Bulgaria: a country of ancient cities, mountains, caves and national parks

Bulgaria’s main sights. What is worth seeing first of all?

Bulgaria is famous for the golden sand of its beaches and pristine whiteness of its ski slopes.

But in this country you will find numerous excursion routes that can satisfy the aesthetic tastes of any, even the most fastidious tourists.

The article tells about the sights of this original state, which you can visit on your own.

The border between Russia and Bulgaria is open! About what additional documents are required for the trip and how best to fly to the country, see here.

What to see in the republic first of all (photos and description)?

Capital Sofia

The capital of the Bulgarian state is quite far from the main resort centers of the country, about 350-400 kilometers.

In order to get acquainted with the main sights of Sofia, it is necessary to plan a trip for 1-2 days.

Plovdiv and the monument to the Russian soldier Alyosha

Plovdiv is one of the oldest European cities and the second largest in Bulgaria is located in the southern part of the country near the Rhodope Mountains on the Maritsa River.

Monument to the Russian soldier Alyosha in Plovdiv

On one of the hills of Plovdiv stands a monument to the Russian soldier Alyosha. A few minutes from the city you can see the medieval walls of the fortress Asen, situated on the limestone rocks above the river Asenitsa.

The ancient age of Plovdiv, which in 1956 received the status of historical and architectural reserve, is evidenced by the well-preserved Roman buildings: stadium, forum, odeon, amphitheatre and the ruins of the aqueduct, and in November last year archaeologists found the third bath.

Amphitheater in Plovdiv

Also included in the Old Plovdiv complex are:

  • Dzhumaya Mosque, built by the Turks in the mid-14th century;
  • Church of Great Martyr Marina – a building in the Byzantine style, decorated with frescoes with scenes from the Old Testament;
  • The Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary, erected in 1844 on top of the hill “Nebet Tepe” as a symbol of the Bulgarian revival.

You can immerse yourself in the Bulgarian color and feel the breath of antiquity in the open-air museum on a sightseeing tour from Sofia to Plovdiv.

Nesebar and Sunny Beach

The pearl of Bulgaria and the museum city is the ancient town of Nessebar.

Despite the modest size of the historic part of the city, a tourist will need a few hours to explore the architectural sights of the Roman and Byzantine architecture of the city. According to the reviews of travelers Nessebar is one of the most popular places in the country.

Sozopol

Sozopol is a small resort town located 35 kilometers southeast of Burgas.

The old town was declared an open-air museum since ancient temples and even a Roman amphitheater were preserved here among the old fishermen houses with an unusual architecture (the foundation and the first floor are made of stone, and the first floor – of wood).

The temples of St. George and St. Zosima and the Church of St. Cyril and Methodius are relatively young structures. The most attention is attracted by the ancient Church of St. Virgin Mary with low stone walls and a tile roof overhanging the ground. The main part of the active Church of the Holy Virgin with rare icons from the 15th century is underground.

In the southern part of the Old Sozopol you can see the restored tower and the fortifications of the city wall, once encircling this part of the peninsula.

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To see the excavation and lighthouse (1884), located on St. John’s Island, and to visit St. Peter’s Island, you can take a pleasure boat.

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It is interesting to learn the history of Old Sozopol on a guided tour.

Varna and Golden Sands

Morska Gradina Park in Varna

In the summer capital of Bulgaria, the seaside city of Varna, apart from the popular beaches Golden Sands and Albena, there is also something to see. Take a walk through the Seaside Park, visit the gorgeous Assumption Cathedral and the Roman Thermae.

In the vicinity of Varna are some of the main attractions in Bulgaria: the Alajda Monastery and the Stone Forest.

Balchik

The former residence of the Romanian queen in the town of Balchik, 45 km northeast of Varna, is called “The Quiet Nest”.

The Botanical Garden opened on the territory of the palace in 1955 amazes the visitors not only with the variety of plants, but also with the stunning views of the quiet lakes and sparkling waterfalls. The garden is famous for its collection of giant cacti and its annual spring tulip festival. Hours of operation can be viewed here.

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Veliko Tarnovo

The ancient capital of the Second Bulgarian Kingdom is situated in the northern foothills of the Balkans on three hills that are washed by the waters of the Yantra River and attracts tourists with its architectural monuments.

  1. Ruins of a medieval fortress and the Patriarchal Cathedral on Tsarevets Hill.
  2. Craftsmen’s quarter with the tomb of Bulgarian kings in the Church of the Forty Great Martyrs.
  3. Old town with structures of Bulgarian architect Kolya Ficheto.

Entrance to the Patriarchal Cathedral costs 6 levs. Opening hours are from 08:00 to 19:00 in summer and from 09:00 to 17:00 in winter.

Rila Church

The Rila Monastery, the largest monastery of men included in the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1983, is located 115 km south of Sofia in the valley of the Rila River.

Most often tourists visit the Rila Monastery Museum with its rich collection of icons and exhibits of applied arts, the jewel of which is the Raphael’s Cross, a masterpiece of miniature woodcarving.

The monastery can be visited daily from 07:00 to 20:00. The museum is open: June-September from 9:30 to 18:30, October-May from 08:30 to 16:30. The cost of visiting the museum: 8 levs for adults, 1 lev for children.

The beautiful Valley of Roses

The Valley of Roses is the name of the area in Bulgaria formed by two valleys of the rivers Stryama and Tunja. Due to the unique climate and composition of soils, the region has been growing oil-bearing roses since the 16th century.

The main attraction is the ethno-historical complex “The Tower” in Kazanlak, where tourists can learn the simplest methods of producing rose oil and try rose products. To find out the prices and the opening hours click here.

Cape Kaliakra

One of the most legendary spots on the country’s northern coast is Cape Kaliakra (or nose of Kaliakra, as the Bulgarians call it). Travelers come to Cape Kaliakra to see the stunning view of the sea from the high 70-meter steep shore.

It is known for:

  • The naval battle in which the Russian fleet under the command of Ushakov defeated a superior Turkish squadron in 1791.
  • The legend of the 40 Bulgarian girls who, not wanting to go to the Turkish conquerors, tied up their plaits and threw themselves into the sea.
  • In addition to the monuments erected in honor of these events, there is a small chapel of St. Nicholas and a small museum in a room carved into the rock on the cape.

Burgas

Burgas is a large industrial center of Bulgaria, situated on the western shore of the Black Sea Gulf of the same name. In addition to the wonderful beaches, this port city can attract tourists with many attractions.

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The Regional Historical Museum has gathered such a huge collection that it had to be housed in 4 different buildings with autonomous exhibitions:

  1. Archaeological;
  2. historical;
  3. ethnographic;
  4. natural science.

Marine Park in Burgas

For the exact time of the visit and the ticket prices please click here.

In the art gallery Petko Zadgorski you can see the works of famous Bulgarian icon painters, sculptors, graphic artists and painters (more than 2800 works). The opening hours are Monday – Friday from 09:00 till 18:00 clock. The entrance fee is 3 lev.

After the noisy beaches you can relax in the quietness of the Marine Park, which occupies 7 km of coastal area. The visitors’ attention is also attracted by the Festival of Sand Figures which is held every year from July to September.

Pirin National Park

The park was established in the Pirin mountain range in 1962, and today it covers an area of 400 km2. Pirin is located in the southwest of the country between the Mesta and Strouma rivers.

The abundance of high-altitude glacial lakes, fir and beech forests and 2,000 species of animals will not leave indifferent the tourists who prefer trekking (hiking). It is very important that you can go hiking in the family. You can see the routes of the park Pirin on the official website.

Castle in Ravadinovo

A few kilometers from Sozopol in the village of Ravadinovo, for over 20 years, the marble limestone castle of the same name has been under construction.

In the future it will be a 5000 m2 luxury hotel with 60 rooms, but today tourists can walk in the surroundings, visit the cellar with a wine cellar or a mini zoo. Admission to the park: in season – 20 levs, at other times – 10 levs, children under 7 years of age pass for free.

Once in the fairy tale, you can also go to the nearby water park “Neptune”.

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Church of Vanga in Rupita

In order to get to the Church of Sveta Petka B’garska admirers of the visionary Vanga have to go to the village of Rupite, located near the crater of the ancient volcano Kozhukh. The village is located in southwestern Bulgaria near the town of Petrich.

Church “Sveta Petka” and the monument to Vanga

The church has a large park with a variety of fruit trees, a cafe and two lakes with hot water and fountains. In the opposite direction from the church there is a huge white cross in the form of steps leading to its top on a rock. Vanga’s grave is next to the temple.

There you can also visit two small houses where Vanga lived in one and received guests in the other. The museum is open from 08:00 to 18:00, the cost of a visit is 2 leva.

The most popular among tourists are the 3 pools behind the fence of the temple, filled with hot mineral water.

Prohodna Cave

The Karst Cave “Eyes of God” situated near the village of Karlukovo, 115 km northeast of Sofia, is one of the most visited caves by tourists in Bulgaria.

It is a natural rock bridge with a height of the vault of 35 to 45 meters. There is a tourist trail inside, even a small house, but most of all the attention is attracted by the two huge holes in the rock, very much like human eyes from the corners of which during the rain streams “tears” flow.

You can visit the cave at any time and for free.

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Here you can find accommodation in Bulgaria:

Old Town in Pomorie

Monastery of St. George in Pomorie

The most interesting for tourists is the old part of Pomorie, located on a small peninsula northeast of Burgas. The two isthmuses connecting the city with the mainland form Pomorie Lake.

However, the most beautiful monastery of St. George in Bulgaria is located in the new town. Travelers should definitely visit the museum, find the icon of St. George the Victorious and drink water from the healing spring.

In 2002, Pomorie opened the Museum of Salt, which consists of a one-story building and 25 hectares of salt ponds, where you can see all the stages of extraction of the product. Cost to visit: 3 leva for adults, 2 leva for children.

Bata Village

The typical Bulgarian village of Bata is situated 25 km away from the popular resort Sunny Beach. The so called Bulgarian Nights are held there. Every tourist is welcomed with a glass of brandy at the entrance, and then is invited to a table for at least 500 people.

The guests are treated with grilled meat and wine on “all inclusive” system, and children are offered master-classes on pottery. The guests and hosts are happy with such gatherings.

The village can be visited daily, and the ethnographic evenings take place from 19:00 to 23:00 on Saturdays. The entrance fee is BGN 30 for an adult and BGN 20 for a child.

Other places of interest

Belogradchik

Near the Serbian border in the northwest of the country is the town of Belogradchik, famous for its ridge of bizarrely shaped rocks that are over 200 million years old. Also of architectural and historical value is the fortress, built by the Romans in the first century AD.

Geravna

In the middle part of the Balkan Mountains, near the town of Kotol, is the village Zheravna. It is included in the list of “One hundred national tourist sites” because of the well preserved more than two hundred wooden houses erected during the Bulgarian struggle for independence from the Ottoman Empire.

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Shipka

The Monument of Freedom on the Shipka Pass The main attractions of the town of Shipka, located at the southern foot of the Balkan Mountains:

  • The Monument of Freedom on the Shipka Pass, a memorial to fallen soldiers in the Russo-Turkish War of 1877-78;
  • Memorial Church of the Nativity of Christ, which was built in memory of the Russian and Bulgarian soldiers who died in the battle for the pass.

Thracian Tomb in Sveshtari.

In the northeastern part of the country, 2.5 km from the village of Sveshtari, during the excavations of the hill fort in 1982 the Thracian Tomb was discovered. After that 26 more mounds were found and the area was declared an archaeological reserve. The tomb can be visited on weekdays from 09:30 to 16:30.

Ovech Fortress

50 km west of Varna, near the town of Provadia, are the remains of the ancient fortress Ovech. The Thracians, the Romans, the Turks and the Bulgarians used it for centuries. Nowadays the steep banks are used for photo shoots and archery and javelin throwing are the favorite amusements of the tourists.

Opening hours: from 08:00 to 18:30 hours, tickets: 2 leva for adults, 1 leva for children.

To see ticket prices, click here:

Krushun Waterfalls

These waterfalls, located 35 km from the town of Lovech in northern Bulgaria, are called a smaller copy of the well-known Plitvice waterfalls in Croatia. Several karst rapids form a small but very picturesque 20-meter cascade of descending water.

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In order to get to the Krusun waterfalls it is necessary to walk 1.5 km through the gorge along the river.

Arbanasi .

Three kilometers from Veliko Tarnovo there is an ethnographic open-air museum – the village of Arbanasi. This village was founded by wealthy Albanian craftsmen who built fortress-like houses. Thanks to this, the buildings erected in the XVI-XVII centuries, have survived to this day.

Open to the public are the Church of the Nativity, the Konstantsaliev House and the Church of the Holy Archangels. Open to visitors: April to October from 09:00 to 18:00, November to March from 09:00 to 17:00. Entrance fee: 6 levs for adults, free for children under 7 years old.

Yaylata Archaeological Reserve

Yaylata Archaeological Reserve is situated to the northeast of Cape Kaliakra and one kilometer away from Kamen Bryag. The main attraction – the rock town, consisting of more than 100 natural caves, inhabited by people in the V century BC.

Tourist map with the names for self-guided tours

The map shows interesting places, photos, description and name of which are contained in the article. You can download it by clicking on the link.

As you can see from the article, Bulgaria has many interesting sights that deserve the attention of the traveler. But in the memory of tourists, in addition to the amazing beauty of the local places, the friendliness and hospitality of the locals forever remain.

Bulgaria: a country of ancient cities, mountains, caves and national parks

Nessebar is a popular tourist resort located on a rocky peninsula on the Black Sea coast. It is connected to the mainland by the only bridge that used to create a very appropriate strategic position. Nessebar gained its popularity not only because of the beautiful sandy beaches, but also because of a number of monuments. Nessebar is one of the oldest towns in Europe, so it is no wonder that every year it attracts crowds of tourists. The fact that the historic center of Nessebar is included in the UNESCO World Heritage List, testifies to its uniqueness. In the old center you can admire the typical wooden houses, churches and paved streets.

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The town of Nessebar

Rila Monastery

The most famous and largest Bulgarian monastery which is also under the auspices of UNESCO belongs to the Orthodox Church. The huge complex amazes with four-storey houses and an inner courtyard with a church. The only thing that was not destroyed by a fire in the 19th century and is preserved in its original form is the tower of the 14th century. During the tour you can admire the courtyard of the monastery, the former kitchen, the architecture of the church and there is also a museum . However, access to the arcades and the upper floors is only possible if you are accommodated in the monastery.

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Rila Monastery

Cathedral of St. Alexander Nevsky

The cathedral is located in Sofia, the capital of Bulgaria. The building dates from 1904 and can accommodate up to 5,000 people. It serves as the residence of the Bulgarian Patriarch of the Orthodox Church and houses the relics of Alexander Nevsky inside. But most of all admires its neo-Byzantine architecture . The walls are decorated with marble, gold and mosaics.

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Cathedral of St. Alexander Nevsky

Old Town Plovdiv

The second largest city in Bulgaria is called Plovdiv and is divided into new and old parts . In the old part there are historically decorated houses made of wood and stone. You can walk through the unique streets of the 18th and 19th centuries. Near the old part of the town there is a hill called Nebet Tepe from which the whole town can be seen. At the same time there is an archaeological complex from the V century, which today consists mainly of ruins.

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Old Town Plovdiv

Vitosha Mountain

Lovers of peace and nature should certainly visit a place called Vitosha, which is located very close to the capital. It is a beautiful mountain with many forests and hiking trails. It is an ideal place for quiet walks. During the winter months Vitosha, is a great place for skiers, since it has a lot of ski elevators and cableways, which can take you to the top of the mountain, 2290 meters.

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Vitosha Mountain

Old Town of Sozopol

Sozopol is a very old Bulgarian town. It is believed to have begun its existence in the 7th century BC, which is probably why its historic center full of narrow streets and architectural gems was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List. The stone and wooden houses of the 18th and 19th centuries are similar to the ones you can see in Nessebar or Plovdiv. Sozopol is often visited by tourists, especially during the summer months. The reason for that are two long sandy beaches with golden sand.

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Old Town of Sozopol

Rose Valley

Roses bloom in spring all over the 120 km long valley. It is said that up to 70% of the world’s production of rose oil, which is used in cosmetics and perfumes, comes from here. The famous Rose Festival is held here every year. Apart from that you can just take a look at the Rose Museum, where there is a lot of information about the production and processing. For example, to produce one kilogram of rose oil, you need three thousand kilograms of leaves. This means that it would take about three million flowers, which yields a crop of one hectare .

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Rose Valley

The Devil’s Throat Cave

The Rhodope Mountains are very popular with hikers because of their diversity. There are many small streams, waterfalls, caves and other natural sights to be found during the hike, but the most notable of them, Devil’s Throat Gorge . It is the highest underground waterfall in the Balkans. Along the way, the noise begins, which increases with each step. It is the hole in the ground where the water pours in, which is the cause of such a huge noise . The trail itself through the cave leading to the waterfall looks intimidating. Not to mention the legend that this is where Orpheus descended into the underworld.

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The Devil’s Throat Cave

Pirin National Park

There are a total of three national parks in Bulgaria, the largest of which is Rila, and the oldest is Pirin, a UNESCO World Heritage Site . It is rather a mountain range with the highest mountain Vihren, a large number of glacial lakes and unexplored caves. Most of the mountains are composed of granite or limestone and the forests are pine trees, some up to 500 years old. The park has many hiking trails, so you can go hiking and enjoy a walk in unspoiled nature. However, you should be careful. In Pirin you can meet wild bears, mountain goats and deer.

The average temperature in the country is 10.5 ° C. And this means that in winter you can safely ski in Bulgaria . The slopes are in good condition and usually offer very good conditions for skiing. In Pirin alone, the length of the ski slopes is more than 40 km . Then you can warm up with the real Bulgarian brandy “Rakija”. There is also an easily digestible cuisine, consisting mainly of fish and vegetables. Perhaps that is why Bulgarian cuisine is considered one of the healthiest in the world .

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Pirin National Park

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