A Destination Guide to Bulgaria, for Every Type of Traveler

Koprivshtitsa, Bulgaria
Koprivshtitsa, Bulgaria | © Kyle Taylor / Flickr
Maria Angelova

Although still little known to Western tourists, Bulgaria is a versatile country rich in activities ranging from hiking and rafting, to EDM music festivals and firewalking. If you want to know the best place to visit according to your personal tastes and interests, read on for our ultimate destination guide.

1. For the culture lover: Sofia

Opera House

Sofia is the capital of Bulgaria, and as such offers a wide range of culture including everything from the biggest treasures kept in the biggest museums, through to the best galleries, theaters, and festivals. The cultural season starts at the end of September when all the theaters and the Opera House reopen their doors after the summer holidays and ends at the end of June. In summer, open-air festivals are the highlight of the art scene of Sofia.

Sofia, Bulgaria

2. For the nature lover: the Seven Rila Lakes

2. For the nature lover: the Seven Rila Lakes
© Alexandra Karadzhova/WikiCommons

The Seven Rila Lakes are one of the best starting points if you want to explore Bulgaria’s mountains. The group of seven lakes, each with its name and a legend attached to it, and the Lake Peak (Ezeren Vrah) from where you can gaze at all the seven lakes, all make hiking here more than rewarding. This is exactly what draws hundreds of Bulgarian and foreign hikers, meaning that the lakes can get quite crowded in summer, especially on weekends. If you want to have a more low-key experience, aim to visit the lakes on a weekday.

Seven Rila Lakes, Bulgaria

The Twin Lake in Rila I © Alexandra Karadzhova / WikiCommons

For the beach lover: the Black Sea coast

Bulgaria is an affordable beach destination where you can find literally all kinds of beaches, no matter what your preferences are. The Bulgarian coast of the Black Sea stretches from south to north, with the south being more crowded and a with slightly warmer seawater.

Varna beach

3. For the adrenaline junkie: Struma River

Adrenaline seekers know that the best way to take your mind off things is to raise your heart rate and to push your body to its limits. Rafting has gained huge popularity in Bulgaria in recent years and is practised in several Bulgarian rivers. Struma River is with the strongest rapids (level of difficulty 2-4) but you can also go rafting in Iskar River (near Sofia) or Arda River (in the Rhodope Mountains in south Bulgaria).

Rafting at Struma River, Bulgaria

4. For the small towns lover: Koprivshtitsa

This hard-to-pronounce and yet hard-to-forget historical Bulgarian town is located at the foot of Sredna Gora Mountain, only a 2-hour drive from Sofia. Koprivshtitsa was one of the revolutionary and cultural hubs during the period of the Bulgarian national revival (mid-19th century) and has been mostly preserved as it used to look back then.

Koprivshtitsa, Bulgaria

Koprivshtitsa | © Interact-Bulgaria / WikiCommons | © Interact-Bulgaria / WikiCommons

5. For the party-goer: Sunny Beach

Solar Summer Festival is the biggest EDM music event taking place in Cacao Beach Club in Sunny Beach every summer. It is usually held on four or five weekends, spanning the whole month of August. Some of the biggest international DJs have performed at the festival, including Tiësto, David Guetta and Fedde le Grand.

Cacao Beach, Sunny Beach, Bulgaria

6. For the fan of weird-and-wonderful traditions: Balgari village

Every year, on the evening of June 3, the small village of Balgari in Strandzha Mountain is flooded with people coming to see the unique festival called Nestinari. This is one of the few places around the globe where firewalking is still practised. The ritual follows a set of ancient rules, from morning till night, with the highlight being the dance of the Nestinari performers on hot embers spread in the village center.

Balgari, Bulgaria

Nestinari | © Apokalypto / WikiCommons

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