Explore Sofia's Byzantine churches and fashionable boutiques, and Plovdiv's picturesque old quarter. Then head to Bulgaria's hills for hidden away monasteries and heritage-filled villages. Experience Bulgaria's extremes, from Black Sea beaches in Varna and Bourgas to fast-developing ski resorts like Bansko and Pamporovo. Get to grips with Balkan history, or just kick back and immerse yourself in traditional Bulgarian music.
Bulgaria’s capital Sofia bears the marks of its 3000-year history, from Roman remains and Byzantine churches to Stalinist monuments. The mountainous Balkan Range stretches from west to east, almost reaching the Black Sea coast. You'll find major port cities Varna and Bourgas and popular beach resorts nearby. Visit the Danubian Plain, which boasts the noble city of Ruse with its Central European elegance.
Delve into centuries of history in Sofia's cobbled boulevards, but don't miss its swanky shopping centres, or enjoy the lively port city of Varna. In Veliko Turnovo you'll discover a living museum in its streets, churches and fortress. Scramble about the Roman Amphitheatre in Plovdiv's well-preserved old city. And in Ruse, admire the Neoclassical façades around Ploshtad Svoboda from an open-air cafe.
Near Sofia, join locals to ski on Mount Vitosha, or further afield in the Pirin Mountains at the quaint village of Bansko. Escape to hidden monasteries, like UNESCO-protected Rila with its extravagant frescoes and dramatic location in the Rila Mountains. Beach-hop along the Black Sea Coast stopping at pumping resorts, or take a more peaceful dip at hot mineral baths in Velingrad.
Bulgaria has some great value resorts, which are ideal for beginners and those who have skied a few times due to the attractive forested pistes. You will also find modern lift systems, especially in Bansko which has had a multi-million Euro renovation in recent years, and also some brilliant après ski bars and restaurants.
The ancient town of Bansko sits in the foothills of the majestic Pirin mountains. The town itself is large and picturesque, with modern and comfortable hotels which won’t break the bank. The slopes are great for beginners and intermediates, with learner pistes, long sweeping blue runs and more difficult reds and blacks for the more advanced skier. You can also find the FIS World Cup run Tomba – a difficult black for the experts. Bansko has two main ski centres, both of which have been recently renovated with fast new lifts and snow cannons for when the conditions are poor.
|Ski season||December to April|
|Piste area||65 km|
|Resort height||936 m|
The oldest and largest ski resort in Bulgaria, Borovets was founded in 1896 and has been serving skiers in the Balkans since then. Borovets is a very picturesque resort, surrounded by sprawling pine forest, in the beautiful Rila mountain range. The pistes are suited to competent beginners and those more versed on skis, but veteran skiers can find some great runs too. The Yastrebets ski centre caters for more advanced skiers, and snowboarders will find the Borosport Snow Park a thrill. The après ski on offer in the town is legendary, with lots of cheap bars and nightclubs open until late every night.
|Ski season||Late December to April|
|Piste area||58 km|
|Resort height||1300 m|