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Bulgaria tourism

Bulgaria Tourism

Bulgarian tourism has been on the rise in the last several years. Since the country joined the EU in 2007, tourism has become a primary source of income for many Bulgarians. For a good reason though – Bulgaria has numerous attractions to offer to tourists from all around the world.

If you want to experience tourism in Bulgaria, you can do so in a variety of ways – from all-inclusive holiday offers, free independent roaming, specialized sightseeing, to village and folklore tourism. Travelers will not be disappointed in any case – the country may be small, but the amount of culture and resorts is enough to satisfy any taste.

Bulgaria tourism latest statistics

The latest Bulgarian tourism statistics from 2015 reveals that the total number of tourists received throughout the year was over 9.3 million, with those from the EU above 5.2 million. The top nations that chose Bulgaria as their travel destination are Romania, Greece, Germany, and the Russian Federation. The UK is further down the list with just a quarter of a million visits to Bulgaria over the course of the whole 2015. This number is quite baffling given the vibrant culture, picturesque nature and low costs offer compelling reasons to visit the country in the coming years. Since it’s always good to know more about your destination, here is a list and short description of the highlights of Bulgaria’s major cities.


Bulgarian Cities to Visitbulgaria tourism capital sofia

Capital Bulgaria - Sofia tourism

What better place to start your journey in Bulgaria, than the capital city itself? Sofia has a huge story, dating way back in time. The city’s roots first appeared around 500 B.C. under the name of Serdika. Later, during the period of Rome (about 29 A.D.) the city flourished on the Roman Road Via Militaris. In the middle ages, the city was called Sredets. Nowadays, the capital proudly wears the name of St. Sophia – Sofia.

One of the best cities for Bulgaria tourismSofia is well-known for the nearby mountain Vitosha - it almost feels like you can touch it if you reach up while walking on the street. Sofia boasts numerous cafes, bistros, beer houses, restaurants, live music venues and other such places. Any time of the day is the fun time in Sofia. If you prefer to spend your time with culture, you can visit many architectural monuments and symbols of times past. Vitosha is just about 20 minutes away from the city center. You can explore the national park during the day and enjoy the view of the town from above.

One of the largest Orthodox cathedrals in the world – St. Alexander Nevski – is always open for tourists. If you prefer to experience the nightlife, you can find literally anything you desire. Truly, Sofia is a city that never sleeps.


Ruse Bulgaria

Bulgaria tourism - Ruse Bulgaria

Ruse (or Rousse or Russe) is another city in Bulgaria worth visiting. Ruse is situated near the end of the second longest river in Europe – the Danube. You can even travel with a ferry upstream and pass through several other countries on your trip. There is much to do in Ruse, with many museums, a city is a great place to educate yourself on Bulgarian history and to acquaint yourself with some of the most famous artists from the Renaissance. One of the most impressive sights is the fortress Sexaginta Prista.


Pleven Bulgaria

Bulgaria tourism - Pleven Bulgaria

Pleven is another Bulgarian city, situated in the Danube Valley. During the dark ages, the city used to be a strong fort with well-developed trading. Pleven houses a wide array of museums, both ethnographic and modern. If you like nature: the natural reserve Chernelka is open for visitors at all times!


Sliven Bulgaria

Bulgaria tourism - Sliven Bulgaria

Sliven is situated right at the foothills of Blue Rocks – one of the most beautiful landmarks in Bulgaria. Again, as it is an old city, you can find a high number of museums and cultural sights. Among the best places to visit are the Hadzhi Dimitar monument, the Clock Tower, the Dimitar Dobrovich gallery, the Stefan Kirov theater and the Old Elm, an ancient tree.


Blagoevgrad Bulgaria

Bulgaria tourism - Melnik, the Smallest Town in Bulgaria

Blagoevgrad is south of Sofia, near the Macedonian border. This beautiful little town is nestled in the majestic Rila Mountain. Tourists will be able to enjoy the enormous Parangalitsa reserve, part of the Rila National Park. The Stobski Pyramids are an interesting natural phenomenon - they are rock formations, which have been declared as a natural wonder. There are so many places to visit near Blagoevgrad – the Rila Monastery, the Seven Rila Lakes, Melnik city, Rupite and much more besides!


Gabrovo Bulgaria

Bulgaria tourism - Gabrovo Bulgaria

If you are looking for another old-styled Bulgaria tourism destinationGabrovo is one of the best cities to visit. With its picturesque reserve Etara, the Dryanovski Monastery and a number of museums and old houses, you are guaranteed to experience the spirit of the country.


Bulgaria summer. Beach Tourism in BulgariaBulgaria tourism, summer. Beach Tourism in Bulgaria

In the summertime, when the weather is hot, you can stretch right up and touch the sky.

You remember the Mungo Jerry’s song, right? Well, Bulgaria’s seaside feels exactly like summer time should. As the statistics show, most tourists come to the country during the months of July and August, and for good reason. The variety of resorts allows people to find a place suited to their taste. From the concrete-laden Sunny Beach or Golden Sands to the small, secluded beaches like Bolata and Arapya, summer is the best season, for Bulgarian tourism.


Nessebar Bulgaria

Nessebar is one of the most popular seaside destinations for tourists and locals alike. The greatest feature of the city is the availability of the old and new parts of town. In new Nessebar you will be able to experience the full power of the summer season – golden beaches, excellent lodgings, great bars and of course, the magnificent Black Sea. The old part will offer you a trip into Bulgarian history. The antique theater is stacked with various performances and concerts. At the marine port, you’ll be able to enjoy the view of private yachts and large cruise ships. Nessebar is under the protection of UNESCO.


St. Vlas Bulgaria

St. Vlas is a small, quickly-developing resort near Nessebar and Sunny Beach. This is another old town, which was founded over 1800 years ago. Nowadays, St. Vlas houses the largest yacht pier in BulgariaMarina Dinevi. It’s able to hold 300 yachts at the same time. The resort is a unique combination of fine sand, mountain air, seaside climate and beautiful nature. The St. Vlas Festival takes place on the 2nd of May. The international regatta takes place on the 18, 19 and 20th of July.


Varna tourism

Bulgaria - Varna tourism

If you visit Varna, you will know why it’s one of the popular cities in Bulgaria. It’s in the top 5 largest cities in the country, but it feels smaller than the others. Situated on the part of Bulgarian Black SeaVarna can offer a rich cultural calendar and some excellent attractions. With its modern marine port, train station and international airport, Varna is one of the largest transport centers in Bulgaria. You will be able to enjoy great museums, numerous music programs, live music venues, quality food and lodgings at fantastic prices. All of this is literally 5-10 minutes away from the sea by foot.


Bourgas, Bulgaria

Bulgaria tourism - Bourgas Bulgaria
Beach and the pier in Bourgas. Photo: Slava_68 Flickr via Compfight

Bourgas is also in the top 5 largest cities in Bulgaria and is a great place for tourism. It offers multi-faceted tourism destinations – cultural, marine, health (balneal and SPA centers), ornithologist and wine tourism. Another big plus is that Bourgas is relatively close to other great resorts like St. Vlas, Nessebar, and Sunny Beach.


Sozopol, Bulgaria

Sozopol is another excellent place for summer Bulgaria tourism. It’s especially good because it’s a small town and has about four different beaches, all of them with fine quality sand and clear water. Sozopol, just like Nessebar, sports an old and a new part. Rent a hotel in the new part, take a romantic stroll in the old city and finish the evening with some great food and wine.


Skiing Holidays in BulgariaBulgaria tourism: Skiing Holidays in Bulgaria

Almost every Bulgarian mountain is fit for skiing. The lovers of the winter season will find some fantastic resorts like Bansko, Dobrinishte, and Borovets and those are just the most famous ones. Usually, the skiing season starts in December and continues until the end of February, sometimes even during March. So, you can visit at any point of those three-four months, and you will be guaranteed to spend some exceptional time skiing, snowboarding or simply hiking in the fresh air of the Bulgarian mountains. Check this Bulgaria Skiing article to find out more.


Bulgaria nightlife tourism

Bulgaria nightlife tourism
Boulevard Vitosha at night, Sofia

Bulgaria’s nightlife tourism is best developed in the bigger cities and the resorts. Tourists will be able to visit some iconic local clubs like Black Label, Cacao Beach, Xtravaganza and much more. It’s best to start with Sofia since the capital has the most to offer in this regard. There are programs for literally any musical taste. Not to mention the happy hours – they are plenty, and they are good. During the summer season, you will want to check the seaside nightlife – Varna, Bourgas, Sunny Beach, Golden Sands, Nessebar – all of those destinations will be worth your time.


Bulgaria shopping

Bulgaria offers numerous venues for shopping. If you are a fan of malls, you can find at least one or more in every big city in the country. Otherwise, just take a stroll through any city center and enjoy the wide variety of goods, available in regular shops. If you plan well, you can catch some national festivals and delve deeper into the hand-made products created by Bulgarian tradesmen.


Bulgaria travel advice

The best travel advice for Bulgaria tourism can be applied to any destination worldwide – avoid the dark parts of the city, research your destination well (always check for good reviews and articles by people who have already visited the place) and know your rights. If you don’t do anything illegal, you will have a very good time. Always be aware of your belongings and be on the lookout for pickpockets in the most crowded tourist destinations. Other than the usual precautions – bring your good mood, smile a lot and you will experience first-hand the famous Bulgarian hospitality.


Travel insurance Bulgaria

And last, but not least – travel insurance. It’s always best to be insured when you travel around the world. A good idea is that the insurance will cover medical problems, theft, and loss. Some policies offer lower or higher expense options, so always read the fine print. Be sure to check if your insurance covers the so-called dangerous activities, e.g.: motorcycling, scuba diving or mountain trekking. Be sure to check if the policy covers all costs directly, sometimes it’s better than having to pay on the spot and claim your money later. Also, it can be good to ensure that your insurance policy will cover an emergency flight home if needed.

Bulgaria is a place that can please any tourist. Even if you are not sure what you want to do, I can guarantee that you will be swayed by the pace and will dive right into the Bulgaria’s culture and nightlife. And remember – plan well, be with your wits and take your party hat. Safe travels!