Bulgaria is one of the largest countries in the Balkans, set along the coast of the Black Sea, and is hidden gem of Europe. Believe it or not there are endless ancient sites to explore, fascinating culture, and breathtaking scenery in this gem of Eastern Europe. From beautiful cities and resort towns, to captivating mountain ranges, castles and the riviera, there is no shortage of places to visit in Bulgaria.
This charming summer destination, known for its ancient ruins and stunning beaches, is situated on a rocky peninsula on the Black Sea. With 3000 years of ruins from 4 empires, the entire city center was placed on the UNESCO World Heritage List for its exceptional historic value…it’s easy to see why this is one of the top places to visit in Bulgaria.
There is plenty to see and do while in Nessebar. While there are ruins aplenty, some of the best sites are the ancient basilicas. Check out these sites on the northern shore of the island:
- The Church of St. Sofia, known as the old Metropolitan Church
- The Church of Virgin Eleusa
- St. Stephen’s Church
St. Sofia and The Church of Virgin Eleusa date back to the early Byzantine period in the 5th and 6th century. The famous St. Stephen’s Church from the 11th century is praised for the artistic details such as ornamented altarpiece and outstanding wall paintings.
The Guidester Difference: Most people miss St Paraskeva Church, a hidden gem that features beautifully preserved ornamental details.
When you are ready to relax, you can take a break and sunbathe on the beaches, enjoy water sports, or the Aqua Park.
Tip: The city can get overcrowded during the high season, from June to September. It’s best to visit Nessebar in the fall.
Known as the Jerusalem of Bulgaria, Rila Monastery is the largest and most famous Eastern Orthodox monastery in the country. It was founded over 1,000 years ago by the Bulgarian Saint Ivan of Rila. This religious site is nestled on the slopes of the Rila, the highest Balkan Peninsula Mountain.
The Guidester Difference: If you’re into hiking and outdoor activities, The Seven Rila lakes are one of Bulgaria’s best attractions and must-see with their incredible scenery!
The lakes are situated one above the other, with the highest at about 2,500m above the sea level. A ski lift operates all year round and takes visitors up to 2,150m for breathtaking panoramic views.
Tip: Since this group of glacial lakes is located high in the Rila Mountains, the summer months are the best time for sightseeing.
You will have a chance to see some breathtaking panoramic views while hiking around.
Kavarna is a Black Sea coastal town and a seaside resort in Northeastern Bulgaria. This port town is one of the best places to visit in Bulgaria due to its a rich history. It was built on the site of an ancient town, Byzone. The region around Kavarna is famous for its unique nature, historic sites, and an attractive place for golf lovers.
The Kaliakra Nature Reserve, 13km southeast of Kavarna, covers nearly the entire Cape Kaliakra. This beautiful cape, with impressive white cliffs, boasts numerous caves.
The Guidester Difference: Hidden in one of the caves is a small Archaeological Museum…a great little hidden gem!
Tip: Into golfing? An amazing golf course is located on a plateau overlooking the sea, between the town Kavarna and the town of Balchik. Famous for its magnificent rugged cliffs, surrounded by the blue waters of the Black Sea, it is considered to be one of the most beautiful golf courses in the world.
On the northern slopes of Balkan Mountains, less than a three-hour drive northwest of Sofia, is situated a place of wonder – Belogradchik. It is famous for its unique sandstone and limestone rock formations, caves, an ancient fort, and museums.
Belogradchik Fortress, a man made construction, with its natural phenomenon – a group of spectacularly shaped rock formations, is a true beauty spot.
The Guidester Difference: Most tourists don’t realize there’s SO much more to see than the rock formations and Belogradchik Fortress. The Magura Cave is widely recognized for the wonderful stone paintings and carvings on its walls, some of them created 7,000 years ago.
Baba Vida, a medieval fortress on the bank of the Danube river, is another gem worth visiting.
This charming place is the smallest city in Bulgaria and home to some of the best wineries in the country, making it one of the top places to visit in Bulgaria. Walking up the town’s main street only takes minutes, but you will want to spend much more after you get the feel of the place.
The Melnik Pyramids and the Rozhen Monastery leave no tourist indifferent.
Tip: The amazing Kordopulova house is a must-see. It dates back to 1754 and it was built by a nobleman Kordopulos. You will be enchanted by the beautiful and spacious rooms, summer and winter gardens and a wine cellar.
The Guidester Difference: This small city is known for its endless vineyards, and a total gem is the Villa Melnik Family Winery. Here you can taste the orange wine – white wine produced by red wine technology.
Koprivshtitsa is a small town is set on the banks of Topolnita River, in the heart of the Sredna Gora mountain range. It is famous for its colorful houses, cobblestone streets, folk festivals, and carnivals. The village is full of memorials and museum houses.
With the authentic Bulgarian architecture, Koprivshtitsa still preserves the atmosphere of the Bulgarian National Revival period of the 19th century.
Tip: While in the Municipality of Sofia Province, make sure to visit Oslekov House, Topalov House, and a historic house museum of LyubenKaravelov.
Set on the foothills of the Rhodope Mountains, Pamporovo is a popular and budget-friendly ski resort in Bulgaria. Summer is perfect for hiking and camping, while in the winter months you can ski and snowboard.
Gentle, easy-to-navigate slopes are perfect for families and skiers who are still novices.
With 270 days of sunshine and alluring pine forests, this area is otherworldly.
8. Pirin National Park
This Park is located in the Pirin Mountains, a vast range in the southwestern part of the country.
Yet another UNESCO World Heritage Site in Bulgaria, the Park is part of the World Network of Biosphere Reserves. It offers a variety of hiking trails, for amateurs and pros, with more than 100 glacial lakes and astonishing glaciers throughout the mountains.
Tip: The route to the largest Popovo Lake is breathtaking and perfect for hikers.
Along with the hundreds of different animal species in the park, this place makes for an unforgettable experience.
As if the history and culture weren’t enough of a draw, the locals are welcoming and friendly, and the food is delicious! There are many more amazing places to this country, just take your pick and immerse yourself in the beautiful scenery, exquisite cuisine and historic heritage!