Bulgaria: How do you pack ancient history, virgin nature landscapes and vibrant city sights into 8 reasons to visit a country like Bulgaria. It’s extremely difficult NOT to sound like a tour agent while I want to tell the entire world how gorgeous this country is. Here are 8 reasons to visit Bulgaria in summer
By Denise Dimitrova
Free Sofia Tour The free of charge Sofia tour in Bulgaria is a unique opportunity to visit most of the landmarks in Sofia, the capital. A good friend of mine was one of the founders and leading guides. The group has recently met their 50,000th tourist. The guides are volunteers and meet with the groups in the morning, then take them around the capital on foot, showing them ancient churches, the Parliament building, the cathedral Alexander Nevski and others. It’s a great opportunity to meet new friends because the groups are relatively small and get a good friendly advice of what restaurants or other places to visit. The experience is very personal, as if you’re meeting longtime friends and going for a stroll.
The Sea Cities Bulgaria is a land of all- mountains, plains and valleys and sea. The entire east border is the sea coast of the Black sea. Two of the largest cities in Bulgaria are situated on the coast- Varna, the Sea capital and Bourgas, south of Varna. Both cities have centuries old history and lots to see. Varna, for example is where the world oldest golden figurines have been found and are on display at the Archaeological museum. My kids had a blast seeing the exhibitions- The earliest traces of human presence in the Varna region date back to the Early Paleolithic Age (about 100 000 BC). In the North of Varna, there is the botanical garden in the city of Balchik with hundreds of thousands of flowers and plants- something anyone would be left breathless seeing (the sea of tulips in spring is out of this world). Even further north is the Kaliakra cape- the sea fortress standing vigil by the shore. Standing on this ancient land, where battles have been won centuries ago gives me goosebumps with every crush of the waves underneath the stone walls. Nessebar also known as “The pearl of the black sea”- situated on a peninsula (previously an island) connected to the mainland by a narrow man-made isthmus, and it bears evidence of occupation by a variety of different civilizations over the course of its existence. Its abundance of historic buildings had prompted UNESCO to include Nesebar in its list of World Heritage Sites in 1983. I am not even getting into the beach resorts, definitely worth mentioning- Sunny Beach, Golden Sands and Albena along with the aqua parks- all children friendly, all at fraction of the prices compared to other countries.
Mountains Anyone serious about mountain trekking should try going up to Masala in Bulgaria, the highest peak on the Balkan peninsula- 2925m. I recommend doing a day tour to the Rila lakes, 7 lakes all connected with a mountain trail, crystal clear freezing water. This is not an easy ride, going up the mountain, the oxygen get less and it takes serious physical and psychological training. It is said that this mountain cleanses the soul, people sometimes get sick once they reach the top, cleaning their bodies and souls as they go further up. I did my first trek when I was a teenager, you could see the sea beyond Greece if the weather and air are crystal clear.
Historical sites If you’re into history, there’s plenty to see. Bulgaria has thousands of years of history, starting with the Thracians, going through slavs and tribes coming all the way from the lands of Mongolia and eventually setting up the Bulgarian kingdom. I recommend Veliko Turnovo- one of the old capitals, where the architecture of the castles and churches are as taken out of Game of Thrones.
Or the city of Plovdiv- (Philippopolis) is one of the oldest cities of Europe, being older than Rome, Athens, and Constantinople where the Amphitheatre has been constructed from emperor Marcus Aurelius (2nd Century BC)
Music Festivals/Party scene/ theatres- at the capital or at the Sea Resorts, depending on the season- there’s a choice for every taste. Kavarna Rock Fest, Spirits of Bourgas along with the more commercial Coca Cola tour- Bulgaria has a new emerging pop culture and local talent is leading over international names.
Food Our own “shopska salad” was just Voted Europe’s Favourite Food- do I need to say more?
It’s delicious and very heavily influenced by the historical Ottoman cuisine, as evident from the wide popularity of dishes like moussaka,gyuvetch, kyufte and baklava. White brine cheese called “sirene” similar to feta, is also a popular ingredient used in salads and a variety of pastries-the most notable of all-banitsa. Once you try it, you never want to stop eating it.
Extreme adventures Kayaks/coves/Para planers/waterfalls etc- the headlines says it all. This country has it all- from bungee jumping to rafting.
Friendly people Bulgarians are proud, sassy and hospitable people. We work hard and have an opinion about everything, and we are not afraid to voice it. Oh and yeah, Bulgarian women are always ranked among top 10 of the “most beautiful women in the world“ Don’t mean to brag about it but it’s true!