Summer Experiences

Ambassadors to Bulgaria

Spend 10 unforgettable days in Bulgaria on a legendary BBYO summer experience that combines cross-cultural bonding, service learning, and travel adventures.

  • Be part of a close-knit group of teens from Bulgaria, North America and from across Europe on a journey of service, community and adventure.

    Ambassadors to Bulgaria is a BBYO tradition where Jewish teens from around the world come together each summer. Together, we'll learn about Bulgaria's remarkable story, support its remaining Jewish community, discover a country rich in natural and cultural beauty and forge lasting friendships that unite our global Jewish community.
     

    Program Elements

    A Mission of Service

    Travel from city to city and village to village, leaving your mark through hands-on service projects such as restoring local synagogues, volunteering at a Jewish seniors’ home, and helping to feed the hungry. You’ll touch the lives of those in need and enrich your cultural understanding along the way.

    Living Jewish Peoplehood

    Share in the entire experience with Jewish teens from Bulgaria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Serbia, the United Kingdom and more! Exchange perspectives and experiences as you live the Jewish value of Kol Yisrael Arevim Ze La Ze (we’re all responsible for one another).

    Off-the-Beaten Path Touring

    Considered a hidden jewel of Europe, you’ll explore the capital city of Sofia, relax on the beaches of the Black Sea and discover many colorful small villages and towns in between. Bulgaria is a country rich in history with a remarkable Jewish story waiting to be shared.

    Why Bulgaria

    For nearly two decades, BBYO has organized missions of service and community bonding to Bulgaria. We're proud to have a thriving local chapter in Bulgaria, and BBYO Bulgaria along with the Joint Distribution Committee are key partners in making this exceptional cross-cultural experience possible. 

    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

  • 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 3-4 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 sleeping accommodations.

    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

     

Be part of a close-knit group of teens from Bulgaria, North America and from across Europe on a journey of service, community and adventure.

Ambassadors to Bulgaria is a BBYO tradition where Jewish teens from around the world come together each summer. Together, we'll learn about Bulgaria's remarkable story, support its remaining Jewish community, discover a country rich in natural and cultural beauty and forge lasting friendships that unite our global Jewish community.
 

Program Elements

A Mission of Service

Travel from city to city and village to village, leaving your mark through hands-on service projects such as restoring local synagogues, volunteering at a Jewish seniors’ home, and helping to feed the hungry. You’ll touch the lives of those in need and enrich your cultural understanding along the way.

Living Jewish Peoplehood

Share in the entire experience with Jewish teens from Bulgaria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Serbia, the United Kingdom and more! Exchange perspectives and experiences as you live the Jewish value of Kol Yisrael Arevim Ze La Ze (we’re all responsible for one another).

Off-the-Beaten Path Touring

Considered a hidden jewel of Europe, you’ll explore the capital city of Sofia, relax on the beaches of the Black Sea and discover many colorful small villages and towns in between. Bulgaria is a country rich in history with a remarkable Jewish story waiting to be shared.

Why Bulgaria

For nearly two decades, BBYO has organized missions of service and community bonding to Bulgaria. We're proud to have a thriving local chapter in Bulgaria, and BBYO Bulgaria along with the Joint Distribution Committee are key partners in making this exceptional cross-cultural experience possible. 

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

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 3-4 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 sleeping accommodations.

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