Places to see in Bulgaria
Located in the southeastern part of Europe, Bulgaria is a beautiful Balkan nation with diverse landscapes like the Black Sea Coast, rivers and mountainous interior.
The capital of the country is Sofia, a beautiful city located in the western part of the country, below the Vitosha Mountain.
Bulgaria is a country with a rich history, amazing landscapes, welcoming people and beautiful beaches.
Let’s discover together the most beautiful places in the country, places which anyone has to see:
Located on the eastern part of the country right on the Bulgarian Black Sea Coast, Nessebar or Nesebur is an ancient city from Burgas Province.
Named by many as the “Pearl of the Black Sea”, this city-museum has more than 3 millennia of history behind it. This place was a Thracian settlement at the beginning of time and during the 6th century, BC was transformed into a Greek colony.
Most of the monuments dating from the Hellenistic period including the acropolis, an agora and a temple. The walls are even older, most of them are the remaining of the Thracian fortifications.
But Nessebar is not just ancient ruins. It is also about beautiful beaches, great restaurants and amazing views.
Nessebar, one of the most beautiful places to see in Bulgaria has 3 main beaches: South Beach of Nessebar also known as the Dune, a rocky beach right near the city park and the North Beach, the one near Sunny Beach resort.
The one I like most is the Dune because it has beautiful sand, the bottom of the sea is sandy with gentle slopes and you need to walk a little bit until you go into the water.
Where to sleep: Festa Panorama Hotel is our proposal for your overnight stay in Nessebar. The hotel is located in the new part of the town, just 100 metres from the beach.
The hotel has 2 restaurants, 3 bars, an entertainment program and a playground for all kinds of activities.
2. Sunny Beach
The construction of this man-made resort started in 1958 when the communist party wanted to develop the natural resources of the sea and sandy beaches along the 380 kilometres coastline which is under Bulgarian jurisdiction.
The resort was designed to be a seaside paradise, with a lot of greenery, many family-friendly places and a magnificent sandy beach.
Everything started with a few hotels and ended up in what we can see today: hundreds of hotels, many aqua parks, one of the most vibrant nightlife from the Black Sea and many tourists roaming around the entire summer.
Its 15 kilometres of the beach is one of the most beautiful from the area. No wonder why year by year, part of this huge strip of sand is awarded the Blue Flag Certificate.
Sunny Beach definitely is one of the best places to see in Bulgaria if you are looking for endless parties, amazing beaches and beautiful scenery!
The resort is conveniently located 30 kilometres away from Burgas, where is located the second largest airport from Bulgaria. That is why getting to Sunny Beach is easier than you’d ever imagined. From the airport, you can take the bus, a taxi or a rented car and in about 30 minutes you reach your hotel.
Where to sleep: My favourite hotel from this resort is RIU Palace Sunny Beach - adults only, 18+. It is an adults-only hotel with an amazing outdoor pool, great spa and beautiful rooms overlooking the sea. What I liked most about this hotel is the quality of the services and the food! They are just perfect!
The fourth-largest city from Bulgaria and the second-largest city from the Bulgarian Black Sea Coast, Burgas is a port city and a popular holiday resort with beautiful beaches and interesting nightlife. It is definitely one of the best places to see in Bulgaria! Burgas is located on the eastern part of the country right near the Black Sea.
Holidays in Burgas are about spending time with your family, visiting the beautiful Sea Garden and the archaeological sites and museums from the city.
At 10 kilometres away from the city is the second-largest airport from the country, Burgas International airport which connects the southern part of Bulgaria with the rest of the world.
There are domestic and international flights from all over Europe which land here. During the summer season, many charters from the UK and other western European cities bring thousands of tourists to spend their summer holiday on the Black Sea Coast.
A big plus about this city is its location. It is located within 30 to 50 kilometres away from the main attractions of the area. So, if you plan to explore this part of Balkan Peninsula, set your camp in Burgas and enjoy your holiday!
Among the most important places to see in Bulgaria Burgas, I would like to name the following: the Sea Garden, the Archeology Museum, Sozopol, North Beach, St Anastasia Island and Deultum Bulgaria.
All these places are extremely beautiful and are located within the city or in the nearby area.
Where to sleep: Avenue Hotel Deluxe is a great 4 stars hotel with free parking, located 4 kilometres away from the city centre. The hotel is new, it was open in 2019. The rooms are clean, modern and spacious, while the breakfast is good with plenty of options.
Like Burgas, Varna is also a port city. This city is the third-largest from Bulgaria and is located on the northern part of the Bulgarian Black Sea Coast.
It has its own airport, smaller than the one from Burgas, operating mostly domestic flights and charters during the summer season.
One of the best places to visit in Bulgaria, Varna is famous for the “Gold of Varna” a 6.000 years old Thracian jewellery discovered beneath the ruins of the old city. Today, this beautiful piece of history is displayed inside the Archeological Museum together with other Greek, Ottoman and Roman artefacts.
The city has quite a few small beaches with beautiful sand and turquoise waters.
While in Varna include into your list a short visit to the Sea Garden which is very beautiful and well maintained, the Aladzha Monastery, the Archeological Museum of Varna where you can see the “Gold of Varna”, the Roman Baths and the Dolphinarium.
Where to sleep: Graffit Gallery Design Hotel Varna is our top choice for Varna. The hotel is located within 10 minutes walk from the city centre. The rooms and the bathroom are extremely modern and spacious while the food is tasty and fresh.
5. Rila Monastery
Rila Monastery or Monastery of Saint Ivan of Rila is the largest and most famous Orthodox monastery from Bulgaria.
It is located in the southwestern part of the Rila Mountains, just 120 kilometres away from Sofia, the capital of Bulgaria.
The monastery is named after his founder, Ivan of Rila and is home for around 60 monks.
This UNESCO World Heritage site, one of the best places to see in Bulgaria is composed of the monastery, the museum and the residential part.
The major church of the monastery was erected in the middle of the 19th century. Its engineer is Pavel Ivanov, who worked on it from 1834 to 1837. The church has five domes, three altars as well as 2 side chapels, while the most valuable items inside is the gold-plated iconostasis, well-known for its wood-carving, the creation of which took five years to four handicraftsmen: Atanas Teladur, Petar and Georgi Dashini and Dimitar Stanishev.
The frescoes ended up in 1846, are the job of many masters from Bansko, Samokov as well as Razlog, consisting of the famous brothers Zahari Zograf and also Dimitar Zograf.
The church is additionally residence to numerous valuable icons, dating from the 14th to the 19th century. Porticos in the courtyard have Mamluk influences with the candy-striped paint and also the domes, which came to be a lot more popular in the Ottoman Empire after the conquest of Egypt.
This unique place can be visited by tourists after a strict scheduler and dressed in appropriate clothes.
Where to sleep: Open to the public at the beginning of 2019, 103 Degrees Hotel is a brand new hotel with modern rooms, excellent spa area, a large indoor pool and a cool hammam.
The hotel is located in a quiet village, 18 kilometres away from Rila Monastery and offers a generous courtyard with a children’s playground and a fitness centre.
For sure Sofia, the capital of Bulgaria is one of the best places to see in Bulgaria. The city is located in the western part of the country at the foot of Vitosha Mountains.
The place is full of history and each nation who passed by here left their traces in the city’s past. Let’s take for example the Medieval Boyana Church which was built in the 13th century! Or, St George Rotunda Church built by Romans in the 4th century! Everywhere around the city, you will see Greek, Roman, Ottoman and Soviet influences!
There are many interesting places to visit when in Sofia but for most of us time is limited! That I why I will tell you which are the most important places to see when visiting this magnificent city:
- The Cathedral Saint Aleksandar Nevski
- Boyana Church Museum
- Vitosha Boulevard
- Banya Bashi
- National Palace of Culture
Where to sleep: Located right in the heart of the city, Grand Hotel Sofia is our top choice when speaking about Sofia accommodation. The hotel is located close to the city gardens, National Theatre and all major government institutions.
An interesting thing about the hotel is that it has a huge collection of paintings which can be admired all across the hotel.
The hotel has a very fancy restaurant where you can serve selected dishes from international cuisine.
7. Veliko Tarnovo
Listed as one of the best places to see in Bulgaria, Veliko Tarnovo is a small town in north-central Bulgaria also known as the “City of the Tsars”.
Veliko Tarnovo is located on the Yantra River and is notoriously known as the historical capital of the Second Bulgarian Empire, bringing in lots of tourists with its unique architecture.
The old part of the town is positioned on three hills, Tsarevets, Trapezitsa, as well as Sveta Gora, rising in the middle of the twists of the Yantra.
On Tsarevets are the royal residences of the Bulgarian emperors as well as the Patriarchate, the Patriarchal Sanctuary, and likewise a number of administrative and also residential erections surrounded by thick walls.
Veliko Tarnovo is the perfect destination for those of you interested in local culture and traditions. The town is like an open museum and impresses with its buildings and architecture.
While in Veliko Tarnovo grab a taxi or your rented car and visit Arbanassi, a small village located 15 minutes away from the town.
Where to sleep: Boutique Hotel and Spa Tsarevets is our recommendation for Veliko Tarnovo. It is a brand new hotel, open by the end of 2019 located 1 kilometre away from the city centre. The hotel is modern and clean, offering an indoor pool, a spa centre. From some of the rooms, you can see the fortress and the laser show from some nights.
Located at the bottom of the Pirin Mountains, in the southwest part of Bulgaria Bansko is the most famous and the largest ski resort from the country.
It is one of the best places to see in Bulgaria and a popular destination for winter sports lovers.
Bansko is located just 160 kilometres from the capital of the country and is extremely easy to reach by car.
The highest peak from the area is Vihren with a total height of 2.914 m; the ski area stretches between 2.000 and 2.600 metres altitude.
Bansko is a very modern ski resort from Bulgaria is the only place from Bulgaria where the ski season is open between 15 of December to 15 of May.
In the last few years, massive investments have been done in the area, so tourists can enjoy a large variety of hotels and apartments as well as restaurants and spa centres.
This is the best place to go if you are a mountain lover! During winter you can practise winter sports and in summer you can go hiking and exploring the mountainous area!
Where to sleep: Lucky Bansko Aparthotel SPA & Relax is the place where we stayed when we visited Bansko. It is a very modern hotel, close to the centre with an incredible spa and very spacious rooms. The food, the services and the restaurants are great, too!
Plovdiv is a beautiful ancient city located in the southern part of Bulgaria. It is the second-largest city from Bulgaria and the most important city from the historical area called Thracia.
Plovdiv is one of the oldest cities from Europe and was built by Thracians. Then was conquered by Greece and then by Romans and each of these nations left their traces in the area.
It is a city full of history and is considered by many as one of the most beautiful places to see in Bulgaria!
Among the most important places to visit while in the area are: Ancient Theater of Philippopolis, Ancient Town of Plovdiv, the Roman Stadium, Bachkovo Monastery and the Clock Tower.
Where to sleep: We slept at Landmark Creek Hotel and Spa, a 4 stars hotel located 4 kilometres away from the city centre. The hotel is located right near the Rowing Base from the city. You can have access free of charge to the fitness area and to the outdoor pool. Spa treatments and the wellness area is accessible only if you pay. The rooms are OK and the breakfast was more than decent. It is a good choice for those wanting to spend a few days in Plovdiv.
10. Pirin National Park
Previously known as Vihren National Park, Pirin National Park covers a vast territory of the Pirin Mountains. It is one of the third national parks from the country besides Rila National Park and Central Balkan National Park.
The park’s altitude is between 1008 and 2914 metres and comprises many glacial lakes, waterfalls, caves and coniferous forests.
In this park, you can find the most beautiful hiking in the entire country! There are more than 20 marked hiking trails in the park. Along these trails, you will have the unique opportunity to discover the beauty of this park!
One of the most interesting trails is the one that climbs up to Mount Vihren, the second largest peak from Bulgaria. The round trip lasts for about 6 hours and offers incredible views over the mountains.
There are also shorter and easier trails for those with less experience or for families with kids!
Where to sleep: Vihren hut is a choice for mountain lovers. It is located up in the mountains and is open only during summertime. To be prepared for everything, bring with you a sleeping bag, although finding a sleeping place in the hut is not that difficult.
These are definitely the most beautiful places to see in Bulgaria which should be included on your travel itinerary.
All of them are beautiful and unique and offer you the unique opportunity to get to know this amazing country!