Sofia, the capital of Bulgaria, is home to the most important museums in the country, it is where most of the biggest concerts and festivals take place and the biggest diversity of bars and cultural venues are located. Its modern, often hipster-prone creative crowd makes it a place where you can meet professionals and travelers from all over the world. However, one day in the city is enough, especially if you are not a museum buff who wants to visit all the attractions. Afterwards, you can continue east to Plovdiv and later on, the seaside.
Plovdiv is the cultural capital of the country with a whole district dedicated to arts and culture in the city center called Kapana (literally The Trap, because of the maze-like structure of the streets). Climb the steep streets up its Old Town to discover pieces of the city’s past (a fun fact: this is one of the oldest still existing cities in the world, with life being present in it since 6000 BC without interruption). Stroll along the narrow streets crossing the main pedestrian boulevard of the city to discover cute book cafes, art galleries, and fashion boutiques, or to simply spend some time in a cafe and practice people-watching.
Koprivshtitsa is a Bulgarian historical town with a hard-to-pronounce name and hard-to-forget colorful houses. Its preserved 19th-century houses that used to be possessed by prominent Bulgarian revolutionaries, poets, and scholars will transfer you back in time and help you imagine what life in Bulgaria looked like 150 years ago. Koprivshtitsa is one of the best day trips both from Sofia and Plovdiv.
Depending on whether you prefer bigger or smaller towns when you go to the seaside, choose the major Burgas city or the nearby historical town of Nesebar with its UNESCO-heritage Old Town. Burgas will seduce you with its choice of cultural bars, wildlife destinations such as Atanasovsko Lake, summer events like the Sand Sculpture Festival, and the opportunity to visit Saint Anastasia Island, which used to be a pirate haunt and a prison. Nesebar, on the other hand, has all the perks of a small summer resort, with the Old Town full of ancient and medieval churches and stunning vantage points being the highlight.
Varna, or as it’s nicknamed, the seaside capital of Bulgaria, has an international airport and you can use it to fly out of Bulgaria to skip all the way back to Sofia. Another advantage of this choice is that you will have more time to spend at the seaside with more resorts and hidden beaches to explore. Varna itself is full of fun attractions, such as the Dolphinarium with dolphin shows several times a day, the Retro Museum showcasing what life under the communist rule was like, and the nearby Aladzha Cave Monastery.