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Fascinating Bulgaria: A Balkan nation with Diverse Terrain Encompassing a Black Sea Coastline

Known as an affordable vacation destination and the oldest country in Europe, Bulgaria also happens to be one of the safest in the world! It is famous for its many mineral hot springs, somewhat turbulent history, bagpipes, folklore, music, delicious Bulgarian yogurt, and some stunningly beautiful beaches.

If you’re lucky enough to experience this European treasure, be sure to include these things in your itinerary:

The capital city of Sofia dates back to the 5th century B.C. and offers many opportunities to learn about its past. Check out the National Museum of History and the National Institute of Archaeology Museum. Both offer collections of interesting artifacts from numerous time periods. The Red Flat Museum is a favorite among visitors and explores the everyday life in communist Bulgaria through an immersive format. Other interesting options include the Sofia History Museum and National Museum of Natural History, Sofia.

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Alexander Nevsky Cathedral - Sofia

​Of Sofia’s multifarious religious sites, be sure to visit Dragalevtsi Monastery (located on Vitosha Mountain) and Alexander Nevsky Cathedral. This cathedral is a gorgeous example of Byzantine architecture and is located in the city center. The small Saint Sofia Church can be found directly across from the Nevsky Cathedral and is about 900 years older with an interesting necropolis to explore. Saint Nikolas Russian Church was built upon property owned by the Russian Embassy in the early 1900s. Catedral de Sveta-Nedelya is a small, but impressive, medieval church located in the heart of the city. Built in the early 300s during the reign of Constantine the Great, the Rotunda St. George is thought to be the oldest building in Sofia, and one of the oldest in all of Europe.

Bulgaria is roughly the size of Ohio and with its coastline along the Black Sea spanning over 200 miles, offers many options for pristine beaches. Pick one (or more) during the warmer months and breathe in the fresh ocean air. Choose between a quiet and unassuming small resort beach, a large active beach filled with things to do, such as windsurfing, kayaking, kitesurfing and deep-sea diving, or one of many options in between. The most popular beaches among visitors are Sunny Beach, Golden Sands and Sozopo. Since many often overlook the beaches of Bulgaria when planning a vacation, they tend to be less congested during high season than their Mediterranean neighbors. 


​Visit the town of Velingrad, home to the world record for its concentration of mineral springs. Interested in assistance for a certain ailment? With over 90 mineral springs, there is a wide variety of temperatures and mineral concentration to choose from. Pick your favorite for a relaxing treat.

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Pirin National Park

Don't miss Pirin National Park!


Occupying over 90,000 acres in the Pirin Mountains, Pirin National Park has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage site.  The park’s information center is located in Bansko and can help tourists navigate the area hiking trails and ski slopes.

Make your way to Plovdiv, Bulgaria’s second-largest city, which was founded 8,000 years ago. While here, make sure to explore Bulgarian lifestyles and folk culture at the Ethnographic Museum.

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Plovdiv Roman Theater

​Another must-see is the fascinating Plovdiv Roman Theater, which is one of the best-preserved ancient theaters in the world. Stroll down colorful Main Street, which is dotted with cute shops and cafes. This street is hiding a long Roman Stadium underneath it, and can be seen under some of the shops’ glass floors.

​Eat a world-class dinner of fusion cuisine and craft beer, in the dark, at Tenebris, in Sofia. Check out their website!

During summer months, a trip to Bulgaria wouldn’t be complete without trying their popular dish called tarator. Nearly everyone eats this refreshing cold yogurt soup made with cucumber and dill as a way to cool off in the heat.

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Monastery of Saint Ivan of Rila

Bulgaria is known for its enthralling 211 monasteries situated in just about every corner of the country and everywhere in between. Stroll through the most famous Monastery of Saint Ivan of Rila, located just over 70 miles south of Sofia.

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By Lisa Osborne Blalock

Footloose Travel & Tours

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