Blessed with picturesque, diverse landscapes from golden sandy beaches, vast national parks, rocky peaks, scenic mountains to stunning cities that perfectly blends with its long, beguiling historical narrative, Bulgaria is undeniably one of Europe’s diamond tourism hotspots. Every trip to the country guarantees a memorable experience to any traveler as there is something majestic for everyone to discover in this beautiful nation. Here, take a look at top travel destinations in Bulgaria that should be on your Bulgarian bucket list.
Situated at the edge of the Black Sea, Varna is way beyond than a typical resort town. Sure, its beaches are a huge draw, with its stellar esplanade, lively bars and clubs, and a wide array of seafood restaurants. However, Varna is more than that as it also brimmed ancient cathedrals and Roman bathhouses, plus museums of remarkable architecture and history, enticing every type of traveler.
Boasting a pleasant mix of the old and new, Sofia is undoubtedly one of the country’s most outstanding destinations. It has a rich history, serving as a home to ancient municipal buildings, and churches, but it is also young at heart, giving a contemporary feel with its new boulevards, art galleries, museums, and city parks. No surprise that Bulgaria’s capital and largest city is flocked by many visitors all throughout the year.
Surrounded by sea and some lakes, Burgas is a seaside town that only bloomed in the 20th century but has a distinct beauty. Today, it is a vast industrial center, thanks for its bay that functions as an ideal safeguard for the navy and the trade industries. Don’t fret, though! While it is industrial at heart, there are many accommodations and restaurants you can count on while you explore the sea and the lakes.
Sozopol is the country’s oldest town, founded by the Greeks in 610 BC. Some medieval remnants can still be seen in the town today, like the Christian complex, and an ancient fortress. Adding to that, what tourists enjoy in this town are its stunning seaside resorts, splendid beaches, water sport activities, great dining options, and hip nightlife scene. If you want never-ending fun from day to night, you know where you should be bound.
Colorful houses, such as the Topalova House, Oslekov House, and Dimcho Debelyanov House, hustling markets and public squares, and romantic cobblestoned streets are the signature attractions in Koprivshtitsa. This picturesque, peaceful town is also brimmed with historical and artistic monuments and structures scattered throughout the area, seemingly taking its visitors back in time, and sharing a piece of its impeccable history.
Veliko Tarnovo is a small city that used to be the home of tsars, earning it the label the “City of Tsars.” Protected by the Tsarevets Fortress, the place is enclosed by 3000-feet of stone walls, with some of its areas providing a surreal and scenic view of the surroundings. Once you visit the site, don’t forget to drop by at the famous Monastery of the Holy Transfiguration of God, Asen’s Monument, and the Forty Martyrs Church that features stellar architecture and antiquity.
If you’re planning to visit Bulgaria in the winter, there’s no place else to see than the southwestern town of Bansko, the country’s skiing mecca. Located at the Pirin Mountains’ foot, this town has various snowboard and ski resort areas, apres-ski restaurants, top-notch spas, and a buzzing nightlife that welcomes both winter sports lovers and those who are not fond of slopes.
Nesebar is famous for tourists due to its magnificent structures, which are lasting marks of civilizations that resided in the country through different millennia. Majority of the notable places to visit are churches, such as Church of St. Stephen (11th century), Church of St. Sophia (5th century), and the Church of Christ Pantocrator (13th century). Apart from those landmarks, you can also sunbathe Nesebar’s beaches, splurge on seafood, or engage in water sports, letting you achieve an all-around travel experience.
Rila Monastery is a destination of the extremes; it is the most famous Eastern Orthodox Monastery, the largest monastery in the country, and is hailed as UNESCO World Heritage. Established in the 10th century, it also ranks as one of Bulgaria’s tourist attractions, thanks to its breathtaking domes, vibrant mosaics, and striking arches and staircases. Apart from that, Rila Monastery also plays a significant part in preserving Bulgaria’s art, culture, and literature as it houses many significant paintings and manuscripts.
Bulgaria’s second-largest city and the oldest continuously resided European city, Plovdiv lies on the Maritsa river banks and is surrounded by a backdrop of the Rhodope Mountain Range and Balkan Mountains. It has numerous landmarks, such as churches, the Ruins of Eumolpias, and a Roman Amphitheater. Plus, Plovdiv is also making a name in the wine scene, so you’ll surely enjoy and relax in the different traditional wineries in the area.
Also called Kaleto, Belogradchik provides a different yet still awe-inspiring scenery as its major draws are astounding limestone and rocks formations, hoodoos, and monoliths. Must-see locations include the Belogradchik rocks, Magura Cave, and Kaleto Fortress that all will leave you in amazement.
Situated northeast of the capital city and along the Danube River banks, Ruse is renowned as the country’s “Little Vienna,” for being an essential river port, accentuated by beautiful architecture. It houses over 300 Neo-Rococo and Neo-Baroque structures, plus churches, museums, and other archaeological reserves. It’s also the “land of the firsts”, with the first printing office, first technical school, and first railway line in Bulgaria was established or built in the city.
Though it is the smallest town in Bulgaria, with only a population of less than a 400, Melnik indeed has lots to offer. It has some of the best traditional wineries in the country, which will make you spend time in a tavern, relishing the aroma and taste of wines. If you’re still on the go, make sure to see the St. Nicholas plateau, Kordopulov House, and the Despot Slav’s Fortress for a complete trip.
Pomorie is another town in southeastern Bulgaria but possesses two distinct yet equally impressive sections. First is the old town center home to small hotels, restaurants, and souvenir shops that provide a laid-back ambiance. The other side is the more touristy region, perfect for those who want to enjoy the crowd and one of cleanest Black Sea beaches.
That’s the rundown of the top travel destination in Bulgaria so you can have a great visit to this Balkan country. Do your best to check each of these places, enjoy what unique things and scenery each one has to offer. Rest assured that your Bulgarian trip will be one of your life’s most stirring and memorable.