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Top 10 Things to Do in Bulgaria
If youre looking for a country with absolutely everything then Bulgaria should be on your bucket list.
23 January 2014 Thursday 00:29
If youre looking for a country with absolutely everything then Bulgaria should be on your bucket list. Its oozing with tradition, coastline and ancient cities and to add to its appeal its incredibly cheap making it a perfect destination for anyone on a budget.
But what is there to see? Lots and youll need much longer than one week to see the sights. I stayed for ten days and it still wasnt enough. Getting around is easier by bus but it does help to have some knowledge of the Cryllic alphabet as even Macdonalds is spelt like this:
Heres my top 10 things to do in Bulgaria.
1. Shop in Plovdiv
Plovdiv has amazing clothes shopping and although the clothes arent as cheap as you would think in comparison to the cost of living, they are very stylish. Even the lady in the tourist office was wearing hot pants! But if you dont like shopping (or the travel budget doesnt stretch) then you can just sip coffee in the main square and enjoy some people watching over a very cheap lunch. Plovdiv is the oldest living city in Europe and has to be on your itinerary if you visit the country.
View of Plovdiv
After shopping, sit and enjoy a coffee.
2. Food Tour in Sofia
I love my food so when I came across a FREE Sofia food tour (yes, I did say free!) I could not turn down the opportunity of experiencing my first ever food tour (not to mention a free lunch). The tour with Balkan Bites takes you to a selection of three different restaurants: Supa Star, Sun Moon and Lubimoto which are all family owned. The tour is a great way of sampling Bulgarian cuisine and learning about the history of the people and the country. If youre by yourself, you have a ready-made group of friends to go to lunch with! I even met a couple to spend the evening with at the Candlelight Bar (coming up later).
One of the group displaying the traditional Shopska salad
A vegetarian option
Lubimoto a family owned restaurant
3. Lay on the beach at Sunny Beach
Sunny Beach isnt everyones cup of tea but if you want to party, get a tan and meet others then its ideal. Its not very authentic and is completely geared up for tourists but its a nice break from the culture and is fast becoming the Balkans version of the Costa del Sol.
Its only a bus ride away from Sunny Beach but if youre travelling from Burgas its even cheaper on the bus. This historic UNESCO town sits on a rocky peninsula on the Black Sea and is the remains of an ancient city dating back more than 3,000 years ago.
5. The Church of St George
Hidden away in the capital lies a red-brick 4th century church slap bang in the midst of the Presidency courtyard. This church surrounded by modern buildings each side has the wow factor and can be seen on the Sofia walking tour if you want to see the rest of Sofia on foot.
The guards outside the presidency
6. Stone Mushrooms in Melnik
Bulgaria has many unique stone formations and none better than the stone mushrooms in Melnik. The town is a hidden gem and is the smallest town in Bulgaria. Melnik is known for its wine producing region and also for its unusual sand shapes. If you want to get off the beaten track then its a good place to come as not many tourists come here.
7. The Candelight Bar
Now this bar is a bit tricky to find and is more like an old stable than a modern bar. Its real name is Hambara and what makes it different is that it is lit using only candles (hence the name) making it extremely cosy. Youll probably want some company to come here though as its more of a romantic place than a bar to meet others.
8. The Seven Rila Lakes
Located in the Rila Mountains (again, hence the name), these seven glacial lakes with their own names including lower lake, fish lake, twin lake, and kidney lake (shaped like a kidney) are scattered at the foot of several peaks and are one of the biggest attractions in Bulgaria. They can be tricky to get to from the capital as you need to take a tram then two buses so it may be worth considering a tour for ease.
9. Wonderful Bridges
This natural phenomenon is in the heart of the Rhodope Mountains. I have no idea why they are called wonderful but the area has such a calming energy that I wanted to stay in this peaceful place for hours to the lack of delight from my tour guide!
Its so high, you can barely see the people walking on the top
10. Assens Fortress
Near Assenovgrad is a charming fortress perched high on a hill side. Once home to the ruler of Bulgarias second Kingdom, the remains of the fortress are great to explore with old paintings inside. Climb to the highest point for fantastic photo opportunities of the surrounding area.
I stayed at Hostel Old Plovdiv, a boutique hostel in the old town. They staff were so friendly that I decided to stay an extra night and they even help you work out the next trains. The hostel has so much character and is in a perfect location for exploring the old town and the new.
My tour to the Rila Monastery, the Three Bridges and Assen Fortress was with Plovdiv Trips who are really knowledgable and made me feel really comfortable being by myself. There were only two of us in the group so it felt more like a personal tour. Travelling solo in Bulgaria can be a bit of a challenge due to the Cyrillic alphabet and I wouldnt really recommend it for the first time solo but the locals will always come to your rescue if you need help with directions.
Next stop Romania!
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Would you visit any of these places?
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