We know what you’re thinking, beaches aren’t the first place you’d think to visit when you embark on a holiday to Bulgaria. Despite flying relatively low under the tourist radar, the coastal regions of this stunning country are helplessly breathtaking. Bulgarian locals flock to the refreshing shores to enjoy the seemingly limitless supply of azure waters and isolated escapism. While some areas are more populated than others, there are still a thrilling number of secluded coves and beaches to take advantage of.
Religion in Bulgaria, as in many Balkan countries, has a strong influence in the traditions, customs and even the architecture of the region. An array of monasteries, churches, cathedrals and iconoclastic monuments make up the majority of Bulgaria’s most celebrated attractions. And let’s be honest, who couldn’t be impressed by the sheer magnitude and grandeur of the sites. Whether you’re taken by the centuries-old wood carvings or the gorgeously painted domes, there’s a style to suit every taste.
Wild, untamed and undeniably stunning, the countryside of Bulgaria will steal your breath and your heart away. Its rough terrain will thrill any extreme sports enthusiast, whether they’re into hiking, rock climbing, skiing or mountain running. So, when you venture into the great unknown of the Bulgarian landscape, be sure to pack your camera to capture the verdant greenery and the vibrant flora and fauna.
Bulgarian cuisine shares many similarities with that of Turkish and Greek fare, and it is the ultimate balance between meat, yoghurt, cheese and vegetables. Bulgarians are known for their warming hospitality and much of their bonding and catching up with loved ones occurs over a meal. Your holiday here won’t be complete without sampling the likes of sirene, banitza, and cool cucumber soup, while you’ll also find plenty of grilled meats and kebabs served in many a restaurant.
Sofia’s most iconic attraction and the most important Orthodox Church in Bulgaria, the Saint Alexander Nevsky Cathedral is one of the most stunning cathedrals in Europe and is one of the top 50 largest Christian church buildings in the world by volume. A high, golden dome rising above a collection of smaller, cobalt blue ones and an interior painted by artists with angelic skill, the image of this mystical site will stay with you forever. Sharing its name with a structure in Paris, the Bulgarian cathedral was built in Neo-Byzantine style between the years of 1904 and 1912.
Bulgaria’s answer to the Lake District, the Seven Rila Lakes look like something that could only have been thought up in a fantasy novel. As the name suggests, there are seven glacial lakes and they are situated in the northwestern Rila Mountain in Bulgaria and between 2,100 and 2,500 metres above sea level. The name of each lake is related to its individual characteristic such as The Fish Lake, The Tear Lake and The Kidney Lake – although Lake Mount offers the best panoramic view over the whole area.
Well worth a day trip, the Saeva Dupka Cave is one of the most spectacular natural formations in Bulgaria. Legend has it that the cave derives its name from two brothers who discovered the underground labyrinth during the Ottoman occupation and used it as a hiding place. The caves are located in northern Bulgaria near the village of Brestnitsa, Lovech Province and is the site for many a choral music performance thanks to the excellent acoustics throughout the 400 metres of naturally formed corridors and halls. They comprise a total of five galleries and are riddled with stalagmites and stalactites, and even a petrified waterfall.
A traditional Bulgarian pastry and perfect with a steaming mug of coffee, the banitza is prepared by stacking up layers of filo pastry dough with lashings of butter and traditional Bulgarian cheese before it is baked until crispy on the outside and soft in the middle. This on-the-go delight can be found across the countries wherever you look – bus stations, coffee shops and bakeries to just name a few and is a must-eat on your holiday to Bulgaria.
Depending on what you’re looking to get from your Bulgarian getaway, there really is no bad season for your visit. From April through to August, you’ll catch the rays but also the peak season crowds, while visits taking place between September and March will be almost tourist free, but will find many attractions outside of the ski resorts to be shut.
If you hold a British Citizen passport or an EU National passport, you don’t need a visa to enter Bulgaria and are visa exempt for 90 days. For the latest information on European travel regulations, visit www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/bulagria/entry-requirements.
The currency used in Bulgaria is the Bulgarian Lev (BGN).
The language spoken is Bulgarian.