|Airport City||Sofia International Airport, Plovdiv Airport, Gorna Oryahovitsa Airport, Airport - Varna, Airport Burgas|
|Food||Chushka Biurek (Stuffed Peppers) , Madradjisko (Egg & Cheese in Clay Pot), Shopska Salad|
Autumn : Sep - Nov
Summer : Jun - Aug
Winter : Dec - Feb
Sprint : Mar - May
Sofia is the capital of the Balkan nation of Bulgaria. It’s in the west of the country, below Vitosha Mountain. The city’s landmarks reflect more than 2,000 years of history, including Greek, Roman, Ottoman and Soviet occupation. Medieval Boyana Church has 13th-century frescoes. Built by the Romans in the 4th century, St. George Rotunda Church has medieval and Ottoman decoration dating to the 10th century.
Plovdiv is an ancient city built around 7 hills, in southern Bulgaria. The Regional Archaeological Museum chronicles the city’s history, with exhibits including mosaic panels, clay lamps and early coins. The Roman-era Ancient Theatre of Philippopolis, which once seated around 6,000, now hosts opera and concerts. A 3D movie at the Emperor Hadrian–era Ancient Stadium re-creates Plovdiv in the 2nd century A.D.
Nessebar is a town in Burgas Province, on Bulgaria’s Black Sea coast. The cobbled streets of the old town, which sits on a promontory, are lined with ruins such as Byzantine-era fortifications and baths. The ruins of the 5th-century Church of St. Sofia include stone columns and large arched windows. The 11th-century Church of St. Stephen houses hundreds of mural paintings and a huge, richly decorated altarpiece.
Nesebar is known for its beautiful ruins, and superb beaches. The ancient part of the town is situated on a island connected to the mainland by a narrow man-made causeway, and it bears evidence of occupation by a variety of different civilizations over the course of its existence. The many churches that remain are mostly in ruins, but still a joy to explore. The most famous churches within the city include St.Stefan Church which dates back to the 11th century and The Church of Christ Pantocrator, which was created in the 13th century. The last being a great example of medieval architecture, as it is very well preserved. History aside, visitors frequent the area for its beaches along the Black Sea Coast. It is often called, “The Pearl of the Black Sea”. As such, it is a popular seaside resort destination. It’s most impressive beach is Sunny Beach, but can get quite crowded in the high season
Bansko is a town at the foot of the Pirin Mountains, which are part of Pirin National Park, in southwest Bulgaria. It’s a gateway to numerous ski and snowboard slopes on Todorka Peak, including the challenging Tomba run. Footpaths cross the park’s craggy alpine landscape, home to bears and wolves. The park is also known for the high-altitude Vihren Peak, with forested ridges and striking glacial lakes.
Varna is a port city and seaside resort on Bulgaria's Black Sea, next to the coastal resorts of Golden Sands, St. Konstantin and Albena. It's famous for the "Gold of Varna," 6,000-year-old Thracian jewelry discovered in a necropolis, which is displayed inside the Archaeological Museum, along with Greek, Roman and Ottoman antiquities. A bar-lined waterfront promenade fronts 19th-century Primorski Park.
Varna is Bulgaria’s third largest city, and its most sophisticated seaside city. Like Bulgaria’s other coastal towns, Varna is also steeped in history. The Varna Archaeological Museum has impressive gold exhibits featuring the world’s oldest gold, which was sourced from the area. Otherwise, the Roman Baths are an impressive attraction, which are the largest in Bulgaria. Other striking landmarks, dotted around the city give life to Varnas long history. These include the Baroque Opera House and the Cathedral of the Assumption of the Virgin. There are three main beaches which are frequented in the area. These offer all the joys of beach living, such as seaside restaurants and bars, adventure sports, and loungers. Shopping, accommodation, and spa treatments are world class in the area, and English is widely spoken outside of the local language
Veliko Tarnovo is a town in north central Bulgaria and the administrative centre of Veliko Tarnovo Province.
Often referred as the "City of the Tsars", Veliko Tarnovo is located on the Yantra River and is famously known as the historical capital of the Second Bulgarian Kingdom, attracting many tourists with its unique architecture. The old part of the town is situated on three hills, Tsarevets, Trapezitsa, and Sveta Gora, rising amidst the meanders of the Yantra. On Tsarevets are the palaces of the Bulgarian emperors and the Patriarchate, the Patriarchal Cathedral, and also a number of administrative and residential edifices surrounded by thick walls.
Trapezitsa is known for its many churches and as the former main residence of the nobility. During the Middle Ages, the town was among the main European centres of culture and gave its name to the architecture of the Tarnovo Artistic School, painting of the Tarnovo Artistic School, and to literature. Veliko Tarnovo is an important administrative, economic, educational, and cultural centre of Northern Bulgaria.
Sozopol is an ancient seaside town located 35 km south of Burgas on the southern Bulgarian Black Sea Coast. Today it is one of the major seaside resorts in the country, known for the Apollonia art and film festival that is named after one of the town's ancient names.
The charming seaside town of Sozopol is Bulgaria’s oldest town. It was established in 610 BC by the Greeks, where it became a center for the arts and a place of salvation. Today, there is still archeological evidence of their time spent in Sozopol. However, over the years other empires and rulers came to occupy the land. As such there are remains of a medieval Christian complex, and ancient walls, and fortresses lining the peninsula. These days most people visit the area for the gorgeous seaside resorts that dominate the coastline, fabulous beaches, and romantic cobblestoned streets. The town regularly hosts cultural events, and has great dining and nightlife options. For those that prefer something more exciting than sunbathing, a variety of sports are on-offer at the beaches during the day. These include surfing, jet-skiing, sailing, wakeboarding, and volleyball.
Koprivshtitsa is a historic town in the Koprivshtitsa Municipality in Sofia Province, central Bulgaria, lying on the Topolnitsa River among the Sredna Gora mountains.
This peaceful town of colorful houses, traditional Bulgarian architecture, and folk festivals is steeped in rich history and was once the heart of the fierce April uprisings against the Ottoman Empire. The origin of the town is ultimately unknown, however there are many legends surrounding it. It can be confirmed that it was destroyed by fire many times, before it became the romantic hideaway it is today. The town’s rich history has not been forgotten, as there are over 350 historic, architectural, ethnographic, and artistic monuments dotted throughout it. The most memorable attractions in Koprivshtitsa are Oslekov House, the former home of a wealthy merchant built in 1856, and Topalova House, built and lived in by a prominent tax collector in 1854. Both showcase items unique to the time period of the homes, and demonstrate what life would have looked like in the 1900’s. Otherwise, the picturesque town is tucked between mountains ranges of lush green.
Burgas is a city on Bulgaria’s Black Sea coast. At its heart, the Church of Saint Cyril and Methodius is known for striking stained-glass windows over its main entrance. Nearby, the Ethnographic Museum explores Bulgarian folk culture, with colorful costumes and everyday items. Along Burgas Bay is the Sea Garden, with broad promenades, performances at its Summer Theatre and a viewing platform at the end of its pier.
Burgas is a beautiful seaside town flanked by the sea and several lakes. Unlike its neighboring seaside towns, Burgas did not start to really actively develop until the 20th century. It was then that it was discovered that the bay was a great protector for trade industries and the navy. As such, there is a large industrial center in the heart of the city. However, the main promenade along the coast is very well kept, and the beaches remain quiet. There are number of reasonably good restaurants, and accommodation in this same area, and days away from the sea can be spent exploring the lakes.
The Boyana Waterfall is considered the most beautiful and largest waterfall in Vitosha Mountain. The only sound that may interrupt the unique silence and true serenity of the breathtaking scenery is the one of the splashing waters, falling gracefully from 15 m. On a clear sunny day it can be spotted from the capital’s centrum. The waterfall is most rampant in spring when the snows are thawing and at that period you can even see the water sprays from Sofia.
There is hardly a mountaineer from Sofia , who has missed to visit this beautiful and popular spot in the Vitosha Mountain. Being one of most important natural landmarks in Sofia, the Boyana waterfall deserves our attention.
The church “St. Sofia” (God’s Wisdom) is situated in the center of Bulgaria’s capital, in close proximity to the Monumental Temple “Alexander Nevski”. It is one of the oldest churches in Sofia and its history is closely related to the history of the city. Nowadays the temple is considered one of the symbols of Sofia. The church was built in the 6th century during the time of the Byzantine Emperor Justinian (reigned 527 - 565) on the foundations of 4 older Christian temples from the 4th century.
The church “St. Sofia” was built on the place of the necropolis of the city of Serdika (the old name of Sofia) and other older churches from the 4th century and dozens of masonry tombs. Fragments of the mosaic of one of the older temples were found during archaeological excavations. It is considered that the building can house up to 5 thousand people.
Rila Monastery was founded in the 10th century by St John of Rila, a hermit canonized by the Orthodox Church. His ascetic dwelling and tomb became a holy site and were transformed into a monastic complex which played an important role in the spiritual and social life of medieval Bulgaria. Destroyed by fire at the beginning of the 19th century, the complex was rebuilt between 1834 and 1862. A characteristic example of the Bulgarian Renaissance (18th–19th centuries), the monument symbolizes the awareness of a Slavic cultural identity following centuries of occupation.
Rila Monastery is the most important spiritual and literary center of the Bulgarian national revival, with an uninterrupted history from the Middle Ages until present times. Reconstruction work was required following a fire, and sections of the monastery, a new church and other structures date to the 18th century. The property fully endorses authenticity requirements regarding location, context, concept, usage, function and tradition, where the spirit and feeling of the site are also properly preserved.
Rila is the highest mountain in Bulgaria and also on the Balkan Peninsula. The origin of the name Rila comes from the Thracians, it means “well-watered mountain”. Some of Bulgaria’s major rivers (Iskar, Maritsa, Mesta) take their beginnings from Rila and more than 200 glacial lakes are situated in the mountain. It also boasts the hottest spring on the Balkans – in Sapareva Banya town in the foothills of Northern Rila (103ºС). The larger part of the mountain is occupied by National Park Rila which is the biggest national park in Bulgaria. Within the boundaries of the park there are 4 nature reserves – “Parangalitsa”, “Skakavitsa”, “Ibar”, “Central Rila”, and one Nature park – “Rila Monastery Forest”. At an altitude of 1000m and above, the climate is typically mountainous. Otherwise, the foothills of the mountain are in the moderate-continental and the transitional-Mediterranean climatic zone. There is a danger of avalanches in many places during the winter. The relief of Rila is typically alpine. The mountain is a glacial range, mostly granite, with glacial Cirques, beautiful tarns, moraines and high peaks. There are 29 peaks above 2500m/8325ft.
The town of Koprivshtitsa is located in the heart of the Sredna Gora mountain range. It is 110 km from Sofia, 24 km from Pirdop, 22 km from Strelcha, and 90 km from Plovdiv. In 1952, it was declared the only city-museum in the country, and since 1971 it has been an architectural and historical reserve, with a total of 388 architectural, historical, artistic, and ethnographic monuments. In 1978, it was recognized as a national architectural reserve of international importance and as an international tourist destination.
There are many legends concerning the town’s beginnings. One relates that the location boasted a plentiful store of kop, and that it was particularly fertile, a popular resting place for caravans and shepherds herding their flocks. It was here that proto-Bulgarians settled with their herds – people known as “Zhupa” – and that was the origin of Koprivshtitsa.
Boyana Church of St. Nicholas and St. Pantaleimon is situated at the foot of Vitosha Mountain, in Boyana Housing Estate in Sofia. It is one of the few medieval monuments of Christian art that have survived until the present day. The church is one of the 100 Tourist Sites of Bulgaria and was included in the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 1979. It was built in three stages: first stage – 11th century, second stage – mid-13th century, and third stage - mid-19th century.
The eastern part of the church is a small single-apsed, cross-in-square building with built-in supports that form a cross. The first layer of wall-paintings that covered the entire eastern part of the temple dates as far back as the 12th century. The second two-storey part of the church that belongs to the two-floor tomb-church type was built in the 13th century thanks to a donation made by Sebastocrator Kaloyan and his wife Desislava, who ruled the Sofia (Sredets) Region during that period. According to the ktitor inscription the church was redecorated in 1259. Zografs (painters) Vasilie and Dimiter, whose names were revealed during restoration works, put a new layer of wall-paintings over the first one in the old part of the church and also decorated the two levels of the new part of the church.
Vitosha Mountain is the oldest nature park on the Balkan Peninsula. Its gorgeous silhouette is visible from almost all positions in the city and is inseparable part of Sofia’ image. In 1934 with the active involvement of the Bulgarian nature-conservation society, part of the mountain of 6,600 ha was declared a park. Its boundaries have been changed many times and today encompass the entire mountain of 27,079 ha area. On the park’s territory 61 types of habitats were identified; among them of greatest interest as far as nature conservation goes are the natural spruce forests, the peat areas, the moraines and the caves.
Vitosha’s flora includes all vegetation zones characteristic of the Bulgarian mountains, except the alpine one. The park is habitation of a plenty of Balkan endemics, and the globular yellow blossoms of the Vitosha tulip (Trollius europaeus) can be seen on the open high-mountain parts. The number of orchid species found on its territory counts to 30. The mountain is home of a diversity of bigger and smaller mammals, birds, insects, reptiles and amphibians. In the different seasons 200 bird species can be observed in Mount Vitosha, of them 120 species nesting within the park’s territory.
The Ancient Roman Theatre of Philippopolis is among the best preserved ancient theaters in the world. His exquisite beauty will enchant you and it will take you back in time of Emperor Trajan at the beginning of II century. With its 28 concentric rows of seats, intereting inscriptions and wonderful statues, it attracts every eye and carries the spirit of ancient Rome. Thanks to the specific architecture of the theater, the acoustic is unique – imagine what spectacular performances, games and events have taken place there.
Today it is also used for concerts and performances, with seats for about 5000 spectators. But enjoying your favorite band at the Ancient Theatre is a thousand times different and better than in the stadium – the very feeling is one, such stronger, more spectacular.
Ancient Plovdiv Architectural Reserve is a well-preserved complex where on a relatively small area visitors can take walks through different historical ages, see ancient buildings adapted to the modern way of life and feel the spirit of the town from the Bulgarian Revival Period.
The Old Town, as the complex is known, lies on a natural elevation – the three hills (the closely situated Dzhambaz Hill, Nebet Hill, and Taksim Hill). Many peoples have inhabited this place through the centuries. And all of them have left traces of their cultures and also the different names they gave to the town. Plovdiv is one of the oldest towns in Europe – it dates back to 4000 years BC. During Antiquity the Thracians came to the hill and set up a fortified settlement that was conquered by Philip of Macedon in the 2nd century BC. He gave one of the many names of the town - Philipopolis, and surrounded it with thick fortification walls. Later the Thracians regained control over the town, but after a series of battles they lost it to the Romans in the 1st century. A fortress from Thracian times is preserved on the very summit of Nebet Hill.
Asen’s Fortress is the most interesting and most often visited tourist attraction in the Asenovgrad region. It is located three kilometers from the city on the top of a cliff, on the left bank of the Asenitsa River. There is a scenic route to the fortress branching off the road just south of Asenovgrad heading toward Smolyan. The natural cliff massif where the fortress is situated comprises an area of 12 hectares. With drops that are almost vertical and at times even overhanging above the river below, it is impregnable on three sides. Its strategic location and natural defenses explain why it has been used since the days of the Thracians, who fortified it in the 5th century BCE.
The fortress was rebuilt during the time of the Roman Emperor Justinian as one of some 300 fortresses erected to defend the Empire against invasions by Slavic tribes. Asen’s Fortress has seen three periods of substantial construction – during the 9th, 11th, and 13th centuries.
The Bachkovo Monastery “Assumption of the Virgin” is located in the southern part of the village Bachkovo, 10 kilometers south of Asenovgrad. The monastery was founded in 1083 by the Georgian Gregoriy Bakuriani, who donated the land. For a long time the monastery was Georgian. The two-story ossuary some 400 meters from the monastery was built during the monastery’s earliest days.
At the end of the 12th century and the beginning of the 13th century, The Holy Archangels Church was built, for services during the winter months. It was attached to the terrace on the second floor of the west wing where the monks had their cells. It is thought that after the fall of Bulgaria to the Ottomans at the end of the 14th century, Eftimiy, Bulgaria’s last patriarch, was exiled to the Bachkovo Monastery.
Rozhen Monastery is the biggest sanctuary in the Pirin Mountain region. It lies only 1 km away from the village of Rozhen, at the distance of 6km north-east of Bulgaria’s smallest town, Melnik, and 16km away from the town of Sandanski.
The exact date of the establishment of Rozhen Monastery is not known, but according to annals, the name of the monastery was mentioned for the first time in a Greek manuscript which dated back to the 13th century. At that time Melnik region was ruled by despot Slav, a nephew of Bulgarian king Caloyan (1197-1297). This is the reason why it is believed that Rozhen Monastery was built despot Slav during 12th or 13th century. It is the only monastery in Bulgaria which was restored in the first centuries of Ottoman rule and has survived to the present day.
Rozhen Monastery was mentioned again in a manuscript of the abbot Cosma in 1551. The original monastery’s complex had been destroyed by fire and plundered several times, so the present day appearance of this old holy cloister dates back to 16th century. The main church, the dining room and several residential buildings date back to the same period as well.
1 ) New Year
Festival Month - January
New Year in Bulgaria provides an opportunity for visitors to witness the preserved Pagan tradition of Kukeri, particularly in the area around Radzalog. On January 1, residents are woken up very early by bells sounded by dancing men dressed in frightening costumes made of goat hair and wooden ram masks, often with a good and evil face. Groups of these costumed bachelors, led by a married man, visit all the homes on the street wishing good health and good harvest in return for small gifts such as beans or eggs. Everyone eventually congregates in the town square to celebrate with music, dancing and food.
2 ) Apollonia Arts Festival
The 10-day Apollonia Arts Festival has been held at the end of summer in the seaside town of Sozopol since 1984. The event celebrates the Greek god of music and dance with a number of performances taking place in a variety of venues including the art gallery, Archeological Museum and the Apollonia Amphitheater. There are exhibitions, activities for children, concerts, master classes, and film premieres.
3 ) Bourgas International Folk Festival
Festival Month - August
The end of August sees national and international folk performers and dance troupes descend on the town of Bourgas for the Bourgas International Folk Fest. The festival was created in 1965 and features traditional Bulgarian food and handicraft bazaars, open-air concerts, shows, folk recitals, parades, choirs, orchestras, and bands. The Summer Theater of Bourgas’ hosts a number of performances throughout the event.