Bulgaria is a tiny Balkan state that’s still off many tourists’ radar but this only adds to the sense of exploration when visiting. You need to head just a little bit off the main tourist routes to discover the fairytale spirit of the country – rich in legends plus both natural and man-made wonders. Here’s where to go.
The Stob Pyramids
Just an hour’s drive from Sofia, on the way to the Rila Monastery, there is a hill covered in rock pyramids. Each of them is 7 to 10 m high (23 to 33 ft) and some of them have natural ‘caps’ on their tops. Some of the Stob Pyramids look like stone people and this is how a peculiar legend was born. During a wedding, the father of the groom cast his eyes on the bride and fell in love with her. Just before the wedding was ruined, the earth started shaking and everyone at the wedding turned to stone.
The Stone Mushrooms
This fairy-tale rock formation is still off the beaten track even for Bulgarian tourists. It is located by a rarely used road in southern Bulgaria, near the city of Kardzhali. When you stand by the 3-meter (10-feet) mushrooms, you can’t help but feel like you’re a pixie.
Belogradchik is the place in Bulgaria where you can feel nature’s genius. The huge area of weird-shaped reddish rocks is topped with a centuries-old castle. The rocks have long sparked people’s imaginations and many of them have names linked to their shape – the Schoolgirl, The Bee Rock, the Eagle Rock, Adam and Eve, the Horseman, the Thinker and many more. The fortress feels quite spooky if you visit it when foggy.
Tsarevets Fortress in Veliko Tarnovo
Tsarevets is one of the most beautiful remains of Bulgarian castles. Perched on a hill in the city of Veliko Tarnovo, it looks as if noble knights on horses will appear at the main gate at any moment. The hill is where the Bulgarian king once lived and it is also one of the best vantage points for a panoramic view over Veliko Tarnovo.
Pobitite Kamani (The Stone Desert)
As the legend goes, some giants set these enormous natural stone columns into the ground thus creating a huge field of whose origins there are still scientific disputes today. The Stone Desert (or Pobitite Kamani as it’s known in Bulgarian) are located a short drive from the seaside city of Varna.
Atanasovsko Lake in Burgas
Atanasovsko Lake, on the outskirts of the seaside city of Burgas, combines a magical aura with the healing power of mud and lye. The pink lye pools look surreal, especially when you see all the people floating in them. Locals and tourists come here for a free spa under the sky, applying curative mud to their skin, then dipping in the lye for a while and finally, washing in the sea.
The Wonderful Bridges
Once there was a river that was trying to flow through a set of rocks in the Rhodopes until, after thousands of years, it managed to break through them and to create a river cave. Many more years passed and the ceiling of the cave partly collapsed and this is how the Wonderful Bridges (Chudnite Mostove in Bulgarian) were formed as they appear today. This marble phenomenon consists of two bridges 40 to 50 m (130 to 165 ft) high.
Krushuna Waterfalls give the impression that you are just about to see a fairy bathing in the turquoise waters. The waterfalls are usually packed with tourists on weekends, so try to plan your visit on a weekday to have them exclusively to yourself.
Koncheto Ridge in Pirin Mountain
Koncheto is a pulse-accelerating ridge near the highest peak of Pirin Mountain, Vihren Peak. Once you hike your way here, you will see abysses on your both sides and, if you are lucky, the frequent weather phenomenon observed here: the sun shining on its one side and thick clouds just over the edge. How many places on Earth can offer you this magical experience?
The Seven Rila Lakes
The Seven Rila Lakes are stunning no matter the season. In winter, they are blue spots on the white, snowy mountain, while in summer they attract the followers of the spiritual movement of the White Brotherhood and you can see hundreds of people dressed in white perform a dance in big circles. Every lake has a different name which usually goes with a beautiful legend – The Twin, the Fish Lake, the Eye Lake among others.
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