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.
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.
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 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
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 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.
Attractions of Bulgaria
Bulgaria has a small area, but despite this, can offer tourists a lot of unique places. Especially popular are the cities of Sofia, Varna and Plovdiv. There are concentrated historical buildings and monuments. There are also other cities worth seeing. It is possible to allocate the main sights of Bulgaria, which is desirable to visit in the first place. They will allow you to learn much more about the country and its coloring.
This is a unique architectural construction. It is situated in a small but interesting town of Varna. The monastery is made in the rock, which is almost steep. This makes access inside difficult and hidden from the outside. It is one of the oldest buildings in the country that has survived to this day. There is a museum at the entrance to the structure. In it travelers are offered to learn a lot of interesting things about the foundation of the monastery and its historical past. Periodically exhibitions are held there. The monastery itself consists of two tiers. At a small distance from it are the catacombs. The monks used them as a refuge from the Turkish invaders.
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The attraction is a large monastery complex. Its territory is about 8800 square meters. It is a male monastery built in the mountains on the outskirts of the city of Sofia. It is famous for its unique architecture, carved iconostases, painted walls. The monastery keeps the relics of John of Rila, as well as the cross of Raphael, which depicts 650 figures on religious themes. The decoration and beauty of the building will allow you to appreciate its greatness.
Another medieval attraction is Tsarevets Fortress. It is built in Veliko Tarnovo on a rocky hill and can be seen from afar. The fortress walls are still strong and surround the hill from all sides. At the foot of the hill there are Byzantine buildings. It’s often the site of public events. In the center of the hill there is a palace complex with royal chambers and a throne room.
The fortress is interesting to visit not only during the day but also at night. At this time there is an audio-visual spectacle with projectors and lamps. It is accompanied by chiming bells and lasers. This show can be seen not every day, but on request for groups of 30 people or more. Photos of places of interest in Bulgaria allow you to imagine this show in more detail.
At the highest point the Holy Ascension Patriarchal Church has been preserved, which stands out for its size and architecture. It has a medieval appearance and remains active today and an attractive pilgrimage site.
The uniqueness of this site is in its location. It rises on a lonely rock and has a medieval look. It is one of the popular and visited places in Bulgaria. The first records about the fortress date back to the 11th century. It used to be a defense castle of strategic importance because it was virtually impossible to get to it by mountain. Today Asen’s fortress has been restored and opened.
This is a small palace, which in comparison with other similar structures can be considered quite modest. It used to serve as a summer royal residence, but today it is used for government meetings. When it is not in session, Euxinograd is open to tourists. A park with green areas and a greenhouse are of great interest. There is also a wine cellar which is used to store the best Bulgarian wine. Tourists are offered a wine tasting.
Palace of Queen Maria
The palace is located on the Black Sea coast and was the residence of Queen Maria. It is a small two-story building consisting of several rooms. In the palace there is a stone throne on which you can sit. The palace attracts attention because of its beauty and harmonious architecture. It is surrounded by a variety of flowers, greenhouses and evergreen lianas. They blend well with the old building, making its modest decoration more colorful, bright and memorable.
The Old Town of Nessebar
When choosing the attractions of Bulgaria, it is worth visiting Nessebar. It amazes with its buildings and archaeological research, thanks to which it has the status of a museum city. Nessebar is unique in that a large part of it went under water centuries ago. In good weather it can be seen from the land. The remaining part of the old town includes ancient buildings, interesting squares, cobblestone streets and a large number of orthodox churches. These include the Church of St. John the Baptist. It is the most popular among tourists church, which is located in the center. The church was built in the medieval style. Inside it is decorated simply. Now it is not held services.
Alexander Nevsky Cathedral
Another main and famous landmark in Bulgaria is the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral. It has a large size and beautiful appearance with complex architecture. The height of the building is about 45 meters. At the same time the domes are equipped with crosses 5 meters high. The cathedral is able to accommodate simultaneously up to 5 thousand people. The interior includes a large number of frescoes and icons. The ringing of the bells creates an impressive sound. The cathedral is located in Sofia.
The city of Plovdiv is another place worth visiting for tourists. Especially interesting is the center, which has preserved the Old Town with its ancient Roman Amphitheater. It used to host gladiatorial fights, theatrical performances, and various meetings. Despite the antiquity of the building, there are still performances. Singers and musicians performed on the arena.
Bachkovo Men’s Monastery.
Republic of Bulgaria, the attractions of which are so multifaceted, includes many monasteries. One of them – Bachkovo Monastery – can be singled out. It was founded back in the XI century. It is a unique construction, which combines several cultures. In the center there is the church of Holy Trinity, and nearby there is a cemetery. Now this monastery is included in the list of monuments under state protection.
Deciding to see all the sights of Bulgaria, you should pay attention to the Museum of Wine, located in the city of Pleven. Its entrance is decorated as if carved in a cave. Because of that, the museum looks more interesting and unusual. There are rough bars on the windows, which makes the building look like the buildings of the Middle Ages. Here you can not only taste the best wines, but also learn a lot of interesting things about winegrowing. There are two tasting rooms, as well as a history room. There is also an exhibition hall.
Hagia Sophia Cathedral
It is one of the most attractive sights in Bulgaria. The temple acts as a functioning church. It belongs to the buildings of IV century. Over the years it has been destroyed many times, but the massiveness of the building and its coloring required restoration and reconstruction. It is very important to the city, so its condition is now quite acceptable. The cathedral is depicted on the coat of arms of Sofia. Its form is in the form of a cross with unusual flat domes. On the windows are lattices. The building itself has an impressive appearance, which arouses the interest of travelers.
What else to see in Bulgaria?
When choosing what to see in Bulgaria, you can pay attention to the small sights. They are no less interesting and worth a visit. Among them are the unique natural places.
The town-reserve Veliko Tarnovo
It is a small town of cultural value. It is recognized as the center of literature of the country. The city has picturesque nature. In the fourteenth century, it was built with beautiful houses and monuments, but later almost burned by the Ottomans. In 1878 everything began to be built anew. As a result, today the city acts as a nature reserve. Especially the Patriarchal Cathedral of the Ascension is especially appreciated here.
The town of Gabrovo can be fully considered an architectural landmark of Bulgaria. It is well developed economically and is of great importance for the whole country. The town is notable for its traditional jokes that are known all over the world. It has a House of Satire and Humor, which keeps interesting exhibits. Every year Gabrovo hosts humorous festivals.
Bulgaria has not only Christian churches and monuments, but also mosques. One of them is the Dzhumaya Mosque. It is located in Plovdiv and was erected in 1364, but was later rebuilt and changed by order of Sultan Murad 2, who wished to erect a more majestic building. Today the mosque attracts attention with its large size and rich interior decoration. There is more of a floral-themed sculpture. Tourists can only enter the mosque if they are dressed accordingly. The entire body must be covered with clothing and shoes must be removed. Women enter only in headscarf.
City of Varna
To see the sights of Bulgaria, it is worth going to Varna. It is a port city with a well-developed hotel service. Here guests can stay in comfort or find inexpensive accommodations. One of the famous places to visit is Varna Aquarium. The building where it is situated was built in 1912 and has an attractive façade with bas-reliefs. There are three halls containing aquariums with more than 140 species of various aquatic inhabitants. These include not only fish, but octopus, crabs and all kinds of sea birds.
Another tourist attraction in Varna is the Archaeological Museum. It will be of interest primarily to those who are interested in history and culture. The museum has an attractive appearance. Here are collections of ancient exhibits. Anyone can see them. There is a lake near the city that can be considered a natural landmark. It is the largest and deepest in the country. Those who wish can ride a watercraft here.
The fortress and the rocks of Belogradchik
Belogradchik rocks are very popular. They can rightfully be called the natural attractions of the country. They are surrounded by picturesque nature. Among the rocks there is an ancient fortress that used to be a fortress for the Romans and later for the Turks, Byzantines and Bulgarians. It was built of stone and red sandstone, as well as brick. Now there are two caves in the rocks and in the fortress itself there is an observatory.
This is a unique area with distinctive flora and fauna. The reserve has become a UNESCO site. Here, forests and plants are preserved. It is strictly forbidden to cut trees. Tourists can see the beautiful scenery. There are excursion routes through the reserve. Under protection is also the animal world. Many species of rare birds live on the protected territory of Kamchia. Necessary conditions have been created for them to maintain their population. Climatic conditions of the area are well suited for a relaxing vacation.
Rotunda of St. George
It is an ancient landmark built in the 4th century. It is located in Sofia. It used to be a baptistery and then a mosque. Today the rotunda works more as a museum, but services are still held there. The building is made of brick and has narrow windows. Inside, there are ancient frescoes. Next to the building there are six annexes.
There is another church in Boyana village. It stands at the foot of Vitosha mountain. Its peculiarity consists of three parts. So it happened due to the fact that it was built in three stages. The first part is the temple, the second part is a two-storey church, and the third part is an annex to the temple. The walls of Boyana Church still bear murals, which were made in the Byzantine style during the medieval period. Their main peculiarity is contrast and flattened depiction of saint faces. This makes them more emotional.
Ruins of ancient Pliska
Another antiquity in Bulgaria are the ruins located in the town of Pliska. They occupy a large area, which is about 2,300 hectares. There used to be an entire city with stone buildings on this site. During the excavations of the ancient city a water supply network made of clay pipes was discovered. Excavations in the ruins are still going on.
Valley of Roses
Nature lovers can go to the Valley of Roses. It is a large magical garden that blooms in early summer. Roses are grown here mainly for industrial purposes. They are used to make the useful rose oil. Tours of the valley are arranged. During them you can see the process of collecting precious rose petals, as well as buy products made of them. These can be incense based on extracts or natural cosmetics. The local climate is favorable for the cultivation of damask rose. The bushes are dotted with flowers of different shades. Their scent spreads to the surrounding area. In honor of the harvest of flowers festival with dances and festivities until night.
Baba Vida Fortress
The building stands in the town of Vidin. It is a large medieval fortress with a large moat. Its area is 9 hectares. The outer wall of the fortress is 2 meters thick. Inside the walls were built buildings. Here you can see the towers and the former prison, which now houses a museum. Its exhibits are medieval instruments of torture. Everything is very realistic and interesting. On the terrace there is a real gallows. In the fortress are often held festivals, summer theatrical performances, concerts and interesting events for tourists.
Seven Rila Lakes
This is a beautiful area with unforgettable nature. The lakes are located on the Rila Mountains. To get to them, you need to climb the elevator. Of course you can walk, but it will take more time, because you will have to walk through the mountains and forest vegetation. Glacial lakes amaze by their beauty and purity of water. They are located against the backdrop of mountain peaks, which makes the picture even more colorful.
The description of the attractions in Bulgaria allows you to choose the places you want to visit first. It is an interesting country with its own culture. Its medieval buildings and churches attract tourists from all over the world. To see all the interesting places will take a lot of time, so it is advisable to come here for several weeks.