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Nestled between the Rhodope ranges and Balkan Mountains clad with evergreen pines and the Black Sea’s sparkling blue waters – Bulgaria is a paradise for the avant-garde tourists who want everything in one place.
Visitors to this country get an opportunity to cycle between ski-resorts draped in snow, mesmerizing beaches kissed by the golden Sun and historical gems. Even the part-goers get a fair share of possibilities.
Creating a bucket list of places to visit in Bulgaria isn’t easy because merely leaving out any site doesn’t do justice. But again, it may take months to travel and discover every nook and cranny of the country during Bulgaria travel, which may not be a feasible option.
So, creating a list of top Bulgaria points of interest makes sense. But, before going through the list, a quick look at some interesting, fun facts about the country won’t hurt…
- In Europe, Bulgaria remains the only country that didn’t change its name to this day ever since it was first formed in the year 681 CE.
- Contrary to the rest of the world, Bulgarians nod to signify no and shake their heads to signify yes!
- Izlel e Delyu Haydutin – a Bulgarian folk song by famous singer Valya Balkanska was a part of our cultural artifacts that were sent to space as a message to aliens (hoping that earthlings will communicate with one).
- Lactobacillus Bulgaricus – a unique type of bacterium that can be found only and only in Bulgarian air. This bacteria is known for giving the unique flavor of the yogurt than the country serves.
- The Rose Valley in Bulgaria: from it, the world gets 70% to 85% of the rose oil used in perfumes.
- The oldest Slavic Orthodox Church is located in Bulgaria.
- Bulgarian Air Force developed the world’s first air-dropped bomb. It was used in 1912 on October 16th during the First Balkan War.
That should suffice for now. Let’s take a quick look at the best places to go in Bulgaria.
Table of Contents
Here’s the list of the top places to visit in Bulgaria
For the outdoorsy types, for the adrenaline enthusiasts, nothing can beat Borovets. The snow-clad mountain ranges offer outdoor activities aplenty. For the winter lovers, there’s a snow park for adults and a separate one for kids.
Then there’s carriage rides, lift packages, snowboarding opportunities, skiing centers and more. Come summer, and the upscale resort switches into something entirely different. From horseback riding to thrilling paintball, from archery to rock climbing, from mountain biking to hiking – Borovets merely is a paradise for those who don’t like calm.
Located at Rila Mountains, the resort started back in 1896. It was just a mountain resort back then, by the 1960’s it had become a favorite winter sports center and as of today, it is a four-season resort accessible anytime during the year.
If Borovets doesn’t make it to the list of Bulgarian points of interest, sightseeing in Bulgaria loses its meaning.
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Central Balkan National Park
Heading straight for the central part of the Balkan Mountain Range will take a tourist straight to the Central Balkan National Park where nature plays mind tricks with everyone.
The towering Botev Peak, the lush meadows of the mountains, the misty beech forests, the deep gorges and the plunging waterfall – everything gives a reason to spend some alone moments, with Nature herself – the most beautiful lass ever known to humankind.
Add a dash of soothing Celtic music or the acoustic harp, and Mother Nature becomes the enchantress that a withered soul has been waiting for its entire life.
For those who like to add an element of thrill, the hiking trail running 250 miles is a real stunner. Heading for the Botev Peak is considered the most challenging hiking option offered by the park. Travel to Bulgaria is just incomplete if one fails to be at the park.
Learn more about national parks in Europe:
- 11 Stunning and Best National Parks in Europe
- Hiking Plitvice Lakes National Park Experience
- Split to Krka National Park: Things You Need to Know About Krka Waterfalls Tours from Split
Pirin National Park
Again, directly into the lap of Nature, the Pirin National Park is as beautiful an enchantress as the Balkan National Park.
Snow-clad summits busy kissing mist and down below, the static avalanche of miles of fir and pine diving shelter to bear and deer and wild goat – this is a place where vagabonds feel connected to a higher cause.
The highest peak at the Pirin National Park is the Vihren that can be reached through the hiking trails. The meandering pathways weave through the 186 mountain lakes that make the place a bespoke paradise designed by Mother Nature herself. A traveler should be surprised to find this National Park tagged as one of the top tourist attractions in Bulgaria.
Read also: Top 20 UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Europe
Pamporovo can be genuinely called a place where Mother Nature pampers everyone. Providing a sweeping panoramic view of a seemingly endless pine sea, the Pamporovo is more like a Chameleon but restricted to only two colors – lush green and sparkling white cycling through summer and winter.
Nestled right between the billowing southern Rhodope Mountains’ ridges, Pamporovo is just a stone’s throw from Greece. Summer definitely gives hiking opportunities along Smolyan trails but the real beauty unfolds only during the winter, and it simply becomes skiers’ paradise.
Bulgaria tourism is fastening its claws on Pamporovo quickly, and more mountain resorts are budding up at Pamporovo by the day.
No human history, no mortal interference – yes sir, there are far-flung corners of Bulgaria where the only architect is Mother Nature and the only history that welcomes travelers is natural history.
Such travel to Bulgaria is very much possible, and it is none other than Belogradchik where geological wonders lurk along the Balkan Mountains’ northward slopes.
With anthropomorphic monoliths and towering hoodoos – Belogradchik is home to the plethora of local myths and folk legends. But it’s a grave mistake on the part of anyone who thinks that’s all that Belogradchik has to offer. Not far from the hoodoos lies the colossal Fortress Complex that stood the test of time and the elements of nature since the ancient times of the Romans.
Oh yes, the Magura Cave too has some hidden surprises in the form of wall arts that predate history.
Out from the annals of prehistory, travel to Bulgaria also entices the history buffs by calling for Perperikon that stands in stark contrast with Belogradchik and yet holds a haunting similarity to the rocks of Belogradchik.
Yes, Perperikon has a monolithic structure that redefines awesomeness in the whole of the Balkan Peninsula and is one of the top places to visit in Bulgaria.
Standing atop hills – this monolithic structure offers human settlement traces that can be tracked all the way back to 7 millennia from the present. Historians have a notion that the hilltop was used for soothsaying and rituals by priests of Copper Age before the Thracian tribesmen built and fortified it.
It is also said that the Copper Age people even foretold the rise of Alexander the Great and Augustus’ Imperial Rome. Though mostly considered as run-of-the-mill legends, tinkering into the Perperikon’s past unquestionably gives some good time!
Bulgaria travel doesn’t make enough sense if one decides to skip the legendary city – Veliko Tarnovo. For those who visit Bulgaria, the City of Tsars sitting over Bulgarian Northern Mountains’ foothills is one of the best attractions in the country.
This charming town has a setting that can steal a breath or two at the very first sight. The meandering Yantra River bisects the city in the shape of an ‘S.’ Strikingly visible terracotta-colored roofs of the houses dotting the banks of the river.
Natural beauty is abundant because of the thick blanket provided by wild coniferous woods. And history buffs find oodles and oodles of historical and cultural narratives amidst the cobblestone lanes and half rocky-half timbered houses.
Oh yes, the Byzantine Churches add to the human-made beauty.
And how can one think of a satisfactory Bulgaria travel without setting foot into the Capital City of Bulgaria – Sofia!
It is is a city where history oozes out from every corner in every direction.
The most iconic of Sofia’s attraction is the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral that stands tall and proud with its gilded edifices and Orthodox domes.
For those who know about the Soviet Rule, the monuments following brutalist architecture will be immediate attention grabbers. The remains of the ancient Serdica Fort and the famous Church of St. George from the Roman-Byzantine era that stay overshadowed by the municipal buildings of Stalin’s times scream history.
It is one cityscape where travelers like to linger around for a while.
Last on this list of places to visit in Bulgaria is the Zheravna – the face of Bulgarian National Revival. It is raw, it is rustic, and it is iconic.
Sitting at the foothills of Balkan Mountains and covered by thickets of white elms and Bosnian pines, this little rustic gem of Bulgaria is the epitome of hardwood facades – timber-clad with stony appearance.
These 150 plus cottages rim the equally elegant cobbled streets. Amidst these cottages, one finds the iconic St. Nicholas Church and Yordan Yovkov House – the two big tourist magnets.
For those who want to get the taste of Bulgarian folk music and folk costumes, the nearby August Dobromiritsa Rular Park is the black hole they want to jump into because this is where festivals erupt almost year-round.
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Founder of Pretty Wild World and one of the leading experts in Europe travel, the Nordics, and Scandinavia Destinations.
Evan Kristine has been mentioned in big publications such as The Huffington Post and the Thought Catalog has been sharing her useful travel tips and hacks to the world for more than five years now.
Nowadays, she is a full-time traveler exploring and documenting her journey around the world providing you the next best travel idea for your great next adventure.