Bulgaria’s attractions for visitors have grown both in number and diversity. Food and wines are delicious and affordable. Museums, churches and monasteries are a window into Bulgaria’s rich and turbulent history.Annie Kay, author of Bulgaria: The Bradt Guide
It might be a cliché, but in Bulgaria there really is something for everyone. The question is: where to start?
Perhaps with the capital, Sofia – the perfect destination for a relaxing city break. The centre is compact and can easily be covered on foot at a gentle pace in a couple of days, even allowing for coffee and lunch breaks. There are some familiar fast-food and retail outlets, but there is also an eclectic mix of Viennese-style boulevards, monumental set-piece official buildings from the communist era and glorious gold-domed churches. The capital is very green with numerous parks, there are museums with recently unearthed treasures and a variety of colourful markets and stylish shops to discover. There are exciting new attractions, too: the Sofia History Museum, the new art gallery complex Kvadrat, and the excavated area of Ancient Serdika.
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When to visit
Outside Sofia there are several other rewarding towns and cities, such as Plovdiv, with its UNESCO-listed Old Town, and Veliko Turnovo, the former capital. The ski resorts of Bansko, Borovets and Pamporovo offer great skiing, great nightlife and great value. The Black Sea coast has fine beaches, watersports and nightclubs, but also quieter spots for family holidays, butterfly observation and birdwatching.
Rural Bulgaria has changed too in recent years: many young people have left for the cities or abroad, leaving an increasingly elderly population to work the land. However, investment in wineries, ecotourism and activity holidays should gradually attract more people back to the countryside. It is a wonderful place to drive; roads are quiet, wildlife is rich, the mountain scenery is unrivalled and there are monasteries, archaeological sites, caves and rock formations, as well as picturesque villages and vineyards, to visit.
Bulgarians tell a nice story against themselves: God was dividing up the earth between all the different peoples; characteristically the Bulgarians arrived late and God had nothing left. So he gave them a piece of Paradise.
So, whether you are looking for mountains or monasteries, wine or walking, beaches or birds, Bulgaria really does cater for all your needs. Visit and you will be welcomed with open arms.
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