Sitting at the gateway between western Asia and southeastern Europe, Bulgaria has long been a country of cultural diversity and geopolitical importance. After the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, Bulgaria joined the European Union and has seen its global prospects continue to rise from out of the economic oppression of communist leadership. However the country still faces many challenges to overcome, and so the volunteer abroad in Bulgaria can find placements in a wide variety of fields helping the cause.
Bulgaria sits on the southeastern corner of the European continent and has a very diverse landscape, ranging from the Balkan peninsula in the east across the central plains to the shores of the Black Sea in the west. Roughly 7 million people live in Bulgaria, and its population has become increasingly urbanized as the country continues to grow economically.
As the capital and largest city, Sofia is the first choice of many for where to volunteer abroad in Bulgaria. Located under the shadow of Vitosha mountain, Sofia boasts a population of 1.2 million people and is the economic, political, and cultural nucleus of the country. From the beautiful ancient architecture to the many modern museums and performance art venues, Sofia continues to come into its own as a very popular travel destination in Eastern Europe, and can be an incredibly enriching destination where to volunteer abroad in Bulgaria.
Other potential destinations where you can find volunteer projects in Bulgaria include the smaller cities of Plovdiv and Varna, each home to populations of just over 300,000 citizens. Plovdiv is a beautiful historical city sitting on the banks of Maritsa River, while Varna is a popular travel destination sitting on the Black Sea in the east. Do your research about many potential locations to find which one feels like the best fit for you!
Projects & Placements
There are many different types of projects that you can undertake while you volunteer abroad in Bulgaria. For starters, although the country is already quite well developed, many cities still struggle with problems stemming from urbanization and income inequality. Placements working in education, social services, and youth development are all potential areas where you can volunteer abroad in Bulgaria helping locals to tackle the challenges manifesting from these phenomena.
Many volunteer abroad projects in Bulgaria also take on the form of ecotourism, allowing you to travel around the country while contributing back toward efforts to preserve its natural resources and beauty. For example you may help undertake conservation efforts across a variety of landscapes or volunteer at a wildlife refuge working to protect endangered species, all while engaging in a variety of culturally immersive activities as part of the program schedule.
You can generally opt to volunteer abroad in Bulgaria for as short as just two weeks or as long as up to a full year, depending on your availability and what type of experience you are looking for. While Bulgarian is the national language, usually volunteer programs will be accommodating to English speakers, so the language barrier does not have to be a preventative factor.
Costs & Affordability
While you will not be paid for your services as a volunteer abroad in Bulgaria, the good news is that it is a relatively affordable country to live in as an expatriate (especially by European standards). Many living costs such as housing and meals will also usually be covered in the upfront program fees. For ideas on how to get started covering the costs of your volunteer trip, be sure to visit our fundraising page.
Accommodation & Visas
There might be a variety of different accommodations made available while you volunteer abroad in Bulgaria. Homestays are one of the most popular options, enabling you to have a unique culturally immersive experience living with a local Bulgarian family. Apartments or other group living situations are also sometimes made available; be sure to take the types of housing offered into account as you search for the perfect volunteer program in Bulgaria.
As part of the European Union, Bulgaria shares a common visa policy to most other European countries. Many international volunteers will be able to enter the country for up to three months before having to obtain a visa. Those coming from the EU will not have to obtain a visa at all, while volunteers from some other countries may be required to obtain a visa prior to arrival. For more information regarding your individual circumstances, be sure to check out our Bulgarian Embassy Directory.
Benefits & Challenges
Regional Dynamics. Bulgaria is at the crossroads of Europe and Asia in the Balkan region and is home to a diversity of ethnic and cultural influences. Volunteering abroad here is a chance to immerse yourself in a fascinating region of the world.
Historical Legacy. The Bulgarian empire formed nearly 1500 years ago and has endured centuries of regional turmoil to become today one of Eastern European’s most successful countries. Learn all about the country’s dynamic past while you volunteer abroad in Bulgaria.
Giving Back. Volunteering abroad in Bulgaria is your opportunity to familiarize yourself within this great country on a level most will never get to experience, all while making a positive impact by giving back your time to valuable local efforts.