On your first trip to Bulgaria, 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.
Explore fully the patchwork of fascinating history of Bulgaria, one of the newest members of the European Union. In the west, 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 on the east. You'll find major port cities Varna and Bourgas and popular beach resorts nearby. Along the northern border with Romania, 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 and at the fourth-century Rotunda of St George church, but don't miss its swanky new shopping centres. In the ancient capital, Veliko Turnovo, you'll find a living museum in its streets, churches and fortress. Scramble about the Roman Amphitheatre in Plovdiv's well-preserved old city with National Revival-style houses. Enjoy the lively port city of Varna, including its buzzing shopping streets and impressive Archaeological Museum with its ancient necropolis. In Ruse, admire the Neoclassical faades around Ploshtad Svoboda, or liberty square, from an open-air cafe.
Sample the local tipple in the wine-growing village of Melnik while gazing at the surrounding sandy rocks. 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.