Summer Experiences

Ambassadors to Bulgaria

Be a part of a close-knit group of teens from Bulgaria, and across Eastern and Western Europe – forging lasting friendships and uniting our global Jewish community. Learn about Bulgarian society, take part in community service projects, and expand your network of friends, all while having fun! Along the way, explore a beautiful land - from Sofia to the Black Sea - considered one of Europe's best kept secrets.

  • Elements of the Program

    • A Mission of Service
      Ambassadors to Bulgaria is primarily a service experience in a community in need of our support. Travel from city to city and village to village and leave your mark through projects such as restoring local synagogues, volunteering at a Jewish seniors home, and helping to feed the hungry.
    • What sets the Ambassadors to Bulgaria experience apart from all other BBYO Passport programs is that our teens from North America are paired up for the entire ten day program with European Jewish teens from Bulgaria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Serbia, the United Kingdom and more! Share in the experience from their unique perspective, and learn about Jewish life in Europe through their eyes. Ambassadors to Bulgaria is a cross-cultural experience with opportunities for real bonding and lasting friendships abroad.
    • A Unique Teen Travel Experience
      Ambassadors to Bulgaria is also an opportunity to learn about a country with a remarkable past and to tour its beautiful countryside. Explore the ruins of a contemporary city of Troy, relax on the shores of the Black Sea, and tour ornate synagogues.

    Program Highlights

    For a more detailed view of the program, check out the Program Itinerary

     

    Discover the rich history and customs of Bulgarian Jewry in Sofia and Plovdiv
    Share the experience with fellow Jewish teens from Bulgaria and many other European countries
    Explore Bulgaria's small towns and beautiful countryside
    Tour Sofia, Bulgaria's capital, and explore 2,000 years of history
    Swim in the Black Sea, the gateway between Southeastern Europe and Western Asia
    Enjoy the warmth of Shabbat in a small European Jewish community
    Contribute to the upkeep and well being of Sofia's Jewish residents and their communal institutions
    Build lifelong friendships with teens from around the world

    Itinerary Snapshot

    A complete sample itinerary is available for an even fuller sense of the experience.


    Land in Sofia and begin a 10-day program of service, cross-cultural bridge-building, and touring in Bulgaria. Travel from cities, to villages, to mountains, and to the resort coast of the Black Sea. We will also spend a special Shabbat in Sofia hand-in-hand with the Jewish community of Bulgaria

    Why Bulgaria?

    For over a decade, BBYO has a tradition of organizing groups of North American teens on missions to Bulgaria. BBYO is proud to have a thriving local chapter in Bulgaria and regularly invites Jewish teens from Bulgaria to international events in North America and Israel. The Ambassadors to Bulgaria experience is a wonderful opportunity to be a part of this tradition, view what it means to be Jewish from a different perspective, and form lasting friendships with Jewish teens abroad.

  • We have provided the following sample itinerary to give you a better feel for this experience, including the types of accommodations we use. The actual program may vary slightly. An updated itinerary is distributed 4-6 weeks prior to the start of the program.

    Day #1 | Monday | Take Off

    • Depart from New York City on a supervised group flight (optional)
      Take-off and spend the night in the sky en route to Israel

    Day #2 | Tuesday | Hachnasat Orchim – Welcoming Guests

    • Arrive to Sofia, meet the local program staff
    • Welcome and orientation programming with European teens
    • Golden Age Camp: Meet with the Holocaust Survivors and the local Jewish elderly
    • Overnight: Rila Hotel – Sofia, Bulgaria

    Day #3 | Wednesday | B’tzelem Elohim – In the Image of God

    • Community building group experience
    • Depart for Veliko Tarnovo – "City of the Tsars" along the Yantra River
    • Afternoon tour of Tsarevets – a historic medieval fortress deep in the rolling hills of Bulgaria
    • Program: The New Jewish Diaspora
    • Evening: Watch Veliko Tarnovo come alive with a magnificent nighttime sound-and-light show
    • Overnight: Rachev Hotel Residence Arbanasi – Veliko Tarnovo, Bulgaria

    Day #4 | Thursday | VeAhavta L’Recha – Love Your Neighbor as Yourself

    • Depart for Etara – Free time to discover the unique open-air museum
    • Travel to Tryavna along the north slopes of the Balkan range
    • Discover Bulgarian culture at a traditional dance performance
    • Evening Program: Ridding the World of Hate
    • Overnight: Rachev Hotel Residence Arbanasi – Veliko Tarnovo, Bulgaria

    Day #5 | Friday | Arevut – Understanding Our Responsibility

    • Travel to Plovdiv on the banks of the Maritsa River and one of the world's oldest cities
    • Service Project - Help restore and clean up the local Jewish cemetery
    • Check-in to accommodations and prepare for Shabbat
    • Kabbalat Shabbat service and dinner with the Jewish community
    • Oneg Shabbat: Meeting with the Ambassadors
    • Overnight: Trimontium Princess Hotel – Plovdiv, Bulgaria

    Day #6 | Saturday | Tzedakah - Righteousness

    • Shabbat programming and activities
    • Program: Being a Global Ambassador
    • Sightseeing and free time in the historic town of Plovdiv
    • Havdallah service – Start of a new week
    • Evening: Program: Separates
    • Overnight: Trimontium Princess Hotel – Plovdiv, Bulgaria

    Day #7 | Sunday | K’lal Yisrael – Global Jewish Community

    • Depart for Trigrad – a picturesque village in the western Rhodope mountain
    • Devil’s Throat – explore this majestic cave and massive waterfall that has captivated imaginations and given birth to numerous legends
    • Yagodinska Cave – dazzlingly exquisite rock formations and home to an ancient dwelling dated to the 4th millennium BC
    • Travel to Sandanski – town situated in a valley at the foot of Pirin Mountains
    • Overnight Spa & Wellness Hotel Panorama – Sandanski, Bulgaria

    Day #8 | Monday | Shalom Bayit – Peace in the Home

    • Rafting down the Struma River
    • Depart to Sofia – Bulgaria’s capital
    • Evening rogramming at local synagogue
    • Overnight: Rila Hotel – Sofia, Bulgaria

    Day #9 | Tuesday | Jewish V’Shinantam L’Vanecha – You Shall Teach Your Children

    • Community Service Projects in Sofia
    • Tour of Jewish cultural and religious sites in Sofia
    • Free time and shopping in downtown Sofia
    • Final reflections and farewell program
    • Closing dinner party at a traditional Bulgarian restaurant
    • Overnight: Rila Hotel – Sofia, Bulgaria

    Day #10 | Wednesday | Farewell

    • Depart from Sofia, and return to New York City on a supervised flight (optional)

  • You have questions? We've got answers! Our most frequently asked questions for this program are answered below. Additional program-wide FAQs are also available. Contact us to learn more.

    How will my teen travel to the program?
    An optional group flight is offered – typically from New York City. You are responsible for your transportation to the group flight departure city. Flight arrangements will be released in the spring. Families are also able to book their own tickets that mimic the group flight itinerary or book separate flight itineraries entirely and make arrangements to meet our staff in Sofia. Learn more about our group flights.

    Where will my teen be sleeping?
    We stay in a variety of 3-star hotels, and each teen will have their own bed.

    How is the program staffed?
    Each group is accompanied by a team of madrichim (counselors) from North America and from Bulgaria. They are joined by a Bulgarian tour leader, a bus driver, and a guard. Staff names are posted approximately 3-4 weeks prior to your departure, and you can expect a staff welcome call in the lead up to summer. Learn more about our staff team.

    What's the summer weather like?
    The weather in Bulgaria is hot, sunny, and mostly dry – especially in the southern part of Bulgaria. Day time temperatures can reach the 80’s and 90’s and evenings will be in the 60’s. Rain is rare, but especially possible in the northern regions.

    How do you approach security?
    The safety of the teens under our care is our guiding consideration, and out of an abundance of caution we do travel with a guard in Bulgaria. Learn more about our organization’s approach to safety & security.

    What's the typical group size?
    Although it varies from year to year, our average group size in Bulgaria is 75 teens (including local European teens).

    What's the food like?
    Meals will be either kosher or vegetarian. Some meals will be provided according to the “pizur” system – an allowance for purchasing your own meal at a local eatery. Participants can buy whatever food they wish with pizur funds. Participants with special dietary situations (i.e. lactose intolerance, vegetarian, etc.) should contact us in advance to make proper arrangements for the flight and during the program. Bulgarian food is in many ways similar to the food served in Greece and Turkey – tomato, cucumber and cheese salad, filo pastries (byurek) and stuffed vine leaves are among the shared dishes.

    Will I need a visa?
    If you travel with an American, Canadian, or EU passport – good news! – you don’t need a visa to enter Bulgaria. 

     

    For more information, check out our general FAQs.
     

  • BBYO makes it easy to combine two experiences for an extended summer of adventure, learning and self-discovery. 

    Connected Experiences

    * Recommended pairing

Elements of the Program

  • A Mission of Service
    Ambassadors to Bulgaria is primarily a service experience in a community in need of our support. Travel from city to city and village to village and leave your mark through projects such as restoring local synagogues, volunteering at a Jewish seniors home, and helping to feed the hungry.
  • What sets the Ambassadors to Bulgaria experience apart from all other BBYO Passport programs is that our teens from North America are paired up for the entire ten day program with European Jewish teens from Bulgaria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Serbia, the United Kingdom and more! Share in the experience from their unique perspective, and learn about Jewish life in Europe through their eyes. Ambassadors to Bulgaria is a cross-cultural experience with opportunities for real bonding and lasting friendships abroad.
  • A Unique Teen Travel Experience
    Ambassadors to Bulgaria is also an opportunity to learn about a country with a remarkable past and to tour its beautiful countryside. Explore the ruins of a contemporary city of Troy, relax on the shores of the Black Sea, and tour ornate synagogues.

Program Highlights

For a more detailed view of the program, check out the Program Itinerary

 

Discover the rich history and customs of Bulgarian Jewry in Sofia and Plovdiv
Share the experience with fellow Jewish teens from Bulgaria and many other European countries
Explore Bulgaria's small towns and beautiful countryside
Tour Sofia, Bulgaria's capital, and explore 2,000 years of history
Swim in the Black Sea, the gateway between Southeastern Europe and Western Asia
Enjoy the warmth of Shabbat in a small European Jewish community
Contribute to the upkeep and well being of Sofia's Jewish residents and their communal institutions
Build lifelong friendships with teens from around the world

Itinerary Snapshot

A complete sample itinerary is available for an even fuller sense of the experience.


Land in Sofia and begin a 10-day program of service, cross-cultural bridge-building, and touring in Bulgaria. Travel from cities, to villages, to mountains, and to the resort coast of the Black Sea. We will also spend a special Shabbat in Sofia hand-in-hand with the Jewish community of Bulgaria

Why Bulgaria?

For over a decade, BBYO has a tradition of organizing groups of North American teens on missions to Bulgaria. BBYO is proud to have a thriving local chapter in Bulgaria and regularly invites Jewish teens from Bulgaria to international events in North America and Israel. The Ambassadors to Bulgaria experience is a wonderful opportunity to be a part of this tradition, view what it means to be Jewish from a different perspective, and form lasting friendships with Jewish teens abroad.

We have provided the following sample itinerary to give you a better feel for this experience, including the types of accommodations we use. The actual program may vary slightly. An updated itinerary is distributed 4-6 weeks prior to the start of the program.

Day #1 | Monday | Take Off

  • Depart from New York City on a supervised group flight (optional)
    Take-off and spend the night in the sky en route to Israel

Day #2 | Tuesday | Hachnasat Orchim – Welcoming Guests

  • Arrive to Sofia, meet the local program staff
  • Welcome and orientation programming with European teens
  • Golden Age Camp: Meet with the Holocaust Survivors and the local Jewish elderly
  • Overnight: Rila Hotel – Sofia, Bulgaria

Day #3 | Wednesday | B’tzelem Elohim – In the Image of God

  • Community building group experience
  • Depart for Veliko Tarnovo – "City of the Tsars" along the Yantra River
  • Afternoon tour of Tsarevets – a historic medieval fortress deep in the rolling hills of Bulgaria
  • Program: The New Jewish Diaspora
  • Evening: Watch Veliko Tarnovo come alive with a magnificent nighttime sound-and-light show
  • Overnight: Rachev Hotel Residence Arbanasi – Veliko Tarnovo, Bulgaria

Day #4 | Thursday | VeAhavta L’Recha – Love Your Neighbor as Yourself

  • Depart for Etara – Free time to discover the unique open-air museum
  • Travel to Tryavna along the north slopes of the Balkan range
  • Discover Bulgarian culture at a traditional dance performance
  • Evening Program: Ridding the World of Hate
  • Overnight: Rachev Hotel Residence Arbanasi – Veliko Tarnovo, Bulgaria

Day #5 | Friday | Arevut – Understanding Our Responsibility

  • Travel to Plovdiv on the banks of the Maritsa River and one of the world's oldest cities
  • Service Project - Help restore and clean up the local Jewish cemetery
  • Check-in to accommodations and prepare for Shabbat
  • Kabbalat Shabbat service and dinner with the Jewish community
  • Oneg Shabbat: Meeting with the Ambassadors
  • Overnight: Trimontium Princess Hotel – Plovdiv, Bulgaria

Day #6 | Saturday | Tzedakah - Righteousness

  • Shabbat programming and activities
  • Program: Being a Global Ambassador
  • Sightseeing and free time in the historic town of Plovdiv
  • Havdallah service – Start of a new week
  • Evening: Program: Separates
  • Overnight: Trimontium Princess Hotel – Plovdiv, Bulgaria

Day #7 | Sunday | K’lal Yisrael – Global Jewish Community

  • Depart for Trigrad – a picturesque village in the western Rhodope mountain
  • Devil’s Throat – explore this majestic cave and massive waterfall that has captivated imaginations and given birth to numerous legends
  • Yagodinska Cave – dazzlingly exquisite rock formations and home to an ancient dwelling dated to the 4th millennium BC
  • Travel to Sandanski – town situated in a valley at the foot of Pirin Mountains
  • Overnight Spa & Wellness Hotel Panorama – Sandanski, Bulgaria

Day #8 | Monday | Shalom Bayit – Peace in the Home

  • Rafting down the Struma River
  • Depart to Sofia – Bulgaria’s capital
  • Evening rogramming at local synagogue
  • Overnight: Rila Hotel – Sofia, Bulgaria

Day #9 | Tuesday | Jewish V’Shinantam L’Vanecha – You Shall Teach Your Children

  • Community Service Projects in Sofia
  • Tour of Jewish cultural and religious sites in Sofia
  • Free time and shopping in downtown Sofia
  • Final reflections and farewell program
  • Closing dinner party at a traditional Bulgarian restaurant
  • Overnight: Rila Hotel – Sofia, Bulgaria

Day #10 | Wednesday | Farewell

  • Depart from Sofia, and return to New York City on a supervised flight (optional)

You have questions? We've got answers! Our most frequently asked questions for this program are answered below. Additional program-wide FAQs are also available. Contact us to learn more.

How will my teen travel to the program?
An optional group flight is offered – typically from New York City. You are responsible for your transportation to the group flight departure city. Flight arrangements will be released in the spring. Families are also able to book their own tickets that mimic the group flight itinerary or book separate flight itineraries entirely and make arrangements to meet our staff in Sofia. Learn more about our group flights.

Where will my teen be sleeping?
We stay in a variety of 3-star hotels, and each teen will have their own bed.

How is the program staffed?
Each group is accompanied by a team of madrichim (counselors) from North America and from Bulgaria. They are joined by a Bulgarian tour leader, a bus driver, and a guard. Staff names are posted approximately 3-4 weeks prior to your departure, and you can expect a staff welcome call in the lead up to summer. Learn more about our staff team.

What's the summer weather like?
The weather in Bulgaria is hot, sunny, and mostly dry – especially in the southern part of Bulgaria. Day time temperatures can reach the 80’s and 90’s and evenings will be in the 60’s. Rain is rare, but especially possible in the northern regions.

How do you approach security?
The safety of the teens under our care is our guiding consideration, and out of an abundance of caution we do travel with a guard in Bulgaria. Learn more about our organization’s approach to safety & security.

What's the typical group size?
Although it varies from year to year, our average group size in Bulgaria is 75 teens (including local European teens).

What's the food like?
Meals will be either kosher or vegetarian. Some meals will be provided according to the “pizur” system – an allowance for purchasing your own meal at a local eatery. Participants can buy whatever food they wish with pizur funds. Participants with special dietary situations (i.e. lactose intolerance, vegetarian, etc.) should contact us in advance to make proper arrangements for the flight and during the program. Bulgarian food is in many ways similar to the food served in Greece and Turkey – tomato, cucumber and cheese salad, filo pastries (byurek) and stuffed vine leaves are among the shared dishes.

Will I need a visa?
If you travel with an American, Canadian, or EU passport – good news! – you don’t need a visa to enter Bulgaria. 

 

For more information, check out our general FAQs.
 

BBYO makes it easy to combine two experiences for an extended summer of adventure, learning and self-discovery. 

Connected Experiences

* Recommended pairing