Here’s a list of must-see sights in Bulgaria:
Sofia – the bustling capital and one of the oldest settlements in Europe, Sofia’s home to the country’s best museums, nightclubs and cultural venues. It contains St. Alexander Nevsky (above), Bulgaria’s largest cathedral and dozens of other cultural monuments.
Boyana church, a UNESCO heritage site, is nestled in the folds of Vitosha mountain just outside the city.
Plovdiv – combining the allure of a fully preserved Roman amphitheatre, hippodrome and the foundations of a Roman villa in a city underpass with a Revival-era Old Town and a bustling shopping district, Plovdiv is definitely worth a visit.
Veliko Tarnovo – Bulgaria’s medieval capital is currently a quiet city of 125,000 with traditional tradesmen, restaurants and parks. The region around the city is full of monasteries and quiet villages.
Nessebar – inhabited by Thracians, Greeks, Romans and Bulgarians since late Antiquity, Nessebar is a unique port on Bulgaria’s Black Sea coast – a place of sunshine and beaches with a gorgeous historical core.
Rila Monastery – the largest and best preserved of Bulgaria’s monasteries, Rila Monastery is an incredible example of Bulgarian Orthodox art and architecture, built around a medieval tower and covered in intricate frescoes and woodwork.
Melnik – famous for its thick, strong wine served in handkerchiefs, its architecture and the imposing sandy cliffs above it, Melnik is Bulgaria’s smallest city.
Perperikon – a holy site since Antiquity, foundations of a Thracian sanctuary from 6000 BC, Medieval fortress and a cathedral are just a few of the highlights of this archaeological marvel.
Kazanlak – the centre of rose oil production, Kazanlak also houses the most intricate and well-preserved Thracian tomb ever found.
The Seven Rila Lakes – a set of glacial lakes in the Rila mountains, this is a must-see for hikers, backpackers and anyone with an affinity for nature.
Koprivshtica – a perfectly preserved Revival-era town, it is in Koprivshtica that the April Uprising began.
Ruse, “Little Vienna” as it is known, was the second most populous city of Bulgaria in the early 20th century and a centre of innovation and culture. Its architecture rivalled that of Sofia, Budapest and Vienna. There is much to see in this beautiful Danube port.
Balchik – the pearl of the Northern Black Sea coast, Balchik is home to a delightful botanical garden on the grounds of the summer residence of Romanian queen Maria of Edinburgh.