Bulgaria welcomes you with its endless flower valleys of rose, lavender, beautiful ancient towns, unique stone structures, long-standing culture, spectacular Orthodox churches, and especially the friendliness and hospitality of its people. The trip to the land of roses will be even more memorable if you choose the right gift to bring home. So, what to buy in Bulgaria and what to buy in Sofia Bulgaria? Let’s check out our Bulgaria shopping guide with the suggested of the list of +17 best, must buy Bulgarian gifts, Bulgarian souvenirs including best gifts from Bulgaria, top things to buy in Bulgaria as well as best places to buy in Bulgaria to find out the answer and help you bring back meaningful Bulgarian souvenirs for your loved ones!
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The world of souvenirs in Bulgaria is very rich bearing bold national identity and local culture, so if you are having a headache and don’t know what to buy in Bulgaria and things to buy in Bulgaria as meaningful and practical Bulgarian gifts, Bulgarian souvenirs, the wonderful suggestions below will help you choose easier.
Bulgarian gifts & top things to buy in Bulgaria: Rose Essential Oil & Rose Water
Near the Bulgarian town of Kazanlak in Stara Zagora province, there is a long-standing rose-growing valley, covering an area of more than 2,000 square kilometers, attracting hundreds of thousands of tourists every year. The roses here are harvested in the right season to produce many different products for life. One of them is rose essential oil which is consider the essence of Bulgaria. Bulgaria is the largest producer of rose oil in the world. Rose essential oil is also known as “liquid gold” which brings high value to this country. Therefore, when you have an opportunity to set foot in Bulgaria where dubbed “The land of roses”, besides admiring the beauty of roses, immerse yourself in its scent, buying products made from this flower is the number one choice.
Rose trees grown in the valley are “bathed” just enough in the gentle spring rains, so they bloom very beautifully. People will harvest the most beautiful flowers with thick and succulent petals, long-lasting fragrance to make essential oils. The harvesting process must be done entirely by hand, carefully selected and then plucked, keeping the flowers fresh and unbroken until they are put into distillation. Bulgarian rose essential oil has a very pleasant, gentle smell and is considered one of the most luxurious fragrances in the world, chosen by many famous perfumers to produce their own perfumes.
To extract 1 gram of essential oil requires at least 1,300 roses or more, so this is a super expensive gift. However, if you have a bottle of such essential oil in hand, you will be extremely satisfied because unlike other products on the market, Bulgarian rose essential oil is 100% completely pure, unadulterated, every drop, every drop is extremely pure.
Rose essential oil is especially good and safe for health, very beneficial in curing Eczema, Stress Relief, Relaxation and Menstrual… also used as a cosmetic to beautify the skin, so it is a gift that is extremely loved by women. After a trip to Bulgaria, if you can bring home small bottles of rose essential oils like these as a gift for your loved ones, what could be better.
Because it is a popular souvenir, you can easily buy rose oil in most souvenir shops, supermarkets, shopping malls, even local markets throughout Bulgaria in a wide range of brands, sizes, qualities and prices as well. You can refer some of the best best Bulgarian rose essential oil producers and brands such as: Edens Garden Rose, Bulgarian Rose Otto, Aphrosmile Rose Essential Oil, Hana Rose Absolute Essential Oil, Gya Labs Rose Essential Oils, Alteya Organics…
If you visit these rose fields, do not forget to buy dried flowers as a type of tea, or even fresh flowers to bring back as the most practical souvenir.
What to buy in Bulgaria: Cosmetics from roses, lavender flowers
Not only used to extract rose essential oil, Bulgarian Rose Damascena (Damask Rose) is also a raw material to making many other organic cosmetics such as lotions, lipsticks, etc., which is the beauty secret of European women. Take advantage of the opportunity to visit Bulgaria, why don’t you buy some rose cosmetic sets as gifts?! There are lotions, hand creams, lipsticks, powders, perfumes, and even soaps… serving your beauty needs from A to Z.
Not only famous for producing rose essential oils, but cosmetics from Damask Rose are also very popular and loved by many tourists. The quality of the Bulgarian rose is extremely good, so the cosmetics with the main ingredient from this flower are also highly appreciated and become the beauty secret of many women around the world.
You can buy a wide variety of cosmetics made from Bulgarian roses such as rose water, lotion, hand cream, rose lipstick, powder… The scent of these products is very pleasant so it will definitely make you happy, comfortable.
Like Bulgarian rose essential oils, cosmetics made from roses are also popularly sold in markets and souvenir shops across Bulgaria, especially in the capital Sofia, so it is easy to find and buy.
There are several Bulgarian rose cosmetic brands you should consider to buy their products such as Alteya Organics, Wooden Spoon, Just Amazing,Black Sea Stars, Victoria Beauty, Avia Cosmetics, Bilka…
In addition to roses, Bulgarians also use lavender to make cosmetics, this place is also one of the largest growing lavender flower regions in the world. Cosmetics from this flower have beautiful and romantic colors and pleasant scents, bringing a sense of luxury to the user. The famous Bulgarian lavender products such as soaps, aromatherapy bags, essential oils… are the choices of many tourists. To buy lavender cosmetics, you can go to beauty shops and shopping streets and malls in the capital Sofia, remember to check prices in many places in advance before deciding to buy.
Best gifts from Bulgaria: Organic Soap
Bulgaria is one of the leading producers of rose oil in the world, and products based on its excellent rose oil quality are used in some of France’s finest perfumes and cosmetics. In addition to cosmetics, rose essential oils and rose water as introduced above, one of the products made from rose to buy in Bulgaria is handmade organic soap made from this flower, with gentle fragrance, good for your skin, this is definitely a body care product that should not be missed.
In addition, you can also buy lavender soap which is not inferior quality.
Top things to buy in Bulgaria: Rakija
One of the gifts that you can buy when visiting Bulgaria is Rakija liquor (fruit brandy). Rakija is a famous alcoholic drink, considered the “national drink” in the land of roses. It is made from naturally distilling fermented fruits including pears, apples, peaches, plums, and grapes. The alcohol content of this liquor is not too high, suitable for both men and women but home-produced rakija can be stronger. Rakija is an integral part of Bulgarian life, the locals often say “You are not a true Bulgarian if you don’t have a whiskey bottle full of homemade rakija in your fridge”.
Rakija is made from naturally fermented fruits such as pears, apples, peaches, plums, grapes, nuts… The alcohol content of rakija in stores is only about 40% ABV, but it’s homemade, the content will be higher and stronger.
Must buy in Bulgaria: Bulgarian Wine
Besides the Bulgarian essential rose oil, rose water, rakija liquor, another gift worth to buy is the Bulgarian wine. Tourists always carry grab some bottles back home. Two favourites, the Rubaiyat Red 2013 and the Castellum Chardonnay Barrique.
Best Bulgarian souvenirs: Traditional Bulgarian Costumes And Embroideries
Traveling to Bulgaria, you will surely be impressed with the charming and gentle girls wearing traditional embroidered costumes. The unique look and sophisticated lines of these costumes and embroideries make many tourists love and want to buy them as souvenirs. Visitors can buy these traditional Bulgarian folk costumes or meticulously embroidered scarves from souvenir shops, and locals call them Shevitza.
Best Bulgarian gifts: Martenitsa
Bulgarians use red and white wool or cotton threads to braid them into a small ornament and usually in the form of two dolls, bracelets or a broochs which bring health, happiness and longevity. This is a gift they give each other every spring to wish each other peace and luck. Martenitsa is braided in a very simple way, sometimes adding wood beads, stones, jades and dummies with monochrome yarn to make the souvenir even more eye-catching. They can be also made into keychains, bracelets, necklaces… a spiritual gift for relatives and friends.
Don’t forget to bring home Martenitsa as gifts for friends and relatives after your trip, before giving them, just tell them that Martenitsa is an object that brings luck, prosperity and even helps to make their wishes come true.
Duduk (Traditional Bulgarian whistle)
Duduk is a solo wind instrument with a special and melancholic sound, a traditional wooden instrument used by shepherds in Bulgaria, it usually is a pipe of 25 to 40 cm long and has 6 holes and often made of acacia tree wood (common locust). The Duduk has a pipe mouthpiece. Its melody and timbre are contrasting in the various pitches. In the lowest pitch the tones are weak. You can find them in music stores or souvenir shops.
What to buy in Bulgaria: Gyuveche Clay Pot
Gyuveche is a traditional Bulgarian ceramic pot in which it is baked and served, a Bulgarian souvenir that is very popular with tourists. This pot is shaped like a small clay pot with a lid usually used in meals. You can easy find this pot across Bulgarian souvenir shops, you can buy it for decoration or use in your kitchen.
The traditional Bulgarian colorful ceramic pot for single serving meal, comes in a variety of designs, sizes and color.
Bulgarian Kukeri masks
In the beginning of the year Bulgarian men will dress in scary Kukeri costumes and masks to participate in a weird festival of monster and in a practice dating back millennia, Bulgaria’s kukeri dancers perform traditional rituals intended to ward off evil and invite good things. This is old Bulgarian tradition that has been practiced since Thracian times and is of a Thracian origin. If you don’t scare you can buy a kuker mask as a cultural gift to decorate your home.
Traditional Bulgarian Dolls (Bulgarian Folk Dolls)
Traditional dolls play a very important role in Bulgarian culture, they often appearing in festivals and weddings. Most Bulgarian children often own their dolls those attached to them throughout their childhood. They are completely handmade, wearing typical colorful traditional costumes of each region. It is said that folk dolls is an integral part of Bulgarian culture.
Bulgarian dolls come in many sizes, designs, they can also used to attach to keychains, as gifts for children, or as a display to remember the trip. Dolls are sold in most souvenir shops and markets across Bulgaria, so you won’t have to look for them. The price of each product is also not too expensive, suitable for choosing as a gift, light and easy to carry as well as buy in bulk.
What to buy in Sofia Bulgaria: Bulgarian embroidery
Many old Bulgarian women are masters of beautiful embroidery products made from lace with vivid color, rich in pattern. They often sell lace tablecloths, scarves, pillows and clothes in tourist sites at reasonable prices.
Things to buy in Bulgaria: Troyan Pottery
The mountain town of Troyan and the neighboring village of Oreshak are famous for their beautiful ceramic products which is known as Troyan pottery, one of the most famous ceramics in Bulgaria. The pottery style practiced today began in the 19th century based on the elements of the Trakian, Roman and Slavic art and patterns.
Troyan pottery has a long history, unique patterns and textures with a variety of designs and harmonious colors, which are very suitable for gifts. You can not miss the intricate ceramic products from this brand from vases, plates, teapots, cups to jars, ashtrays, pots…
Bulgarians drink a lot of herbal tea, especially in winter. You can find many industrially produced teas at any supermarket, but to find a local herbal tea, head to an organic grocery store and see what they have to offer. We recommend looking for Mursalski, an organically grown, hand harvested tea known for its beneficial effects on human health. Particularly, it is effective for healing of the urinary tract and prostatitis, liver and kidney diseases. It can only be produced in the Rhodope Mountains in Bulgaria.
In addition, you can find another tea that extremely worth to buy which is rose tea, a specialty of Bulgaria, made from one of the most precious roses in the world called Rosa Damascena (or Damask Rose).
Bulgarian Yogurt (Kiselo Mlyako)
Mlyako yogurt is also an delicious gift option. This is a traditional dish that is delicious, smooth and extremely good for the digestive system. You can buy some to make fruit pickles, make yogurt at home or make other tasty drinks.
Banitsa is a traditional Bulgarian pie, a phyllo dough pie stuffed with ingredients of feta cheese, eggs, and yogurt, usually eaten as breakfast. Some regions also stuff more cabbage, red apples or walnuts into the pie to increase nutrition.
Best gifts from Bulgaria: Sharena sol
Sharena sol means “particoloured salt” or “mixed salt”, also known as colourful salt, is a spice mix used extensively in Bulgarian cuisine. Its most typical ingredients are dried savory, paprika and salt. You can buy it at any supermarket, grocery store or local market. The seasoning is contained in lovely jars of all shapes and sizes, making this a great gift for those who love to cook.
Besides Bulgarian souvenirs and gifts we introduce above you can buy other items to take home such as keychains, t-shirts, paintings, refrigerator magnets, jewelry, Easter eggs…
Bulgaria shopping guide: Where to shop?
The main shopping places in Sofia center city are on Vitosha Boulevard, Ulitsa Graf Ignatiev and Ulitsa Pirotska streets.
Below we suggest some best places to buy in the capital Sofia including malls and shopping centers and markets.
- The Mall
- Kvadrat 500
- Central Market Hall (Tsentralni Hali)
- Zhenski Pazar Women’s Market
- Mall of Sofia
- Serdika mall
- City Center Sofia
- Sofia Outlet Center
- Paradise Center
- Zona Urbana
- Open Air Book Market in Sofia
- Bulgaria Mall
- Flea Market
- Zhenski Pazar (Women’s Market)
Bulgaria shopping guide: Some tips when shopping in Bulgaria
Bulgaria does not use the Euro (€) but uses the Lev as the currency with 1 Euro = 1.96 Lev. There are legal money exchangers in most cities. To have a good exchange rate, tourists can exchange money at branches of big banks, avoid exchanging on the street because it is easy to encounter scams. It is possible to exchange at railway stations, bus stations or airports, but the exchange rate is not very favorable.
Usually, supermarkets and shops in this country only use Lev and they mainly use cash, payment cards or other payment methods are quite rare. Therefore, when traveling to Bulgaria, you should bring cash for convenient shopping.
Most shops and stores in Sofia are open either 9am-6:30pm or 10am-7pm, Mondays to Saturdays, though some shopping malls and centers often don’t close until 10pm. In central areas like Vitosha Boulevard, expect to find stores open on a Sunday.
The VAT tax in Bulgaria is 20% and tourists who live outside the EU are able to obtain a VAT refund from the airport, next to passport control.
Sofia guide: Some best day tours, trips, activities and transfer services, tickets in, from and to Sofia you can refer to
- Nis Day Tour from Sofia
- Plovdiv Day Tour from Sofia
- Rila Monastery and Boyana Church Tour from Sofia
- Rose Valley and Koprivshtitsa Tour from Sofia
- Plovdiv and Koprivshtitsa Combo Day Tour from Sofia