Highlights of Bulgaria
Plovdiv is really hard to sum up in just a few lines. As Europe's oldest occupied city, a quick history would take pages to write. The perfect mix between a modern city and its former Roman self, it's a shock it took so long for it to become one of Europe's Capitals of Culture. Do yourself a favour, and double the amount of time you were thinking of staying in Plovdiv for. The day trips from the town are definitely worth spending an extra day or so.
This city is criminally underrated! One of the most important cities in the Balkans for several centuries, Veliko Tarnovo has an incredible history and a perfect castle. The capital of the Second Bulgarian Empire, the city hosted dozens of major sieges protecting its thousands of residents from invading Ottoman forces. Centuries later, it was home to the signing and declaration of the Third Bulgarian Empire.
Though it is part of the Black Sea coastline, Nessebar deserves its own spot on every list. Roughly an hour north of Burgas and 20 minutes south of Sunny Beach, the island of Nessebar is actively waiting for the next tourist to come in. While the town itself is very touristy, it claims to have the most churches per capita in the world. At over 40 churches on the small island, you can not go more than a block or two without finding one. The island also has a fantastic shoreline with shops and restaurants, as well as numerous wooden houses built several centuries ago.
Thracian Tomb of Kazanlak
Prior to the Roman invasion at the start of the 1st millennium, the Thracian's ruled what is now Bulgaria. They were quite an advanced group and spread through much of the Balkan Peninsula. The Kazanlak Valley was a sacred place for them, leaving behind over 1,000 burial chambers from kings and other royals through the ages. These burial chambers have stood the test of time amazingly with paint, statues, and stucco work all in great condition. They also provide a unique window into the Thracian culture and thus are part of the UNESCO World Heritage list. You can visit several of these tombs just outside Kazanlak
sand beaches. While archaeology tells us that it has been inhabited for over 6,000 years, modern tourism only slightly blemished the shoreline. That is all changing as the secret is getting around. Anything from apartments to rent, 5* hotels, and a fair number of all-inclusives have all staked their claim in the tourism revolution. What is better than just the beach, is the numerous historical attractions like Nessebar or the world's oldest forged gold artifacts at the Varna Archaeological Museum.
One of the top day trips from Sofia, Rila Monastery and the surrounding national park is a must-see. While most people do the trip solely to see the monastery, make sure to stick around for the entire day to explore some awesome mountain scenery in the surrounding national park.
Did you know :
The surrounding mountains have excellent skiing at affordable prices
After just a short time exploring Sofia, its impossible not to notice how many parks there are. With dozens of major parks and even more smaller parkettes, you can't walk more than a couple of blocks without running into one. The most surprising thing is how many are actively being used throughout the day. Try your hand at yoga or painting, listen to the buskers, cool down with a treat from an ice cream stand and/or challenge one of the many Bulgarian grandpa's playing chess. For any of you digital nomads, it was a shock to find so many parks had open wifi from a surrounding building allowing for a near-perfect place to get some work done!