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Include Bulgaria in Your Balkan Tour

Add Bulgaria to your guided tour through the Balkans and enjoy mountain trails, ancient monasteries and lots of character. Balkan Tales knows all about this country and you can count on any route that’s tailored to your interests.

Rose festival BulgariaRelax completely knowing that:

  • Your tour itinerary is professionally made and executed.
  • Convenient transportation from each location and assistance in crossing borders.
  • Cheerful, local guides will show you the real side of Bulgaria.

Find out what’s good to visit in Bulgaria down below to get ideas for your tour. Balkan Tales can also work your tour within your specific interest.

Local Currency: Bulgarian lev
Population: 7.05 million
Who needs Visa: Check the visa requirements for your country >> here <<
Religion: Mainly Bulgarian Orthodox with 12% Muslims.
Language: Bulgarian, a Slavic language.
When to go: Low season ; Mid season , high season: .

Cities to stay

Take a look at our city suggestions – those are Bulgarian major cities that totally worth an overnight.

Sofia – Grows, But Does Not Age

Sofia is the second oldest capital in Europe

The capital of Bulgaria, located in the western, Sofia deserves at least 2 days.

  • Sofia bundles picturesque nature surroundings, ancient history and bustling modern life.
  • Saint Alexander Nevski is a centrally located cathedral; the ancient Boyana Church is a UNESCO site and monument.
  • In the city center, the Serdica amphitheater will show you the glorious Roman times.

Plovdiv – Ancient and eternal

This is the biggest and loveliest of all towns. Its beauty shines from faraway… (C) some Roman writer

  • Plovdiv lies in the Thracian Plain, by the Maritsa river.
  • Visit some of Bulgaria’s stunning mountains from this city: the Rhodopes and Sredna Gora.
  • The Roman ruins tell ancient stories, the hills around invite for walks, especially Alyosha, with a monument to a Russian soldier.

Some of the ancient monuments in Plovdiv are the Roman Theatre, the Ancient Stadium, the unique Old Town with the Ethnographic Museum and more. Nearby are the Bachkovo Monastery founded in the 11th century and the town of Asenovgrad with its ancient fortress. The Rhodope Mountains are marvelous and luring, especially in winter.

Veliko Tarnovo – City of the Tsars

The ancient capital of Bulgaria.

  • It was the Bulgarian capital in the past, and today combines ancient historical heritage with modern life as a busy university city.
  • The Tsarevets Fortress will show you the life of the tsar and his family and servants.

The 40 Holy Martyrs is a restored church, originally built in 1230 and used for burials of royals. On Trapezitsa Hill see how rich nobles, “boyars” lived. The wax figures in the exhibition center near Tsarevets are a must see. The Transfiguration Monastery nearby boasts ancient murals and stunning views.

Varna – the sea capital of Bulgaria

Coast of inspiration.

  • The Sea Garden is the place to visit, with a unique variety of plants and beautifull sea view.

See worlds most ancient gold treasure in the History Museum of Varna. The rock monastery called Aladzha worht a visit and is just  5 km away. The Sea Garden park boasts a zoo, the Astronomy Observatory, the Aquarium, the Dolphinarium.

Places to visit

Places to visit in Bulgaria

We definitely recommend you include these places in your tour of Bulgaria.

Rila mountain

  • Rila is where the highest Balkan Peninsula peak rises: 2925 meters high Musala.
  • Glacial lakes are impressive, and hot springs at Rila’s base invite for spa activities.

The Rila Monastery is a UNESCO site  and an ancient hub of religion and culture. The picturesque views are numerous; among them are the Seven Rila Lakes, with lakes situated in a string of terraces. Many peaks attract hikers, and numerous mountain huts welcome with herb tea.

7 Rila Lakes

  • The beauty of these glacial lakes, located at over 2,000 metres altitude, is a must to see.
  • You can take a chair lift to the Rilski Ezera chalet, and start the tour.
  • The highest lake, Salzata, meaning the Tear, is crystal clear; the deepest one is Okoto, reaching 37.5 metres in depth.

Each lake has its charm. The Dolnoto, or Lower, lake, gathers the waters of the upper ones and forms the Dzherman river. Small streams connect each lake with the neighboring two ones. By the Ribnoto, or Fish, lake is the old Sedemte Ezera chalet. In autumn, around October, the lakes freeze and stay frozen until June. The ice cover can reach up to 2 metres.

Thracian tombs in Kazanlak

  • Ancient Thracians left numerous tombs in Bulgaria, which are now UNESCO sites.
  • The Kazanlak tomb is the most impressive one, dated from the 4th century BC.
  • The Sveshtari tomb near Razgrad is the oldest and dates to the 3rd century BC.

The Rose Valley and the Rose Festival

  • On the south side of the Balkan Range lies the Rose Valley, famed so for roses and rose oil making.
  • Festivals dedicated to oil bearing roses take place in Kazanlak in june.
  • 85% of all rose oil worldwide is produced in the Rose Valley.

A special museum is dedicated to the rose in Kazanlak.

Nearby Sopot is a picturesque town, with a lift to the upper Balkan slopes. You can try paragliding there.

Kaliakra cape

  • Cape Kaliakra is a small headland with steep slopes near the Kavarna town, .
  • The cliffs descending to the sea on either side are almost vertical and 70 meters high.

Kaliakra is a nature reserve, where dolphins can often be seen, and cormorant birds fly around. The remains of an ancient fortress can be found on the Kaliakra nose. There is a tiny museum with artifacts, and a chapel to Saint Nicholas, the patron of fishermen.

Balchik – Queen Mary of Romania Castle and the Botanical Garden

  • Balchik is a steep town lying on the very sea coast.
  • The Botanical Garden and the Palace of the former Romanian queen attract numerous visitors.
  • The town is dotted by restaurants serving local specialties and by family hotels.

The palace built for Queen Maria is a small villa dating from 1926. The architecture blends local and Islamic styles uniquely but attractively.

The botanical gardens are beautiful, smothered in greenery and flowers.

Belogradchik Rocks and Belogradchik Fortress

Belogradchik Rocks is a natural landmark in Bulgaria, featuring strangely shaped rocks. Be prepared to recognize a lion, a camel, a bear, a horseman, a Madonna, and many others.

Sozopol the oldest town in Bulgaria.

  • Sozopol’s location on a picturesque Black Sea bay is picture perfect.
  • Its age old history is is represented on the streets, and the old town is a museum reserve.

The local family restaurants and taverns will fascinate you. Walk the cobbled streets of the old town, visit the Archeological Museum. Nearby is the Ropotamo river, a nature reserve with water lilies on the surface. The nearby Sveti Ivan island is also worth a visit.

Rila Мonastery – the biggest in Bulgaria

  • Rila Monastery is the largest in Bulgaria existing since the 10th century and founded by a hermit, these days is a UNESCO site.

The iconostasus inside is fold plated and with woodcarving. The frescoes were painted by masters from the area. The museum’s exhibits the Rafail’s cross, shaped from a whole wood piece and featuring 104 scenes and 650 figures.

Pirin national park

  • Pirin is stunningly beautiful  and is the our favorite national park in Bulgaria.
  • The highest peak is Vihren, ot rises to 2,914 meters, second only to Musala peak in Rila.

The oldest tree known in Bulgaria, a pine called Baykusheva Mura, is in the area. It is approximately a peer in age to the Bulgarian state, aged around 1,300 years.

Nessebar

The Historic UNESCO Town of Bulgaria.

  • Nessebar is a museum reserve, small but beautiful with its charm.
  • Its Old Town is a UNESCO site, with ancient churches, located on a peninsula linked to the modern town by a narrow land strip.

Before entering the town, see the old windmill. The old town shows off Revival period houses, picturesque with their wood and stone structures. Visit the churches of St John, St Stephan, Christ Pantokrator, etc. Be certain to taste fish specialties in small restaurants dotting the town.

The Ivanovo Rock monasteries

  • The Ivanovo monastery is UNESCO listed.

The murals inside the main church are of special interest, as they date from the 14th century.

Madara Rider

  • The rider’s relief on the rock by Madara is a site under UNESCO protection.
  • It is dated to the 7th or 8th century.
  • The inscription found below the relief mentions the Thracian god Tangra.

This monument is a rock relief, showing a rider and a dog behind it, in almost natural size. The rider is driving a spear into a lion.

The height of the relief is 23 metres above the ground. The depiction of the rider is thought to be in honour of Thracian horsemen, who were typically represented astride, and with a spear that often stabbed a beast.

Melnik – the wine capital of Bulgaria

The tiniest town in Bulgaria, too.

  • Melnik owes its fame to being the smallest Bulgarian town, and mostly for its wines.
  • Its Mediterranean clime is perfect for vine growing and wine producing.

The sandstone pyramids rising around Melnik are impressive. They were shaped by nature, like needles, cones, mushrooms, and other shapes. The pyramids rise to 100m.

Bachkovo monastery and Asen’s fortress

  • Bachkovo monastery is one of the oldest and largest of European Eastern Orthodox monasteries.

Bachkovo Monastery combines several cultures: Byzantine, Georgian, and Bulgarian. Destroyed in the 14th century, it was later restored, and now boasts precious murals.

Not far from the monastery, the medieval Asen’s Fortress rises on a ridge. It bears traces of Thracian, Roman, and Byzantine times. The best preserved part is the two storey church, built in the 12-13th centuries.

Rhodope moutain villages

  • In Kovachevitsa, two- and three-storey houses dating from the 18th century lend a unique atmosphere.

Kovachevitsa is an architectural reserve. The houses which are over 2 centuries old, have the ground floor for animals and for food storage, and rooms for the family on the upper floors. The city streets are covered with cobblestones. The nearby waterfall Siny Vir  is a must see site.

The Neolitic Villages near Varna

  • In the complex’s museum a collection of gold and silver Thracian treasures is displayed.
  • You can practice archery and take pictures in Thracian clothes,  holding ancient weapons.

The Neolithic Village is a historical complex showing what neolithic homes looked like in 6000 to 4000 BC.

Things to do

What to do in Bulgaria?

We strongly suggest you put these local experiences on your list.

  • Visit the mountain villages
  • Visit a traditional restaurant
  • Try the local food and drinks, like Tarator and Rakia
  • Cruise the Black sea shore
  • Know more about the Thracians
  • Experience a traditional festival
  • Visit the National archeological museum
  • Walk the city center of Sofia at night
  • Visit a local market, Buy fresh fruits and vegetables, honey and spices
  • Go on an abandoned tour and visit the Buzludzha monument

Wine Tours and Wine Tasting

  • As one the world’s oldest wine producers, Bulgaria offers a range of fine wines.
  • Evidence from 4,000BC testifies ancient Thracians were wine making experts.

Ancient Thracians’ wines were lauded in the Iliad and the Odyssey. The wine production art has continued till present times.

The wineries in Rousse, Suhindol, Magura, Slavyantsi, Damianitsa, and other wine producing facilities will welcome you and reveal the magic of wines made on Bulgarian land.

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Skiing and snowboarding

  • Bulgarian mountains are popular winter destinations for skiing and snowboarding.
  • Bansko, Borovets and Pamporovo are the most preferred ones.
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Borovets is both the largest mountain spot for winter sports and conveniently located near Sofia – 1hrs of driving will get you there. Bansko is growing as a modern skiing resort.

Hiking

  • Hiking will reveal unsurpassed Bulgarian mountainous beauties, in all seasons, especially in summer.
  • Rila and Pirin are national parks, and Vitosha by Sofia is a nature park.
  • Strandzha in the southeast is low and offers easy treks in combination with seaside recreation. It comprises five nature reserves.
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Mountain reserves will offer splendid experiences in the lap of nature. Discover the captivating charm of lakes, like the Seven Rila Lakes, and waterfalls galore. Quaint rock formations, like the Chudnite Mostove in the Rhodopes, also merit attention. Both easy and moderate walking trails will reveal the charm of mountains, with pine verdure, murmuring streams, glades with aromatic herbs.

Unesco

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Bulgaria in Balkan Tour Itineraries

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