Bulgaria, one of Europe’s hidden gems
Located in southeastern Europe, Bulgaria is one of the most overlooked countries for visitors and retirees setting their sights overseas. Compared to other European destinations, Bulgaria is fairly cheap, so you can experience more with a smaller dent in your wallet.
The country is generally quiet, with a calm, accepting local population, making it perfect for a relaxing vacation abroad. Try some of these must-see hotspots:
The capital city of Sofia is known as one of the quirkiest capitals in Europe. Everywhere you look you will find interesting little details that make the city unique, such as street poles turned into blooming flowers or fun mosaics on buildings. The whole city is a great photo opportunity.
Vitosha Boulevard, the main pedestrian street, features fancy shops, cafes, and people. Explore the yellow brick roads in the historic center and the partially visible 1,800-year-old Roman city. Nearby you can also spend your days skiing on Vitosha Mountain.
The city also has many amazing parks where you may find people dancing or old men playing chess.
Varna is not your average resort town on the Black Sea. The town is littered with history, Roman bathhouses, and Orthodox architecture, such as the Dormition of the Mother of God Cathedral. It’s a combination of a port city, naval base, and seaside resort. You will experience the perfect mix of history and modern amenities.
Varna is also the best place in Bulgaria to catch some sun. It’s the ideal place to stay when relaxing on the beach resorts like Sveti Konstantin and Golden Sands, or the town of Balchik.
The second largest city in Bulgaria, Plovdiv, offers something Sofia can’t – the old town on a hill feeling. Founded over 6,000 years ago, the city developed on seven hills. One was destroyed at the beginning of the 20th century, however.
While staying in Plovdiv, you can enjoy the Bulgarian Renaissance architecture, colorful houses, and a well-preserved Roman amphitheater.
The historic town of Nessebar, sometimes referred to as the Pearl of the Black Sea, was founded as a Thracian settlement known as Menebria. Since then, the town has been inhabited by Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Bulgarians, Crusaders, and Ottomans.
Today, you can stroll the cobblestone streets where you can explore the remnants of more than 40 brick churches, built as far back as the 5th century.
This resort is located on the northern slopes of Bulgaria’s Rila mountains. Here you can find numerous ski and snowboarding runs in the Rila National Park’s Musala Ridge. The mild winters bring plenty of snow for great skiing from mid-December to April.
6. Seven Rila Lakes
One of the Seven Lakes of Bulgaria
Also located in the Rila Mountains, the seven lakes are located at the foot of the many peaks. The lakes are one of the biggest attractions in the country, and they have fascinated mountaineers for over a hundred years. Seeing the lakes is just a day trip from Sofia, making this a convenient way to escape the city.
Melnik may be the smallest city in Bulgaria, but it is also home to some of the best wineries in the country. The town only has one main street, but you will want to stay for hours to visit local taverns and drink the rich red wines. If you ever feel like getting out of your seat, you can also see the nearby Melkin Rocks and the Rozhen Monastery.
8. Veliko Tarnovo
This city was the former capital of the Second Bulgarian Empire, from the 12th to the 14th century. It’s located in the center of Bulgaria and is a popular destination for tourists.
9. Central Balkan National Park
In the heart of Bulgaria is the Central Balkan National Park, one of the most valuable and largest protected areas in Europe. The park features pristine habitats of rare and endangered wildlife and self-regulating ecosystems.
Bulgarians and tourists alike love to visit the park to journey among the beautiful nature.
This ancient Thracian city is located in the Eastern Rhodopes. It contains an archeological complex that features a medieval fortress and a sanctuary that were once inhabited by different civilizations.
You can explore the fortress wall, palace, and the suburbs. The palace is carved in the rocks and the suburbs consist of small streets, residential buildings, and temples. This destination really gets you thinking about all of the ancient civilizations that once lived in Bulgaria.
Bulgaria not only offers exquisite natural beauty and a rich history, but there are also many reasons why retirees are finding a new life in Bulgaria. If you’re not ready for retirement, but want to diversify your investment portfolio, Bulgaria has numerous investment opportunities as well. For information on life abroad, don’t forget to check out other Escape Artist material!
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