Bulgaria already has so many beautiful places travellers know about and want to definitely visit, such as Rila Monastery, 7 Rila Lakes, Plovdiv’s Old Town… And even though they are popular tourist attractions, they are all worthwhile.
But this time, I want to share with you some less-known and more interesting travel experiences and places in Bulgaria to put on your bucket list for 2017. Without further adieu, here are my top 20 recommendations:
On the Black Sea Coast
1. Sea kayaking near Kavarna
Instead of heading to the more famous and overcrowded southern Black Sea coast, visit the Northern part and add an adventure flavor with an unforgettable sea kayaking experience. Even better if you get up early and meet the sunrise on the kayak. You’d enjoy that view, wouldn’t you?
2. Visit the more beautiful Northern Black Sea Coast
Less crowded, a bit more chilly than the South, but way more beautiful. The Northern Black Sea coast in Bulgaria impressed me with unspoiled beauty and high, steep shores that are hard to forget. If you find yourself in the region, you should visit “Yaylata” Natural Reserve with its more than 100 coastal caves, the coast near Tyulenovo, Kaliakra Cape, beach Bolata.
This is also the place where you can stumble upon some amazing sunsets over endless fields of sunflowers. I was lucky enough to caught one by accident…
3. Cape Emine – where the mountain meets the sea
One hidden and hard to reach but extremely beautiful place in Bulgaria is Cape Emine. This is the easternmost point of the Balkan mountain range. It offers a spectacular view of the place where the mountain meets the sea..
4. Veleka Beach – where the river meets the sea
Another gorgeous spot on the Bulgarian Black Sea Coast is Veleka Beach in Sinemorets – a sea resort on the South. This is where river Veleka flows into the sea and creates a unique are where you can enjoy both – the salty sea water or the calm and relaxing river. It’s just fascinating…
In Rhodope Mountains
5. Mountain Biking in the Rhodopes
Rhodope mountains are so colorful and beautiful. Exploring them with a bike was something new for me and I definitely recommend it. During our 2-day cross country biking trip we saw several unspoiled villages, amazing views, reached to the highest village in Bulgaria – Ortsevo, ate delicious home made traditional meals, dip ourselves in a hot mineral pool after the trip… it could not be better.
6. Work from a hammock at Office in the Woods, Chepelare
And again, Rhodopes are calling! Located in Chepelare, Office in the Woods is a coworkation camp that lets digital workers recharge from the boring and cold atmosphere in the traditional office. It is a place where you can work during the day and have tons of fun after that – mountain biking, hiking, zip lining… you name it. And, also, nothing can beat the cleanest mountain air out there!
7. Watch a movie on a rock at Momchilova Fortress
Momchilova Fortress is fully renovated fortress on a high hill in Rhodope mountains near a village named Gradat. Usually, every Saturday a short movie about Momchil hero is projected on a rock with a spectacular view to the whole Rhodopes. The atmosphere is indescribable and it costs only 2 Euro.
8. Enjoy a weekend in Velingrad – the Spa capital of the Balkans
Velingrad is a must visit Spa destination in Bulgaria – with 77 mineral springs, each one with its unique and even miraculous healing powers, the city is a perfect choice for your spa and wellness holiday in Europe. There are many open mineral water pools with healing and medical properties in the town. Moreover, the biggest carst spring in Bulgaria – Kleptuza, can be found in Velingrad.
9. Visit the unique Carpet factory in Kostandovo
The only factory for hand-woven carpets in Europe is hidden in Kostnadovo village, very close to Velingrad. It is open for tourist visits so you can see the actual carpet-making process and learn more about the history and present of the factory.
More than 30 woman work to create amazing hand-made carpets for royals and not only. It takes 4 ladies to create only 10cm of the carpet per day. One carpet is made for at least 4-5 months. You can imagine how hard and resourceful this job is. Definitely a must-visit…
10. Be masmerized by Asen’s Fortress
Located near the city of Asenovgrad, Asen’s Fortress is a medieval fortress nestled on a high rocky ridge in the Rhodope mountains. It is easily reached by car. The scenic view from the top is, again, something you should see with your own eyes.
And while you are in the area, you can also visit the impressive Bachkovo Monastery. An accommodation option near these sights is Kosovo Houses Complex, located in the picturesque village of Kosovo. We visited it earlier this year and we highly recommend it because it’s a place where you will enjoy an authentic Bulgarian hospitality in a traditional and cozy atmosphere.
11. The rock phenomenon Karadjov Kamak
Karadjov Kamak is another interesting phenomenon, again in the Rhodope mountains – a huge stone stuck between two rocks. You can reach it from Krastova Gora, it takes around 40 min hiking. There is a slightly dangerous wooden ladder that allows you to climb the rocks and see the stone from a bit different perspective.
In Northern Bulgaria
12. Visit the only left desert in Bulgaria – Pobiti Kamani rock phenomenon
Just outside of Varna – the sea capital of Bulgaria, you can visit another impressive natural site – the Stone Desert phenomenon /Pobiti Kamani/. The desert consists of sand dunes and several groups of natural rock columns that are between 5 and 7 meters high. A place to remember…
13. Overlook Provadia from the Ovech Fortress
Ovech Fortress is located near Provadia, a few hours away from Varna, Northern Bulgaria. The fortress is overlooking the whole town and its green surroundings which makes the view from above just spectacular.
14. The unique Rock-Hewn Churches of Ivanovo
The Rock-Hewn Churches of Ivanovo is a complex, composed of churches, chapels and monk cells, cut into the rock during the 13-14 centuries. The most preserved and famous church in the complex, and the only one open for visits, is “Saint Merry”. The complex is part of UNESCO’s world heritage list. Other interesting sites nearby are Cherven Fortress and Besarbovski Monastery. The town of Rousse is also close and worthwhile.
15. Baba Vida – the only fully preserved medieval fortress in Bulgaria
Baba Vida Fortress is the symbol of Vidin – a frequently overlooked town in Northern Bulgaria. The current fortifications are built on top of a Roman fortress during the 10th century. It has never been conquered by an enemy army. Baba Vida rises proudly next to Danube river and is often is often the first thing that impresses visitors of the town…
16. Watch through the Eyes of God in Prohodna Cave
Prohodna Cave is one of my favourite natural phenomenons in Bulgaria. It is famous with the two big eye-shaped holes in the ceiling and, hence, it is also known as The Eyes of God. Prohodna is located just 2 hours away from Bulgaria’s capital, near Karlukovo, so it is a perfect choice for a day trip from Sofia. Unfortunately, it is only reachable by car.
Tryavna is a small town, situated in Central Bulgaria. I highly recommend it, if you plan to visit the country and want to see a traditional village that has managed to preserve the typical Revival architecture and spirit. It’s impossible not to fall in love with this lovely and picturesque town…
Photo: Andrey Andreev Photography
In Southern Bulgaria
18. Witness а traditional bare foot fire dance ritual – Nestinarstvo
The ritual Nestinarstvo is famous for the unique barefoot dances on fire performed by Nestinari. The ritual takes place on 3th of June, the day of Sts. Constantine and Helen, in Bulgare village. Nestinarstvo is a unique mixture of Eastern Orthodox beliefs and older pagan traditions from the Strandzha Mountains. Definitely a must-see…
19. Hike the Urdini Lakes in Rila
Rila is the highest mountain on the Balkans with its Musala peak (2925 m). A wonderful day trip from Sofia led us to the less famous but still as beautiful Urdini lakes. The hike took us around 9 hours and, again, with those views every step was worth it…
20. Buzludzha monument – the abandoned symbol of Communism in Bulgaria
The Buzludzha monument is a massive abandoned building on a peak in Central Balkan Mountain in Bulgaria. It was officially opened in August 1981 and became the headquarter of the Communist Party in Bulgaria until the fall of the regime. Today, it is closed for the public and is slowly destroyed. Nevertheless, it is still a place worth visiting.
From the outside it looks like an UFO. Inside the Buzludzha monument you can see beautiful and colorful mosaic arts that are also slowly destroyed along with the whole building…
Do you already have a top place to visit in Bulgaria in 2017? Share in the comments.
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