Bulgaria has been one of the best-kept secrets in global tourist destinations for some time. With its golden beaches, stunning waterfalls, and mighty mountains, it’s no surprise that the country is quickly becoming a popular place to visit. As well as an abundance of natural wonders and a large variety of unique flora and fauna, Bulgaria provides visitors with ancient architectural wonders, exciting nightlife, and traditional festivals. With its vibrant mix of nature, history, and hip city hangouts, Bulgaria offers a Balkan adventure that you will never forget.
Located in a UNESCO-protected Thracian settlement in The Danube and Northern Plains, the Thracian Tomb of Sveshtari is an almost-perfectly preserved three-chamber burial tomb dating from around 300 BCE. The discovery of this historic tomb was as recent as 1982. The monument is highly-decorated with unique décor and exquisitely painted murals, showcasing the Thracians’ architectural principles. Make sure you check out the decoration of the lunette in the vault and the ten female figures carved in high relief on the walls. There are no other such excellent examples of carvings in the Thracian lands.
Bulgaria’s sprawling Black Sea coast is home to many gorgeous sandy beaches. If you want to get away from the showy holiday resort beaches, head out to the region’s small and charming seaside towns. These out-of-the-way beaches can provide you with a relaxing place of solitude to get a healthy tan. The cities of Burgas and Varna also have long urban beaches that are less crowded.
Located in the port town of Vidin in northwestern Bulgaria, this 10th-century fortress is the only wholly preserved medieval castle in the country. By visiting Baba Vida’s original battlements, you can follow in the footsteps of Middle Age warriors fighting Byzantine forces. The fortress consists of two concentric walls and nine towers. Some of the towers are still at their full original height. You can take a trip back in time and find out more about Baba Vida’s legendary history by checking out the castle’s museum.
This desert features sand-dunes, natural rock formations, and stone columns. Pobiti Kamani, also known as Stone Desert, is the only one of its kind in Bulgaria. Few rocky deserts in Europe compare with this natural phenomenon, so it’s no wonder Pobiti Kamani is a top-rated tourist destination. The stone columns alone are worth seeing. Some are as tall as nearly 23 feet and as thick as almost 10 feet. What makes the columns truly special is that they are hollow and filled with sand.
This stunning cave resembles a devilish head, so the waterfall inside looks as though it's running down the devil’s throat, hence the name. Situated in the western Rhodopes, near the village of Gyovren, Devil’s Throat Cave allows you to explore its spectacular claustrophobic interior. Climb up staircases to the galleries, and you will see the water crashing down a length of 137 feet. This geological wonder is the second-largest cavern in Bulgaria.
If you’re in the country in early June, you will want to hotfoot over to this uniquely-Bulgarian festival in the village of Bulgari. You probably won’t experience a festival like this anywhere else in the world. Fire dancing is one of the very oldest traditions of Bulgaria. The ancient Thracians first performed these dances as a way of worshipping their sun god. A few communities in the Strandzha region keep the tradition alive today. Tourists and local Bulgarians are welcome to attend this smokey fest, in which you can see skilled villagers barefoot dancing on burning coals.
If you travel to the western slopes of the Balkan Mountains, you can feast your eyes on the magnificent natural wonder of the Belogradchik Rocks. Winds and rain naturally carved these strangely-shaped sandstone rock formations over two centuries. When you see these red-and-yellow-colored rocks, you will be wondering if nature was an intelligent artist, as you will surely spot shapes in the rocks that resemble animals, humans, and mythical creatures. There are various local legends concerning the Belogradchik Rocks, and one of them describes a local schoolgirl who was turned-to-stone.
Located in Bulgaria’s capital Sofia, this Eastern Orthodox cathedral is one of the 50 largest Christian churches on the planet. It covers an area of 34,100 square feet and can hold up to 5,000 people. Its neo-Byzantine style of architecture is renowned around the world. You’re sure to be impressed by the elegance of this cathedral and its many features, which include a 148-foot-high golden dome, a bell tower comprising of 12 bells, and one of Europe’s most extensive collections of Orthodox icons.
Nature lovers will not want to miss the Central Balkan National Park. Situated in the heart of the country in the highest parts of the Balkan Mountain, Bulgaria’s most famous national park boasts stunning landscapes, incredible caves, beautiful waterfalls, and a wide variety of flora and fauna. Among the park’s 72,021 hectares, you will discover over 1,900 species and subspecies of higher plants, 15 species of fern, and 116 healing plants. Many endangered species of mammals and birds live in the Central Balkan. You could come across wolves, otters, bats, and royal eagles.
The Monastery of Saint Ivan of the Rila, better known as the Rila Monastery, is the largest and most famous monastery in Bulgaria. It’s considered to be one of the country’s most important historical, cultural, spiritual, and architectural monuments. Rila Monastery isn’t just Bulgaria’s top tourist attraction, but it’s also one of the major tourist destinations of Southern Europe. With elegant archways, apocalyptic frescoes, and tall domes, you could spend hours marveling at this breathtaking wonder.