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Although over the past few years tourism in Bulgaria has been on the rise, this country still remains one of the most fascinating hidden gems of Eastern Europe. With its stunning beaches, remote mountain villages, and impressive architecture, Bulgaria is a constant source of pleasant surprises and a destination that must not be missed.
An introduction to Bulgaria
Over its thirteen centuries of existence, Bulgaria came under the rule of Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, and Russians. All these powerful empires left a cultural imprint that is still evident today, as Bulgarian towns and cities are filled with a captivating mix of the most diverse cultural traditions. Due to its geographical position, Bulgaria has always been a meeting point for Eastern and Western culture, and the results of this unique combination never fail to impress visitors.
Outside a few major cities, Bulgaria is mostly rural. The nature here is simply stunning, as large parts of the country are covered in dense forests, glacial lakes, and imposing mountain ranges that gently slope down until they reach the shores of the glistening Black Sea.
Bulgaria's main attractions
Bulgaria's capital, Sofia, is a bustling city renowned for its impressive Orthodox architecture and for its spectacular natural surroundings. The city centre is packed with ancient ruins, Byzantine churches, and dozens of museums and art galleries. During the spring and summer months, the city parks come alive with music performances and open air exhibitions. Sofia has a vibrant cafe culture and a fantastic selection of festivals and events all-year-round.
The picturesque town of Veliko Turnovo was once Bulgaria's capital, and is a compulsory stop for anyone interested in history, culture, and outdoor activities. In the northeast of the country, the town of Russe sits on the banks of the Danube River and boasts a large number of historical buildings, which have earned the city the nickname of "the small Vienna".
Further east is the Black Sea Coast, dotted with charming seaside resorts and bustling towns like Varna and Bourgas. This is one of Europe's most up-and-coming travel destinations.
A scenic driving route around Bulgaria
Renting a car from a reputable online broker like Rent.it is a fantastic way of discovering Bulgaria. Sofia is a popular hire car collection point. Drive one south of Sofia on the E79 to reach the stunning Rila National Park. Alternatively, you can head north towards Veliko Turnovo and Russe, and on the way you will drive past the snow-capped peaks of the Central Balkan National Park. From Veliko Turnovo, the A2 road takes you to Varna, from where you can drive along the coast towards Bourgas and eventually back to Sofia.