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Bulgaria is Europe's oldest country, and it has kept its name since its founding in 681 AD. It has a long history of integrating Greek, Slavic, Ottoman, and Persian influences from its neighbours. Bulgaria is also well-known for the variety of its landscapes, including mountains, plains, the Black Sea Coast, rivers, lakes, and hot springs. Despite its prevailing reputation as a beach resort, Bulgaria is studded with stunning ruins, majestic castles, and old monasteries, and it is this rich past that makes Bulgaria such an intriguing place to explore.
Although Westerners haven't been as frequent visitors to this exotic nation as they have been to other European nations, this is beginning to change. It's a stunning location with plenty to keep travellers busy. For a relaxing trip, book your Bulgaria car hire in advance with Enjoy Travel for great deals! Prices start from just €9 per day for car hire in Bulgaria, for an economy car like a Volkswagen Polo or
Guide to Bulgaria
Bulgaria is a Balkan nation on the Black Sea's western shore. It is bordered on the north by Romania, the northwest by Serbia, the southwest by North Macedonia, the south by Greece, and the southeast by Turkey. It may be reached by crossing the Black Sea from Georgia. Given Bulgaria's proximity to the Turkish Straits, its important land connections link Europe with the Middle East and Asia.
The city of Sofia, Bulgaria's capital since the 5th century B.C., lies at the foot of the domed Vitosha mountain.
Climate in Bulgaria
In the summer, Bulgaria is warm and humid for the most part, although the interiors experience a more continental climate. The winters are wet with snow at higher elevations. Pleasant autumns, cold winters, mild springs, and warm and breezy summers characterise the climate along the shore. Travelling to Bulgaria is most affordable and enjoyable during the shoulder seasons of April to May, and September to October. Summer, which lasts from June through August, is the busiest time of year.
The Bulgars, a Turkic tribe that formed the First Bulgarian Empire, gave Bulgaria its name. While the origins of their name are unknown, it may be derived from the Proto-Turkic word bulha, which means “stire,” and its derivation bulgak, which means “revolt”
As the Ottoman Empire fell, Bulgarian formal culture blended with centuries-old folk traditions to create contemporary Bulgarian culture. Fire is a crucial part of Bulgarian mythology since they are employed to ward off evil spirits and ill health, many of which are portrayed as witches, although some, such as zmey and samodiva, are either kind protectors or sly tricksters. Kukeri and survakari are two such anti-evil-spirit rites that have survived and are still used today. An ancient Thracian fire dance known as Nestinarstvo is recognised by UNESCO as part of the world's Intangible Cultural Heritage.
Beaches in Bulgaria
From north to south, the Black Sea coast offers a range of beaches, some family-friendly, others known for their parties, and still others that are completely secluded and wild. There are several beaches in Varna that are exceptionally beautiful, with fine, golden sand. The water sports and nightlife on the Varna beaches are also well-known and are fantastic vacation spots for you and your loved ones. Some of these beaches have spa areas with natural hot springs. If you're planning a trip to Varna, don't forget to check out some of the area's greatest beaches, such as Sunny Beach, Golden Sands Central, Kabakum, Saint Constantine, Sozopol, and Asparuhovo.
Things to do in Bulgaria
Discover the history of Nessebar
Burgas Province's beachfront town of Nessebar boasts cobblestone alleys that are lined with archaeological remains from the Byzantine era, as well as restaurants with sea views, local taverns, tiny parks, ancient buildings, and churches dating from as far back as the 4th century. There are two must-visit churches there; stone columns and huge arched windows remain from St. Sophia's Church, which was built in the 5th century, and the St. Stephen Church, built in the 11th century, is home to hundreds of mural paintings and a colossal altarpiece. Allow half a day to see everything Nessebar has to offer. In addition to the aforementioned attractions, you can stop for coffee, beer, or ice cream and take a stroll along the waterfront or on the pier. The freshly caught seafood is also a must-try.
Pay a visit to the Rila Monastery
The Rila Monastery is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a jewel-encrusted mountain complex. It has undergone several transformations to become what it is now. Located in the Rila Mountains at an altitude of 1,147 metres (3,763 feet), it has a history as complicated as the region itself. When St. Ivan of Rila (also known as Saint John of Rila) built his monastery in the 10th century, it became known as Rila Monastery. Visitors and pilgrims may still trek from the monastery to the saint's cave, which is a tucked-away spot in the highlands. Many tourists agree that they have never breathed cleaner air in their lives than they do here. Take a guided tour of the Rila Monastery to discover more about the history of the area. Do not miss seeing the outstanding galleries, the ancient kitchen, the weapons collection, and the art from various historical periods.
Appreciate the St. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral
The St. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral in Sofia, Bulgaria's capital, is a mash-up of styles and architectural elements. The marble came from Munich, the metal was obtained in Berlin and fabricated in Vienna, and the mosaics came from Venice. With a Neo-Byzantine style exterior and a seating capacity of 10,000 worshippers, this Eastern Orthodox cathedral is the largest in the world. Despite the fact that the inside is world-renowned for its beauty, photography is not permitted. Seeing a location through a camera lens isn't the same as seeing it in person. Visit the church and there's a good chance you'll hear the choir sing.
Take A Walk Through Plovdiv Old Town
On three of Plovdiv's hills - Nebet Tepe, Dzhambaz Tepe, and Taksim Tepe - sits the ancient town of Plovdiv, a historic architectural gem. A stroll around the ancient town, which is surrounded by a fascinating mix of architecture and art from antiquity to the Mediaeval period, Renaissance era, and the Bulgarian revival, is an unforgettable experience! As the 2019 European Cultural Capital, you will find yourself strolling through cobblestone alleys and slipping into antique stores and museums to browse the wares on display there. An Ottoman mosque and a Roman amphitheatre can also be found here. Plovdiv can be explored in 1-2 hours, but if you want more time, try staying the night at one of the fantastic hotels. Don't forget to take in all of the beautiful scenery surrounding the town as well.
Hike to The Seven Rila Lakes
The Seven Rila Lakes Hike is a must-do while in Bulgaria for nature lovers. The Rila Lakes, located between Sofia and Plovdiv, are home to some of Bulgaria's most stunning alpine scenery. The lakes may be found around 30 miles (48 kilometres) northwest of Rila. Due to the high heights in this part of the country, lengthy hikes might take 8 to 9 hours, making preparation important. Glacier lakes may be reached by vehicle or cab from Sapareva Banya, the closest village. Most trails are well-marked. The route to Pionerska Hut starts at the mountain's foot and ascends all the way to the hut. The tallest lake in the chain is Teardrop, while the shortest one is Lower Lake. The list is completed by The Twins, Eye, Kidney, Fish Lake, and Trefoil. Even though Kidney Lake is the largest, all of the lakes are stunning, so bring your camera!
Admire the Museum of Socialist Art
The Museum of Socialist Art is a dreary, utilitarian structure in a rundown area, housing an esoteric collection of socialist art. Many of the items in the museum's collection, including paintings, sculptures, and propaganda posters, are from the height of the socialist movement. Included are native Bulgarian communist leaders such as Georgy Dimitrov, the country's first communist leader, and longtime ruler Todor Zhivkov, along with world-famous communists like Vladimir Lenin. An old movie theatre in the museum store plays old propaganda films and TV reels, all with English subtitles. It opened in 2011 and is a section of the Bulgarian National Gallery. The collection of communist statues outside the museum in the front courtyard, which were gathered from former communist buildings, cellars, and warehouses and saved from being melted down or destroyed, is without a doubt, one of the museum's most notable features.
Amaze at the Devil’s Throat Cave
The magnificent Devil's Head Cave, with a waterfall gushing from its mouth, is a geological wonder that is said to have been inspired by the storey of Orpheus descending to Hades in search of his sweetheart Eurydice. It is located in Bulgaria's Western Rhodopes and draws visitors, spelunkers, and photographers alike. The Trigrad River plunges 137 feet into "The Hall of Thunder," an enormous and rather sinister tunnel that contains a funnel that allows water to escape and travel another 500 feet before joining a subterranean river. The most curious thing about it is that nothing that enters the cave via the river ever leaves it. This indicates that there are underground streams beneath the river, which might be the source of a whole new geological curiosity. A tour guide is required to take you through the cave's constructed halls and stairs, which go up the waterfall's side.
Eating out in Bulgaria
Bulgarian cuisine has a flavour profile similar to other Balkan dishes. It is recognised for having a variety of dairy products, wines, and soups. Some of the must-try traditional dishes while visiting include soups like cold soup tarator, pastries like filo-based banitsa, pita, and börek, meze (small plates of grilled meat), white brine cheese known as “sirene,” yoghurt, and desserts like baklava and kyufte. That being said, our top recommendations for restaurants across the country are:
Among the best places in Sofia to try real Bulgarian food is Manastirska Magerinitsa, a traditional mehana (tavern). The extensive menu includes meals such as 'drunken rabbit,' which is a rabbit cooked in wine, as well as salads, fish, pig, and game selections. Ethno restaurant, located on the lively Alexandrovska Boulevard, is a popular Bulgarian restaurant because of its convenient location, enticing interior design, and tantalising menu. You'll be spoiled for choice with dishes including shrimp sahamati, BBQ sea bass, and many more. Intimate and genuine, your gastronomical experience at Izbata Tavern and Winery will leave you wanting more. Wine enthusiasts will like this restaurant in Slavyanska, which is tucked away from the noise and bustle of Bulgaria yet still serves more than 100 different wines.
Philippopolis, a restaurant and art gallery in Plovdiv's old town, is a destination for culinary and wine enthusiasts from all over the globe. On top of a wide range of chef's daily specials, the restaurant's broad menu provides a blend of national flavours and foreign delicacies. Keep an eye out for stunning paintings by Bulgarian master artists in the exhibition. Megdana, a top-notch Bulgarian restaurant, also in Plovdiv, is housed in a charming stone building with wood verandas and a gorgeous garden, and serves a fusion of Bulgarian and international cuisines.
Bulgaria has 5 international airports, of which the largest and most trafficked is Sofia International Airport (SOF) in the capital, Sofia.
Getting around Bulgaria
Bulgaria's public transportation relies heavily on rail and road infrastructure to get people across the nation. Bus and trolleybus networks are the most common modes of public transportation for locals in Bulgarian cities. The metro system in Sofia, the country's capital, is also rather good. Except in Plovdiv, most other cities lack any sort of bicycle infrastructure.
Many visitors travelling across Bulgaria also opt to hire a car for maximum flexibility, comfort, and convenience.
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