Bulgaria is not on the bucket list of most travelers but that’s a shame, as the country is blessed with stunning nature and a wide range of amazing places to visit. Here are ten reasons you should travel to Bulgaria this year.
Sofia. A visit to Bulgaria usually starts in the country’s capital. Most of Sofia’s major attractions are located in the city centre. The most well-known landmark is the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral. This gold-domed structure was built to honour Russia’s role in fighting for Bulgarian independence in the 1870s. The nearby Rotunda of St. George is much older and dates back to Roman days.
Rila. This monastery, one of many in the country, sits in a peaceful forest setting in the Rila Mountains. The monastery’s main church has colourful, Biblical-themed frescoes on its external walls, which are framed by black and white striped pillars. The church has five domes, set against a view of mountain peaks that can be covered with snow well into the late spring.
The Skiing. In the winter months, Bulgaria’s mountain slopes attract skiers from all over the world, who rate them as being among the best anywhere. Resorts at Bansko, Borovets, and Pamporovo provide all the necessary equipment. Visitors to Sofia can enjoy skiing on Mt. Vitosha, the mountain massif on the outskirts of the city.
The Hiking. Summertime visitors can enjoy those same mountains. The country’s most popular hiking destination is the glacial Rila Lakes, seven lakes that can still be caked in ice as late as June. Bulgaria’s highest peak is Musala, which is also known for being the highest mountain in the Balkans.
The Black Sea. There are huge mega-resorts at sunny beach and golden sands, but many other beaches along the coast attract visitors in the warm summer months. It’s worth visiting the towns of Sozopol and Nessebar, the latter a UNESCO World Heritage Site. More modern conveniences can be found in Varna and Burgas. The Varna Archaeological Museum displays some of the oldest gold treasures in the world, which were discovered in a dig nearby.
The Food. Bulgarian cuisine is both healthy and nutritious. Shopska Salata, a variation of the traditional Greek Salad, is on the menu in restaurants all over the country. Also enjoyed are pork specialities and the extremely tasty yoghurt served for dessert. The country’s signature drink is rakia, a fruit brandy with an extremely high amount of alcohol.
The Villages. When you visit the country’s interior, you can easily come to the conclusion that little has changed in Bulgaria during the past 150 years. Of particular interest is the village of Koprivshtitsa, located a short distance east of Sofia. Today many of its houses, with their Bulgarian renaissance architecture, have become ethnological museums.
Plovdiv. Plovdiv is not only Bulgaria’s second largest city, but it is also one of the oldest cities in Europe. A visit to the Old Town, up a hill in the city centre, will bring you to many galleries and history museums. The town’s Roman-era amphitheatre is still used today for cultural events.
The Culture. It’s worthwhile visiting Bulgaria at any time of the year, but it’s especially exciting when there are holidays and festivals. In particular, the annual summer Rose Festival is a colourful celebration of Bulgaria’s roses. The country’s rose oil is exported and used in the production of perfume and other products.
The Cost. Bulgaria is surprisingly affordable. You don’t need to be uber-rich or win a jackpot in the EuroMillions lottery to afford visiting the country. Even staying in luxury accommodations is inexpensive when compared to those available elsewhere.
The People. Last but not least, the people of Bulgaria are very friendly and eager to welcome you to their country and into their homes. The younger generation speaks English well. Make some new friends when you visit Bulgaria!