Bulgaria is a very diverse tourist destination. It is one of the “hidden gems” in Europe so hurry up and visit it before everyone learns how great it is here! The country offers an amazing combination of history, nature and delicious local cuisine. It is an all- year round destination: with winter resorts for skiing and snowboarding, with many summer resorts on the Black Sea coast for a relaxing beach holiday, and with a lot of historical sites spread all around the country, giving the possibility for a cultural and sightseeing tourism during the whole year. Here are our 11 top reasons why Bulgaria is a great tourist destination:
The Bulgarian lands have a very rich historical heritage. In ancient times, they were populated by the Thracian tribes who established many of the current towns. The Thracians believed in the outer life so they used to bury their important figures with the objects that they may need for the life after dead. Because of this, in the Thracian tombs on the Bulgarian lands were found a lot of ancient objects and artifacts which nowadays can be seen in the historical museums in the country. The most spectacular finding from this period is the golden treasure, found near the town of Panagurishte. It is made of 6 kilograms of pure gold and often travels on international exhibitions all around the world.
Between the 1st and the 7th century the Bulgarian lands were part of the big Roman Empire and nowadays we can still see many remains from this period. The most famous of them are: the Roman theater, stadium and forum in Plovdiv; the Saint George Rotunda (one of the oldest existing churches in Europe dating back to the 4rd century) and the Saint Sofia Basilica (dating back to the 6th century) in Sofia.
From the medieval Bulgarian period we have preserved the fortress of the old Bulgarian capital – Veliko Tarnovo and some remarkable churches with their unique frescoes – the most popilar of them is the Boyana Church, situate in the outskirts of Sofia.
Between the 14th and the 19th century Bulgarian was under Ottoman rule and from this time are preserved some very spectacular mosques as Bania Bashi in Sofia and Dzumaya in Plovdiv.
The 19th century was the period of the Bulgarian National Revival. From this period, we have the beautiful colorful houses which we can see in Plovdiv, Koprivshtitsa and Nessebar. Also, this was the time when the famous Rila Monastery was built in its current outlook. Nowadays, it is a UNESCO heritage site. The other UNESCO sites in Bulgaria are: the Boyana church, the Thracian tomb in Kazanlak, the old town of Nessebar, the rock churches near Ivanovo, the Madara horseman and the Thracian tomb of Sveshtari.
Finally, after World War II, in Bulgaria was established a communist regime which also left its mark and nowadays we can see its big monumental buildings in the heart of Sofia, situated just next to the Roman remains, the medieval churches and the Ottoman mosque – an absolutely unique combination!
Bulgaria is not a very big country but we are lucky to have a very diverse nature. On the East side is situated our Black Sea coast which is a great place for a summer holiday, with many different resorts located there. Some like Albena are more suitable for family vacations, while others like Sunny Beach are more of a party destination.
Bulgaria has several big mountains: Stara Planina, Rila, Pirin, Rhodopi ,Vitosha. In the summer, they offer numerous paths for hiking trips. Some of the most popular destinations for such trips are: the Seven Rila Lakes, Musala Peak in the Rila Mountain, Black Peak in the Vitosha Mountain, the Iskar Gorge in Stara Planina Mountain. And of course, if you want to come in the winter for skiing/ snowboarding, the resorts Basnko, Borovets and Pamporovo will be happy to welcome you.
Bulgaria is also very rich on hot thermal springs which gives the possibility for a relaxing SPA and health tourism. The village of Sapareva Banya, situated in the Rila Mountain, is referred as the SPA capital on the Balkans and it is located just one hour away from Sofia by car.
Finally, Bulgaria has its amazingly beautiful Rose valley, situated in the central part of the country. Because of it, Bulgaria is the world`s biggest producer of rose oil – about 70% of the world`s rose oil production comes from here. The symbolical capital of the area is the small town of Kazanlak (famous also for its Thracian heritage as well). So, if you visit the country in May or June, do not forget to come to this region and to see the spectacular rose fields!
Bulgaria has a very delicious local cuisine. We believe that trying the local food is a very important part of the whole visit and in fact it has been liked by a huge majority of our tourists (probably by 98% according to our unofficial statistics ???? ). The local cuisine is characterized with a lot of species which contribute to the unique taste of the dishes. Bulgaria itself is the homeland of the yogurt so it is essential that many of the traditional dishes and drinks include yogurt – related products. In Bulgaria, generally we are heavy meat eaters so we have many different types of local barbecues. Still, we like fish as well, and if you travel in the mountain or you are at the sea side, do not miss the chance to try the local fish. Because of the Turkish influence, some desserts like Baklava, are also typical for our country.
The red wine production in Bulgaria has very ancient traditions going back to the Thracian period and nowadays the Bulgarian red wines are among the best in the world. However, the most unique local drink is the ‘rakia’ which can be made of different fruits and it is very strong. Finally, we also have some rather good local beers as well.
The weather is an important factor when you plan a trip. In Bulgaria we have the four typical seasons: spring (mid. March – mid. June), summer (mid. June – mid. September), autumn (mid. September – mid. December) and winter (mid. December – mid. March) and each season has its charm: the snowy winter, the sunny summer, the blossoming spring and the colorful autumn. Obviously, the temperature in the winter is low (between 0 and 10 degrees) and in the summer is higher (usually about 30 degrees) – but in general we do not have long periods with extremely low or extremely high temperatures: they are possible but usually they continue just for several days. Therefore, Bulgaria can be visited normally throughout the whole year.
Bulgaria is located in Southeastern Europe and there are direct flights from almost all European countries to the capital Sofia. Moreover, there are also regular flights between Sofia and Istanbul and Sofia and Dubai, which are major connecting airports for longer international flights. Moreover, Bulgaria is part of the European Union so people from that area can visit it only with their ID card. Bulgaria also has travel agreements with many other countries which allows coming to Bulgaria without the need of a Visa.
The vast majority of the Bulgarians love foreign tourists and if you ask someone for help on the street, usually the person will be more than happy to answer you. If they have free time, they will even be happy to show you around. Almost all of the younger people speak English at least on average level. However, have in mind that the older ones who grew during the communist regime, speak mostly Russian.
Bulgaria is definitely among the most affordable destinations in Europe with relatively cheaper prices than most of the other countries on the continent. The local currency is called “Lev”. Its exchange rate is fixed to the euro at approximately 2 lev for 1 euro so it is very easy to calculate the prices. The euro itself is accepted as a payment method at most of the tourist places in the country and it is supposed to become the official currency after 2024. For 10 – 15 euro you can get a full- course meal (salad, main dish, dessert and a drink) at a restaurant. The ticket prices for museums and popular tourist places are relatively low: between 2 and 5 euro. A taxi between any two destinations in the capital Sofia should not cost more than 10 euro. The souvenirs are also rather affordable.
Once again, Bulgaria is still a “hidden gem” – the number of the incoming tourists is slowly growing each year, but it is still far away from being crowded, especially if we speak about the cultural and historical tourism. This means that you can walk around rather comfortably and take great photos with the main sites without a bunch of people all around you. In the context of COVID-19 - Bulgaria is a destination with vast open spaces where you can avoid the crowds.
Contrary to the usual perception of the foreigners that Bulgaria is a ‘wild’ place, Bulgaria in fact is a very safe place where you can walk around without worrying even at night. The population of the country is rather homogeneous, and once again – the vast majority of the local people love foreign tourists.
Bulgaria is not a huge country. From tourist perspective this means that for a period of 8 - 10 days you can travel around the whole country and see most of its main historical sites. Also, the location of the capital, Sofia, gives the opportunity to reach many of these places like Plovdiv, Rila Monastery, Koprivshtitsa, Veliko Tarnovo, Rila Mountain, with day trips, so in this way you will not need to change the hotel every day and you can have a flexible time for your visit: from four days to one week, depending on how much you would like to see from the whole country.
Last but not least – Bulgarians like to party! Therefore, Sofia is full with different types of piano bars, lounge bars and discoes. So, if your group is interested in discovering the local nightlife, there are plenty of options here suitable for every taste which can be found here!
As a conclusion, as you see Bulgaria is one great place, just waiting for you to discover it!
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