Located in the southeast of Europe on the Balkan Peninsula, Bulgaria has not yet become a global tourist destination to rival its southern neighbours, Greece and Turkey. Yet it has the natural beauty, the first-class resorts and attractions to do just that in the near future. This beautiful country, studded with stunning mountains, may be small in size but it is rich in ancient culture, scenic splendour, friendly people and good, old-fashioned hospitality.
The Black Sea resorts are becoming increasingly popular with international visitors, and it’s easy to understand why. Fine sandy beaches, a perfectly pitched sunny climate and safe seas for swimming all contribute to make them ideal holiday destinations. When you factor in that a great deal of luxury can be had for comparatively little spend, then Bulgaria becomes more attractive still. The country’s coastal resorts certainly have much to offer, but the essence of Bulgaria is to be found in its spectacular mountainous regions. From high, snow-covered peaks to lush, gentle green slopes, it is here that Bulgaria’s true beauty lies. In its mountains, you will encounter enchanting forests, inviting thermal springs, healing mineral spas and deep valleys where the air bears the fragrance of flowers and herbs.
Bulgaria’s Valley of Roses lies in the heart of the country and is one of the largest producers of rose oil in the world. At the foot of the Vitosha Mountains lies the laid-back capital city, Sofia, which promises historic monuments, engaging museums and fantastic restaurants and bars.
Travelling up to the rugged heights of the Rila and Pirin Mountains will bring you to some world-class ski resorts. Even if you are not heading for the piste, the famous Rila Monastery is here, and the Pirin National Park’s majestic landscape is a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Traversing the entire country is the Balkan Range, a 329-mile (530 km) chain of hills, mountains and valleys. Should you decide to do follow its path, you will find some of the best hiking in Europe laid out at your feet.
It is the Bulgarian people that add the true character to your visit. They are as varied as the different mountain ranges that define them, bringing you into contact with distinctive customs, ever-changing crafts, colourful festivals and beguiling folklore.
And Bulgaria’s long history underlies all of this: it is displayed across the country in its old towns, in ancient Thracian relics and treasures, in decorated churches and monasteries.
Bulgaria’s coastal resorts may represent an underappreciated treasure, but the country’s greatest asset is its astounding variety.
The weather in Bulgaria is not too extreme. Unless you are travelling to ski, summer is the most comfortable time to visit, with low humidity and temperatures averaging just over 20 degrees Celsius (68 degrees Fahrenheit). In the coldest months of December and January, the average temperature drops to around freezing point.
Bulgarian is the official language and this uses the Cyrillic alphabet. You will find English, German and French spoken widely in most places.
Bulgaria is a member of the European Union, so entry may be gained by EU nationals holding a valid national identity card. Otherwise, you will need a passport valid for three months beyond the length of stay. You may need a visa to stay in the country for more than 90 days. Please check rules around visa requirements before you travel, as they may change regularly.
You will need proof of sufficient funds and onward/return tickets. Valid health insurance is also required.
All non-EU visitors to Bulgaria must register as foreigners at a local police station within five days of arrival. This registration is usually done for you by your hotel.
Please check rules around visa requirements before you travel, as they may change regularly.
Bulgaria has an enviable reputation as a trouble-free tourist destination, yet the usual precautions should of course still be taken.
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