Things to do in Bulgaria: Attractions and places to visit

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Bulgaria, a Balkan country in Southeastern Europe, is becoming increasingly important as a holiday destination. The country not only offers beautiful beaches and good conditions for a relaxing beach holiday, but is also rich in architectural highlights and cultural sights.

In addition, nature lovers will get their money’s worth. The holiday destination on the Black Sea coast is surprisingly varied and offers a wide variety of landscapes. The price level is still pleasantly moderate, which is why Bulgaria is also very popular with young holidaymakers and families.

Below we present you the most exciting tours, the most beautiful attractions and the best sights in Bulgaria.

Bulgaria-1002 - Overlooks the Valley (Dennis Jarvis)  [flickr.com]  CC BY-SA 
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The bridge of Lovech (Klearchos Kapoutsis)  [flickr.com]  CC BY 
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1. sunbathing beach

The sunny beach in Bulgaria is one of the most popular holiday resorts on the Black Sea coast. The most important difference to the legendary Goldstrand: Although you can party here, it’s definitely a bit quieter on the sunny beach. The sunny beach is about eight kilometres long and up to 100 metres wide. So nothing stands in the way of extensive sunbathing and the promenade on the sunny beach leaves nothing to be desired.

The most famous tourist center of the whole country is called Slanchev brjag in Bulgarian, which means “sunny coast”. The nearest airports are Burgas and Varna. There are now more than 800 holiday hotels in all price ranges on the sunny beach. The season is mainly limited to the months May to October, in winter the region is often deserted and most hotels are closed.

2. golden beach

The Gold Beach is also known as the “Ballermann of the Balkans”. Here it is usually much more turbulent than on the sunny beach. While during the day you can relax and unwind on the fine sandy beaches, in the evening the city becomes a unique party backdrop. In the clubs and bars of the Goldstrand there are numerous drink specials and music by well-known DJs from all over the world.

The advantage of the Goldstrand to the Ballermann on Mallorca: Beside really favorable prices there is neither a curfew nor a music ban here. So partying is possible until the early hours of the morning. The Goldstrand region is excellently developed for tourism. Also the water sports offers like jet skiing, sailing or surfing do not come here too briefly.

3. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral in Sofia

Sofia is the city you shouldn’t miss on a holiday in the Balkans. The most impressive building in the city is the magnificent Alexander Nevsky Cathedral. This is the largest church in Bulgaria. The Memorial Cathedral is located right in the center of Sofia on the square of the same name.

With its golden domes visible from afar, it is an impressive photo motif. But also the interiors are absolutely worth seeing. Especially the wall paintings and the 82 icons are incomparable. If you can arrange it, take part in one of the regular church services in the cathedral.

4. Rila Monastery

Bulgaria is a country with an amazing number of monasteries. But the Rila Monastery is one of the most beautiful, which looks like a fortress. The Rila Monastery, which rises impressively against the backdrop of the Rila Mountains, is even on the UNESCO cultural heritage list. From Sofia the monastery is about 120 kilometres away and therefore a beautiful destination for a day trip.

The entire monastery complex is about 8,800 square meters in size and consists of several residential and farm buildings as well as churches. Inside you can visit more than 300 rooms, including about 100 monk cells. If you like, you can even stay overnight in the monastery.

5. Nessebar

Nessebar is a city that is mentioned in every travel guide. This is located very close to the sunny beach and impresses with a fantastically preserved old town. While the old town of Nessebar is located on a peninsula, you should also visit the harbour. Here you can buy among other things freshly caught fish. In the old town of Nessebar, on the other hand, you will feel like in a huge open-air museum.

There are numerous well-preserved buildings from different style epochs in the old town as well as ruins. These bear witness to the city’s long history. In the historical core there are eleven medieval churches to admire alone. Also the typical Black Sea houses are not missing in Nessebar. These are made of stone at the bottom and wood at the top. After an extensive sightseeing tour you should definitely visit one of the restaurants. Here you can try a typical local dish. Traditionally you get a fruit schnapps served with it.

6. melnic

With just 208 inhabitants, Melnik is the smallest city in Bulgaria. However, it has one special feature: it produces a unique wine from the Schiroka Melnischka Losa grape variety. For wine lovers Melnik is therefore a recommendable destination in Bulgaria, especially as the old town is also absolutely worth seeing.

7. Bansko

The city of Bansko is one of the strongholds of winter sports in the Balkan state. This is not far from the above mentioned Rila Monastery. In addition to well-prepared pistes, Bansko also has a number of rustic restaurants where you can eat and drink. In addition, interesting events take place here on a regular basis. Located at an altitude of 925 metres, it is not only a popular winter sports resort, but also a health resort.

In the area around Bansko there are numerous mineral springs. The range of wellness treatments in the most popular hotels in the town is correspondingly large. Skiers and snowboarders will feel at home in Bansko, as there are a total of 75 kilometres of slopes. After all, the longest of the slopes is 16 kilometres long. In Bansko itself there are also some interesting museums and more than 100 cultural monuments.

8. Cape Kaliakra

Cape Kaliakra is one of the scenic highlights of Bulgaria and one of the country’s top sights. Located on the border between Bulgaria and Romania, one should not miss the cape, which is about 70 meters high. Here you have a fantastic view to the sea.

Of course the Cape is most beautiful at sunset. With a little luck you can even spot some dolphins below the cape. At the cape there is a recommendable restaurant and also the souvenir stalls are not missing. Striking: Here you can buy a lot of self-designed things from local traders. So if you’re looking for a nice souvenir, I’m sure you’ll find it.

9. Basarbowski Monastery

Not far from the town of Russe you can visit the Basarbowski Monastery. This is the only monastery in the country where monks still live. The Orthodox Monastery of Heights is an impressive rock monastery. Before entering the monastery, one passes a fountain via an inner courtyard.

The locals of Bulgaria believe that this well water has healing powers. The monastery is well worth a visit; unfortunately, overnight accommodation is not available.

10. Pamporovo

Pamporovo is another popular winter sports resort in the country located in the Rhodopes. With a bed capacity of more than 7,000 beds, Pamporovo is one of the tourist strongholds. At an altitude of 1,650 metres, snow is guaranteed in the winter months.

On site you will find accommodation in all categories and price ranges; a ski school is also available. The choice of slopes is exemplary: in addition to green slopes for beginners, there are also red, blue and black slopes for experienced skiers.

More things to do and activities for your Bulgaria holiday

Best time to visit Bulgaria

We recommend the following months as best time to travel for exploring the attractions and acivities of Bulgaria:

June, July, and August

You can find more information about the weather, including all climate data, on our climate page for Bulgaria.

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