Bulgaria’s main sights. What is worth seeing first of all?
Bulgaria is famous for the golden sand of its beaches and pristine white 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)?
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 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.
The history of Old Sozopol is interesting to learn 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.
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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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.
- Ruins of a medieval fortress and the Patriarchal Cathedral on Tsarevets Hill.
- Craftsmen’s quarter with the tomb of Bulgarian kings in the Church of the Forty Great Martyrs.
- 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.
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. The cost of the visit and opening hours can be found here.
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 on the cape and a small museum in a room carved into the rock.
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.
The Regional Historical Museum has gathered such a huge collection that it had to be housed in 4 different buildings with autonomous exhibitions:
- natural science.
Marine Park in Burgas
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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 levs.
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 mountain 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.
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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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.
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 are held on Saturdays from 19:00 to 23:00. The entrance fee is BGN 30 for an adult and BGN 20 for a child.
Other places of interest
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.
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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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.
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.
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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.
In order to get to the Krusun waterfalls it is necessary to walk 1.5 km through the gorge along the river.
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 up to 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.