10 Reasons to go to Bulgaria
Bulgaria is a very little-known destination in Eastern Europe. Yet, it has everything you could imagine for a perfect holiday and even more! This country boasts a fascinating past that could deserve a several-season Netflix series. Its present is even more exciting, as the country keeps evolving and metamorphosing. It does not only integrate features of the modern world but also continues to unveil its treasures of bygone eras.
Once you properly discover this destination, you will come back over and over again. Here is a selection of the best things to do in Bulgaria.
The Bulgarian capital will surprise even experienced travellers! While wandering its streets and boulevards, you will find an unexpected combination of things: hot springs in the heart of the city, Roman ruins at the metro station, a tree converted into a bell tower, a unique and ancient Orthodox church surrounded and hidden by tremendous communist-age buildings and so on. The 2,000m high Vitosha mountain situated on the outskirts of the city also contributes to its unique charm. In addition, Sofia is one of the best places in Europe for epic parties!
Source: Unsplash, Anton Atanasov
It is claimed to be one of the oldest inhabited cities in the world. In 2019, it was named the European Capital of Culture. Strolling around its picturesque cobbled streets, enjoying the panorama from one of its seven hills, watching an open-air opera in the Roman theatre, visiting amazing house-museums from the 19th-century National Revival period, tasting delightful Turkish sweets near the main Mosque and spending a lovely evening in the Kapana artistic district: here are the best pieces of advice I can give you for an unforgettable getaway!
Spellbinding monasteries and churches
Even though Bulgaria is a secular country, the Orthodox religion has always played a pivotal role there. Bulgaria managed to preserve its identity throughout nearly 500 years of Ottoman rule. Orthodox institutions, such as Rila monastery had a tremendous influence over the Orthodox world at that time. Today this magnificent monastery nestled in the mountains is inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage list. When you get to visit it, you understand immediately why! Boyana church – situated in the vicinity of Sofia – with its breathtaking frescoes is another UNESCO-protected treasure that all travellers should visit.
Source: Own picture
Marvelous Black Sea Coast
The Bulgarian seaside is an ideal destination for summer holidays. Just picture the following: extensive sandy beaches with warm and crystal blue water. Along the coastline, all travellers will find a place matching their expectations: culture lovers will appreciate UNESCO-listed Nessebar, party-goers will fall in love with glamorous Sunny Beach while families will enjoy more quiet relaxing holidays in the seaside resorts of Sozopol and Balchik.
The best spa destination in Europe
Bulgaria is the second richest country in Europe in terms of hot springs after Iceland. That was one of the main reasons why the Romans settled down here. Nowadays, you can enjoy it in one of the high-level spa complexes scattered across Bulgaria. There are two outstanding spa resorts you should not miss. Lost in the scenic Rhodope mountains, Velingrad is the first one. The city was named the spa capital of the Balkans. It boasts the most significant number of hot springs of different temperatures and healing properties. The second one is Starosel, a stunning place surrounded by vineyards. If you like wine, spa and nature, that is the place to go!
Bulgaria is a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts. The country is blessed with breathtaking views and landscapes. There are several mountain ranges here: Rila, Rhodope, Pirin and Stara Planina. Each of them is unique and worth a visit whether you look for hiking, mountain biking, paragliding, rock climbing or white-water rafting.
Great ski slopes
Bulgaria is a very nice winter destination. There are three main ski resorts: Bansko, Borovets and Pamporovo. Abundant snow in winter and excellent infrastructure make it an amazing place for skiing and snowboarding. If you are looking for extra thrilling activities, try out snowshoeing, ice skating, or sleigh riding. Everybody will enjoy Bulgaria!
Following the Thracian footsteps
The highly mysterious and enigmatic Thracians inhabited modern Bulgaria thousands of years ago. We still know almost nothing about that civilisation and often new findings change our perception completely: e.g., we used to think the Thracians were barbarians until we found proof of the existence of a written language! During the 20th century, several remarkable Thracian sanctuaries, cities and tombs in different parts of the country were found. Three sites deserve special attention, namely the city of Gods, Perperikon, and the UNESCO-listed tombs of Kazanlak and Sveshtari.
Delicious and hearty food and wine
The Bulgarian cuisine is a surprising blend of Turkish, Greek, and Balkan culinary traditions, even though it has its own incomparable flavours. Recipes include a large variety of meat, vegetables, cheese and a lot of spices and herbs. You should not miss Banitsa − a multilayered pastry made of eggs and cheese; Shopska salad; world-famous Bulgarian yogurt, and Bulgarian grilled meat. Moreover, no traditional dinner would be complete without rakia − a local fruit brandy − or Bulgarian wine, all the more so as the country has a millennia-long tradition in winemaking.
And all that for a very affordable price
Bulgaria remains one of the cheapest destinations in Europe, meaning that there you can treat yourself like a king or queen without blowing your budget!
Last but not least, do not miss an opportunity to meet with the locals, as Bulgaria features extremely kind and hospitable people who are very proud of their country with its rich history and traditions. They will strive to show the best of Bulgaria to their foreign guests.
About The Author’s: Anastasia is a passionate traveller. She always wants to properly “understand” the country she visits, its local traditions, history, and mindset. During her trips in the Balkans, she realised that these countries remain unknown to many Western tourists, which is a pity. That is why, together with her partner, she founded Velstana, a travel agency organising tailor-made trips to European destinations full of hidden gems and local secrets.