Adjacent to Romania to the north, Serbia and New Macedonia to the west, Greece and Turkey to the south and also the Black Sea to the east, is where the outstanding Republic of Bulgaria situated in. As a part of Southeastern Europe, Bulgaria once became a battleground for Thracians, Persians, Celts and Macedonians as well as a home for Karanovo culture which still exists until this day. Sofia, as the capital and the country’s largest city, has a crucial role for government activities as well as their main tourist attractions. Supported by the other major cities like Plovdiv, Varna and Burgas, Bulgaria has now become one of the popular holiday destinations in Europe. So, take your leap and indulge in stunning-historical Bulgaria. Here are the ten most popular reasons to visit magnificent Bulgaria at least once in your lifetime.
1. SOFIA, THE ALL-IN CAPITAL
Capital city Sofia is one of the most remarkable reasons to visit Bulgaria with numerous tourist attractions. Visiting Bulgaria means you’re indirectly visiting Sofia as well since the main international airport of Bulgaria located in its capital, Sofia. This airport serves numbers of airlines from many destinations, so you’re very likely to land in Sofia International Airport.
Upon arrival in Sofia, you may choose to taste their local foods at Sofia’s Central Market Hall (the market has food stalls, souvenir shops, café, fast-food restaurants and more) or go directly to the city popular tourists attraction such as the landmark of Sofia, St. Aleksandar Nevski Cathedral to admire the architecture of Neo-Byzantine and take a look at the underground Bulgarian orthodox museum, St. George Rotunda Church to see the city oldest building covered with red brick among the ruins of Serdica city, Boyana Church to find the old 900s frescos covering this Medieval church interior, Bulgarian Archeological Museum to have a glimpse of some antiques Medieval objects and ancient cave drawings, the National Museum of History to learn about Bulgaria’s history from prehistoric time until now, Ivan Vazov National Theater to meet the neoclassical theatre completed with a beautiful garden and fountains, the enormous green space named Borisova Gradina for some relaxing time, Park-Museum Vrana to take a walk around the majestic historical palace, Sofia synagogue to spot an early 1900s Sephardic jews most prominent worship place, Banya Bashi mosque to step back in 16th century Ottoman architecture with large dome and the last is Vitosha mountain that is good for hiking through the forest, picnics, catch the beautiful waterfalls, skiing during winter and espy the Sofia city view from up above.
Spend at least three days in Sofia, and you’ll surely love every moment in it! In a word Sofia is one of amazing holiday destinations in Europe.
2. CAPE KALIAKRA
Heading to the Black Sea, near the borderline of Romania, stands scenic cliffs drop at the tip of Kaliakra Peninsula named as Cape Kaliakra, a popular tourist attraction. There, you can take a look at the Kaliakra museum that is full of myths and legends. Stroll along the Fortress of Kaliakra ruins that was once used by Thracians, Romans, Byzantines and Bulgarians, shop for souvenirs and have dinner at their cape restaurant while seeing the sunset from 70 m above the sea.
The place is trendy for its panoramic view with sea and birdlife make the site even more attractive. The entrance to the cape is free, but you’re subject to pay a parking fee if you bring your vehicle. So, set your date now and have a beautiful retreat!
3. NESSEBAR, THE POPULAR SEASIDE TOWN
Travelling straight to the east, you’ll find the famous long Sunny Beach in the town of Nessebar. A beach is a prominent place for swimming, watersports such as jet ski, wakeboard and parasailing as well as sunbathing. Nessebar is another significant reason to visit Bulgaria. The beach is surrounded by high-end seaside resorts and some clubs and pubs to revel in the nightlife, so if you’re looking for some exhilarating nights, Sunny Beach is the perfect place to go. But actually, going to Nessebar isn’t only about Sunny Beach.
The old town itself has some tourists attractions such as the Windmill Nessebar that is the town icon, Nessebar local Archaeological Museum, St. Stefan orthodox church, Church of Christ Pantokrator that is now used for an art museum, Nessebar Ethnographic Museum to learn the local’s traditional life, Church Dormition of Theotokos and the most touristy Church of Saint Sophia that is one of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. In addition to that, numbers of beach along the town coastline. Have a day trip to Nessebar to thoroughly enjoy the seaside town and find your best relaxing spot!
35 km away to the southwest of Nessebar, lies the city called Burgas with Burgas lake as the city main natural lake and Burgas bay adjoining with the Black Sea in the east side. From the city centre, you can explore some of their popular tourists’ attractions such as The Clock that is an old icon of the city, the long-stretched Central Beach Burgas, the Pier of Burgas that has the best sunrise and sunset view, the vast Sea Garden that is located beside the beach and is suitable for morning and evening stroll, Sand Fest Burgas that displays sand sculptures of animation characters and Nature Conservation Center Poda to watch various of birds flying across their habitat that is 11 km from Burgas city centre. You can also find malls and bars to complete your visit to the city.
Burgas is the best city for you who want to enjoy the sea life while even dreaming about fresh nature. Burgas with a numbers of stunning tourist attraction, is one of the many compelling reasons to visit Bulgaria.
5. SOZOPOL, THE ANCIENT TOWN
Still situated on the same coast, Sozopol is an old port town that is now become a tourists attractions thanks to their beautiful streets and ocean view. Unlike Burgas and Nessebar, Sozopol is far less packed and touristy. You’ll be greeted with warm seawater and soft sand at Sozopol Central Beach but don’t expect any beach resorts there because you won’t find it.
Some of the famous places to go in the town are Sozopol Archaeological Museum, Sozopol Ethnographic Museum and Sozopol Old Town. The city is perfect for you who are looking for a peaceful old town getaway. So, plan a day to explore this ancient town and get ready to be amazed!
6. TSAREVETS FORTRESS & BELOGRADCHIK FORTRESS
Located in the ancient town of Veliko Tarnovo, where Second Bulgarian Empire has it’s capital there, Tsarevets Fortress stands as the main tourists’ magnet for the city with lots of popular tourist attractions. The fortress itself is very popular for its Medieval remains with a church on the hill and displays of frescos.
The fortress is also a host for Sound and Light show, which will present you the history of the fort and Balkan region including their heritage and traditions. With some highlights such as laser show, techno music and chiming bells, it’s a brand new way to learn about history.
The spectacular show makes tourists even more curious, and that’s why the fortress become one of Veliko Tarnovo must-visit. It’s highly recommended to spend a night and join the show especially if you arrived at the right time (usually during weekends & Bulgarian special occasion). The show starts at 9.30 PM and is free of charge if you watch it from Tsar Asen Square, but you have to buy a ticket for 15 BGN if you want to observe it at the panoramic platform. You can book the tickets online from their official website.
Opposite the direction to Tsarevets Fortress, Belogradchik Fortress stands on a hill that is located in the northwestern side of Sofia, near the Romanian and Serbian borderline. Historically said, the fortress was built during the Roman Empire with rock formations surrounded the building. Belogradchik Fortress is also an excellent place for nature-lovers because the site offers you a majestic landscape view of small Bulgarian villages from top of the rocks. But be prepared for some walks and climbs because it’s the only way to reach the fortress! The place is perfect for architecture enthusiasts to learn about the rocks as building structure and also a right choice for a breathtaking trip plus to avoid the crowds because the beautiful view is nowhere to be seen in Bulgaria!
Both (Tsarevets & Belogradchik) fortress are open daily from 9 AM – 5 PM with an entrance fee of 6 BGV each.
7. DEVIL’S THROAT CAVE
Just like the name, it’s a devil’s head-like cave that is a right and adventurous place for caving. Accessed via a stairway, the Devil’s Throat limestone cave is situated in the slopes of Rhodope Mountains with a waterfall going into it. The huge Devil’s Throat Cave can be entered with guide only since it’s hazardous for tourists to go alone.
Still, you’ll undoubtedly feel grateful for it because the guide will excitedly tell you about the story and myths behind the cave while you walk along the trail. People often called Devil’s Throat Cave as a representative of the underworld with many legends and mystical powers in it, so book your tour now and feel the fascinating tranquillity! The price for trips are varied so do proper research before you reserve it.
8. RILA NATIONAL PARK
Being home for thousands of wildlife as well as where 120 glacial lakes, hiking and skiing trails located in, the Rila National Park has amazingly beautiful scenery and one of the most popular tourist attraction for adventure lovers. Hike through the pine forest to the Rila Mountains or take a chairlift instead, so you can spend more time at the top because the park is worth to explore for sure. Some of the popular hiking trails are Musala peak, Rila’s Skakavitsa waterfall, Seven Rila lakes and Belmeken dam.
This large natural area also offers you some huts within the trek for an overnight stay (one of the cabins is Ivan Vazov hut) and a campground for you who’d prefer to sleep at a tent. Whether you come during summertime or wintertime, Rila National Park will always open for you (even Bulgarian locals like to wander in this national park). So no more hesitation, make sure to plan a visit to the Rila and have a great hiking experience! The park is free of charge, but if you choose to ride a chairlift, there’s a new price for it.
Travel tips: Always bring your jacket with you despite the sunny weather in Bulgaria. Make sure you are fit enough to hike.
9. KRUSHUNA WATERFALLS
Situated inside the Krushuna National Park, Krushuna waterfall is where a cave, forest, river and spring got mixed into one magical nature area. It comes up with two routes; the first will take you to the upper side of the waterfall with some stunning caves and the second brings you to walk on a trail along the forest and river with some smaller waterfalls to rest and satisfy your long trek. When you arrived at the main Krushuna waterfall, you’ll be impressed by its untouched surroundings and the turquoise blue spring where the waterfall drop.
Even though the national park isn’t as huge as the Rila, but it’s worth the visit especially during your long journey from Sofia to Veliko Tarnovo or Kaliakra and vice versa. Time to step back in nature and get pleased by the astounding landscape! Krushuna opens 24 hours a day with an entrance fee of 3 BGN each.
10. BALKAN MOUNTAINS
Located in the middle of Bulgaria, The Balkan is a mountain range that spans from the west border of Serbia and Bulgaria to the east Black Sea. With an elevation of 2.376 m, the mountain consists of Central Balkan National Park and Botev Peak as it’s the highest point. It is an excellent place to blend in with nature because you’ll get accompanied by some wildlife including wolves and bears, scenic waterfalls, streams and meadows.
The mountain itself has some hiking trails and paragliding spots as well as campgrounds, restaurants and decent huts for living. If you’re on adventure-seeking and hiking enthusiasts, this mountain is the best place to go to Bulgaria. You’ll surely love the natural atmosphere! Among the nature lovers It is one of the famous reasons to visit Bulgaria.