One of the most surprising and fascinating travel destinations in Europe is Bulgaria, a country filled with hidden marvels and treasures. While less known for travelers, this small country in the Balkans is blessed with an unbelievable natural and cultural diversity. It combines magnificent mountains with an enchanting stretch of beaches by the Black Sea, millennial history with authentic traditions. Throughout Bulgaria, there are amazing sights and experiences waiting for those who wish to visit one of the last undiscovered destinations in Europe. There are countless things to see and do in Bulgaria, from the major cities that still retain some of their medieval charm to traditional villages where traditions are still alive and from the hiking opportunities or winter sport resorts of the mountains to the charming beaches. Nevertheless, travelers who wish to see the best that Bulgaria has to offer should include the following destinations:
Sofia – Founded over 2,500 years ago, the capital and biggest city of Bulgaria is an amazing travel destination. While it may take a little time to get used to the unique mix of beautiful European and Communist style architecture, it has plenty of things to offer. Being one of the cheapest capitals of Europe, Sofia makes for a great weekend getaway that has a lot of sights and attractions. Some of the must see places in the city include the St. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, which is one of the biggest orthodox churches in the world, the National Museum of History with fascinating collections, the National Art Gallery and its impressive exhibits, the ancient Amphitheater of Serdica, the old and splendid Boyana Church or the charming Boris Garden. These are only some of the hundreds of sights in Sofia, with inspiring museums, churches, parks, monuments and mineral springs. Beyond the attractions spread throughout the city, it also has a rather charming and laid-back atmosphere, with plenty of places to sample the delicious cuisine and a lot of events and festivals to attend.
Plovdiv – The oldest continuously inhabited city in Europe is located between the mountains in central Bulgaria. It features an overwhelming historical and cultural heritage that goes back thousands of years. Its ancient sites have inspired countless travelers as they discovered a splendid city with so much to see. Spread on six hills in the present, most of the attractions can be found inside the pedestrian old town, with ancient heritage like the Roman Theater of Philippopolis, the Roman Stadium, the Ancient Forum or the Eastern Gate. Apart from these, a walk through the cobblestone streets and alleys of Old Town is an amazing experience in itself, with old traditional houses, some of them being transformed into museums. Speaking of which, the Archaeological Museum is well worth a visit for its old artifacts, as well as the Ethnographic Museum. There are other places to visit in Plovdiv and around, with beautiful parks, churches, monasteries and more.
Rila National Park – The largest national park of Bulgaria is located about 100 km south of the capital, covering the central and highest parts of the wild Rila Mountains. The park includes spectacular landscapes and protects rare or endangered animal and plant species, as well as human communities. As a travel destination, the national park is a heaven for hiking and trekking enthusiasts, with plenty of routes to explore the mountains and their treasures. Among the wonderful places to see inside the Rila National Park, there is the Musala Peak, the highest in the Balkan Peninsula at 2925 meters, the Seven Rila Lakes, which are part of the 120 glacial lakes that can be found there, the Rila Monastery located at the foot of the mountains, or the Borovets mountain resort with excellent winter sports facilities.
Sunny Beach – The largest resort of the Bulgarian Black Sea coast, Sunny Beach is a complex summer destination. It boasts over 800 hotels and accommodation facilities, catering to huge crowds of tourists that arrive to enjoy the fine sands and calm seas. The resort is located on the central coast, a short distance north of the city of Burgas. The beach is very wide and about 5 km long, with clear waters and few rocky areas. Sunny Beach features excellent hotels and restaurants, as well as a lot of nightlife entertainment opportunities, being mostly frequented by young travelers. Just south of the Sunny Beach is the splendid city of Nessebar, a UNESCO site and a fascinating destination that features ancient landmarks that are packed inside the old town area located on a peninsula. It has an impressive amount of old churches and other monuments.
Veliko Tarnovo – One of the most fascinating cities of Europe and almost unknown to foreigners, Veliko Tarnovo is a real fairytale destination. Once the capital of the Second Bulgarian Empire, the city now features exceptional cultural heritage that includes a fortress, churches and monasteries, charming authentic streets and architecture, as well as other attractions. Among the most fascinating sights, the Tsarevets Fortress occupies a hill that overlooks the entire city and offers magnificent panoramas. At the top of the hill, there is the Ascension Cathedral and the entire area is surrounded by old walls. Inside the old city, enchanting cobblestone streets and traditional houses can be admired, while there are also a great number of churches and monasteries around.
Pirin National Park – Another picturesque natural area of Bulgaria is also located in the southwest of the county and is a national park and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Pirin National Park features exceptional landscapes that can be admired through a network of hiking trails that explore its most enticing areas. The most interesting highlights include Mount Vihren, the second highest peak in the country, the popular ski resort of Bansko, the over a hundred glacial lakes and much more. Apart from the dramatic landscapes, there are also interesting and rare species of plants and animals.
Varna – The third city of Bulgaria and its summer capital, Varna is located on the coast of the Black Sea and has superb attractions that are worth visiting. Among the most interesting, we can include the Archaeological Museum, the Naval Museum, the Aquarium, the Sea Garden Park and many beautiful churches. Varna is also a very pleasant resort town, with many beaches and leisure destinations nearby.