Rude, slightly reserved or smiling and helpful - what do foreigners think we’re like!?


Every nation has certain prejudices. Thus, you’ll probably hear that Italians and Spaniards are very warm and cordial people, and Scandinavians are more often defined as cold and even lacking emotions. What are Bulgarians like though and how do we look in the eyes of tourists, who in recent years quite actively visit not only the resorts, but also travel further into the country, even to the smaller towns!?

It is an interesting fact that a large number of travelers come to Bulgaria with a slight concern, as they think that the locals are frowning and perpetually angry. This probably comes from the legends about the Balkan temper, as well as from some studies in recent years that present Bulgarians as "the unhappiest nation in Europe". Not to be overlooked is the difference in social etiquette, especially compared to Western culture.

The truth is that most Bulgarians don’t smile to strangers in the streets and rather walk hurriedly and preoccupied with themselves, each in his or her own thoughts. And since foreigners don't speak our language, they rely on the expression of the face and the expressiveness of the body, that's why they get the impression that we are more upset and unkind.

We can safely say, however, that we treat foreigners extremely friendly and we’re helpful. Rest assured that most people you meet on the street will try to answer all your questions and be happy to guide you if you are looking for something and they can help.

People’s fluency in English is surprising to all foreigners. Especially in big cities and among the young generation every conversation is carried out with ease and there is no problem to get along with complete strangers and even make friends. It is not uncommon at the end of the evening to gather right at the same table with the locals and everyone to tell funny stories and funny anecdotes. In large cities, there are often places that are known for being regularly visited by large groups of Bulgarians, expats and tourists, where interesting conversation and mixing with different cultures and customs is guaranteed.

However, here comes a more specific difference, namely – Bulgarians rarely share overly personal things about themselves with strangers. And while some nations are not afraid to talk about their life's excitements, loves, divorces and what not, in the first conversation, according to most, our people don’t feel so free to talk about emotions and personal life. In such situations, they seem rather reserved.

If you travel to small towns, we are sure that you will come across many examples of Bulgarian hospitality. Even if they don't feel completely comfortable inviting you to their home, they will definitely send you off with something to take away - whether it's a bottle of homemade rakia or a bag of apples from the garden. What’s specific is that not everyone knows foreign languages and again you will have to rely on facial expressions and gestures.

Clerks, however, are a different "breed" and according to many tourists are quite disagreeable, unwilling to help and even rude. Travelers encounter great difficulties at railway stations, bus stations and all information desks, therefore we always recommend that you first look for details on the Internet, and then resort to live contact. Some of the employees are from the older generation who don’t speak English fluently and here the language barrier will certainly hinder you quite a bit and may leave a wrong impression.

Our advice, whenever you are in a foreign country, is to learn some basic phrases in the relevant language and approach with a smile. In the only digital guide under the hills, we try to publish the most useful guidelines for all tourists in Plovdiv, so don’t hesitate to ask questions, to which we will try to find the appropriate answers