20 Places you need to visit in Bulgaria

Known for its plethora of ancient ruins, whitewashed villages, sunny beaches, tasty cuisine and friendly atmosphere, it is no wonder that Bulgaria ranks among Europe’s top travel destinations.

I’m pretty sure I could come up with at least a hundred different reasons why one should visit Bulgaria. This is not a difficult list to come up with, but for the sake of space and brevity, I limited the list to twenty really good reasons to visit.

It seems as though visiting Italy is a bucket list entry for a lot of folks and my job here is to convince you to go so you can cross this one off of your list.

Bulgaria certainly does have much to offer: spectacular cities, ancient ruins, wonderful museums, soaring mountains, great beaches, and beautiful natural scenery. But so does any number of other European countries, so we need to uncover what makes Bulgaria so unique and worthy of your hard-earned dollars.

Cape Kaliakra

Kaliakra is a long, narrow headland in the Southern Dobruja region of the Northern Bulgarian Black Sea Coast located 30km from Lighthouse Golf & Spa Resort, Bulgaria. The coast is steep with vertical cliffs reaching 70 m down to the sea.

Kaliakra is a nature reserve, where dolphins, cormorants and pinnipeds can be observed. It also features the remnants of the fortified walls, water main, baths and residence of the despot Dobrotitsa from the short-lived principality of Karvuna’s medieval capital. The Bolata Cove, with its small sheltered beach, lies just to the North at the mouth of a picturesque canyon, also a part of the nature reserve.

Cape Kaliakra

Tsarevets Fortress

During the period of the Second Bulgarian Kingdom, from the year 1185 to 1395, Bulgaria was the largest and the most powerful state in Southeastern Europe, and Tsarevets Hill was the main fortress of the medieval capital – Veliko Turnovo.

During the first centuries of Roman rule, the ancient settlement was deserted but had been inhabited even as early as the 2nd millennium B.C. After the abandonment, it once again became populated during the 4th century, and by the 5th century, it had already become a strongly fortified early Byzantine town. During the 12th century, the medieval fortress was raised on top of the foundations of this early Byzantine stronghold. Today there is partial restoration, although the entire fort has been well-studied. You can see how this fort was able to withstand many different periods throughout history as it consists of massive stonewalls, gates and towers.

Madara Rider

The Madara Rider, representing the figure of a knight triumphing over a lion, is carved into a 100-m-high cliff near the village of Madara in northeast Bulgaria. Madara was the principal sacred place of the First Bulgarian Empire before Bulgaria’s conversion to Christianity in the 9th century. The inscriptions beside the sculpture tell of events that occurred between AD 705 and 801.

Madara Rider

Rila Monastery

Rila Monastery was founded in the 10th century by St John of Rila, a hermit canonized by the Orthodox Church. His ascetic dwelling and tomb became a holy site and were transformed into a monastic complex which played an important role in the spiritual and social life of medieval Bulgaria. Destroyed by fire at the beginning of the 19th century, the complex was rebuilt between 1834 and 1862. A characteristic example of the Bulgarian Renaissance (18th–19th centuries), the monument symbolizes the awareness of a Slavic cultural identity following centuries of occupation.

UNESCO has 9 declared World Heritage sites in Bulgaria

Thracian Tomb of Kazanlak

Discovered in 1944, this tomb dates from the Hellenistic period, around the end of the 4th century BC. It is located near Teutopolis, the capital city of the Thracian king Seutes III, and is part of a large Thracian necropolis. The tholos has a narrow corridor and a round burial chamber, both decorated with murals representing Thracian burial rituals and culture. These paintings are Bulgaria’s best-preserved artistic masterpieces from the Hellenistic period.

Boyana church

Located on the outskirts of Sofia, Boyana Church consists of three buildings. The eastern church was built in the 10th century, then enlarged at the beginning of the 13th century by Sebastocrator Kaloyan, who ordered a second two-storey building to be erected next to it. The frescoes in this second church, painted in 1259, make it one of the most important collections of medieval paintings. The ensemble is completed by a third church, built at the beginning of the 19th century. This site is one of the most complete and perfectly preserved monuments of east European medieval art.

Boyana church from the outside

Belogradchik rocks

The Belogradchik Rocks are natural phenomena that are unsurpassed and were competing for the 8th wonder of the world. They start quite a long way before you reach the town of Belogradchik and you are left with an open mouth when you see them a little far from the winding road but they are the best behind the fortress where you can clearly see a couple embracing; the wind is omnipresent you don’t want to leave these rocks – all of them are red in colour. Pity they are so far away from Sofia on the way to Vidin.

Belogradchik rocks


Perperikon is located in the East Rhodope Mountain, 20 km northeast of the town of Kardzhali. The rock city stands on a clifftop at a height of 470 meters. The village of Gorna Fortress lies at its foot, and the river Perpereshka flows beside it. The comfortable river valley has created conditions of life since ancient times. Therefore the valley is strewn with dozens of archaeological sites from various ages, the centre of which is Perperikon.

The medieval archaeological complex Perperikon is one of the most ancient monumental megalithic structures, entirely carved into the rocks. It is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Bulgaria.


Sveshtarska Tomb

Discovered in 1982 near the village of Sveshtari, this 3rd-century BC Thracian tomb reflects the fundamental structural principles of Thracian cult buildings. The tomb has a unique architectural decor, with polychrome half-human, half-plant caryatids and painted murals. The 10 female figures carved in high relief on the walls of the central chamber and the decoration of the lunette in its vault are the only examples of this type found so far in the Thracian lands. It is a remarkable reminder of the culture of the Getes, a Thracian people who were in contact with the Hellenistic and Hyperborean worlds, according to ancient geographers.

Sveshtari tomb

Villa Armira

Villa Armira is one of the earliest and most accurately dated villa complexes from the Roman era, studied in Bulgaria. She is an outstanding architectural monument from 2000 years ago. This is the most sumptuously decorated private house (palace) of the Roman period, discovered in the Bulgarian lands. The villa was a centre of land tenure, founded by a Thracian rich aristocratic family. Excavations of the mound near the village of Great Svirachi in 2001-2002 contributed greatly to the proof of Thracian origin of the founding her first ruler was the successor of a Thracian king (bazilevs). He received for service to the Roman power status of a Roman citizen and thus has acquired the right to create a holiday farm which is still organized in the 50 ~ 70 years of the first century A.D. That is only about twenty years after the final conquest of Thrace of Rome.

Villa Armira

Antique Theater

It is located on the southern slope of the Three Hills, in the saddle between Taksim and Dzhambaz tepe. Discovered by archaeologists from Plovdiv and reconstructed at the beginning of the 80s of the XX century, the Ancient theatre of Philipoppol is among the most significant findings from the Roman period. Recently found and deciphered inscription on a monumental pedestal reveals that the theatre has been constructed in the 90s of I century A.D. when Philippolol was under the rulership of Titus Flavius Cotis – an heir of a Thracian Royal Dynasty, the high priest of the Tracian province, representative of the Metropolitan Court of Justice and a person in charge of the construction sites. The open-air spectator’s area includes 28 concentric rows of marble seats, surrounding the stage– orchestra, which has the shape of a horseshoe with a diameter of 26.64 m. Apart from theatre performances, the venue was used for gladiatorial and hunting games, as well as a seat of the General Assembly of the Roman province of Thrace (Tracon koinon). It was in use until the end of the IV century and had a capacity of about 6 000 spectators.


Ovech Fortress

Ovech is a stone fortress the remains of which still stand on a ship-shaped plateau east of Provadiya, some 53 km west of Varna and 410 km east of Sofia. The fortress can be reached both by car (coming from the east) and on foot (the Ovech eco-trail).

The Ovech eco-trail is a picturesque hiking trail that starts from the city centre of Provadia and goes along the western slope of the plateau. There are benches along the way which makes it suitable for the elderly as well. The steps to the fortress were once cut into the rock and are nowadays secured with a rail. Climbing up is not difficult but going down, especially with younger children may be bothersome. There are many myths and legends about Ovech and the best of them you can hear from the local museum guides in the fortress. A welcome meet by the Mayor and the Guard, archery and throwing spears are among the other attractions (usually organized for groups) that the fortress offers.

Ovech fortress

Varna Necropolis

The world’s oldest processed gold, the almost 7,000-year-old Varna Gold Treasure from the Chalcolithic Necropolis in the Bulgarian Black Sea city of Varna, has been showcased at a special exhibition in the European Parliament in Brussels.

Varna Necropolis

Ethnographic complex Etar

The architectural ethnographic complex “Etar” is the first one of this type in Bulgaria. He was found on the 7 of September 1964 year. The museum is situated 8 km South of Gabrovo.

In AEK “Etar” is the only and unique collection of the old-times water-driven machinery in Bulgaria.

It consists of 10 objects and it’s one of the most riches and well kept active technical collections around the European museums on the open air. This is the reason the water wheel is the emblem of the Etar. The most important speciality to the collection is that all objects are in action as it was in the past. The craftsman trade street offers 16 models to the Balkan architecture, showing the original talent to Revival builders.


The Seven Rila Lakes

The Seven Lakes are located in Northwestern Rila and are probably the most visited places in these mountains. Its popularity is due to the natural beauty of this group of glacier lakes, the highest of which is located at about 2500 m. above the sea level. It is named The Teardrop because of its shape. The lowest one is called The Lower Lake (surprisingly) and is at 2100 m. elevation. Between them are located The Twins, The Eye, The Kidney, The Fish Lake and The Trefoil. The Eye is the deepest in the group, reaching a depth of 37,5 meters. The biggest surface area is Kidney Lake.

Seven Rila Lakes

Ivanovo Rock churches

In the valley of the Roussenski Lom River, in northeast Bulgaria, a complex of rock-hewn churches, chapels, monasteries and cells developed in the vicinity of the village of Ivanovo. This is where the first hermits had dug out their cells and churches during the 12th century. The 14th-century murals testify to the exceptional skill of the artists belonging to the Tarnovo School of painting.

Ivanovo Rock churches

Prohodna Cave

 Prohodna – one of the most famous and the most easily accessible caves in Bulgaria, located 2 km from the village called Karlukovo and 112 km from Sofia. The cave is a natural rock bridge with a length of 262m and it has two entrances – big and small. At the entrance of small height is of about 35m and the trail starts passing through the cave to the big entrance, where you can see the highest in Bulgaria cave vault, reaching 45 m.

Prohodna Cave

Botanical garden and palace, Balchik

The palace and the botanical garden in Balchik joined in an architectural and park complex, are a piece of heaven on earth and a must-see tourist attraction on the Bulgarian Black Sea coast. The complex appeared as a summer residence of the Romanian queen Maria (1875-1938).
The palace was designed by Italian architects and construction works started in 1924. One of the first buildings was the queen’s villa “Tenha Yuvah” (“lonely, solitary nest”). In the coming years, new villas, an Orthodox chapel, a nymphaeum, inside Moorish-styled patios, a traditional Revival Period house and fountains, decorated with fine marble medallions with mythological characters were built.

Balchik and the garden palace

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