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Best Places to Visit in Bulgaria, Top Attractions
Discover the best destinations in Bulgaria, the best places to visit, for a cultural, gastronomic, shopping, nature city break, a romantic getaway or a family stay in Bulgaria. Bulgaria is a country of diverse landscapes and a depth of history which results in a nation filled with natural beauty and cultural richness that dates back to ancient times. No wonder that the versatile land of Bulgaria has so much to offer to the interested explorers and what better place to start your journey than the capital city itself? Sofia, the official capital and the largest city of Bulgaria nestled at the foothill of Vitosha mountain makes for an excellent base to get introduced to the country’s rich culture and history and the same reflects in an eclectic mix of Roman buildings, Ottoman mosques, old churches and Soviet-era relics scattered all across the capital. Start your capital tour with the two of most famous Sofia Tourist Attractions - Aleksander Nevski Church and 10th-century Rila Monastery that draw visitors and pilgrims galore. Continue your day tours to the other Sofia Attractions like St George Rotunda, the oldest building in modern Sofia, Central Bath and Ivan Vazov National Theatre while you spice up your night outs at the bistros, beer houses, restaurants and live music venues available in the city centres. It is indeed one of the cities that never sleep and with a charm that is too hard to overlook, you’ll be convinced to stick around and explore the incredible
#1- Smolyan and Snezhanka
If you love mountains and breathtaking views, you should visit Smolyan. Set up high in the Rhodope Mountains in southern Bulgaria, Smolyan is one of the country’s top destinations for winter sports. In the summer you’ll enjoy the pristine nature. Take the chairlift to Snezhanka Peak and climb the TV tower. You will be rewarded with an amazing 360-degree view of the Rhodope Mountains.
#2- Belogradchik Rocks & Fortress
The Belogradchik Rocks are one of the natural wonders in Bulgaria. These reddish rock sculptures in weird forms and shapes are located in northwest Bulgaria. Most of them resemble animals or people, and there are many legends about the various figures. The Rocks offer a natural defense for the famous Belogradchik Fortress, aka Kaleto.
#3- Veliki Preslav
This is the period when the Bulgarian Kingdom was one of the most powerful countries in Europe, which led to a cultural boom. The ruins of Preslav are only a vague reminder of how important this place was during the last century of the Early Middle Ages. When in Veliki Preslav, you should also stop by the local archeological museum. A visit to Veliki Preslav is best when combined with a visit to Pliska.
If you are a history geek, Pliska should be on your bucket list. Pliska was the first capital of the First Bulgarian Empire from 681 – 893 AD. Today there isn’t much left of this once glorious city, but the ruins still give an impression of the amazing place it was. The archeological site is a few kilometers outside of the modern town.
Tryavna is among the cutest towns in Bulgaria. It’s one of those places with well-preserved typical National Revival architecture. It feels as if you step back in time, but instead of being in one of those open-air-museum type of villages, you are in the middle of a thriving town. Tryavna is famous for its crafts, and you should visit the Daskalov House to admire the wood-carved ceiling pieces and hear the story about how the apprentice woodcarver outdid his master in a competition for the most beautiful ceiling decoration.
Etara is an open-air ethnographic museum located near Gabrovo in northern Bulgaria. There are various workshops where you can see how traditional crafts were practiced in the 18th – 19th century. Etara is a lovely place to visit on a day trip from Veliko Tarnovo or Gabrovo.
#7- Kazanlak and the Kazanlak Tomb
The most famous attraction in Kazanlak is the Thracian Tomb. The beautiful frescoes in the tomb date back to the 4th century BC and are one of the masterpieces of the Thracian Culture (5th century BC – 1st century AD). However, visitors are not allowed in the real tomb, but in a full-size replica. The Thracian Tomb is one of the ten UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Bulgaria.
This small town, whose name is almost unpronounceable, has been one of the most important historical places in Bulgaria from the time of the National Revival (18th – 19th century). Surrounded by beautiful mountains, Koprivshtitsa is a lovely place that still keeps the spirit of revolutionary Bulgaria and of the April Uprising of 1876. Before visiting Koprivshtitsa, try to read a bit more about Bulgaria’s history to understand its importance.
Balchik is a small town near the northern part of the Black Sea Coast. It’s mostly popular among local tourists, but it’s absolutely worth the visit. A lovely beach, botanical gardens, and a palace are among the must-sees in Balchik. The Palace of Balchik was built as a summer residence for the Romanian Queen Marie of Edinburgh.
Go off-the-beaten track in Bulgaria and visit Cape Kaliakra on the rough northern Black Sea Coast. Listen to the waves battering the vertical cliffs or stroll along the remains of the medieval fortress and enjoy the stunning views. The legend says that 40 maidens from the nearby village jumped from the edge of the cliff with their hair tied together.
Sozopol is another gem of a place on the Black Sea Coast. Hosting one of the country’s largest art festivals every September, the Old Town is a popular destination among the artsy tourists. Colourful fishing boats and rocky shores complement the 19th-century wooden houses and golden-sand beaches.
Nessebar is one of the most beautiful places on the Black Sea Coast. The Old Town has a picturesque setting on a small peninsula jutting out in the sea. Walking towards the Old Town you will pass by one of the last remaining windmills in Bulgaria. Visit the old churches in Nessebar and walk along the Thracian fortifications.
#13- Pobiti Kamani
Pobiti Kamani is a natural phenomenon some 20 kilometers west of Varna – perfect for a day trip if you are staying in Varna. It’s Bulgaria’s only desert, and it’s made up of sand dunes and rock formations as well as being home to variety of flora and fauna. There are many theories about the origin of these stone columns that reach up to 7 meters high, but none of them have been proven.
One of the country’s top summer destinations, Varna is often referred to as the sea capital of Bulgaria. In the summer it becomes a bustling city with a lot of activities and festivals to keep the city’s guests entertained. There’s an international ballet competition, a jazz festival, a folklore festival, and a music festival, just to name a few. One of the most beautiful places in the city is the Sea Garden – the locals love to go there for a walk.
Arbanasi is a very small village perched on a hill about 5 kilometers away from Veliko Tarnovo. Besides the amazing views of Veliko Tarnovo and Tsarevets, Arbanasi offers quaint cobblestone streets and old houses surrounded by high National Revival style stone fences. Arbanasi is one of the most popular destinations in Bulgaria among the locals. There are numerous hotels and restaurants in this small village. One of the best attractions is the Nativity Church. It has some beautiful frescoes that date back to the 16th and 17th century.
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