Sofia is outstanding. It has a rich history, but remains young at heart. The capital pleasantly intermixes the new with the old. The city center is jam-packed with ruins, and historical landmarks that remind visitors and citizens of the countries long history. But also has emerged as a mecca for contemporary art, and innovative hospitality options. You should ensure a visit to one of the city’s many galleries or museums during your stay, otherwise, there are countless well-maintained parks within the city, and pristine hiking areas just outside of it. This includes Mt.Vitosh, which at 2000 meters above sea level offers incredible views of the surrounding lakes, and greenery. If your visiting Bulgaria, you must-see Sofia.
Here visitors can find the oldest continuously occupied city in Europe. Not surprisingly then, the city has countless historical landmarks to boast including a Roman Amphitheater which regularly runs programs, the Ruins of Eumolpias, and several churches. However, Plovdiv has recently put itself on the map for its emerging food and wine scene. Traditional wineries are popping up all over the city and the surrounding area. Bulgarians are very proud of their wine making capabilities. The city itself was built on seven hills, and the surrounding area is draped in the Balkan Mountains and the Rhodope mountain range, which have become a favorite place for visitors and locals alike to hike and explore.
Tucked in the Rila Mountains, Rila Monastery is simply stunning. It was initially founded in the 10th century by St. John of Rila, a hermit. Hundreds of pilgrims, and tourists come to the visit the site every year, and for centuries it has been a site of extreme spiritual significance. The monastery even holds a few secrets of its own. It is said that revolutionary leaders took refuge here at times including the infamous Vassil Levski, and Peyo Yavorov. It has played an important role in preserving Bulgarian literary culture since the onsite library holds approximately 250 manuscripts from the 11th century onwards to the 19th century. Aesthetically, the monastery is arresting. The architecture is dominated by black and white arches, wooden staircases, and huge iron gates. Multi-colored tiles color the floor, and irreplaceable paintings decorate the walls.
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.
The town of Bansko is renowned as Bulgaria’s number one skiing mecca. The town of Bankso, in Southern Bulgaria, is nestled at the foot of the Pirin Mountains whose peak reaches 2914 meters. It is conveniently located only 160kms from the capital of Sofia. Bansko Ski Resort is also credited with having the longest ski season in Bulgaria. It regularly competes with resorts in France, and Switzerland for its high-quality skiing, at lower than Alps prices. The resort, and town itself has countless après-ski restaurants, and nightlife options, and there are world-class spas to indulge in when visitors are not hitting the slopes. Each year the town holds the annual Bansko Jazz Festival, which draws international attendees and famous Bulgarian performers.
This small city in central Bulgaria is most well-known as the home of Tsarevets Fortress. Since, it was once the home to the Tsars, the city is sometimes dubbed the “City of Tsars”. The Fort is enclosed by 1000 meters (3000 feet) of stone walls. Many areas of the wall offer 360-degree views of the surrounding picturesque hills, and the charming city below. The old part of the city was built on hills so it offers rolling cobblestone streets, traditional homes, and ancient churches. Close-by is the famous Monastery of the Holy Transfiguration of God, which features beautiful architecture, and breathtaking works of art from antiquity. Centuries ago the city boasted over 30 monasteries but this one remains the best remaining example. Meanwhile, the new part of the city has become an integral economic, and administrative center for Northern Bulgaria. It has modern dining, and accommodation options.