Bulgarian lands enjoy the magnificence of four different seasons – fragrant spring, hot summer, golden fruit-bearing autumn and snowy winter. Each season is splendid and brings different types of entertainment – for those who are fans of extreme sports, for those who appreciate good taverns and colourful festivals, for the ones who seek unique natural landmarks and ancient culture…
Bulgaria definitely has much to offer: spectacular cities, ancient ruins, wonderful museums, soaring mountains, great beaches, and beautiful natural scenery. Within Bulgaria’s beguiling blend of nature and history, unforgettable adventures are guaranteed.
Sofia – ancient and eternally young
Sofia is not only the capital of Bulgaria, but also the heart of the Balkan country. The city is a cultural, educational, administrative and industrial center, and its motto is rightly “Ever growing, never aging.” It is surrounded by fabulous mountains – Stara Planina to the north, Vitosha to the south, southeast of Lozenska and Lyulin mountain to the southwest. Sofia abounds in business and shopping centers, dynamic nightlife and cultural attractions. To go around them, you have to spend a lot of free time and this certainly can not happen all at once. There are many museums here, including the National Museum of Natural History, the National History Museum, Earth and Man National Museum, the Ethnographic Museum, as well as many galleries, theaters, the National Opera and Ballet.
Alexander Nevsky Cathedral is among the symbols of the city. It is an extremely spectacular building, its bell tower is 50.52 m high, and in clear weather the gilded domes can be seen for kilometers before entering the city. Next to the church is the oldest church “St. Sofia” that gave the name of the capital. Also interesting is the square around the temple, where are the Monument to the Unknown Soldier with the eternal fire and the open market for antiques. Nearby are the Russian church “St. Nikolay”, the building of the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences and the National Assembly. Also interesting to visit are the National Library “St. Cyril and Methodius” and Sofia University “St. Kliment Ohridski” – the oldest university in Bulgaria. In the courtyard of the Presidency is the Roman rotunda, turned into the church “St. Georgi”. A favorite place of the locals and key meeting point is the National Palace of Culture (NDK).
Burgas – the perfect seaside destination
The Bulgarian Black Sea coast is full of long golden beaches, clear sea and an incredible variety of resorts and holiday complexes and cities like Varna, Golden Sands, Albena, Sunny Beach, Nessebar and Sozopol. Here all guests find their paradise – and families with children, and young people looking for fun, and nature lovers who prefer a quiet and peaceful holiday.
Burgas is a modern city, one of the largest in Bulgaria. In summer, many people prefer the city for their seaside vacation. Burgas offers wonderful conditions for vacation, combining the beautiful beaches and reserves in the area with the amenities and advantages of the big city. The streets are bustling with many bars and restaurants, and the large Sea Garden is a quiet and cool place to walk, hosting artists and musicians. Don’t forget to check also the Gramophone, the Lighthouse, Sea Casino Cultural Center, Expo Center Flora, the Pier of Burgas (“Going to Burgas and not seeing the Pier is like going to Rome and not seeing the Pope.”) and Saint Anastasia Island which used to be a pirate den, a monastic retreat and a prison. Burgas also hosts many cultural events – music festivals, competitions, flower exhibitions. A city with over 2000 years of history, which you can meet in the numerous museums and churches.
Balchik is a beautiful, amphitheatrically located town on the northern Black Sea coast. The beauty of nature here is enchanting and enchanted by it, the Romanian Queen Maria built her summer residence in Balchik, called the Quiet Nest. For this purpose, she hired world-famous architects and botanists who created one of the most unique places on the planet.
The botanical garden is world famous. It has the second largest collection of giant cacti in Europe. The garden is also known for the variety in size and type of plants collected over the years from around the world, including the metasequoia, considered until recently an extinct species, a contemporary of dinosaurs. The garden is extremely beautiful and preferred by romantics for inspiring walks. Another landmark of the city is the Palace. It is a combination of different architectural styles – there are elements of the Moorish culture, the Christian, as well as the typical Bulgarian Revival house.
Plovdiv – ancient and modern
Plovdiv is one of the many prides of Bulgaria, older than Rome and Athens and a contemporary of Troy and Mycenae. It is in the TOP 10 of the most attractive ancient cities for tourism, along with Varanasi, Athens, Jerusalem, Damascus and Beirut. The city has undergone many changes over the years and to this day continues to develop and maintain its unique atmosphere and charm that no one can resist. Plovdiv is the first Bulgarian city chosen to be European Capital of Culture in 2019. If you have just a weekend, we recommend visiting the Historical Museum and the Ethnographic Museum next to it. Both are set in beautifully ornamented Renaissance-period houses typical for Plovdiv. Choose comfortable shoes, as the cobblestoned streets of the Old Town are steep and uneven. The Old Town of Plovdiv is situated on three hills, and when you reach the top, you will have an amazing view – Plovdiv at your feet. Still in the Old Town, follow the signs to the Ancient Roman Theater still in use today. In the summer, you can watch theater or musical performances under the stars while sitting on an ancient stone seat.
At a moment you turn down a street from the Main one and you’re now imperceptibly in Kapana (The Trap). And once you enter it – you don’t wanna leave. Kapana is so named because of the dense tangle of small streets that were once the center of craftsmen. Today artists and entrepreneurs fill new life into this magical place. The city is a peaceful oasis with wonderful parks and ruins that lacked the large tourist crowds of Sofia and the Black Sea coast. Since Plovdiv is in the middle of the country, it’s an easy pace to visit as you move from one end of the country to the other.
Bansko in Bulgaria
Bulgarian winter resorts like Bansko, Pamporovo and Borovets have gained international popularity in a short period of time thanks to the wonderful conditions for sports, modern facilities and magnificent mountain scenery. Many international competitions are held on the slopes of Bulgarian resorts. Here skiers, snowboarders, lovers of extreme winter sports and beautiful mountains find their paradise.
The Bulgarian ski station Bansko in the Pirin Mountains is one of the most interesting winter sports resorts in Europe. The Bansko complex offers approximately 70 km of slopes, including gentle slopes for beginners and snowboarders, as well as varied routes ideal for freestyle and cross-country skiing enthusiasts. The ski season here runs from December to May. The most picturesque routes are located around the Todorka peak (2746 m above sea level). There are modern lifts, a snow park, an ice rink and an extensive tourist base with restaurants, SPA hotels, fitness centers and many amenities for the whole family. Getting there: it’s best to come by plane to Sofia and then change to a bus or rent a car and go to Bansko.
What is traditional Bulgarian cuisine?
Its indispensable elements are dairy products with salty white cheese and “kiselo mlyako” /yogurt/ at the fore, various types of meat, fish and large amounts of fruit and vegetables. The menu is very varied. In summer, light poultry-based dishes, chilled vegetables and salads with white cheese or natural yoghurt are prepared. Yoghurt is a traditional Bulgarian product. The microorganism responsible for the fermentation of the milk bears the name “Lactobacillus bulgaricus”. This dairy product has a very pleasant taste and is used in the recipes for many beloved Bulgarian dishes. In addition to its excellent taste, it is also beneficial to good health. Studies have shown that it has an anticancer effect. According to some legends, yoghurt has been around since Thracian times. The Thracians learned to add sour sheep’s milk to fresh milk in order to make it keep longer. Therefore a product named “prokish” or leavened milk was created. Other theories associate yoghurt with the Bulgars and the drink “kumis”, a drink made from horse milk.
Bread is eaten with almost everything. Bulgarians love garlic, which is found in many dishes, and the herb of Czubrica – a spice obtained from mountain savory. In Bulgarian gastronomy you can find Balkan cuisine influences. Among the strong drinks, rakija is the leader – 40% brandy usually made of grapes, plums or peaches. Bulgaria is famous for its wines. Southern sun, fertile soils, old traditions inherited from the Thracians and a lot of craftsmanship and love are the reason why Bulgarian wines are in demand all over the world. Particular attention is paid by vine growers and winemakers to the typical Bulgarian wine varieties. The oldest of them is the variety “Mavrud”, grown since ancient times only in Bulgaria. The local varieties “Shiroka Melnishka Loza”, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot are grown along the Struma Valley. The resulting wines are characterized by warm southern tones in the aroma and density in the taste.
On a hot day, it is worth ordering a tarator, a cold soup made of cucumber, fennel and sour milk. The real delicacy is the Shopska salad, which consists of fresh cucumber, tomato, pepper, parsley and sheep or cow cheese. Supa Topczeta – soup with meatballs, kebapcze – sausage-shaped roasted minced meat and banitsa – filo pastry filled with white cheese are also delicious.
If we have to use just one word to describe Bulgaria, it will be magic. This is a country that grabs the heart of every person, no matter if it’s with its magnificent nature, centuries-old traditions or rich history.