Bulgaria’s many and varied mountains are worth a whole summer of exploration, but one of the most easily accessible and truly stunning places is undoubtedly the Seven Rila Lakes. This beautiful natural spot can be found in the Rila Mountains and consists of seven lakes located one above the other. Each is named after its main characteristic or a legend – the Eye, the Fish Lake, the Twin, the Kidney, etc. There’s a chairlift that takes you from the foot of the mountain to the lowest lake; the rest of the hike is doable in half a day.
Wreck diving, snowshoeing, rafting, mountain biking, kayaking, paragliding – Bulgaria covers the whole gamut of adrenaline-filled activities, but rock climbing is one of the most popular extreme sports in the country. Regardless of whether you want to try it for the first time with an instructor or you’re in search of a more challenging climb, the area of Gara Lakatnik, just an hour from Sofia by train, is where you will also find many fellow climbers.
Plovdiv is the European Capital of Culture 2019 – but this issn’t the only reason to choose the second biggest Bulgarian city for an arts and culture destination. Its recently reborn Kapana Creative District is the beating cultural heart of the city with its art galleries, craft workshops, and hipster bars.
Sofia, the capital of Bulgaria, has the largest number of theaters, concert halls, and festivals held annually. Whether on weekdays or weekends, you’ll find any number of bars with live music concerts or stand-up comedy shows. One of the peak events of the summer is the free open-air A to Jazz Festival that takes place on the meadows of the South Park in Sofia.
If you want to know more about Bulgaria’s local communities and how their traditional culture has been preserved over the years, head to the Rhodope Mountains. The numerous tiny villages, the warm hospitality of the locals and the delicious local cuisine are what attracts both Bulgarians and foreigners here. Some of the best villages to choose for a weekend stay are Shiroka Laka, Orehovo, and Gela.
The bagpipe is one of the most important instruments in Bulgarian folk orchestras. Its structure differs from the Irish and the Scottish bagpipe, and Bulgarians alone have two types of bagpipes typical for different parts of the country – the Thracian and the Rhodope bagpipe. If you want to experience the local music among the endless hills of the Rhodope Mountains, visit the biggest bagpipe contest in the country that takes place annually the first weekend of August near the village of Gela.
The eastern border of Bulgaria stretches all along the Black Sea Coast with both sandy and rocky shoreline, big party resorts and secret beaches. For a perfectly balanced vacation, choose one of the two historical towns, Sozopol or Nesebar, that have it all – old towns with traditional wooden houses, modern areas with fine dining, nightclubs where the party ends after sunrise, and quiet family areas.