With long sandy beaches, glacial lakes, mountain ranges, nature reserves, picturesque villages, wineries and vineyards, plus a UNESCO World heritage site, Bulgaria isn’t your run of the mill type of holiday.
This is the kind of place where you can ski in the winter, head to the Black Sea in the summer, and enjoy some delicious food and wine along the way. If you want to immerse yourself in the beauty of Bulgaria, here are some of our favourites…
1. Sun and sand
Sunny Beach and Golden Sands on the Black Sea Coast are hugely popular, especially in July which is the hottest month.
But for culture vultures who love a long stretch of sandy beach and a lively cultural scene, you’ll find the remains of Bulgaria’s largest Roman Baths which were built in the 3rd-6th century AD.
2. Natural wonder
A mountainous country, Bulgaria has lots of mysterious caves and these natural wonders can take you on a journey like no other. Duhlata Cave in the southwestern part of Vitosha Mountain is the longest cave in the country and has an impressive six-level system of chambers, tunnels, underground ponds and waterfalls.
3. Momentus monastery
Rina monastery is the largest and most famous monastery in the country. A spiritual centre for 1,000 years, it’s cited as one of the most gorgeous and peaceful places in Bulgaria. With five domes, three altars and two side chapels, leave plenty of time for all those photo ops including the wood carving and gold plated icons inside the church.
4. River cruise
The Yantra River is one of the most popular places for kayaking, and the beautiful hilly banks are framed by rock formations and lush vegetation. But if paddling isn’t for you, the medieval city of Veliko Tarnovo, which overlooks the river banks, boasts a magnificent fortress where you can wander around the ancient ruins.
5. Gold treasure
Sofia is the capital of Bulgaria and is home to many of the country’s finest museums and art galleries. Head to the Archaeological Museum which holds a wealth of Thracian, Roman and medieval artefacts. Highlights include a 4th century BC Thracian gold burial mask and a striking bronze head which is believed to represent a Thracian king.
6. Ancient town
Sometimes referred to as the ‘pearl of the Black Sea,’ Nessebar – a town and seaside resort - is famous for its medieval churches, including the 6th century Sveta Sofia Church. In fact, the cobblestone streets house more than 40 brick churches dating back to the 5th century and it’s such a marvel, it’s recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.
7. Fabulous feature
Quite spectacular, the Seven Rila Lakes in the Rila mountains may be a hot spot for hikers, but these ‘Blue Pearls’ are worth the climb. Approx a 90 minute journey from Sofia, this group of glacial lakes lies between 2,100 and 2,500 meters above sea level, surrounded by rugged peaks and deep valleys. And once you reach the top, you can always take the chairlift home.