Sozopol for beach and history
Sozopol is just the perfect amount of old houses, artistic atmosphere, and beach life. Take a walk in the old town where many of the houses are more than a century-old and then take the stairs down to the little Old Town Beach, or shop around for works of art. If you prefer wider spaces, head to Kavatsi Beach or Smokinya Beach close to Sozopol (accessible by a shuttle in the summer).
Smokinya Beach for camping
Located not far from Sozopol, Smokinya Beach is one of the best camping spots on the Bulgarian Black Sea coast. Come in your own camper van or rent one on-site for a few days sleeping by the sound of crashing waves. The area is full of whitewashed wooden beach bars with a laidback crowd where you can hop for your cocktails at sunset.
The Seven Rila Lakes for the view
The Seven Rila Lakes are probably the most visited natural site in Bulgaria – and for a good reason. They all have names related to their shape or a legend of its origin (The Eye, The Kidney, The Fish, etc.). If you hike the trail in mid-August, you will see the beautiful Paneurhythmy Dance (see the video below) performed by followers of the Universal White Brotherhood, a new-age movement founded by the Bulgarian Peter Deunov (also known as Beinsa Douno).
Veliko Tarnovo for the opera festival at the fortress
Veliko Tarnovo used to be the capital of Bulgaria and still has an imposing fortress from these times dominating the skyline above the town. On certain nights, a special sound and light show projected on the fortress can be watched from the town (see the upcoming dates on its official website). What will make your experience even more memorable is the Stage of Centuries Opera Festival held every summer using the fortress for opera performances on stage.
Sofia for the A to Jazz Festival
A to Jazz Festival is one of the major summer events in Sofia that takes place in a huge open space in the center of Sofia with world-famous and local jazz performers playing for free. The festival lasts three days and gathers thousands of music aficionados with a glass of wine or a beer in hand.
The Rhodope Mountains for the bagpipe festival
Ask Bulgarians for their favorite mountains and many, if not the most, will answer the Rhodopes. These soft-shaped mountains are not crossed by many marked trails but are full of cozy, old-time villages and friendly people. One of those villages, Gela, plays host to the biggest bagpipe festival in the country, taking place on the first weekend of August.
Plovdiv for the Singing Fountains and Kapana art district
The Singing Fountains in Plovdiv are photo-friendly both by day and by night. People come to cool off on hot summer days with part of the fountains being accessible for this purpose, while the nights have a magical atmosphere with lights and sprays changing at the rhythm of classical music and Bulgarian songs. After the show is over, head to Kapana art district where you will find many art cafes, wine bars, craft beers and whiskey bars at one place.
Balgari village for the fire-walking
One of the unique Bulgarian traditions still observed today, is Nestinari, the walking on hot embers. The ritual is performed every year on June 3, in the village of Balgari, close to the border with Turkey. The ritual starts early in the morning but the essence takes place after sunset when the central square of the village is covered in embers and special people called Nestinari perform a traditional dance on them, barefoot.