A golden domed cathedral with green tiles rises above a city in Israel
SUMMER EXPERIENCES

Ambassadors to Bulgaria

Discover Bulgaria alongside local Jewish teens from Bulgaria and our global network on a program that combines educational travel, hands-on service projects, outdoor adventures, and cross-cultural Jewish experiences.

student trip to Bulgaria 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.

With the country of Bulgaria as the backdrop, join up with Jewish teens from across Europe for an unforgettable experience full of exploration, exchange, unique opportunities, adventure and excitement! You’ll share values and traditions, learn how to empower yourself – and others – to advocate and take action. Return home as an Ambassador to the global Jewish community!

OUR LOCAL PARTNER
Bulgaria is home to a small, but active Jewish community that remained following the Holocaust. For over two decades, BBYO International has organized missions of service and community bonding in Bulgaria, connecting Jewish teens from Sofia with their peers around the world. We’re proud to have a thriving local chapter in Bulgaria, and BBYO Bulgaria along with the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) are key partners in making this exceptional cross-cultural experience possible.

Elements of the Experience

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 experiences 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.

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 experiences 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. The actual program may vary slightly. An updated itinerary, including confirmed accommodations, is distributed 3-4 weeks prior to the start of the program.

Day #1 | Sunday | Take Off

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

Day #2 | Monday | Arriving in Bulgaria

  • Arrive to Sofia, meet local program staff
  • Welcome and orientation programming with European teens
  • Overnight: TBA- Sofia, Bulgaria

Day #3 | Tuesday | Hachnasat Orchim – Welcoming Guests

  • Golden Age Camp: Meet with the Holocaust Survivors and the local Jewish elderly
  • Overnight: TBA – Sofia, Bulgaria

Day #4 | 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
  • The New Jewish Diaspora
  • Watch Veliko Tarnovo come alive with a magnificent nighttime sound-and-light show
  • Overnight: TBA – Veliko Tarnovo, Bulgaria

Day #5 | 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
  • Ridding the World of Hate
  • Overnight: TBA – Veliko Tarnovo, Bulgaria

Day #6 | 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: TBA – Plovdiv, Bulgaria

Day #7 | Saturday | Tzedakah – Righteousness

  • Shabbat programming and activities
  • Program: Being a Global Ambassador
  • Sightseeing and free time in the historic town of Plovdiv
  • Enjoy Havdalah services as a group and the start of a new week
  • Program: Separates
  • Overnight: TBA – Plovdiv, Bulgaria

Day #8 | 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 – a town situated in a valley at the foot of Pirin Mountains
  • Overnight: TBA – Sandanski, Bulgaria

Day #9 | Monday | Shalom Bayit – Peace in the Home

  • Rafting down the Struma River*
  • Depart to Sofia – Bulgaria’s capital
  • Evening programming at local synagogue
  • Overnight: TBA – Sofia, Bulgaria

Day #10 | 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: TBA – Sofia, Bulgaria

Day #11 | Wednesday | Farewell

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

*Note: For some teens, this activity can be perceived as emotionally, mentally, or physically challenging. If at any time your teen feels they need support, staff members will be available. Prior to the start of this activity, staff and/or activity providers will facilitate context to put the teens in the right frame of mind as well as go through all safety procedures. If a teen does not feel comfortable participating, they may opt-out and a staff member will be available to stay with them.

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 supervised flight is offered, often from the New York area. You are responsible for your transportation to and from this location. Flight arrangements will be released in the spring. Families are also able to book their own tickets using miles or points that correspond to our supervised flight itinerary, or book separate flight itineraries entirely. Learn more about our supervised flights.

Where will my teen be sleeping?
The group stays in a variety of 3-star hotels. When booking our accommodations, we request for each teen to have their own sleeping accommodations in a shared living space.

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 an armed guard. Staff names are sent out approximately 3-4 weeks prior to your departure as part of the pre-trip preparation email series. Staff is asked to make welcome calls to families before departure. 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. Daytime temperatures can reach the 80s and 90s; evenings will be in the 60s. Rain is possible in the northern regions, plan accordingly.

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 an armed 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 45 teens (including local European teens).

Do most of the participants continue onto Israel?
Yes, over 90% of the teens participating on Ambassadors to Bulgaria continue on to Israel with Ambassadors to Bulgaria + ILSI.

What’s the food like?
As a travel-based program, our meals take a variety of forms and may include hotel buffets, restaurants, specially catered meals and allowance funds for participants to purchase a meal on their own. Some meals that we provide outside of Israel may be certified kosher, but most meals are not. When a meal is served in a public buffet format (e.g. hotel breakfast), we will always ensure that there are vegetarian or pescatarian options available, but we will also not restrict teens from eating the food of their choice. Some meals may be provided via an allowance system whereby teens will be given cash to purchase the food of their choice. Such meals are typically arranged in an area where there are multiple restaurant options, and teens can choose the food of their liking. In situations where time is of the essence, staff may choose to facilitate meal orders on behalf of teens using their allowance funds, including non-kosher orders. When the group eats at non-kosher restaurants with a pre-ordered menu, the options will only consist of vegetarian or pescatarian dishes. Participants with special dietary needs (i.e. lactose intolerance, gluten-free, kosher, etc.) should review our dietary restrictions commitment document and contact us in advance to be sure we can accommodate your needs 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. If you travel with a passport from another country, you may need a visa. Contact your nearest Bulgarian/Israeli embassy or consulate for additional details.

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. 

Supervised Connections 

Connecting travel arrangements are available between programs, and staff supervision is provided during the connection. Learn more about how connections work.

 

PROGRAM REVIEWS

We know you'll love a BBYO Passport experience. But don't just take our word. Check out these real reviews from our past teen travelers.

 

student trip to Bulgaria 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.

With the country of Bulgaria as the backdrop, join up with Jewish teens from across Europe for an unforgettable experience full of exploration, exchange, unique opportunities, adventure and excitement! You’ll share values and traditions, learn how to empower yourself – and others – to advocate and take action. Return home as an Ambassador to the global Jewish community!

OUR LOCAL PARTNER
Bulgaria is home to a small, but active Jewish community that remained following the Holocaust. For over two decades, BBYO International has organized missions of service and community bonding in Bulgaria, connecting Jewish teens from Sofia with their peers around the world. We’re proud to have a thriving local chapter in Bulgaria, and BBYO Bulgaria along with the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) are key partners in making this exceptional cross-cultural experience possible.

Elements of the Experience

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 experiences 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.

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 experiences 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. The actual program may vary slightly. An updated itinerary, including confirmed accommodations, is distributed 3-4 weeks prior to the start of the program.

Day #1 | Sunday | Take Off

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

Day #2 | Monday | Arriving in Bulgaria

  • Arrive to Sofia, meet local program staff
  • Welcome and orientation programming with European teens
  • Overnight: TBA- Sofia, Bulgaria

Day #3 | Tuesday | Hachnasat Orchim – Welcoming Guests

  • Golden Age Camp: Meet with the Holocaust Survivors and the local Jewish elderly
  • Overnight: TBA – Sofia, Bulgaria

Day #4 | 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
  • The New Jewish Diaspora
  • Watch Veliko Tarnovo come alive with a magnificent nighttime sound-and-light show
  • Overnight: TBA – Veliko Tarnovo, Bulgaria

Day #5 | 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
  • Ridding the World of Hate
  • Overnight: TBA – Veliko Tarnovo, Bulgaria

Day #6 | 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: TBA – Plovdiv, Bulgaria

Day #7 | Saturday | Tzedakah – Righteousness

  • Shabbat programming and activities
  • Program: Being a Global Ambassador
  • Sightseeing and free time in the historic town of Plovdiv
  • Enjoy Havdalah services as a group and the start of a new week
  • Program: Separates
  • Overnight: TBA – Plovdiv, Bulgaria

Day #8 | 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 – a town situated in a valley at the foot of Pirin Mountains
  • Overnight: TBA – Sandanski, Bulgaria

Day #9 | Monday | Shalom Bayit – Peace in the Home

  • Rafting down the Struma River*
  • Depart to Sofia – Bulgaria’s capital
  • Evening programming at local synagogue
  • Overnight: TBA – Sofia, Bulgaria

Day #10 | 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: TBA – Sofia, Bulgaria

Day #11 | Wednesday | Farewell

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

*Note: For some teens, this activity can be perceived as emotionally, mentally, or physically challenging. If at any time your teen feels they need support, staff members will be available. Prior to the start of this activity, staff and/or activity providers will facilitate context to put the teens in the right frame of mind as well as go through all safety procedures. If a teen does not feel comfortable participating, they may opt-out and a staff member will be available to stay with them.

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 supervised flight is offered, often from the New York area. You are responsible for your transportation to and from this location. Flight arrangements will be released in the spring. Families are also able to book their own tickets using miles or points that correspond to our supervised flight itinerary, or book separate flight itineraries entirely. Learn more about our supervised flights.

Where will my teen be sleeping?
The group stays in a variety of 3-star hotels. When booking our accommodations, we request for each teen to have their own sleeping accommodations in a shared living space.

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 an armed guard. Staff names are sent out approximately 3-4 weeks prior to your departure as part of the pre-trip preparation email series. Staff is asked to make welcome calls to families before departure. 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. Daytime temperatures can reach the 80s and 90s; evenings will be in the 60s. Rain is possible in the northern regions, plan accordingly.

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 an armed 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 45 teens (including local European teens).

Do most of the participants continue onto Israel?
Yes, over 90% of the teens participating on Ambassadors to Bulgaria continue on to Israel with Ambassadors to Bulgaria + ILSI.

What’s the food like?
As a travel-based program, our meals take a variety of forms and may include hotel buffets, restaurants, specially catered meals and allowance funds for participants to purchase a meal on their own. Some meals that we provide outside of Israel may be certified kosher, but most meals are not. When a meal is served in a public buffet format (e.g. hotel breakfast), we will always ensure that there are vegetarian or pescatarian options available, but we will also not restrict teens from eating the food of their choice. Some meals may be provided via an allowance system whereby teens will be given cash to purchase the food of their choice. Such meals are typically arranged in an area where there are multiple restaurant options, and teens can choose the food of their liking. In situations where time is of the essence, staff may choose to facilitate meal orders on behalf of teens using their allowance funds, including non-kosher orders. When the group eats at non-kosher restaurants with a pre-ordered menu, the options will only consist of vegetarian or pescatarian dishes. Participants with special dietary needs (i.e. lactose intolerance, gluten-free, kosher, etc.) should review our dietary restrictions commitment document and contact us in advance to be sure we can accommodate your needs 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. If you travel with a passport from another country, you may need a visa. Contact your nearest Bulgarian/Israeli embassy or consulate for additional details.

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. 

Supervised Connections 

Connecting travel arrangements are available between programs, and staff supervision is provided during the connection. Learn more about how connections work.

 

PROGRAM REVIEWS

Ambassadors to Bulgaria

Discover Bulgaria alongside local Jewish teens from Bulgaria and our global network on a program that combines educational travel, hands-on service projects, outdoor adventures, and cross-cultural Jewish experiences.

Ambassadors to Bulgaria

Discover Bulgaria alongside local Jewish teens from Bulgaria and our global network on a program that combines educational travel, hands-on service projects, outdoor adventures, and cross-cultural Jewish experiences.

student trip to Bulgaria 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.

With the country of Bulgaria as the backdrop, join up with Jewish teens from across Europe for an unforgettable experience full of exploration, exchange, unique opportunities, adventure and excitement! You’ll share values and traditions, learn how to empower yourself – and others – to advocate and take action. Return home as an Ambassador to the global Jewish community!

OUR LOCAL PARTNER
Bulgaria is home to a small, but active Jewish community that remained following the Holocaust. For over two decades, BBYO International has organized missions of service and community bonding in Bulgaria, connecting Jewish teens from Sofia with their peers around the world. We’re proud to have a thriving local chapter in Bulgaria, and BBYO Bulgaria along with the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) are key partners in making this exceptional cross-cultural experience possible.

Elements of the Experience

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 experiences 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.

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 experiences 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. The actual program may vary slightly. An updated itinerary, including confirmed accommodations, is distributed 3-4 weeks prior to the start of the program.

Day #1 | Sunday | Take Off

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

Day #2 | Monday | Arriving in Bulgaria

  • Arrive to Sofia, meet local program staff
  • Welcome and orientation programming with European teens
  • Overnight: TBA- Sofia, Bulgaria

Day #3 | Tuesday | Hachnasat Orchim – Welcoming Guests

  • Golden Age Camp: Meet with the Holocaust Survivors and the local Jewish elderly
  • Overnight: TBA – Sofia, Bulgaria

Day #4 | 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
  • The New Jewish Diaspora
  • Watch Veliko Tarnovo come alive with a magnificent nighttime sound-and-light show
  • Overnight: TBA – Veliko Tarnovo, Bulgaria

Day #5 | 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
  • Ridding the World of Hate
  • Overnight: TBA – Veliko Tarnovo, Bulgaria

Day #6 | 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: TBA – Plovdiv, Bulgaria

Day #7 | Saturday | Tzedakah – Righteousness

  • Shabbat programming and activities
  • Program: Being a Global Ambassador
  • Sightseeing and free time in the historic town of Plovdiv
  • Enjoy Havdalah services as a group and the start of a new week
  • Program: Separates
  • Overnight: TBA – Plovdiv, Bulgaria

Day #8 | 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 – a town situated in a valley at the foot of Pirin Mountains
  • Overnight: TBA – Sandanski, Bulgaria

Day #9 | Monday | Shalom Bayit – Peace in the Home

  • Rafting down the Struma River*
  • Depart to Sofia – Bulgaria’s capital
  • Evening programming at local synagogue
  • Overnight: TBA – Sofia, Bulgaria

Day #10 | 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: TBA – Sofia, Bulgaria

Day #11 | Wednesday | Farewell

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

*Note: For some teens, this activity can be perceived as emotionally, mentally, or physically challenging. If at any time your teen feels they need support, staff members will be available. Prior to the start of this activity, staff and/or activity providers will facilitate context to put the teens in the right frame of mind as well as go through all safety procedures. If a teen does not feel comfortable participating, they may opt-out and a staff member will be available to stay with them.

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 supervised flight is offered, often from the New York area. You are responsible for your transportation to and from this location. Flight arrangements will be released in the spring. Families are also able to book their own tickets using miles or points that correspond to our supervised flight itinerary, or book separate flight itineraries entirely. Learn more about our supervised flights.

Where will my teen be sleeping?
The group stays in a variety of 3-star hotels. When booking our accommodations, we request for each teen to have their own sleeping accommodations in a shared living space.

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 an armed guard. Staff names are sent out approximately 3-4 weeks prior to your departure as part of the pre-trip preparation email series. Staff is asked to make welcome calls to families before departure. 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. Daytime temperatures can reach the 80s and 90s; evenings will be in the 60s. Rain is possible in the northern regions, plan accordingly.

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 an armed 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 45 teens (including local European teens).

Do most of the participants continue onto Israel?
Yes, over 90% of the teens participating on Ambassadors to Bulgaria continue on to Israel with Ambassadors to Bulgaria + ILSI.

What’s the food like?
As a travel-based program, our meals take a variety of forms and may include hotel buffets, restaurants, specially catered meals and allowance funds for participants to purchase a meal on their own. Some meals that we provide outside of Israel may be certified kosher, but most meals are not. When a meal is served in a public buffet format (e.g. hotel breakfast), we will always ensure that there are vegetarian or pescatarian options available, but we will also not restrict teens from eating the food of their choice. Some meals may be provided via an allowance system whereby teens will be given cash to purchase the food of their choice. Such meals are typically arranged in an area where there are multiple restaurant options, and teens can choose the food of their liking. In situations where time is of the essence, staff may choose to facilitate meal orders on behalf of teens using their allowance funds, including non-kosher orders. When the group eats at non-kosher restaurants with a pre-ordered menu, the options will only consist of vegetarian or pescatarian dishes. Participants with special dietary needs (i.e. lactose intolerance, gluten-free, kosher, etc.) should review our dietary restrictions commitment document and contact us in advance to be sure we can accommodate your needs 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. If you travel with a passport from another country, you may need a visa. Contact your nearest Bulgarian/Israeli embassy or consulate for additional details.

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. 

Supervised Connections 

Connecting travel arrangements are available between programs, and staff supervision is provided during the connection. Learn more about how connections work.

 

PROGRAM REVIEWS

We know you'll love a BBYO Passport experience. But don't just take our word. Check out these real reviews from our past teen travelers.

 

student trip to Bulgaria 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.

With the country of Bulgaria as the backdrop, join up with Jewish teens from across Europe for an unforgettable experience full of exploration, exchange, unique opportunities, adventure and excitement! You’ll share values and traditions, learn how to empower yourself – and others – to advocate and take action. Return home as an Ambassador to the global Jewish community!

OUR LOCAL PARTNER
Bulgaria is home to a small, but active Jewish community that remained following the Holocaust. For over two decades, BBYO International has organized missions of service and community bonding in Bulgaria, connecting Jewish teens from Sofia with their peers around the world. We’re proud to have a thriving local chapter in Bulgaria, and BBYO Bulgaria along with the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) are key partners in making this exceptional cross-cultural experience possible.

Elements of the Experience

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 experiences 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.

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 experiences 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. The actual program may vary slightly. An updated itinerary, including confirmed accommodations, is distributed 3-4 weeks prior to the start of the program.

Day #1 | Sunday | Take Off

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

Day #2 | Monday | Arriving in Bulgaria

  • Arrive to Sofia, meet local program staff
  • Welcome and orientation programming with European teens
  • Overnight: TBA- Sofia, Bulgaria

Day #3 | Tuesday | Hachnasat Orchim – Welcoming Guests

  • Golden Age Camp: Meet with the Holocaust Survivors and the local Jewish elderly
  • Overnight: TBA – Sofia, Bulgaria

Day #4 | 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
  • The New Jewish Diaspora
  • Watch Veliko Tarnovo come alive with a magnificent nighttime sound-and-light show
  • Overnight: TBA – Veliko Tarnovo, Bulgaria

Day #5 | 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
  • Ridding the World of Hate
  • Overnight: TBA – Veliko Tarnovo, Bulgaria

Day #6 | 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: TBA – Plovdiv, Bulgaria

Day #7 | Saturday | Tzedakah – Righteousness

  • Shabbat programming and activities
  • Program: Being a Global Ambassador
  • Sightseeing and free time in the historic town of Plovdiv
  • Enjoy Havdalah services as a group and the start of a new week
  • Program: Separates
  • Overnight: TBA – Plovdiv, Bulgaria

Day #8 | 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 – a town situated in a valley at the foot of Pirin Mountains
  • Overnight: TBA – Sandanski, Bulgaria

Day #9 | Monday | Shalom Bayit – Peace in the Home

  • Rafting down the Struma River*
  • Depart to Sofia – Bulgaria’s capital
  • Evening programming at local synagogue
  • Overnight: TBA – Sofia, Bulgaria

Day #10 | 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: TBA – Sofia, Bulgaria

Day #11 | Wednesday | Farewell

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

*Note: For some teens, this activity can be perceived as emotionally, mentally, or physically challenging. If at any time your teen feels they need support, staff members will be available. Prior to the start of this activity, staff and/or activity providers will facilitate context to put the teens in the right frame of mind as well as go through all safety procedures. If a teen does not feel comfortable participating, they may opt-out and a staff member will be available to stay with them.

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 supervised flight is offered, often from the New York area. You are responsible for your transportation to and from this location. Flight arrangements will be released in the spring. Families are also able to book their own tickets using miles or points that correspond to our supervised flight itinerary, or book separate flight itineraries entirely. Learn more about our supervised flights.

Where will my teen be sleeping?
The group stays in a variety of 3-star hotels. When booking our accommodations, we request for each teen to have their own sleeping accommodations in a shared living space.

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 an armed guard. Staff names are sent out approximately 3-4 weeks prior to your departure as part of the pre-trip preparation email series. Staff is asked to make welcome calls to families before departure. 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. Daytime temperatures can reach the 80s and 90s; evenings will be in the 60s. Rain is possible in the northern regions, plan accordingly.

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 an armed 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 45 teens (including local European teens).

Do most of the participants continue onto Israel?
Yes, over 90% of the teens participating on Ambassadors to Bulgaria continue on to Israel with Ambassadors to Bulgaria + ILSI.

What’s the food like?
As a travel-based program, our meals take a variety of forms and may include hotel buffets, restaurants, specially catered meals and allowance funds for participants to purchase a meal on their own. Some meals that we provide outside of Israel may be certified kosher, but most meals are not. When a meal is served in a public buffet format (e.g. hotel breakfast), we will always ensure that there are vegetarian or pescatarian options available, but we will also not restrict teens from eating the food of their choice. Some meals may be provided via an allowance system whereby teens will be given cash to purchase the food of their choice. Such meals are typically arranged in an area where there are multiple restaurant options, and teens can choose the food of their liking. In situations where time is of the essence, staff may choose to facilitate meal orders on behalf of teens using their allowance funds, including non-kosher orders. When the group eats at non-kosher restaurants with a pre-ordered menu, the options will only consist of vegetarian or pescatarian dishes. Participants with special dietary needs (i.e. lactose intolerance, gluten-free, kosher, etc.) should review our dietary restrictions commitment document and contact us in advance to be sure we can accommodate your needs 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. If you travel with a passport from another country, you may need a visa. Contact your nearest Bulgarian/Israeli embassy or consulate for additional details.

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. 

Supervised Connections 

Connecting travel arrangements are available between programs, and staff supervision is provided during the connection. Learn more about how connections work.

 

PROGRAM REVIEWS

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