Why Vacation in Bulgaria?
It wasn’t so long ago that Bulgaria was considered so far off the beaten track that a vacation there was practically unheard of. Today, this relatively small country welcomes around eight million visitors every year and has made some progress in developing its tourist infrastructure, although a visit here is still considered to be something of an adventure. Bulgaria is also one of Europe’s cheapest destinations; food, lodging and transportation costs are significantly less than in many other countries.
Bulgaria is one of the oldest countries in Europe and in many parts of the country it does seem as though time has stood still for centuries. It’s a country of dramatic mountains and seemingly endless forests, beautifully preserved medieval towns, beautiful monasteries and quaint customs carried out by proud people. Visitors are welcome everywhere, although the alphabet can be confusing, many smaller places don’t accept credit cards and in rural areas most people don’t speak English.
Most visitors fly into the capital and largest city, Sofia, although there are no direct flights from the US. Once in Bulgaria, it is relatively easy to get get around by bus or train, or if you want to venture into the countryside, a hired car and driver is essential. There is also a large network of hiking trails. Hotels are cheap and basic, rather than luxurious and outside the large towns, it’s easy to find private rooms to rent. Shopping is cheap in Bulgaria and the country is a good place to buy such unique handmade items as religious icons, cookware and carpets.
If you are visiting Bulgaria, there are some sights that shouldn’t be missed. The town of Plovdiv calls itself the country’s cultural capital and if you visit during the summer months, you can enjoy outdoor concerts at the Roman amphitheater. Plovdiv’s colorful past is evident in its architecture, which includes beautiful 18th century town houses. The city also makes a convenient base to explore nearby Bachkovo Monastery and the Valley of the Kings, the home of important archaeological finds dating from 500 BC.
One of the most popular areas for overseas visitors is the Black Sea coast. Along this stretch of coast there are plenty of busy and sophisticated resorts, although as a contrast, a visit to Nesebar is a must. The beautiful town is a World Heritage sight and contains several museums and lovely medieval churches. Other medieval towns in the country worth visiting are Tryavna, Veliko Tarnovo and Kazanlak.
Many visitors claim that it is Bulgaria’s countryside that is the biggest attraction. Many villages are so isolated that the arrival of vistors is quite an occasion; and throughout the countryside can be found some of the most impressive monasteries anywhere in Europe, many containing priceless frescoes and artifacts. The Rusenski Lom Park offers miles of wilderness, several fascinating Stone age caves and the chance to enjoy some of the best bird watching anywhere.
Regardless of where you go in Bulgaria, a visit to this still relatively undiscovered country will provide a lifetime of memories.