Hospitable Bulgaria welcomes tourists all year round. Bulgaria’s sights and excellent hotel service are a good reason to visit the sunny country. Golden Sands, Borovets and many health resorts form the basis of numerous tourist itineraries, with well-trained guides. And any destination that tourists choose, guarantees them an interesting story about all the sights, monuments and monuments encountered on the way.
The main stage of planning a trip is to choose where and in what sequence to go, and we have compiled a list of attractions that have won world fame. If you have guides in Bulgaria with you, the organizational aspects can be solved much easier and faster, leaving yourself time to get acquainted with the local traditions.
Aladzha Monastery is lost near the resort of Golden Sands. It is difficult to determine the style of its architecture, because it is carved into the rock, and the rock is almost sheer. It is hard to get into and almost invisible from the outside. Among all the attractions of Bulgaria, the monastery is one of the oldest sites. The time of its foundation is considered to be the 4th century. Up to the attack of the Ottoman conquerors the monastery was active. It ceased to function in the fourteenth century.
The medieval monastery will be of interest to those who decide what to visit in Bulgaria. The unique complex operates from May to October. You can learn more about its history in the museum, which is located at the very entrance to the monastery.
The Christian hermits who once resided here lived on the first level of the building. Here is the kitchen, the temple and the monastic cells. On the second floor of the monastery there is a chapel. The rock is quite large, with many narrow gorges in which it is easy to get lost. According to legend, it was in these that the unfortunate monks hid from the cruel Ottomans.
Official website: http://www.bulgariamonasteries.com
Near Sofia you can see the main shrine of Bulgaria - Rila Monastery. It is a male monastery and is located in the mountains. Orthodox monks since the 10th century found solace here in prayers. The founder of the monastery was John of Rila. Settling in one of the clefts, he attracted many of his disciples, who gradually began to settle in these rocks.
At various times, earthquakes and fires have destroyed the monastery almost to the ground. It suffered greatly from the raids of the Turks as well. But the inhabitants of Bulgaria reverently refer to the Orthodox shrines, so every time the monastery was restored in its original beauty.
If you have not yet decided what to visit in Bulgaria, be sure to pay your attention to this site. The relics of John of Rylski are kept here. In addition, the miracle-working icon of the Virgin Mary Guide (Hodegetria) is also kept in the monastery’s archives.
Travelers will be interested in the unique cross of Raphael. There are 650 figures engraved on it and united by religious themes. The wall frescoes of the monastery are fascinating! They are all handmade and done with the greatest love and craftsmanship.
For a closer look at the monastery, you can visit the museum next door. Several decades ago Rila Monastery was included in the list of UNESCO sites.
Official website: https://rilskimanastir.org/ru/
The town of Nessebar is called the architectural pearl of the country. It is situated on a peninsula that is only 850 meters long. The closest neighbor is Bourgas.
The history of Nessebar is thousands of years old. In the archaeological investigations that have been carried out here at different times, there are reports of findings of various civilizations and cultures. The town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and in 1956 Nessebar officially received the status of a museum town.
Its unique feature is the fact that tourists can see a part of the city that went under water several centuries ago. The modern Nessebar is located on a small piece of land, but it concentrates almost 50 orthodox churches. The underwater part of the town is clearly visible on a clear day.
Thinking of what to visit in Bulgaria? Don’t doubt, Tsarevets Fortress is open to visitors all year round. In different guides Tsarevets fortress is referred to differently. Somewhere you can see a mention that it is an architectural and historical monument. Somewhere it is listed as a high-class hotel with excellent service.
But to see this boutique hotel, which is located in Veliko Tarnovo, is worth seeing, if only to enjoy the magnificent audiovisual show “Light and Sound”.
Service at the hotel begins with accommodations in comfortable, compact rooms. All amenities are provided for those who come to see the sights of Bulgaria. Tourists will be welcomed by a private parking lot next to the hotel, for which they won’t have to pay.
There are only three floors. A yellow sandstone staircase leads to them. The hotel has been restored in an elegant style and is pleasant to stay in at any time of the year.
Official website: http://www.bulgariatravel
Those who appreciate aesthetics and harmony in architecture are eager to visit the beautiful Queen Maria Palace. This is one of the most famous historical monuments on the Bulgarian Black Sea coast. Now it has been restored and is protected by the state.
The palace is a summer residence of Queen Maria. It is a beautiful place full of fairy-tale flowers and evergreen lianas. The orangeries surrounding the palace are laid out with scientific precision. There are many graceful compositions of living plants, as well as architectural ensembles.
Tourists are always surprised at how the palace’s modest decorations don’t live up to its name. It is a two-story structure with several rooms. Mary’s throne is made of stone. According to legend, the queen loved to admire the sunrise and sunset from it. Interestingly, tourists are always given the opportunity to sit on this throne.
Official website: http://www.dvoreca.com/en
What to see in Bulgaria? Of course, in your journey, you can’t ignore the main Alexander Nevsky Cathedral in Sofia. Our contemporaries seem surprisingly complex architecture of the structure. Impressive and in its own way majestic cathedral is capable to accept simultaneously 5 000 believers.
The foundation of the cathedral is associated with the 19th century. In 1882 the first stone was solemnly laid on the site of the future construction. The event coincided with the liberation of Bulgaria in the Russian-Turkish war. But construction work began only in the early 20th century. Consecration of the cathedral took place in 1912.
The events of World War II almost destroyed the cathedral, but today it is restored to its original historical form. The reconstruction was headed by an architect Pomerantsev, who is a professor of the Academy of Arts.
The main altar of the temple is named after Alexander Nevsky. The museum fund of the cathedral is very rich. In particular, there are over 270 frescoes and nearly 100 icons. The fact that the dome of the temple reaches 45 meters in height testifies to the immensity of the structure. And the crosses on the domes reach a height of 5 meters. The total weight of the domes is 23 tons, so their sound seems particularly imposing.
Bachkovo Monastery has a second name - Petritson Monastery. This Bulgarian landmark is on the list of national monuments protected by the state. This monastery united several cultures. It was founded in the 11th century by Grigori Bakuriani, a Byzantine warlord. Along with him, his brother was in charge of the project.
Since both brothers were Georgians, monks from that country originally visited the temple. Monks from Bulgaria began to appear here only from the 14th century. The monastery, like many sights in Bulgaria, in the fifteenth century was destroyed by the Ottomans. It took 100 years to Bachkova Monastery was completely restored.
For the right to own the monastery for a long time fought representatives of different cultures. The Greek-Bulgarian dispute lasted almost the entire 19th century. And as a result, the temple became a property of Bulgaria. In its very center there is the church of Holy Trinity. Near the monastery there is a cemetery where the founder’s family is buried.
Official website: http://www.bachkovskimanastir
The Roman Amphitheater is on the list of must-see sights in Bulgaria. Plovdiv is a city of contrasts. You can see modern high-rise buildings neighboring peacefully with the ancient ones, which are long ago referred to the category of historical monuments. In total there are about 200 such iconic sites in Plovdiv. The Roman amphitheater is one of them.
The structure of the city is interesting. It is divided into New and Old. The old is like a city within the city. It was restored by donations of Bulgarians with participation of the state. At present it is an open-air museum.
Among the sights of Bulgaria that are available here is a basilica, a theater, as well as the Roman amphitheater. According to legend, the amphitheater was built by the Emperor Trajan, and the period of its construction dates back to the middle of the 2nd century AD. The amphitheater is still active.
To be in Bulgaria and not see the wine museum is not to see all the sights in Bulgaria. It is located next to the artificial reservoir in Pleven. The entrance to the museum is made in a colorful manner. It is as if it is cut out in a cave.
Heavy stylish grates protect the windows in the manner of a medieval castle. The arch leading inside is made of rough-hewn stones. And in fact the construction meets all the modern engineering and technical requirements.
In 1902 the National Institute of Wine was founded in Pleven. The professional winemaking art is on full display in the exposition of the museum. When mentioning the tourist attractions of Bulgaria, it would be strange not to pay attention to the wines, which are rightfully considered to be the national masterpieces. The mild southern sun allows the grapes to fully ripen, so the Bulgarian wines are famous for their rich flavor.
The museum has two tasting rooms and an exhibition hall. Those who are interested in the history of Bulgarian wine making can visit the historic hall. The richness of the assortment is proved by the fact that the collection of the museum contains 12,000 brands of wine.
The Cathedral of St. Sophia is a landmark not only in Bulgaria, but also a notable phenomenon of world art. It is a functioning orthodox church. In Bulgaria, this cathedral is appreciated and venerated. It is pictured on the coat of arms of Sofia.
The Cathedral of St. Sophia was built in the 4th century. Originally it was a modest and unsightly church, but, at the command of the Roman Emperor Constantine 1, a magnificent cathedral was later built on the site of the small church.
The monumentality of the construction is always admired by tourists. If you’re wondering what to see in Bulgaria, St. Sophia’s Cathedral should be the first point of your trip. The barbarians almost completely destroyed the cathedral, but it was rebuilt during the reign of Justinian 1.
The composition of the temple is a cross. What makes it unusual is that the domes are slanting flat. Periodically in the cathedral were carried out reconstruction activities. At the end of the 20th century, on the territory of the cathedral were doing restoration works and found the Roman catacombs.
On the territory of the cathedral today stands a beautiful monument to the doctor. It is dedicated to the Russian doctors who died during the Russo-Turkish War.
The exploration of historical and natural monuments of the country will be a great pleasure for both children and adults, especially since you can create a route that will suit the duration and fit into your budget. No less memorable will be excursions in Bulgaria to the places presented in the list below.
Veliko Tarnovo is a small town, but it plays an important role in the cultural life of Bulgaria. It is a recognized center of literature and architecture. At different time periods the city was ruled by Ivan Shishman, Ivan Alexander, Ivan Asen 2. By the 14th century the city was actively built up and had many beautiful monuments of architecture and architecture. But in 1393 the Ottomans almost completely burned Veliko Tarnovo.
During the long Ottoman rule the Bulgarian authenticity was practically extinguished. In 1878 the Turkish yoke fell, and the city gradually began to revive. Nowadays there are many notable objects here, because it is not without reason Veliko Tarnovo is considered to be a town-reserve. The townspeople are especially proud of the Patriarchal Cathedral of the Assumption and the Church of St. Paul and St. Peter.
On the northern slope of Mount Stara is the amazing town of Gabrovo, which belongs to the brightest sights in Bulgaria. Since the 14th century Gabrovo is steadily gaining economic weight, handicrafts are developed here and trade is active. But it was not until 1860 that Gabrovo received town status. The town entered a period of intensive economic development in 1878, when Bulgaria was liberated from the Ottoman yoke.
At present time the engineering industry is rather strongly developed in Gabrovo. The mischievous spirit of the people of Gabrovo and their sparkling jokes are famous throughout the world. The town is traditionally considered not only the economic capital of Bulgaria, but also the capital of humor. Here, for example, there is the House of Satire and Humor.
One of its exhibits was a copy of the Honorary Certificate on the naming of the asteroid (small planet) number 2206 after Gabrovo. The casuistry of this event is that asteroid number 2206 was discovered on World Laugh Day.
The city has the same reputation as Odessa in Ukraine. Every year it hosts humorous festivals. Russian cartoonists Mikhail Zlatkovsky and Vitaly Peskov have been winners of Gabrovo festivals at various times.
Bulgaria is full not only of Christian monuments and cathedrals. The city of Plovdiv has the Dzhumaya Mosque. It will be of interest to those who are wondering what to see in Bulgaria. The mosque was built in 1364 almost immediately after the conquest of Plovdiv by the Ottomans. It is indicative, that on the place of the mosque there was the cathedral of St. Petka of Tarnovo. That is, the mosque had a demonstrative religious value.
The mosque existed 60 years in its original form. Sultan Murad 2 ordered to destroy the building and erect a new one, more monumental and majestic. The Jumaya Mosque now exists in this form. It is one of the old religious symbols. The structure is built in two rows of bricks. In addition, in the brickwork there is a row of wild stone. The domes are covered with lead and the minaret rises above the northeastern part of the mosque.
The interior of the mosque is richly decorated with floral-themed moldings. In addition, according to Muslim tradition, the mosque is decorated with quotations from the Koran carved in stone. Currently, entrance to the prayer hall is subject to a strict dress code, which implies the absence of shoes and the presence of clothes covering the entire body. For women, a headscarf is compulsory. This is due to the fact that the mosque remains active.
Varna is a port city and at the same time one of the largest Bulgarian resorts. Since the 6th century BC Varna was considered a Greek colony of Odessos. In the 12th century the name Varna in its modern form was determined for the first time. The city was named after the flowing river Varna.
The hotel service in Varna is on the highest European level. Varna offers tourists both five-star hotels and budget ones. Among the attractions of Bulgaria you can certainly visit the Assumption Cathedral, the Archaeological Museum, and the Aladzha Monastery.
Those who travel with children will be interested to see the dolphinarium and the park Sea Garden. The dolphinarium has regular dolphin shows, where you can see these beautiful animals in all their glory. The Sea Garden, which stretches for several kilometers along the Black Sea coast, was founded over a century ago. It contains the rarest exhibits of local flora.
Having close ties with Russia, Varna cherishes the monuments of Russian soldiers. In addition, the city has streets named after Alexander Pushkin, Gavriil Derzhavin, Vladimir Vysotsky, as well as Tsar Liberator Square.
The Kamchia Reserve is situated 25 kilometers away from Varna and is the crowning glory of the natural sights in Bulgaria. The area received the status of a natural reservation in 1951. The reserve became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1977 as part of the Man and Biosphere Program. This is a unique biospheric reservation the aim of which is to preserve the ecological purity and uniqueness of the flora and fauna of the area.
The forests along the Kamchia River are preserved in virgin inviolability. Cutting down trees is categorically forbidden here, and all plants are protected by the state. Since 1984, the area of the reserve is 842 hectares.
A total of 245 species of various plants have been registered here. Amazingly beautiful panoramic scenery attracts tourists from all over the world. There are always excursions accompanied by professional guides. Kamchia Reserve is located in the municipality of Avren and Dolni Chiflik.
As for the wildlife, it is also protected by the state. In particular, there is a great ornithological diversity in the reserve. There are more than 250 species of birds. There are rare birds registered in the reserve, for which all conditions are created to maintain the population.
These include, for example, the black stork, lesser spotted eagle, and the hobby. The reserve is of interest to many tourists, and it is included in popular tourist routes. It is especially often visited by holidaymakers from the nearby resorts of Kamchia and Shkorpilovtsi.
The visits to the reserve are strictly regulated, as it belongs to the sights of Bulgaria, which are carefully protected by the state. Hunting is forbidden at all times.
The climatic conditions here are very favorable for recreation. For example, the region has high humidity and the average summer temperature does not exceed 23 degrees Celsius. Despite the fact that the coastal forests are sometimes flooded during the melt water season, the local authorities are trying to maintain an optimal ecological balance.
Sofia’s oldest cathedral is the Rotunda of St. George, erected as early as the 4th century on the site of the ancient Serdica. For many years the church was a baptistery and in the 16th century, when Bulgaria came into the possession of the Turks, the Muslims converted it into a mosque. After those lands were reclaimed, the Christian temple was restored, and an extensive restoration revealed unique early Christian frescoes on the walls, later painted over by the Muslims. Today the rotunda has become a museum, but even today services are regularly held there. It is a brick building with narrow, high windows, six semicircular annexes, and inside it are ancient frescoes over which, just over a century ago, intricate Muslim patterns were painted. Today the rather ascetic rotunda stands out spectacularly against the background of Sofia’s modern constructions, inspiring awe with its venerable age.
There are 9 UNESCO heritage sites in Bulgaria, and the Boyana Church in the suburbs of Sofia is one of them. It is situated in the Boyana district at the foot of the famous Bulgarian Vitosha mountain. Due to the fact that the church was built in three stages, it consists of three corresponding parts. The first one is a one-apse church built back in the 10th century. The second is a two-story church, added in the 13th century by King Kaloyan; here was a family tomb and a chapel for the royal family. The third is a fairly new annex, which appeared here in the 19th century on the donations of the parishioners. The main value of the temple today is the preserved wall paintings, executed in the medieval period in the best Byzantine traditions. These frescoes are remarkable for their contrasting and flattened images: by these methods, masters achieved special expressiveness of faces, giving them vivid human emotions.
Official site: http://www.boyanachurch
There are some historical sights in Bulgaria, which are presented not only from the point of view of history, but also from the point of view of natural aesthetics. Thus, Belogradchik combines two interesting objects - picturesque cliffs and an ancient, well-preserved fortress. The settlement here was formed in the very beginning of our era - there were several convenient mountain paths, so even the Romans decided to erect the first fortifications here. When erecting the fortress walls, they were partly built of brick and stone, partly using the rocks of red sandstone located here, so the main part of the fortress has a predominantly natural origin. Romans, Turks, Byzantines and Bulgarians were involved in its construction at various times. There are two interesting caves in the rocks, and in the fortress there is an observatory with one of the best telescopes in Bulgaria.
At the top of Bulgaria’s Pirin Mountain, about 5 kilometers from the town of Melnik, is the medieval 9th-century Rozhen Monastery, one of the most revered monasteries in the country. In the 16th-17th centuries, the buildings were painted in the best traditions of the Athonite school, and in the 19th century the monastery became the biggest cultural and spiritual center of the country. A school of calligraphy was opened here and several valuable manuscripts were written, including the famous Interpretation of Job. Today the monastery is beautifully maintained and open to the public. Outwardly, the Rozhen Monastery looks like a real fortress that can withstand a serious siege - the monastic cells and refectory serve as fortifications. In the courtyard you can also see its interesting places - there is a large farm with a farm and vineyards. The main value of the monastery is the Church of the Nativity of the Virgin Mary with the miraculous icon of the Virgin Mary.
Kazanlak is famous for a mysterious monument whose history dates back to antiquity. The Thracian tomb, once buried underground, has miraculously survived to this day. Thrace was once a prosperous country, but the Thracians are little studied up to this day, primarily because they have no written language. In the 5th-4th centuries B.C. the Thracian city of Seutopolis existed on this land. It was during this period that burial mounds of the Thracian kings were excavated. Today, the ruins of Sevtopolis rest at the bottom of the reservoir Koprinka near Kazanlak. The tomb itself, discovered only in the middle of the last century, consists of 3 connected rooms. The vestibule, made of large stone, is only partially preserved. From it a corridor leads to the burial chamber with well-preserved frescoes depicting the farewell dinner of the king and his wife.
Official website: http://www.muzei-kazanlak
For those who go to the Balkans not only to see examples of cultural and historical heritage, but also to relax in nature, there are suitable attractions in Bulgaria: Sunny Beach and the thousand-year-old city of Nessebar and Sozopol, Golden Sands and Albena with the widest sandy strip of white sandy coast - and this is just a beach holiday. But there are also beautiful places in the mountains of Bulgaria - the prime example is the Valley of Roses, located between the Balkan Mountains and the mountain range Sredna Gora. The place is rightfully considered a national symbol, as Bulgaria is often referred to as the “Land of Roses”. Roses are grown here on an industrial scale to extract the useful oil in cosmetics, but the land does not look like farmland, but like a magical garden, blooming magnificently in May and June. A trip to the valley allows not only to enjoy the delightful spectacle of the blooming fields, but also to see the procedure of collecting petals, and to buy cosmetics and incense based on rose extracts.
When choosing what to see in Bulgaria in winter, it is worth remembering that because of the mountainous landscape there are ski resorts with excellent service, including Pamporovo with dozens of hotels and a total length of track of about 55 kilometers. After a day of skiing on the slopes, one can visit the ancient Bulgarian village of Shiroka Lyka in the Rhodope Mountains, which is an architectural reserve, 16 km away. In wintertime the village is especially picturesque with its narrow snow-covered streets, on both sides of which stand stone houses with wooden gates and terraced porches. The architecture of the village has preserved its original appearance, color and identity since the 17th century. Shiroka Lyka is also known as the place where the annual March festival of the muppets takes place, and it is also famous for its Ethnographic Museum, which represents the house of a wealthy villager of the 19th century.
Baba Vida is the only preserved medieval fortress in Bulgaria, located in the town of Vidin on the Danube bank. The area of the building with a defense trench is more than 9 hectares, and the fortification consists of an outer high wall about 2 meters thick with 9 towers, as well as an inner wall surrounding the area built with buildings. From the middle of the last century to the present day the fortress is open to the public: two towers are accessible to the public, and in the former prison there is a museum with torture instruments and reconstructed figures of the victim and the executioner as exhibits. On the terrace you can see a real medieval gallows, and a little further afield there are antique cannons. Once there was a medieval festival in the fortress, and today there is a summer theater for 350 spectators, where concerts and other cultural events are regularly held.
One can find a great number of antiquities in Bulgaria, and the town of Pliska is particularly notable in this respect. The medieval ruins cover a total area of 2,300 hectares and once it was a major prosperous city and capital of the Bulgarian state. Before the conquest of Pliska in the 9th century by the Byzantines there were mostly wooden buildings, but later there were new fortress walls and buildings of stone, even an own water supply system made of clay and tin pipes connected to the public baths. The acceptance of Christianity played a major role in the development of Pliska, when churches started to be actively built there, one of which, the Great Basilica, has partially survived to this day. Excavations of the ancient city began in 1899 and are still going on. All discovered fragments of buildings have been preserved and are now protected as a major open-air museum.
While the attractions of Bulgaria on the Black Sea coast are numerous resorts, which are considered the best place to vacation with children, with democratic prices, plenty of entertainment and a decent level of service, then away from the coast the most beautiful places are concentrated in the mountains. Thus, in the Balkan Mountains there is a unique place - Shipka Pass, through which the highway connecting the cities of Kazanlak and Gabrovo. But it is not only the beauty of the mountain landscapes that attracts tourists here - at Stoletov Peak there is the Freedom Memorial erected in memory of the soldiers fallen in the fight for the liberation of Bulgaria in the Russian-Turkish War in the late 19th century. Thus, Shipka Pass has the status of not so much a natural as a historical landmark in Bulgaria. Burgas and other coastal resorts are situated at a considerable distance from here - it takes about 4 hours of driving by car or sightseeing bus to get to the coast across the mountainous landscape. Not far from Bulgaria there is a country of friendly and cordial people - Serbia. While in Bulgaria, consider visiting that country as well. Explore sights of Serbia and get inspired for your next trip to Eastern Europe!