What’s the currency in Bulgaria?
The currency in Bulgaria is the Bulgarian Lev, or Leva, which is the plural. Most people simply call it the Lev.
The Lev is made up of 100 stotinki, just like the British pound is made up of 100 pence, so it’s easy to work out. Most coins in Bulgarian will be stotinki and you’ll come across 1, 2, 5, 10, 20 and 50 stotinki coins. You’ll also see another two coins, the 1 and 2 lev coins.
Banknotes are common in Bulgarian currency and typically come in denominations of 2, 5, 10, 20 and 50 Lev. However, since 2015, 2 Lev notes are rare, and 2 lev coins are far more widely used. You can also get 100 lev notes, but these are less common and may be difficult to change so are best avoided.
Because Bulgarian is written in the Cyrillic alphabet, you may see the Cyrillic symbols for lev around. This looks like ‘лв’.
Euros or no Euros?
Bulgaria is an EU country although it has not adopted the Euro. While it may do in the future, currently only the lev can be used. Despite this, prices are sometimes shown in Euros so that visiting Europeans better understand how much they are paying. Regardless of what currency you are shown, you will always pay in the official Bulgarian currency, the lev.
Bulgaria has a very relaxed view on tipping and leaving a small tip when you leave a bar after a few drinks will make your waiter very happy. Tipping isn’t usually expected in hotels but in restaurants you may find a 10% service charge is automatically added to your bill. If you take a taxi with a meter, the driver will often expect to keep the change, so always make sure you have a good range of lev and stotinki to avoid handing over a huge note for a small fare.
Getting your Bulgaria Currency
It’s easy to exchange British pounds or euros at currency exchanges in Bulgaria, and you can use ATMs in the bigger towns and all cities. However, we find it’s always best to have some Bulgarian currency on you when you arrive in the country and you can buy your lev in advance from ThomasCook.com or instore.
If you do decide to change your pounds when you’re in Bulgaria, don’t take £50 notes as these are difficult or impossible to change. A good range of £5, £10, and £20 notes will be easily changed at a Bulgaria currency exchange or even a bank.