasted or raw peppers and Bulgarian sirene cheese.

The salad was originally created in the 1950s to attract more tourists to the country.

Tarator (Tаратор)

Tarator is a popular cold cucumber soup in Bulgaria. It is mainly eaten and enjoyed on hot summer’s days. The soup is very simple to make yourself. You only need cucumber, yogurt, garlic and dill.

Main courses

Kebapche (кебапче)

Kebapche is a popular Bulgarian dish and translates to “small kebab”. The popular meat dish consists of spicy mince, which is often pork, beef or a combination of beef and pork. The mince is shaped into small sausages and grilled.

According to historians, the dish was brought to Bulgaria in the 14th century by the Ottomans and it has established itself as one of Bulgaria’s many national dishes.

Guvech (гювеч)

This traditional stew is typical of Balkan cuisine and is named after the earthenware pot in which it is prepared. Bulgarian guvech is derived from the Turkish word güveç (earthenware pot) and reflects the speciality’s Turkish roots.

The stew is usually made with seasonal vegetables, meat and spices which are braised for hours. Vegetables and meat which are typically used in guvech are potatoes, aubergines, peppers, tomatoes, onions, carrots, peas, beef, pork, chicken or lamb. In Bulgaria, the stew is served steaming hot and enjoyed with a salad or bread.



Rakia is a traditional fruit brandy and is the national drink par excellence, which is made from various types of fruits including plums, peaches and apricots. It is produced in most parts of the country. The drink is made through the distillation of must from grapes or peaches. The alcoholic drink has a long history in Bulgaria, since it was consumed around 2,000 years ago by the Romans.


Bulgaria is the ideal place to find some of the world’s best wines. The climate, the soil and the local spirits create a unique wine culture which encourages many large winegrowers to come to Bulgaria to work in the Bulgarian vineyards. The region on the Black Sea coast is particularly popular with winegrowers and tourists.

In Bulgaria, production is dominated by red wine, but white wine and dessert wines are also produced. The most common grape variety in Bulgaria comes from the Plovdiv region and is the Pamid. The red wine variety is light red and has a fresh flavour.

Traditional festivals and customs

In Bulgaria, festivals and customs have played an important role in the country for centuries. For this reason, Bulgarians attach considerable value to them and celebrate them lavishly.

Kukeri Festival

When? On the first Sunday in March

The Kukeri Festival is a festival which bids farewell to the cold, dark winter months and welcomes the spring with dancing, and is similar to pre-Lent Carnival celebrations. The festival always begins on the first Sunday in March. During the festivities, men from the town or district dress up as menacing animal figures. The typical kukeri costume consists of fur masks and colourful clothing decorated with cowbells. There are no hard and fast rules about how the costume should look, so the men can let their creative streak run riot. The typical costume which is known all over the world is a wild menacing animal which is made predominantly from hairy goatskin.

The idea behind the festival is to drive away evil and create room for something new and beautiful. The evil is said to be driven away by the sound of the cowbells and garlic, peppers and beans.

Prior to the dancing, the kukeri go from house to house wishing all the residents of the town or village health, wellbeing and a good forthcoming harvest. The festival begins early in the morning and continues late into the night.


When? Throughout the month of March

Martenitsa is a white and red braided pendant which is given as a gift and distributed on 1 March to appease Baba Marta. Baba Marta, which translates to “Grandma March”, symbolises the month of March which is known to be a very varied month. Legend has it that Baba Marta is furious with her brothers January and February, Big and Little “Sechko”. The reason is that her brothers have rummaged around in her bag and drunk all of her wine. Whenever Baba Marta remembers what her brothers did, the weather becomes cold, foul and unpleasant. Nevertheless, she loves them both and repeatedly forgives them, which is reflected in the returning sun and its warm rays.

The colours of the braided pendant represent Baba Marta’s red cheeks and white hair. The colour red symbolises health and the colour white represents the advanced age of Baba Marta.

Bulgaria is a beautiful country which has a great deal to offer tourists. The food is a pleasure in itself and is an indispensable part of Balkan cuisine. The wine is unique due to the vineyards and conditions on the Black Sea coast. The examples listed above merely give a taste of what Bulgaria has to offer for tourists and travellers.

Are you curious and keen to discover an impressive country?

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