Even though Bulgaria has an old tradition in tourism, it is quite hard to shake the already generic prejudice that the country, is just a cheap and somewhat good alternative to the overpriced Western Europe’s sea side and ski resorts. Once you decide to step off the beaten path, you will find yourself at a loss for words in front of its natural beauty, the humming of its rich fauna, the solemnity of its churches and in front of the stoic silence with which ancient edifices still stand the test of time.
Relax in one of the many mineral water spas along the Black Sea coast.
Go swimming in the Black Sea, or soak up the sun on one of the many picturesque beaches of the Bulgarian coast.
Taste the delicious wine in the town of Melnik, famous for its numerous high-quality wine cellars.
Ski the white slopes of the popular Bansko ski resort.
The spectacular rock-carved churches in Ivanovo, are not something to be missed.
Join a Spelunking adventure in one of the best caves around Bulgaria: Yagodina Cave, Ledenika Cave or The Devil’s throat cave.
Let yourself be enchanted with the gilded sunflower fields that brighten up the country from east to west, in late summer.
Go hiking in the Balkan Mountains.
Take time to stroll around the botanical garden which boasts the biggest collection of cactuses in South – Eastern Europe. The cactus garden was planted more than 80 years ago - meanwhile, most of them became bigger than trees and if you find yourself amongst the lucky ones to visit Balchik during the month of August, you are in for a treat, as you will find them bloomed in all their splendor.
Why not join in the fun of a peculiar ancient folk festival, dating back to pagan times: the Kukeri masks parade. It was believed that the masks protected the ones who wore them, against evil powers – the scarier the mask, the bigger the effect. The grandest Kukeri festival is held in Pernik and it is known as the Surva International Festival of Masquerade Games.
The best time to visit Bulgaria is between May and September. The country has a temperate climate with cold winters and hot summers. The Black Sea coast has a milder climate than the rest of the country, while the Balkan Mountain range influences the rest of the climate, throughout the country. The tallest mountain peaks (above 1000 m) have an alpine climate. During summertime, temperatures in southeastern Bulgaria exceed 40° C, but stay cooler along the coast. The average annual rainfall is 630 mm.
- The capital city of Bulgaria – Sofia – is the only metropolis in Europe located just a 15 minute drive away from an imposing mountain range, with its highest peak, reaching an altitude of no less than 2290 meters.
- One of the facts that make Bulgaria a unique country in Europe, is that since its establishment, it hasn’t changes its name.
- The National instrument is the bagpipe and it is called, Gaida. It has a more basic design than its Scottish counterpart, but is just as fascinating.
- Bulgaria is the world’s main supplier of rose oil, covering more than 70% of the demand. 1000 blossoms from the “Rose Valley” yield only one gram of oil, a prerequisite for the most exquisite perfumes produced by the greatest perfumeries around the world.
- The most scientifically accurate calendar in the world, as declared by UNESCO in 1976, is the Bulgarian calendar.
- If you want to make sure you come to an agreement with the local people, you have to know that Bulgarians nod when they disagree and they shake their heads when they agree.
- Together with the finest works of Mozart and Bach, the “Izlel e Delyu Haydutin” Bulgarian folk song, was sent in outer space on the Voyager I and Voyager II probes, for an eventual encounter with alien forms of life, as a peace message and as a sample of our civilization’s culture, The largest IMAX 3D cinema in the World can be found in Bulgaria.
- Bulgarians have even a unique type of bacteria - Lactobacillus Bulgaricus - found exclusively in Bulgaria and responsible for one of the most flavorful yogurts in the world. In other parts of the world, it can only be grown artificially.
- The oldest Orthodox Church of Slavic origin, can be found in Bulgaria.
- The Cyrillic alphabet was developed during the First Bulgarian Empire (9th Century AD) by the disciples of Cyril and Methodius – two greek monks known as “Apostles to the Slavs”, because their work has contributed significantly to the cultural development of the Slavonic people.
- The European Union has at present, 3 official alphabets amongst which, the Cyrillic one, since the 1st of January, when Bulgaria received the recognition of being the new member of the European Union.
- We can mention loads of brilliant minds in Bulgaria, but just to name a few: Peter Petroff – who invented the first digital wristwatch; Assen Jordanoff – the inventor of the airbag; Radul Milkov and Lieut Prodan Tarakchiev – they have developed for the Bulgarian Air Force, the first bomb that was dropped from the air, during the first Balkan War, in 1912.
- A miniature Eiffel Tower was built in one of the oldest and largest sea side resorts of the Bulgarian coast: the Golden Sands.
- Rila Monastery’s Cross is really a true wonder, being decorated with 140 Bible inspired scenes, which are de facto...microscopic – the largest does not exceed the size of a grain of rice.
- Bulgaria is exceeded only by Greece and Italy, when it comes to valuable archaeological legacies, with more than 15.000 Thracian tombs that were unearthed and await further research to be conducted.
Due to its strategic position, Nesebar attracted multiple antique civilizations like Thracians, Greeks, Romans, Byzantines and Bulgarians who all left their marks on the local traditions and culture. Being continuously inhabited since the 2nd millennium BC, it is one of the oldest settlements in Europe. The new era in the history of Nesebar began during the twentieth century, as the new town began to develop as a holiday resort. In 1956, the old Nesebar was declared an architectural and archaeological reserve being recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, in 1983.
Initially built in the ’20’s, as a summer residence for Queen Maria of Romania, combining elements of Moorish and Mediterranean style architecture, with traditional houses, the castle became famous due to its impressive garden that covers more than 35 hectares. This is the second most important garden of this kind, in Europe, in terms of size and beauty, displaying an impressive variety of tree and plant species from across Europe, as well as an impressive number of exotic ones. Moreover, the garden houses the biggest and most impressive collection of cactuses in South - Eastern Europe. Most of them were planted more than 80 years ago and were turned into actual trees.
160 km from the capital city of Bulgaria, lays the most famous ski resort in Bulgaria: Bansko. Located at the foot of the Pirin Mountains, the resort offers high-quality infrastructure and wonderful weather conditions during wintertime, which are perfect for snowboarding, skiing and fun in the snow. In Bansko, vacations can suit every type of budget, as there are many accommodation options, from International hotel chains like Kempinski, to cozy guesthouses.
Apart from being the second largest city in Bulgaria, it is actually the 6th oldest city in the world. Divided by the Maritsa river, Plovdiv enriches both of the river’s banks with its great history and legacy, going back to the year 4000 BC when the Thracians first settled this land. Later on, it was avidly desired by Greeks, Romans, Turks and Byzantines, alike. The ancient Roman architecture was harmoniously absorbed by modern structures and edifices, two eloquent examples, being: the Komatevsko Shose road integrated in the structure of the ancient aqueduct and the Amphitheatre, which after its restoration is able to host marvelous performances and shows in an inspiring setting.
The winding course of the Yantra river, nestles perfectly in its meanders, the town of Veliko Tarnovo, ideally located at the crossroads of important trading routes, a fact which has facilitated its development from antiquity, to present times. Former capital of the Second Bulgarian Empire, Veliko is one of the most ancient cities in Bulgaria. It emanates history through every cobbled stone and through every crack in the impressive walls of the Tsaravets Fortress, which in past times, was considered unconquerable. The town is as picturesque as it gets, with its beautiful houses, perched on each of the valley’s side, like an amphitheatre. No wonder, Veliko Tarnovo was chosen as the Balkan capital of cultural tourism and voted several times, the most beautiful town in Bulgaria.