Bulgaria’s largest and most renowned monastery emerges abruptly out of a forested valley in the Rila Mountains. It’s a major attraction for both Bulgarian pilgrims and foreign tourists. On summer weekends the site is especially busy, though at other times it provides more solitude.
With its art galleries, winding cobbled streets and bohemian cafes, Plovdiv (Plov-div) equals Sofia in things cultural and is a determined rival in nightlife as well – it has a lively, exuberant spirit befitting its status as a major university town. Being a smaller and less stressful city than Sofia, Plovdiv is also great for walking.