Bulgaria is an Eastern European country with a diverse geography, history, and culture. From its stunning capital Sofia to the breathtaking Rila Monastery in the southeast, Bulgaria is a safe bet for any traveler looking for unforgettable experiences.
Bulgaria is a must-visit country because it is beautiful, has good food, and is full of culture.
Bulgaria is a small nation situated in Southeast Europe, just across the Black Sea from Turkey and the Middle East.
It has been known for its ancient history and many natural wonders, including the oldest monastery in Europe, six of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World, and several excellent archaeological sites.
With a rich culture and history, Bulgaria is a great place to visit, with a multitude of attractions, including Ancient cities like the capital, Sofia; the recently discovered, and now UNESCO-listed, a Thracian necropolis of Perperikon; the imposing Golden Gate of Adrianopolis, and the numerous castles and monasteries throughout the country.
Bulgaria has a lot to offer: beautiful nature, ancient ruins, and rich cultural heritage.
Best Places To Visit In Bulgaria
If you’re traveling to Bulgaria anytime soon, consider these seven places as your must-sees.
In terms of Bulgarian culture and architecture, Sofia is the capital. It has many modern buildings that are not too old. Sofia is a lovely city, but it is not a cultural center. The city has many outstanding Armenian, Romani, and Jewish monuments, which are not very popular among tourists but are very interesting to see. The city is immaculate and very beautiful.
Bulgaria’s third-largest city, Varna, is a resort town located on the edge of the Black Sea. It is renowned for its rich history, Orthodox architecture, culture, and delicious seafood.
Considering its rich history, the first place you need to check out is the Varna Archeological Museum. It exhibits the world’s oldest gold- 6,000-year-old Thracian jewelry. You will also see Greek, Ottoman, and Roman antiquities that are displayed in the museum.
Varna also boasts several Roman bathhouses that are the largest in Bulgaria. In addition, you can stroll the city and check out its elaborate Orthodox architecture. Some of the striking landmarks to check out are the Baroque Opera House, the Dormition of the Mother of God, and the Cathedral of the Assumption of the Virgin.
Besides, this coastal town’s beaches are also one of the best factors. There are lots of beachside restaurants, adventure sports areas, and lounges where you can have fun. During the night, there are cocktail bars and lively clubs.
Varna also has lots of shopping centers and spa treatments in the area where you can rejuvenate yourself.
2. Veliko Tarnovo
Located in north-central Bulgaria, Veliko Tarnovo is the administrative center of Veliko Tarnovo Province, renowned for its terracotta-colored roofs and the Tsarevets Fortress.
Explore the picturesque cobblestone lanes and take a picture in front of vibrant traditional houses.
Also renowned as the “City of Tsars,” Veliko Tarnovo was once home to the Tsars. It is a must to check out the Tsarevets Fortress. It is enclosed by 3000 feet of stone walls, and they offer panoramic views of the surrounding hills and the city below.
History has it that Veliko Tarnovo had over 30 monasteries. Monastery of the Holy Transfiguration of God is the best remaining example. Visit this monastery to check out the magnificent architecture and artwork.
Besides the Byzantine churches, the city also offers terrific gastronomy culture.
The capital city of Bulgaria- Sofia, is a city with a rich history that boasts ancient ruins and historical landmarks that also have outstanding contemporary art and one of the best hospitality in Bulgaria.
You should start your Sofia tour by visiting the city’s galleries and museums. The first spot to go is the National History Museum, where you can check ancient gold treasures. Then, go to the National Museum of Natural History, the National Art Gallery the National Archeology Museum, and the Museum of Socialist Art.
Other places of interest in the city are the Serdica Fort and the Church of St George. The Boyna Church is also a fantastic place to visit. It was also listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
You can also visit fantastic art galleries in this city.
Sofia also boasts impressive natural scenery. It has well-maintained parks and beautiful hiking areas. It would be best if you hiked Mt. Vitosh to see amazing views of the surrounding lakes.
You can also ski at the base of the mountain. Sofia also has exciting nightlife and accommodation facilities.
Located in central east Bulgaria at the base of the Balkan mountains, Zheravna is a quaint village that boasts the country’s iconic architectural styles.
The village has timber-clad cottages, stony appearance and boasts over 150 typical hardwood facades.
Visit the Yordan Yovkov House- the native house of the famous Bulgarian writer, Yordan Yovkov. Chorbadzhi Rusi’s House and Sava Filaretov’s House are also some of the most exciting buildings to check out in Zheravna.
Stroll your way to the St. Nicholas Church and August Dobromiritsa Rural Park.
If you happen to visit the village during summer, you should attend the traditional festival of the national costumes. There will be lots of music and lots of dancing, and you will surely love it.
Burgas is the fourth-largest city of Bulgaria, located on the southern stretches of the Black Sea Coast. It boasts a rich history and culture and has many beaches and shopping places where you can enjoy a great day.
Let’s start with the beaches. Even though Burgas is an industrial city, it has quiet beaches where you can relax and swim. North Beach is the most famous beach of Burgas because of its trio of lakes and fantastic birdwatching experience.
Alongside the beaches are excellent restaurants and hotels where you can stay.
Burgas also has the country’s best music festivals, such as the Spirit of Burgas. You surely will love the atmosphere of the city if you visit during the festival time.
For a chill day out, take a walk at the Sea Garden. Take pictures of the colorful flowers and visit the different exhibitions and cafes.
If you happen to visit Burgas between June and September, you should attend the annual sand festival, where you can check out fantastic sand sculptures.
On the other hand, if you want to carry out historical and cultural activities, check out the
Archaeological Museum of Burgas. Here, you can learn about the Greek and Roman eras. You should also check out the Museum of Aviation.
Spend your afternoon walking along the Pier and watching the iconic lighthouse as the sun sets in the background.
Also, visit the Church of Saint Cyril and St. Anastasia Island.
Bansko is Bulgaria’s top winter sports resort town located at the foot of the Prin mountains. It boasts the dual ski fields of the Chalin Valog and Shiligarnika.
Bansko has more expansions and new lift projects that are on the way.
Bansko has the most extended ski season in Bulgaria. You must stay at a ski resort and try its high-quality sking that competes with ski resorts in France and Switzerland. What’s better is that the prices are lower than any other Alps prices.
It would be best if you also snowboarded on areas of Todorka Peak, such as Tomba Run.
Banski has lots of ski restaurants and hedonistic bars where you can chill when you are not skiing.
The town also hosts the annual Bansko Jazz Festival, where famous Bulgarian musicians perform.
Situated on the northern part of the Black Sea coast, Balchik is a popular place to visit in Bulgaria. This small town invites local tourists and foreigners who come to visit this place for a family vacation.
Unlike major cities like Varna and Burgas, Balchik doesn’t have an industrial vibe but instead has an artistic feeling.
This city was a summer residence of Queen Mary of Edinburgh some 100 years ago. You can visit her palace known as the Palace of Balchik, built right by the sea.
Also, visit the famous botanical gardens. The best time to explore these gardens is at the beginning of the summer season.
Later, you can enjoy strolling the lovely beaches of Balchik. It is best if you take a boat and watch the sunset from the sea.
Balchik also has quaint restaurants where you can have dinner and drinks with a view of the sea.
Pamporovo is another famous ski resort in Bulgaria located on the foothills of the Rhodope mountains. The area boasts immense beauty with its lines of pine trees and white snow.
Since it is located amidst the ridges of the southern Rhodope Mountains, it serves as a splendid place for skiing and snowboarding during the winter seasons.
Pamporovo is also a great place to visit in Bulgaria during the summer. It is a great time to hike and go camping along the Smolyan trails. The fantastic scenery will surely make your trip worth it.
Stay at the Pamporovo Ski resort and visit the Fun Park when you’re here.
9. Pirin National Park
Located in southwestern Bulgaria, Pirin National Park surrounds the larger part of the Pirin Mountains. Thus, Pirin Mountain is itself a fantastic place for sightseeing.
Originally called Vihren National Park, Pirin National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the most picturesque places to visit in Bulgaria that boasts raw landscapes. It is also one of the three national parks in Bulgaria.
This national park is a hiker’s paradise. Walking through the national park will show you the views of alpine valleys and snow-covered summits. Then, you will traverse through the forests covered with green pine and fir trees and may even spot deer and beers.
Make way for the wild goats as they climb the craggy precipices to go home in the rocky crevices. If you are feeling adventurous, summit the highest peak of Bulgaria – Mount Vihren.
Plovdiv is one of the most ancient places in Europe that is located in southern Bulgaria.
Without a doubt, Plovdiv boasts a variety of historical attractions ranging from Roman amphitheaters to fortresses and churches.
The first place to visit in Plovdiv is the Roman Amphitheater. It is an open-air theater that also is known to people as the Roman Stadium.
Wander the cobblestone streets of Old Town and check out its vibrant National Revival houses, some of which are turned into museums.
Other historical landmarks in Plovdiv are the Thracian fortresses, the Ruins of Eumolpias, honorific monuments to Krum the Fearsome, and many churches.
Check out the Besides, Plovdiv also has impressive natural views as it is built around seven hills and is surrounded by the Balkan Mountains and the Rhodope mountain range. Therefore, it is also a great place to hike.
Climb one of the seven hills surrounding the city to see the mesmerizing views of the city.
Thus, Plovdiv proves to be the utmost holiday charm.
Besides, Plovdiv also has a vibrant nightlife. It has excellent bars and clubs that offer fabulous parties, Balkan beers, and music ranging from indie and jazz.
If you’re not much of a party freak, you can also visit traditional wineries and have dinner at one of the picturesque restaurants.
If you have more time, visit the Staria grad, Alyosha Soviet Army Memorial, and Ethnographic Museum and relax at Park Tsra Simeon.
Koprivshtitsa is a historical town located in central Bulgaria. It is renowned for its colorful houses adorned with Bulgarian architecture in front of the Sredna Gora mountains. It is also famous for its folk festivals.
Koprivshtitsa has over 350 historic architectural, artistic, and ethnographic attractions throughout the town.
The first attraction you need to visit is the Oslekov House. It was built in 1856 and was the home of a wealthy merchant. The Topalova House, built in 1854 by a prominent tax collector, is also a must-visit site. Visiting these houses will show you the lifestyle of the 1900s.
Stroll the streets of Koprivshtitsa and admire the painted facades and stone sculptures. You can also head to the memorial exhibitions dedicated to the heroes of the April Uprising of 1876.
If you stay a day or two, visit the Dimcho Debelyanov House and the Lyuben Karavelov Museum.
If you’re a history fanatic and love learning about culture, Perperikon is a place for you.
Located in the Eastern Rhodopes, Perperikon is an ancient Thracian city with traces of human settlement dating back to over seven millennia. It is renowned as the most remarkable monolithic structure in the Balkan Peninsula.
It is said that this place used to be a site where priests did the rituals and soothsaying during the Copper Age. Later, it was built up by the Thracian tribe.
Stroll the dig site and check out the relics and findings at the archaeology museum in Kardzhali.
Located on Bulgaria’s coastlines is another enchanting city, Nessebar. Nessebar is one of the best destinations to visit in Bulgaria because of its magnificent ruins alongside the beautiful beaches. Plus, this city is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site and welcomes many tourists during the summer.
There are lots of attractions to visit in Nessebar. Start your tour by visiting the churches that were built between the 5th and 10th centuries.
Most of these churches are in ruins, but it still gives a significant historic feel. However, churches like the St. Stefan Church and the Church of Christ Pantocrator are well preserved and have excellent medieval architecture on offer.
You should also check out the formidable fortifications built to fight off Ottoman Turks and crusading counts. Also, visit the Roman Baths while exploring this city.
Besides, Nessebar is also known as the “Pearl of the Black Sea” and thus, has fantastic beaches. It is a popular seaside resort destination where you can relax and sunbathe or enjoy water sports. Also, eat fresh seafood while you’re here.
If you are with family, enjoy a day at the Aquapark.
Sozopol is the oldest town in Bulgaria. It is located on the southern Black Sea Coast of Bulgaria and was established by the Greeks in 610 BC. Over the years, many other empires came to rule the land.
You can see the archaeological remains such as ancient walls, fortresses, and Christian complexes, while you explore Sozopol.
Besides, tourists also love spending their time on gorgeous seaside resorts. Sozopol’s beaches and coastlines offer sunbathing, swimming, and other variety of water sports such as surfing, sailing, jet-skiing, and wakeboarding. If you don’t want to get wet, you can play volleyball on the beaches.
Sozopol also has fabulous nightlife. It also hosts numerous cultural events, the most important one being the Apollonia Festival of Arts which takes place in September.
You can also visit St. Thomas Island or St. Ivan Island when you’re here.
15. Rila Monastery
Snuggled amidst Rila Mountains, Rila Monastery is one of the most famous Eastern Orthodox monasteries founded by St. John of Rila in the 10th century. It is also the largest monastery and a veritable symbol in Bulgaria.
Rila Monastery is a must-visit on your Bulgaria trip not just because of its extreme spiritual significance but also because of its fantastic mix of Byzantine, Arabesque, Mamluk, and Romanesque-influenced architecture. Its beautiful black and white arches, massive iron gates, vibrant tiles, and paintings surely will mesmerize you.
Visiting this monastery helps every traveler learn about the history that dates back to more than 1,000 years. It has an onsite library that houses over 250 manuscripts from the 11th century to the 19th century.
It is believed that revolutionary leaders such as Vassil Levski and Peyo Yavorov took refuge in Rila Monastery.
You can stroll its endless courtyards and check out peristyles that are decorated in murals.
If you want to explore more in this area, you can visit the Medi Valley Winery nearby or explore the Rila National Park.
Belogradchik, also known as Kaleto, is a geological wonder that impresses every traveler with its unique sandstone and limestone rock formations, hoodoos, and monoliths. Located on the northward slopes of the Balkan Mountains, you can explore ancient forts, caves, and museums in this place.
The first place to check out is the Belogradchik Rocks. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that is also one of Bulgaria’s natural wonders that constitutes red rock sculptures with weird shapes. These rock formations or hoodoos resemble animals or people, and there are many legends relating to them.
These rocks act as a natural defense to the Belogradchik Fortress, which is another excellent site visit in Belogradchik. It dates back to Roman times.
Also, check out the pre-historic wall art of the Magura Cave, Baba Vida, and the Museum of Nature and Science to get the most out of your Belogradchik.
Located in Veliko Tarnovo in northern Bulgaria, Arbanasi is a picturesque village that is also one of the oldest destinations to visit in Bulgaria. It boasts beautiful cobblestone streets and National Revival-style buildings.
The first attraction you need to visit is the Nativity Church. You will see impressive frescoes that date back to the 16th and 17th centuries.
You should also check out the Konstantsalieva House. It is a National Revival style house where you can learn about people’s lifestyles back in history.
Located on the Danube River at the border with Romania, Ruse is another best place to visit in Bulgaria. It used to be an economic center during the 18th-19th century and after the country’s liberalization. Today, it is an important river port that houses beautiful architectural sites.
Renowned as “Little Vienna,” the city houses the only Bulgarian-Romanian bridge named Ruse-Giurgiu Friendship Bridge. In addition, the city houses more than 300 Neo-Baroque and Neo-Rococo buildings. Strolling the city is the best way to appreciate these impressive buildings.
Another best way to enjoy your Ruse trip is to take a boat trip on the Danube.
Go to the Municipality Hall to check out the brutalist architecture. Also, visit Liberty Square, Freedom Square, Eco-Museum, and Sveta Troitsa Cathedral.
If you’re feeling adventurous, visit the second-largest cave in Bulgaria- Orlova Chuka cave.
19. Sunny Beach
Sunny Beach is every party lover’s paradise. This sun-splashed party city is Bulgaria’s own Ibiza.
There are lots of clubs and pubs offering excellent parties and booze.
In addition, you will meet lots of event promoters inviting you to their themed parties ranging from funky ravers, bikini-clad, neon parties, and whatever is on-trend at the moment.
The Black Sea laps over Sunny Beach, and you can sunbathe and swim by the day, go to an international restaurant and eat Italian pizzas, or hang out at a bar. Of course, you can also enjoy water sports in Sunny Beach.
If you still want to party, you have that too.
It would be great if you also had fun at the Action Aquapark and Go-karting track. Also, visit the WInery Messembria for a laid-back day out.
20. Pobiti Kamani (The Stone Desert)
Pobiti Kamani is the only desert in Bulgaria. Located 20 kilometers west of Varna, it is a natural phenomenon that fascinates every visitor with its dunes, rock formations, and a variety of flora and fauna.
Explore the Pobiti Kamani and check out the rock formations that are hollow from the inside. These stone columns reach up to 7 meters high and look like they are stuck in the sand. This site is something you must witness with your own eyes.