35 Best Places to Visit in Bulgaria

35 Best Places to Visit in Bulgaria
© Георги Димитров | Dreamstime.com

Bulgaria is not only a vacation for the small purse and for party lovers. Bulgaria offers scenic diversity: fine sandy, gently sloping beaches and a unique dune landscape can be found along the coast. The summer months here with high temperatures and many hours of sunshine offer the ideal conditions for a successful beach vacation. The backcountry has several mountain ranges, beautiful nature reserves and forests – here active vacationers and nature lovers get their money’s worth. In addition, there are many historical sights.

Let us inspire you with our list of the 35 best places to visit in Bulgaria.

35. Burgas

© Elkamilo | Dreamstime.com

The port city of Burgas, the fourth largest city in Bulgaria, is located directly on the Black Sea on the Bay of Burgas and represents the cultural, political and economic center of the region. Artifacts discovered near the city center, the oldest archaeological objects ever found on the Black Sea coast, indicate that the area was inhabited as early as 6000 BC.

Today, vacationers in Burgas, which has one of the largest ports and busiest airports in the country, will find a wealth of historical, architectural and cultural highlights, as well as a diverse cultural calendar with countless events. For example, the Petko Sadgorski Municipal Art Gallery, housed in the former synagogue, the informative Archaeological Museum, the Historical Museum, the traditional Puppet Theater, the Nesi Gallery or the imposing Cathedral of Holy Brothers Kiril and Methodius, built in 1897, are waiting to be discovered. In the Sea Garden, the green lung of Burgas stretching for kilometers along the beach, a variety of cultural events are organized.

In addition, the city, framed by three lakes – Lake Atanasov, Lake Burgas and Lake Mandra, boasts numerous natural attractions. Visitors will find numerous varied nature reserves in the immediate vicinity of Burgas, such as the internationally significant breeding and resting areas of Poda, Lake Mandra and Burgas/Lake Vaya.

About ten kilometers from the city center, the famous mineral baths of Burgas can be visited.

34. Varna

© Eduard Zayonchkovski | Dreamstime.com

Due to its location, Varna is an important transportation hub, at least for the northeast of the country. The international airport of Varna is the third most important in the country. In addition, Varna is also home to the port of Burgas, which is the second largest port in Bulgaria, as an important transport artery. Varna hosted both the Bulgarian Railway and the Orient Express on their last stop. Varna is close to the summer resorts and benefits from them through lively tourism.

It is also the cultural center of northeast Bulgaria and internationally known for the festivals held here. The oldest gold treasure in the world is well secured in the Archaeological Museum in Varna.

Varna, also written as Varna, was a habitat for people as early as the Copper Age. Over the centuries, cultures changed, and after the last battles between Russia and the Ottoman Empire, Varna experienced an economic boom from 1840. Sights of the city are, for example, the Cathedral of Our Lady, but also non-sacral institutions, such as the Aquarium, the Folklore Museum or the State Opera. Fountains gush from a water feature in the evening, illuminated in several colors. Byzantine thermal baths from the 4th-6th centuries AD bring thermal springs of water to the surface.

33. Rila Monastery

Rila Monastery
© Dennis Van De Water | Dreamstime.com

The Rila Monastery is idyllically secluded in a valley that cuts into the Rila Mountains from the west side. It is one of the largest Orthodox monasteries and is included in the UNESCO World Heritage List. The northern side of the valley rises a few hundred meters above the monastery. Behind the northern side of the valley is the mountain peak Maljovitsa.

For vacationers who like hiking, the area of the Rila Mountains is ideal. To and around the monastery there is a beautiful mountain landscape with great views. For example, it is a day hike from the monastery to the Maljovitza mountain hut.

The monastery was founded in the 10th century by the monk Ivan Rilski. In the Middle Ages the monastery was richly endowed and developed into a center of spiritual and cultural life in Bulgaria. In 1378 the monastery was granted extensive privileges by Tsar Ivan Shishman. Numerous writers, artists and builders left manuscripts, wall paintings, wood carvings, liturgical vessels and icons.

32. Plovdiv

© Rosshelen | Dreamstime.com

The Bulgarian city of Plovdiv was founded as early as 6,000 BC in the Thracian Plain on the banks of the Maritsa River in the shadow of the Rhodope Mountains. With its eight-thousand-year history, the city built by the Thracians on six hills represents one of the oldest and at the same time one of the longest continuously inhabited cities in Bulgaria. Today the metropolis is the second largest city in the country.

The long and eventful history of the city is evident from the abundance of stone witnesses in numerous places and squares. Thus, culturally and historically interested visitors will find numerous highlights worth a detour. Strolling through the streets and alleys of the picturesque old town of Plovdiv with its countless buildings and architectural monuments of the National Revival, for example, one feels transported back in time more than a century.

In addition to theaters, such as the traditional Puppet Theater or the United Opera House, and informative museums, such as the informative Archaeological Museum or the Historical Museum, a multitude of other historical buildings are waiting to be discovered. In addition to the Old Mosque with its Byzantine masonry and the Nebet Tepe Archaeological Park, for example, the Ancient Theater, one of the most impressive buildings from the Roman period, and the horseshoe-shaped Roman Stadium, located under the city’s shopping districts, are worth a visit.

31. Sofia

Alexander Nevsky Cathedral in Sofia
© Varsescu | Dreamstime.com

Sofia, the Bulgarian capital, is located on a vast plain in the west of the country near the border with Serbia and is considered the cultural, economic and political center. The lively metropolis, whose cityscape is dominated by the silhouettes of the peaks of the Vitosha Mountains, looks back on an extremely long and eventful past. It is believed that the city was founded more than 5,000 years ago, but recent archaeological discoveries prove that a Stone Age settlement existed on this site as early as 8,000 years ago. Thus, Sofia represents one of the oldest cities in all of Europe.

The long history has left its traces in countless places and squares of the city, so that visitors here today can see a wealth of interesting cultural sights and monuments.

In addition to various theaters, such as the Ivan Vazov National Academic Theater or the Sofia Theater, for example, numerous parks, such as the Vitosha Nature Park or the centrally located Boris Park, and museums, such as the informative Archaeological Museum in the former mosque Bujuk Dzhamiya, the diverse National Art Gallery or the Ethnographic Museum, are waiting to be discovered.

Among the most famous buildings of the metropolis are the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, the impressive landmark of Sofia, the Church of Boyana, declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Monument of the Liberator in honor of the Russian Tsar Alexander II or the Cathedral Sveta Nedelya.

30. Karnobat

© Andrey Andreev | Dreamstime.com

The southeastern Bulgarian city of Karnobat, located in a basin on the Upper Thracian Plain, has been an important administrative center since the 15th century. Today, the city, which has been freed from five centuries of Turkish foreign rule since January 1878, is also an important railroad transportation center between northern and southern Bulgaria.

Visitors will find a wealth of sights in Karnobat. The most famous highlight of the city is the imposing Markeli Fort, located a few kilometers outside Karnobat in the medieval settlement of Markeli. The fort, built between the 7th and 11th centuries AD and remodeled several times, served as a military and political center of the tense Byzantine-Bulgarian relations in the 8th and 9th centuries.

In Karnobat, the impressive Black Mosque, built in 1821, and the Sveti Joan Bogoslov Church, built in 1878 on the foundations of an older church destroyed by the Turks in January 1878, are also worth a visit. The remarkable clock tower in particular is well worth seeing.

Other tourist highlights of the city are, for example, the extensive Jewish cemetery or the Turkish bath, which can be found in the middle of the charming old town. The hamam was inaugurated as early as the 15th century and is today considered one of the best-preserved buildings of its kind in the entire south of the country.

29. Vidin

© Atanas Paskalev | Dreamstime.com

The city of Vidin, located on the right bank of the Danube in the extreme northwest of Bulgaria, was founded as early as the 3rd century BC. Thus, Vidin represents one of the oldest cities within the borders of modern Bulgaria. In the immediate vicinity of the city, archaeologists discovered the traces of a Stone Age and Copper Age settlement.

Visitors to Vidin will find an extraordinary wealth of culturally and historically interesting sights, as they will come across stone witnesses of the long history in countless places and sites in the semi-circular port city facing the Danube. The most famous tourist highlight of the city is the imposing Baba Wida fortress, protected by a moat. The only completely preserved medieval fort in the country is included in the “100 National Tourist Objects of Bulgaria”.

Of the city fortress of Vidin, a large part of the once 13 stately gates are still preserved, including the impressive stone-built Istanbul City Gate, which is the main gate.

Other sights in Vidin include the historical museum “Konaka”, the cross barracks Krastata Kasarma, the mighty cathedral Sveti Dimitar, the second largest house of worship in Bulgaria, the churches Sveta Petka and Sveti Pantalejmon, the mosque Osman Paswantoglu and the impressive synagogue. In the immediate vicinity of the city, the Boschuritsa Forest is worth a visit, the only forest in the entire region composed of tall oak trees.

28. Gold Beach

Gold Beach, Bulgaria
© Elenaphotos | Dreamstime.com

The fine-grained and golden shimmering sand probably gave the beach its name. It is formed by grinding shells and, unlike its counterpart Sunny Beach, its name is not an invention of the tourism industry, but a name that has existed for a long time.

The promenades along Gold Beach are modern and diverse. Large and small hotels, restaurants and bars, stores and more line up and crowd close together, offering vacationers the variety they desire. Everything is geared towards tourism. Between June and August is the high season on the Gold Beach. However, the bathing season lasts from May to October. Due to the construction of luxury apartments, the beach is supposed to be busy all year round.

Meanwhile, the Gold Beach is one of the biggest tourist highlights and is often compared with Mallorca. This comparison may well be justified, because more than 10 different discotheques can be found here on the promenade. In addition, in the summer, the well-known greats of show business perform here.

27. Ruse

Ruse, Bulgaria
© Stoyan Haytov | Dreamstime.com

The city of Ruse, the fifth largest city in Bulgaria, is considered the cultural center of northern Bulgaria thanks to its diverse architectural, historical and cultural highlights, the Drama and Opera Houses, the TV Tower with an observation deck, the traditional Puppet Theater, a renowned art gallery and several universities. Stretching along the banks of the Danube near the mouth of the Russenski Lom River, the city looks back on a checkered past since its founding by the Romans at the beginning of the 2nd century AD as the port city of Sexaginta Prista.

Today, the city offers a wealth of sights that testify to Russes long history. For example, you can visit the “Pantheon of the Fighters of Rebirth”, the largest memorial in the city, with its large gilded dome. Here 30 famous freedom fighters found their last resting place.

Strolling through the picturesque city center, you will see countless beautiful buildings in the Baroque and Renaissance styles, which is why Ruse is nicknamed “Little Vienna”. But also, for example, the Historical Museum, the Museum of Transport, the observation deck of the 204-meter high TV Tower, the tallest building in the country, the People’s Theater Sawa Ognjanow or the imitated Statue of Liberty should not be missed.

Via the Giurgiu-Ruse Friendship Bridge, the longest steel bridge in Europe, Ruse is connected with the Romanian border town of Giurgui, located on the other bank of the Danube.

26. Arbanasi

© Smokelmt | Dreamstime.com

About 1 1/2 hours from Rousse is the present museum village of Arbanasi. It is known mainly for its richly painted churches – like the old church of the Nativity of Christ with its magnificent icon paintings – and for its artists’ market. The small town houses look a bit like small fortresses. Once wealthy merchants settled in Arbanassi. Stroll through the cobblestone streets and let the special charm of this little town work its magic on you.

25. Pobiti Kamani

Pobiti Kamani
© Mihail Ivanov | Dreamstime.com

The natural phenomenon “Pobiti Kamani”, also known as “stone forest” and “Dikilitash”, spreads over an area of 7 km2 and is located about 18-20 km from Varna and a few kilometers from the town of Beloslav.

This stone formation is a group of stone columns up to 10 m high, hollow or dense cylinders, truncated cones, different by shape and size stone blocks and a large number of individual stones scattered all over the site. “Pobiti Kamani” were a sacred place in deep antiquity, but first documented in 1829. To protect this natural phenomenon, it was declared a protected area. For millennia, nature has been shaping stones, turning them into impressive sculptures, reminiscent of people, animals, monsters, mythical creatures and given appropriate names. “The Stone Guardian”, “The Camel”, “The Throne”, “The Stone Forest” are names of only a part of these natural sculptures.

Especially impressive and attractive for tourists is the formation “Dikilitash Group”. It is located 18 km west of Varna. Here more than 300 stone pillars are arranged on a long narrow strip with dimensions about 850 m x 120 m. Another 50 stone columns are located a little further south in a smaller group. Some columns are broken into two or more pieces, the others lie on the ground as if they were torn out, some form interesting sculptural groups.

24. Perperikon

Remaining of The ancient Thracian city of Perperikon, Bulgaria
© Stoyan Haytov | Dreamstime.com

In the south of Bulgaria, in the Eastern Rhodopes, is the famous archaeological complex Perperikon. The partially preserved stone ruins of the millennia-old complex, the largest settlement from the Stone Age in the Balkans, can be visited today. The complex is composed of a fortress, a temple or palace, and two outer cities.

About 8,000 years ago, Perperikon represented a Stone Age rock sanctuary. Since then it functioned, among other things, as a sacred rock city as well as Thracian capital, where the royal palace was also located. After the Thracians had settled here continuously for more than three millennia, later Romans, Byzantines, Goths and Bulgarians also lived in the city. Perperikon was still inhabited until the 14th century BC.

The Thracian temple discovered here, the ancient rock city and a cult complex is of the greatest archaeological importance. The temple complex probably served as a sanctuary for the Thracian weather god Zagreus.

The complex is built on a rocky plateau, so that from here you can enjoy a breathtaking view of the valley and the surrounding area. Perperikon cannot be seen from the valley. Therefore, archaeologists had to search for more than 100 years for the legendary complex, already famous from ancient times. Finally, since the year 2000, Perperikon has been scientifically researched and uncovered.

23. Koprivshtitsa

Street and houses in the old town of Koprivshtitsa
© Meunierd | Dreamstime.com

Koprivshitsa is one of the best preserved old towns, and its typical atmosphere comes from the 19th century.

Together with its surroundings, the town forms a must in everyone’s visit list. Lingering in the romantic atmosphere of past centuries, it is interesting to know that the first shot of the 1876 uprising against the Ottoman Empire was fired here. Respected public figures have lived in this city, where the development of Bulgarian architecture of the Revival period can be seen at every turn.

The city is also widely known for the Koprivshiza Folklore Festival, which brings together folklore artists from all over the country every five years.

22. Sozopol

Sozopol, Bulgaria
© Emicristea | Dreamstime.com

The city was known for its wine, but also for the trade in fish and was also an important transhipment port for grain from Greece. Later Sozopol became a bishop’s seat and since the 20th century the town has been a popular destination for tourists from all over Europe. It is the beautiful beaches and also the historical buildings that make Sozopol so interesting, as the old town has been declared an open-air museum. Thus, all those who stroll through this historic old town, make a small time travel through the past of the Bulgarian city.

The old town of Sozopol, like the ancient city, is located on the Skamnij peninsula. Steep winding streets, cobblestones and the typical houses of the region determine the image of the historical old town. 180 houses from the 18th and 19th century belong to the old town of Sozopol, but also a museum, small stores, art galleries, churches as well as former city monasteries and the old city wall.

The special thing about the old houses in Sozopol is their unique construction, because the foundation is made of stones, but the actual house is made of half-timbering. Particularly interesting is the Marieta Stefanova house, which was built into the city wall.

The Kurdidi House is home to the Ethnographic Museum and the Kurtidi House is an inn from Thracian times. The fortifications of Sozopol are also imposing. High above the city stands the Burchama Fortress. The Malkoto Kale fortress also stands elevated on a hill and it was considered the most important defensive fortress of the city in ancient times. Those who want to enjoy a particularly good view of the city should visit the lighthouse on the island of Sveti Ivan.

21. Nesebar

© Dechev | Dreamstime.com

Nesebar is UNESCO world cultural and natural heritage. This is due to its old town, which is an open-air museum and a monument of urban architecture. Many historical buildings and a unique location make it always worth a visit. The millenary history of the city is reflected in the churches, chapels and also in the old fortress walls, which have been partially rebuilt only recently.

The largest medieval building in Nesebar is the Johanes Aliturgetos Church above the sea and harbor. The 13th/14th century Christos Pantokrator Church in the main square of the old town is also impressive and a highlight of Bulgarian medieval architecture. At the entrance to the peninsula, the remains of the once mighty fortress walls from the 5th and 14th centuries can be seen.

But also the approx. 80 buildings, which were built in the time of the Bulgarian national “rebirth” invite to the visit. These houses belong to the so-called “Black Sea Typos”, where the basement was built of thick stone walls and the upper floors of wood.

20. Belogradchik

© Nataliya Nazarova | Dreamstime.com

Bizarre and unreal, the pointed rocks rise out of a sea of green. It looks as if a giant hand had simply thrown stones into the landscape.

These boulders were left behind when a mighty ocean dried up about two hundred million years ago. The inhabitants of Belogradchik have given nicknames to the bizarre stone formations: The Elephant, The Cobra, The Camel, or Adam and Eve’s First Kiss. With a little imagination, you can immediately recognize the figures.

From the top, the view of the vast plain is truly breathtaking. A fascinating calm emanates from these stones. Mighty giants that have outlasted the millennia. The rocks have stood here just as they did when the Roman legions or Ottoman troops passed through these woods. Time seems to be infinite here.

In the face of the mighty forces of nature that have worked here, one feels quite small. Somehow there is something mystical about this place.

Even the ancient Romans took advantage of the view over the entire area and built a fortress up here by the rocks. Later, the Ottomans came and, with the help of Italian and French builders, had an even larger castle built. On the one hand, of course, they wanted to consolidate their power, but on the other hand, the fortification in this extraordinary landscape also served to demonstrate their splendor and strength.

19. Kaliakra

© Aleksandar Todorovic | Dreamstime.com

Cape Kaliakra and the archaeological reserve located on its territory are 12 km southeast of the town of Kavarna. It is a vast and narrow rocky peninsula, about 2 km into the sea. This is one of the most attractive places for tourists on the Black Sea coast, because of its rich history, preserved nature and beautiful panoramic view.

Many legends and stories are connected with Cape Kaliakra. The most famous one tells about 40 Bulgarian girls who jumped from the rock into the sea to save themselves from the Ottoman Turks. The cape was named after one of these girls – Kaliakra.

18. Zheravna

Bulgarian landmark of Zheravna village
© Sitriel | Dreamstime.com

The village of Zheravna spreads over the southern slopes of two small hills in the east of the Balkan Mountains. The houses of the village are situated behind high stone walls, they have wide roof overhangs and thus make good use of the small footprint. The majority of the building structure is well preserved. All of them are built in the style of wooden houses. As a typical feature, the houses in Zheravna are oriented to the south.

The older one-story houses are built entirely of wood. Later two-story houses have a ground floor made of stone. The facades are horizontally articulated, emphasized by the projecting second floor and the strongly projecting roof overhangs. A porch surrounds the houses and leads to the living rooms, behind which are the storage rooms. Rosettes, star-shaped figures, stylized plants and animal motifs decorate the cupboards, shelves, walls, ceilings and doors. Winding staircases, chapels, colorful carpets and upholstery give the Zheravna house a magical fascination.

Among the sights are the houses of Sava Filaretov from 1851, Roissi Chorbadzhi from the 18th-19th centuries with exceptional achievements in terms of the internal form of Bulgarian woodcarving.

17. Veliko Tarnovo

Veliko Tarnovo
© Emicristea | Dreamstime.com

Veliko Tarnovo is the medieval capital of Bulgaria with more than 7000 years of history. The houses are built amphitheater-like and crowd the partly steep hills and streets, which gives the city an externally picturesque and original appearance. Archaeological excavations show that the three hills Zarevez, Trapesiza and Sveta Gora were inhabited since ancient times. The inhabitants of this area were the Thracians, whose culture can be seen in the exhibition in the historical museum of the town.

The period of prosperity begins after the successful uprising of the two boyar brothers Assen and Peter. Tarnovo becomes the capital of the second Bulgarian Empire (1187 – 1393). During the conquest of Bulgaria by the Ottoman Empire in 1393, the rise of Veliko Tarnovo is interrupted. In the era of the Bulgarian Revival, the city begins to flourish again economically and culturally. Crafts developed, trade flourished, beautiful houses, public buildings and churches were built.

Today the city is still a center of the Bulgarian spirit and culture. The destination of many vacationers is the Tsarevets Hill, where once the Tsar’s castles were enthroned. Here you can see remains of the throne room, the palace church and preserved decorative ornaments and elements.

At the very top of the hill is the Patriarch’s Castle. This important historical fortress is surrounded by ramparts, which were guarded by protective towers. The Balduin Tower is a witness to the strength of the Bulgarian Empire, because it was there that the Roman emperor Balduin, arrested by the tsar Kaloyan, met his death.

16. Bansko

© Nataliya Nazarova | Dreamstime.com

Equally attractive in all four seasons, the city offers diverse opportunities for vacation and recreation. The popularity of Bansko is based on the wonderful conditions for skiing vacations, combined with traditional folklore and the old Bulgarian architecture.

Besides Borovetz, Bansko is the second famous ski resort in Bulgaria, offering the best snow conditions from December to April. The alpine character of the Pirin Mountains guarantees excellent conditions for professional and amateur skiing. At an altitude of 936 to 2580 meters, skiers and snowboarders will find a total of 13 lifts, including the newly built cable car, transport skiers quickly and slopes of all levels of difficulty offer something for everyone. For snowboarders there is a fun park and there is also a trail for cross-country skiing. An artificial snow facility is also available, as well as the possibility of night skiing. After the skiing fun continues with après-ski and extensive nightlife in bars, discos and typical Bulgarian restaurants.

The modern center of Bansko mixes with the typical old Bulgarian houses. Here the guests come in contact with the Bulgarian folklore, with the unique art and cultural heritage, typical for the area.

15. Sunny Beach

Sunny Beach, Bulgaria
© Atanas Paskalev | Dreamstime.com

It has only developed into a lively vacation destination with a diverse gastronomic landscape. For a long time it was a resort for the working population of Bulgaria. The fantastic sandy beach offers everything for young and old that one could wish for on vacation in such a place. From sunbathing and water bathing to sporting activities and relaxing, it has it all.

Sunny Beach is a good starting point for day trips to the surrounding area. The Ropotamo Nature Reserve is a good place for this. Ropotoma is the river that meanders through the ecologically protected area. Here you can still find beautiful flora and fauna in swampy areas, which can be crossed by boat on guided tours. Hikers are also allowed to use the reserve on the designated trails. Not far away is the appealing town of Sozopol, which is well worth a visit.

Just a few kilometers south from Sunny Beach you will also find Nesebar with its charming wooden house romance.

14. Pamporovo

© Dudlajzov | Dreamstime.com

The ski season lasts from December to the end of April, with 150 days of snow. Almost all ski slopes of the tourist resort start from the Snejanke peak. They have a total length of 18 kilometers and a capacity of 7000 people per hour. You can find ski slopes of all levels of difficulty, so skiers and snowboarders of all levels can be served. The longest slope stretches for 3.1 kilometers down to the valley.

Every evening the hotels offer a program to the holidaymakers, which mainly brings Bulgarian folklore closer. According to a legend, all animals and people remain silent when singers sing Bulgarian songs. The traditions have been preserved even today and if you have come to this beautiful mountain as a guest, you should take some time and listen to the songs. But also for the friends of après-ski is well provided with numerous bars and discos.

One should not miss the panorama bar in the television tower of Pamporovo. The tower is located on the Snejanka peak at an altitude of 2082 meters. The unique view of all the ski slopes, the hotel complexes and south to the Rila and Pirin mountains is fantastic. Here you can take a break from skiing or hiking with a cup of coffee and cake or lunch.

In the summer Pamporovo is a popular place for hiking. The original vegetation with coniferous trees more than 100 years old, fresh air and the sunny but fresh summer days, invite you to explore.

13. Pirin National Park

Pirin National Park
© Anna Orlova | Dreamstime.com

The Pirin Mountains are wild and unspoiled, with some 40 peaks over 2,500 meters high. Its northern part was declared a national park in 1962 and included in the UNESCO list of natural forest heritage in 1983. In April, at the foot of the Pirin, the Karakachan herd begins its uprising. For several years now, these particularly tough domestic animals have been reintroduced to the Pirin.

The strong, fearless Karakachan dogs are supposed to protect cattle herds from the surrounding villages from wolves. The very rare eagle buzzards breed on the karst rocks in the lower parts of the Pirin, the chamois have their territory on the plateaus, and in the Mediterranean southern part of the mountains the Aesculapian snakes feel at home on dry, stony ground.

There are three national parks in Bulgaria. The smallest of them, covering 400 square kilometers, not only offers a wide variety of habitats for many animals and plants, it is also a paradise for nature lovers who do not shy away from arduous ascents and love solitude. Hiking trails lead through centuries-old snakeskin pine and wide fir forests, as well as across immense rocky fields to some of the peaks of Pirin.

12. Balchik

© Dudlajzov | Dreamstime.com

Balchik is a beautiful little harbor town in the northernmost part of Bulgaria, which impresses every vacationer with all its historical sights and the great location, far away from mass tourism. The small dreamy town, also called the white town is located directly on the Black Sea, on the extensive Gold Beach, in the Bulgarian oblast of Dobrich. The town itself has 13,095 inhabitants and attracts tourists every year, who admire it in all its beauty and diversity.

Not far from the big city of Varna, it is quite possible for vacationers to reach their destination comfortably. Balchik is a town with historical background, which has changed its nationality several times in its history. For example, from 1913 to 1940 Balchik belonged to Romania before it was returned to Bulgarian custody. During this time, one of the most famous sights of the town was built, the picturesque castle of the past Romanian Queen Maria with its botanical garden.

In addition to the castle as a historical monument, the resort town of Balchik with its dreamy old town and beautiful alleys, small cafes and restaurants with traditional food and finally with the typical bazaar of the country also offers the opportunity to simply switch off while strolling through the city and enjoy without the usual mass tourism.

11. Kazanlak

Ancient Thracian tomb in Kazanlak, Bulgaria
© Pbnewbg | Dreamstime.com

Near the ancient Thracian capital Seuthopolis, the Thracian tomb was discovered in 1944. The domed tomb with brick vault is dated to the 4th century BC. In 1979 the Thracian tomb at Kazanlak was included in the UNESCO World Heritage List. It is considered the best preserved Thracian cultural monument in Bulgaria and is part of a large Thracian necropolis (burial and votive site). The tomb consists of a rectangular antechamber, a narrow corridor and a round burial chamber with a dome.

The vestibule and burial chamber are decorated with ancient wall paintings and depict a couple at a funeral feast in the burial dome. A man and a woman were buried there. In the Tyulbeto Park, next to the Thracian tomb, there is a 1:1 scale copy of its architecture, wall paintings and archaeological materials.

10. Etara

© Msgagov | Dreamstime.com

Etara is an open-air museum located – near the mountain town of Gabrovo – in the valley of a foaming mountain stream.

Arts and crafts of former times are practiced here. Once the crafts were an inseparable part of the “charsiya”, the traditional bazaars, and an authentically successful reconstruction of such a Bulgarian market forms the central part of the museum complex.

Strolling through the alleys, one has the opportunity to watch the craftsmen at work or to enter the bakery to buy one of the simid buns, a specialty of Gabrovo. Both the old water mill and workshops for woodworking or braiding use the power of water. Beautiful pottery is made in the pottery workshop, and various round vessels are made in the wood milling workshop and are available for purchase.

9. Tryavna

© Stanimirxristov | Dreamstime.com

The city is located at the northern foot of the Middle Balkan Mountains (Trevnenski Balkan), on the picturesque Drjanovska River.

Thanks to its unique urban architecture, healthy climate and well-developed tourist services, Trjavna is one of the most visited cities in Bulgaria.

Trjavna is among the few Bulgarian towns with an almost completely preserved settlement structure from the era of the Bulgarian Revival (18th-19th centuries). The unique buildings, typical courtyards and alleys turn the town into an outstanding cultural monument. The old part of the town and the historical architectural ensemble Angel Kanchev have been declared a historical architectural reserve.

The architecture of the Revival period is also present in P.R. Slavejkov Street, where a whole historical architectural ensemble has been developed.

The Trjavna School of Painting was founded in the Revival period. There were famous masters of icon painting and wood carving who worked for more than a century all over the country – Papa Vitan Stari and his relatives from the Vitanov family, the families Zachariev, Popdimitrov, Minjov, as well as D. Oschaneza, N. Dragoschinov, etc. The peak of their artistic activity was recorded in the 60s of the 19th century.

8. Veliki Preslav

Veliki Preslav
© Desislava Vasileva | Dreamstime.com

During the Roman period, between the 1st to the 6th century AD Veliko Tarnovo was fortified. The Romans were followed by the Byzantines until the two Boljarian sons and later tsars, Assen and Peter, called for an uprising against the Byzantines in the Sveti-Georgi Patriarchal Church inside their fortress Tsarevets, on the hill Zarawez. After two years the uprising ended in the independence of Northern Bulgaria. Veliko Tarnovo was the capital of the Second Bulgarian Empire, also known as Northern or Danubian Bulgaria, between the 12-14 centuries. During this period the city expanded to a total of three hills: Zarevez (the hill of the tsars), Trapesitsa and Sveta Gora. After the Ottoman invasion in the 14th century, the fortress was almost completely razed to the ground. In the 1970s, reconstruction of the entire complex began.

7. Pliska

© 2bears | Dreamstime.com

Pliska was between 681-981 on an area of 23 km² not only the largest fortified and walled city in Europe, even before Constantinople (14.5 km²). Here, in fact, the Cyrillic alphabet was also invented. From the city with its 12m high wall started in the 9th century the way of orthodox Christianity to neighboring countries of the East to northern Russia. In the nearby museum you can see various everyday objects as well as other finds from the city.

Between the 9-11 century, the basilica outside the city walls of Pliska, completed in 875, was the residence of the Archbishop of Bulgaria and also one of the largest cathedrals in Europe.

6. Melnik

The Pyramids of Melnik
© Dulbokidol | Dreamstime.com

The Pyramids of Melnik, located in the extreme southwest of the Pirin Mountains near the Bulgarian town of Melnik, are a significant natural phenomenon: heavily eroded sandstone pillars, composed of a mixture of sand and clay, rise to form earth pyramids up to 100 meters high. From the grayish-white Pliocene sand of the region, together with clay minerals, a layer of weathered rocks up to 150 meters high has piled up in the course of history, from which the pyramids have formed.

Groups of small and large eroded natural pyramids rise all around the small town of Melnik, all the way to the Roschen Monastery. A popular hiking trail, which leads to the monastery complex in about an hour and a half walk, takes the hiker directly through the striking sandstone pillars.

The most famous of these pyramids of Melnik represents a group of sandstone formations located near the village of Karlanovo. The pillars there rise especially high into the air. In addition, among other things, recreation homes as well as other tourist accommodations have been established here.

5. Seven Rila Lakes

The seven lakes of Rila
© Tbaeff | Dreamstime.com

The seven lakes of Rila are located in the northwestern part of the Bulgarian Rila Mountains. Many hikers and vacationers decide every year to make a tour to this breathtaking natural spectacle. The lakes are located at an altitude of 2100 to 2500 meters. Each lake has a name, which was created by its shape or certain features.

There are a few routes to the 7 Rila lakes, but the most used routes start from Sapareva Banya, Rila Monastery or Maljovitza. No matter which hiking route you take, the view is magnificent everywhere.

From the Damka peak you can look into the crystal clear waters of the three lowest lakes, the other four still remain hidden behind the steep slope of the mountain. If you descend from there, the highest lake – Salzata – emerges. Coming from the north-eastern side of the slope, you will see the second lake – Okoto -, or Sartzeto.

To the east there are precipices and wild streams that rise from these two lakes. In winter this place is very dangerous and only very experienced climbers can pass it.

Next comes Lake Babreka, surrounded to the east by a large moraine. Below it, hidden in the deep cirque is Lake Bliznaka. Still further down, the grasslands become wider and wider and at the lowest point, where the seventh lake Dolnoto ezero is located, the barren landscape has already become a green carpet.

4. Trigrad Gorge

Trigrad Gorge
© Krasimir Kanchev | Dreamstime.com

Bulgaria’s gorges are also among the country’s tourist attractions. One of them is the Trigradsko Zhdrelo on the Trigradska River of the same name in the Rhodope Mountains near the town of Trigrad, which lies at an average altitude of 1450 meters above sea level.

With a lot of effort the river itself makes its way between the rocks to arrive wild and roaring in the gorge. The Trigradsko Zhdrelo, with a total length of 7 kilometers, impresses with its austere beauty, which is mainly concentrated in the 2 to 3 kilometers of the main part. Beautiful looking, imposing marble rock spurs rise majestically on both sides of the river up to a height of 250 meters in some places.

A special natural phenomenon of the Trigradsko Zhdrelo is the “Devil’s Neck” – Bulgarian “Djavolskoto garlo” – where the water falls over a 42-meter-high waterfall into said cave, to emerge again – like a karst spring – on the surface after about half a kilometer. Through a man-made gallery, the visitor can reach the bottom of the water flow. About 300 steps then lead back up along the waterfall.

Numerous stories – such as that of Orpheus and his beloved Eurydice – have been told about this cave. But the fact is that Bulgaria’s largest cave bat colony spends the winter here. Trigradsko Zhdrelo – whose many steps and suspension bridges alone are worth seeing – is illuminated and open to the public.

3. Ahtopol

© Stoyan Haytov | Dreamstime.com

Ahtopol, one of the smallest towns in Bulgaria, is located in close proximity to the Turkish border on the coast of the Black Sea. At the gates of the popular resort, situated on a rocky peninsula, rises the imposing Strandscha Mountains, which are protected in the largest nature reserve in the country. The mountain range with its unique landscape and varied flora and fauna is an excellent destination for a day trip as a change from a carefree beach vacation.

For a beach vacation Ahtopol is made for: the picturesque postcard beach of the small town stretches over a length of about two kilometers and invites recreation seekers to relax and sunbathe in the fine, golden sand. But also bathing mermaids and water sports enthusiasts get their money’s worth in the clear, gently sloping water.

In addition, the average water temperature in Ahtopol is always higher than in other parts of the country. And also the air is always a little warmer on average than elsewhere.

According to archaeological findings, the present city area was inhabited as early as 2000 BC. Since then, the town has had a long history.

2. Malko Tarnovo

Malko Tarnovo
© Dudlajzov | Dreamstime.com

The southeastern Bulgarian town of Malko Tarnovo is situated not far from the Turkish border in a picturesque location in the middle of the imposing Strandzha Mountains in the reserve of Vitanovo, which is part of the Strandzha Nature Park, the largest nature reserve in the country.

The town in its present form was built at the end of the 17th century on the foundations of a former Thracian settlement, of which many dolmens, ancient sanctuaries and tumuli are still preserved and can be visited. In the wider surroundings of Malko Tarnovo there is a wealth of significant Thracian finds waiting to be discovered. According to legend, an Egyptian princess also found her final resting place in the vicinity.

Thus, the two famous Thracian domed tombs in Propada and Mishkowa Niwa, located not far from the town, are among the greatest historical sights in Malko Tarnovo. The impressive marble-block burial grounds for Thracian aristocrats, which were still in use during the Roman period, are considered an outstanding example of Thracian monumental architecture from the 5th to 3rd centuries BC.

1. Valley of Roses

Bulgarian Valley of Roses
© Petarpaunchev | Dreamstime.com

The Bulgarian Valley of Roses: Here, countless white, pink and red roses are strung together, creating a breathtaking sight against the backdrop of the Balkan Mountains.

Since the beginning of the 18th century, the fragrant plants have been grown in the Bulgarian town of Kansanlak. As the largest exporter of the precious rose oil, the picturesque country supplies 70 percent of the world’s production – so the chances that you will find one or the other fragrant care product with oil from the Rose Valley in your bathroom are pretty good! Early in the morning, the petals from which the nourishing essence is extracted are harvested. This requires many hardworking hands: a whole three tons of blossoms are needed to obtain one liter of rose oil. As an economic branch, the cultivation of roses is of such great importance that the country’s typical Damascene rose, with its heavy fragrance and strong, pink blossoms, is even considered Bulgaria’s national symbol.

If you want to smell the fragrance of Bulgarian oil roses for yourself, you should visit the Valley of Roses in May or June. During these two months, the beautiful flowers unfold their full splendor and exude their pleasant fragrance throughout the valley. Early in the morning you can watch how the flowers are carefully cut off one by one and stowed away in wicker baskets.

Click Video to see the 35 Best Places in Bulgaria