Food & Drink
Bulgaria's capital is the country's cultural heart, with centuries-old religious art and cutting-edge installations. Seek Thracian treasures in the Archaeological Museum, peruse Bulgarian paintings at the National Art Gallery, or visit a battalion of Lenins at the Museum of Socialist Art.
Experience a calmer side to Sofia amid the greenery of Borisova Gradina, spun with shady pathways and child-friendly play areas. Alternatively, City Garden and the university's Botanic Garden are pleasant escapes from the city bustle.
Sofia has some of Bulgaria's best and most varied restaurants. Go beyond high-quality traditional Bulgarian cuisine, and let your taste buds explore Turkish and Moroccan dishes, Italian gelato and coffee, and an increasing range of veggie options.
Black Sea Coast
Bulgaria's Black Sea coastline is the country's biggest tourist draw, boasting long and inviting sandy beaches. Top up your tan, try jet-skiing or parasailing at the big resorts, or find a hidden cove in the far north or south.
With histories stretching back millennia, the Black Sea's quaint towns are a joy to explore. Take a trip back in time through the cobbled lanes of Sozopol and explore the ruined medieval churches of Nesebâr.
The Black Sea coast has many of Bulgaria's best clubs. The big package resorts have the pick of the bunch, attracting international DJs and acts, while Varna is summertime party central for young Bulgarians.
Plovdiv & Southern Mountains
Plovdiv’s old town is an impeccable host for some of the Balkans’ most distinctive art galleries, housing vibrant contemporary sculpture, Mexican art and 200-year-old Bulgarian landscape paintings. Don't miss the free nocturnal exhibitions each September.
Rila, Pirin and Rodopi Mountains offer the country’s best skiing. Bansko boasts the most reliable snow, plus guaranteed après-ski mayhem; Borovets draws big crowds to its 58km of pistes; while smaller resorts such as Chepelare are family friendly, with idyllic cross-country trails.
On one evening, watch opera in a Roman theatre. On the next, experience hard rock vibrating the walls of a box-sized alternative bar. Plovdiv has a breathtaking array of entertainment, with the revived Kapana quarter at the forefront.
The Danube & Northern Plain
Northern Bulgaria encompasses a variety of landscapes, from the wild, mountainous northwest, ideal for hiking and rock climbing, to the diverse beauty of the Rusenski Lom Nature Park, famed for wildlife as diverse as wolves, eagle owls and dozens of bat species.
Forts & Ruins
The remains of ancient fortresses abound in this historic frontier zone. The Roman fort of Sexaginta Prista in Ruse, Byzantine city walls in Silistra, and Ottoman fortifications in Vidin show how much this region was prized. Most spectacular is Kaleto Fortress, astride the looming Belogradchik Rocks.
The Danubian city of Ruse boasts elegant architecture, excellent restaurants and the region's best museums. Beyond its leafy squares and belle époque buildings, it's also a great base for exploring the surrounding countryside.
Veliko Târnovo & Central Mountains
Central Bulgaria’s Orthodox churches, many dating to Byzantine times, are among the Balkans’ most historically and aesthetically significant. Elaborate iconostases and masterful frescoes have survived centuries of upheaval. Discover standout monasteries in Troyan and Dryanovo, and superb churches dotted around Veliko Târnovo.
Bulgaria’s central heartland was crucial to the National Revival of the 18th and 19th centuries, and many richly decorated period mansions are now museums or B&Bs. Explore frozen-in-time villages such as Koprivshtitsa and Etâr for a flavour of the past.
The Stara Planina mountain range stretches across Bulgaria’s central spine for almost 550km. This rolling deciduous-and-pine range is bisected with marked trails – perfect for both easy ambling on a forested path and arduous long-haul trekking.