Bulgaria in recent times has become a more popular tourist destination. It's rich history and amazing nature make it the perfect destination to get a mixture of everything during your holiday. Like many of the other countries in this area, Bulgaria was occupied by the Romans, which has left some incredible architectural monuments and recently discovered ruins to explore. They were then occupied by the Turks Ottoman Empire for five hundred years until they were liberated; they were also invaded by the Nazis during World War II. Interestingly, the Bulgaria monarch let the Germans into the country in a plight to keep its citizens safe. This also extended to the Jewish community, of which all were saved from the concentration camps by the King lying to Hitler about requiring a Jewish slave workforce to do construction during this time. After World War II, the country then fell under the rule of Stalin's communist regime until they were liberated from that in the nineties. Since then, the country has regained its identity and become a far safer travel destination.
Bulgaria is a beautiful country to explore and you are going to get yourself an adventure here. As they say in Bulgaria, tourist information directing you to anywhere other than to a beach or a vodka is going to be hard to find. This is not a lie, so if you want to get off the beaten track and explore some of the good stuff, be prepared to take multiple forms of transport. Internet forums on how to get to and from places are going to be your best friends in this venture.
Unless you start at the beach with a vodka on the east coast, most people will fly in to the capital city, Sofia. This city has a rich history. The ruins of the Roman city of Serdika have been found here when they were constructing a new train line. There are beautiful churches and other buildings to see here too. The main stretch of Vitosha Street is where you will find all of the bars and restaurants.
The second-largest city is Plovdiv, and it also has a rich Roman history. You will find the ruins of one of the largest stadiums and an amphitheater here that are both very cool to visit. The old town has some pretty cool buildings and ruins to explore as well. You can either fly into here or take a bus in from Sofia or the east coast.
Outside of the major cities you should definitely get yourself into the mountain ranges. The Rila Monastery is a must-see and if you have the time, navigate three buses to get to the Seven Lakes region and do some spectacular hiking. Definitely ask your Bulgaria hostel for help on how to get here, as it can be a little on the complex side.
In the winter, Bansko is the local hot spot for skiing. It is fairly easy to get to from any of the local airports, as they all run shuttle buses to here.
There are quite a few hostels in Bulgaria, but the majority of them are in Sofia, Plovdiv, or in the coastal towns in the east. Book in advance in the high seasons, especially in some of the smaller towns, as there aren't as many Bulgaria hostels here and the destinations can be quite popular.
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Veliko Turnovo is one of the most beautiful cities in Europe. It has the second largest university in Bulgaria, which gives it a young, vibrant feeling. There is so much history to see.
Sofia is the capital city of Bulgaria. Its traditions are based on the 800 year old war between Bulgarians and the Turks. Now the Bulgarians are busy reconstructing their country and to be a part of the European Union.
I'm a Bulgarian living abroad and every time I go to Varna I'm amazed by how fast the city changes in a positive way. Bulgaria's citizens still don't receive European salaries and local people can't still consume import products, even if there is a real hunger for that. Otherwise Varna is a very nice holiday place …
Plovdiv is incredible, one of my favorite cities in Europe. There is so much to see in the old town, and the residents of Plovdiv are so nice and relaxed. The highlight of Bulgaria, for me.