Bulgaria offers a highly diverse landscape. Located in the heart of the Balkans, the north is dominated by the flat Danube Valley and the south by the highlands and elevated plains. Over the centuries, many empires have laid claim to the country, from the Romans right through to the Ottomans and the Soviet regime. Bulgaria initially struggled following the fall of Communism, but today the country is enjoying a renaissance as one of Europe’s fastest growing tourist destinations. Those in the know are heading for the Black Sea beaches, the lush valleys and ski resorts, historic cities and picturesque villages.
This is where the sway of the Mediterranean meets Central Europe and blends with the exotic East. From the Danube to Dracula's castle, there is history at every turn.
Beyond the striking mountains and vast green stretches, there is also much history and culture to grasp. Bulgaria’s capital Sofia features the Neo-Byzantine style Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, which is one of the largest Eastern Orthodox cathedrals in the world. While indulging in the many parks and street bars in Sofia, also make time to visit the magnificent Rila Monastery, the largest and most important symbol of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church. The monastery was built at the site where the holy man went into exile, and, in one form or another it lasted through the ages to delight the visitor till today with its imposing beauty. Also, don’t miss the old medieval capital of Veliko Turnavo, whose houses cling to the cliffs of the River Yantra - its chapels and churches built by crusaders and Bulgarian kings.
Bulgaria offers a wide range of entertainment, from throbbing nightclubs pumping out its eastern techno ‘chalga’ beats, to classical concerts and programs by the National Folk Ensemble. Bulgaria's traditional music festivals are an important part of Bulgarian rural life.
In May and early June, the Rose Valley is magically transformed with breath-taking blooms when The Festival of Roses is celebrated in many of the region’s towns and villages. For relaxation, the curative properties of Bulgaria's many mineral water spas have been known and used for centuries. Afterward, escape to nearby Mount Vitosha for some fresh air, scenic views and a good hike.