30 Best Places To Visit In Bulgaria - Updated 2024

best places to visit in bulgaria
Victor
Victor 
Contributing Writer
Updated
| 15 min read

The Balkan state of Bulgaria is one of the top tourist gems in Eastern Europe. Starting from the Rhodope ranges and the Balkan Mountains down to the sparkling waters of the Black Sea, the treasures nestled in between are so gorgeous that every traveler will most certainly fall in love with the country. Buzzing party towns, sun-kissed beaches, snow-capped ski resorts, and thrilling historical attractions are just but a few of the many reasons why Bulgaria occupies a top spot in the bucket list of those planning a trip to Eastern Europe. With all the enthralling treasures, it is so easy to get lost in making a choice, but we’ve got you covered. Read below to find out the best places to visit in Bulgaria, especially if it is going to be your first time.

1. Sofia (from USD 42.0)

Sofia is Bulgaria’s capital, and one of the largest and the most popular city in the country. It is a city that, though ancient, it remains very young at heart. It features the perfect blend of young and old, with a plethora of historical landmarks and ruins that best tell the country’s long history. The recent years have seen it rise as a leading center for contemporary art, with plenty of galleries and museums that will be pure honey to the heart of every art lover. The city also has plenty of public parks and it is surrounded by lakes and lots of greenery that comes with exciting outdoor opportunities. There are so many tours to help you discover the city, with the bike tours being the most preferred by most visitors.

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Church of St. George
While you're visiting Bulgaria's capital, make time to see the Church of St. George, Sofia, the oldest structure in the city. It is located within the historical and cultural core of Sofia and can be reached on foot via the yellow stone pathway.

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Rila Monastery Patriarchal Cathedral of St. Alexander Nevsky National Theater "Ivan Vazov" Mekitsa (fried dough) with Nutella and banana

We chose Sofia randomly as we wanted a weekend break in a new country. Flights and a 4-star hotel cost us less than 100 GBP (124.62 USD)! When in Sofia, I recommend:

- snapping gorgeous photos of St Alexander Nevsky Cathedral

- visiting one of the glasshouse restaurants on Vitosha Street

- visiting the Seven Rila Lakes, followed by Rila Monastery

- taking a day trip to the city of Plovdiv, where you’ll also see Roman ruins

- trying a Mekitsa (fried dough) with Nutella and banana

- visiting the Red Flat to learn about Communist Bulgaria

- checking out National Theater "Ivan Vazov"

- taking a free walking tour to learn about the history of the city

- partying at Sugar Club or have cheap cocktails at Bar&Dinner

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Private Sofia City Tour by Bike

Duration: 2 to 3 hours

10 reviews

2. Burgas

Posted by Visit Bulgaria on Friday, 22 January 2016

If you are looking to spend your holiday in Bulgaria in a seaside town flanked by the sea and several pristine lakes, then you have every reason to let Burgas be your preferred destination. Unlike most of her neighbors, it was not until the 20th century when Burgas began to show serious signs of development. With the presence of the bay, it emerged as a hot town for a variety of trade industries, and it was also utilized by the navy due to its strategic location. Though all the history is still intact, you will enjoy spending your time around the quiet, well-kept beaches. In addition to the plethora of outdoor opportunities available on the lakes, you will also love the uniqueness of the culinary diversity in the town, from the several great restaurants in nearly every corner of the streets.

Burgas

Address: Burgas, Bulgaria

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3. Varna (from USD 212.69)

best places to visit in bulgaria | varna

Varna is not just the third-largest city, but it’s also the most sophisticated seaside town in the country. Just like with most of the country’s seaside towns, Varna is also a hotbed of history and cultures. It is home to The Varna Archaeological Museum where you find telling exhibits of gold, including the world’s oldest gold which was mined in that region. The Roman Berths, the Cathedral of the Assumption of the Virgin, and the Baroque Opera House are the other endearing attractions that make a visit to this seaside city appealing. With three main beaches, nice seaside restaurants, spa treatments, and exciting adventure parks, visiting Varna is likely to give you the greatest highlights of your trip to Bulgaria.

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Varna Private Half-Day Walking Tour

Duration: 4.0 hour

1 review

4. Bansko

Posted by Bansko Winter Resort on Thursday, 4 April 2019

Bansko is a skiing mecca in Bulgaria. The town is located on the southern parts of the country, and right on the foot of the Pirin Mountains. Just 160km (99miles) from Sofia, access is very easy, and with the longest ski season in Bulgaria, Bansko ranks highly in comparison to resorts you will find in places such as France, and Switzerland. In addition to skiing, the town boasts several apres-ski restaurants, world-class spas, and robust nightlife. It is usually the venue for the annual Bansko Jazz Festival – an international extravaganza with attendees from all over the world, including some of the most famous Bulgarian performers.

Bansko

Address: Bansko, Bulgaria

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5. Plovdiv (from USD 59.0)

Plovdiv has a reputation of being the oldest continuously occupied city in the continent of Europe. The city is the proud home to countless historical landmarks, including the Ruins of Eumolpias, a Roman Amphitheater, and several ancient churches. Currently, the city is making headlines for its food and wine scenes, with an influx of traditional wineries popping up in every section of the town. The city sits on seven hills, nestled in between the Balkan Mountains and Rhodope Ranges. As such, it is a top destination for most Bulgarians and visitors looking for the best hiking spots in the country.

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Plovdiv Sightseeing private walking tour

Duration: 2 hours 30 minutes

4 reviews

6. Sozopol


Sozopol is a charming seaside town with a superfluity of historical attractions. The town was established in 610 BC by the Greeks who were keen on turning it into a place for salvation and an art center. Presently, there are still archeological pieces of evidence of the time that the Greek spent in the town, as well as the evidence for subsequent occupation by various empires and rulers. There are several remains of ancient walls, fortresses, and medieval Christian Complexes. The major attractions to this coastal city currently include the romantic cobblestone streets, the beautiful beaches with various water sports options, and the great dining and nightlife experiences.

The seaside town of Sozopol

Address: Sozopol

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7. Veliko Tarnovo (from USD 76.0)

Veliko Tarnovo is in Central Bulgaria and it is the home of the famous Tsarevets Fortress. Because it was at one point the home of the Tsars, Veliko Tarnovo is also known as the City of the Tsars. A huge chunk of the city occupies the hills and as such, it has magnificent cobblestone streets, lots of ancient churches and several traditional homes. Also in proximity to the city is the celebrated Monastery of the Holy Transfiguration of God where you will find awe-inspiring works of art and architecture from centuries ago. Currently, the city is acting as the administrative and economic headquarter of Northern Bulgaria, with great options for fine dining and accommodation.

Veliko Tarnovo - the city of the Tsars

Address: Veliko Tarnovo

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ATV Tour: Veliko Tarnovo and Arbanasi

Duration: 1 hour

46 reviews

8. Ruse

Posted by Аз България I Bulgaria on Tuesday, 27 August 2019

Ruse is a city built along the banks of the Danube River. It is famous for being the main gateway to most of the cultural and architectural influences from Central Europe, evidence of which is well scattered all over the city. The main attractions you find in Ruse currently are beautiful architecture in the neoclassical and Baroque styles. For those interested in more adventure, the presence of the Danube River comes with lots of exciting opportunities for river tours and day trips to Rock-Hewn Churches of Ivanovo – a UNESCO World Heritage Site that features a complex of chapels, monasteries, and churches.

Ruse, on the banks of the Danube River

Address: Ruse

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9. Pomorie

Lake Pomorie 2010
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Rob Bowker used under CC BY 2.0

Pomorie is a well-kept secret that most foreign tourists are yet to discover in Bulgaria. The town is a beautiful seaside resort sitting on a narrow rocky peninsula with breathtaking views of the coastlines on both the south and the north. The town has two main parts – the west, which is a more touristy section and the east which hosts the old town. The old town has several authentic shops, small hotels, and restaurants, while the west has a variety of small beaches that are hardly full compared to those you would find on the southwest or the north.

The well-kept secret of Pomorie

Address: Pomorie

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10. Melnik


Melnik is maybe the smallest city in Bulgaria, but there is no other city in the country known to produce great wine like the ones you find here. You can walk through the entire town in a matter of minutes, but you will spend several hours at a local tavern indulging in various spells of the city’s rich red wines. Other than the great wine, the city sits against the backdrop of the Rozhen Monastery and the picturesque Melnik Rocks which are also worth checking out when you visit.

The charming wine town of Melnik

Address: Melnik, Bulgaria

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11. Pleven

Posted by Pleven on Sunday, 5 July 2015

Pleven is located approximately between Ruse and Sofia. It is a major transportation hub in the region, and just like with the Bulgarian cities, it has strong pieces of evidence of the Thracian influence, as seen in both architecture and cultures. Pleven may not have a horde of attractions that would give it a place on the list of the top tourist destinations in the country, but it is a good base for launching your tours of northern Bulgaria and the region beyond. The town itself is dreamy and fairly lusterless, but with good access to most of the attractions in the north, it will make a decent stopover town, given that it has lots of cafes and good accommodation options.

The transportation hub of Pleven

Address: Pleven, Bulgaria

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12. Kazanlak


Kazanluk is a famous tourist destination in Bulgaria because it is the home to the famous Thracian Tomb. The tomb is one of the 10 UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the country, and as such, it normally receives visitors in their thousands each year. The tomb has beautiful frescoes that date back to the 4th century BC, and they are a magnificent display of the Thracian culture that thrived in the region between the 5th century BC and 1AD. Other than the tomb, the Rose Museum is also worth checking out for discovering everything you need to know about the production of rose oil in the country.

Kazanlak, the home to famous Thracian Tomb

Address: Kazanlak

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13. Arbanasi

Posted by Hristo Vasilov on Friday, 17 August 2018

Arbanasi is not necessarily a town, but a small village located on top of a hill, about 5 km (3miles) from Veliko Tarnovo. From such a vantage location, the village offers breathtaking views of Tsarevets and Veliko Tarnovo, not to mention the beautiful oldies of the quaint cobblestone streets and the old houses lining either side of the streets. It is also the home to the famous Nativity Church, where in addition to the history, you will find lovey frescoes believed to belong to the 16th century. Then there is also the Konstantsalieva House – a National Revival Style House, where you can learn valuable lessons about the way of life back in the days.

The hilltop village of Arbanasi

Address: Arbansi, Bulgaria

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14. Shumen


Shumen may be littered with numerous concrete blocks that the majority will find not inspiring in any way, but a closer look will reveal to you the rich history and incredible treasure that town has – Shumen Fortress. The construction of the fortress is believed to have been started by the Thracian but was later on completed by the Bulgarians, Byzantines and the Romans, nearly 3200 years ago. Currently, it is considered one of the oldest fortifications in the country and a major tourist attraction in the Shumen region and the country at large.

The small but history-laden Shumen

Address: Shumen, Bulgaria

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15. Gabrovo

Posted by Bulgaria Travel on Monday, 15 July 2019

Gabrovo was once an industrial giant where most of Bulgaria’s textiles, clothing, and carpets were produced. Ever since the fall of communism, the city has reinvented itself to become one of the leading tourist destinations in the country, with very good options for comfortable accommodation and a decent size of attractions. The notable delights that draw in thousands of tourists each year include the 5 Bridges, the Interactive Museum of Industry, The Monument of Racho Kovacha, The Museum of Education, Museum of Humor and Satire, the Clock Tower and the two churches of Sveta Troitsa and Uspenie Bogorodichno.

The industrial ghost of Gabrovo

Address: Gabrovo, Bulgaria

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16. Stara Zagora


Sadly, Stara Zagora is one of the oldest cities in the world, but the most underestimated city for tourism in Bulgaria. The city has had its fair share of troubles, including getting burned down several times, but these never managed to kill its resilience as far as cultures and attractions are concerned. Currently, Stara Zagora has a rich collection of museums that tell different stories of all the ages and cultures that ever occupied throughout history. The city also has relics that tell the story of the Roman occupation as depicted in the traditional roads that stretch through some sections of the town.

The museum-rich Stara Zagora

Address: Stara Zagora

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17. Blagoevgrad


While most of the towns you will find in Bulgaria has a chivvied vibe, Blagoevgrad is completely the opposite, with warm, approachable and welcoming locals. It is 100km (62miles) south of Sofia, and though it is never on the travel wish list of many travelers, it has very nice options for tourists looking for the least travel paths, away from the obvious crowds. You will be amazed by the beauty and the richness in history harbored in the leaf-lined town squares, the historic quarter and the parks.

The Warm and friendly Blagoevgrad

Address: Blagoevgrad

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18. Balchik


Balchik is located near the northern part of the Black Sea coast and it is a relatively small town, but with a higher number of local tourists. It boasts a very lovely beach and botanical gardens ideal for relaxation and evening romantic strolls. Then there is also the Palace of Balchik which used to be the summer residence of Queen Marie of Edinburgh – a Romanian queen.

Balchik

Address: Balchik, Bulgaria

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19. Sliven


Sliven is about 115km (71.5miles) west of Burgas and about 300km (186 miles) east of Sofia. The city is encircled by rocky caves, and it will always go down the annals of history for the role it played during the 19th-century revolution. The boulders and the hilltop caves that are currently part of the Blue Rocks Nature Park were used as the perfect hideouts for the rebels during the fight for freedom from the Ottomans. In addition to the rich history and evidence of the liberation fights, Sliven is also the home to unique museums and other cultural draws that are worth visiting whenever you are in the region.

The rocky caves at Sliven

Address: Sliven, Bulgaria

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20. Hisarya

Posted by See the Change on Thursday, 8 August 2019

Hisarya is located at the foot of the Sredna Gora mountain range in central Bulgaria. The town has at least 22 hot springs believed to have healing properties and whose temperatures range from 44 to 55 degrees C. Hisarya was once an active Roman Spa Resort, and at one point, it acted as a medical camp for the wounded Roman Soldiers. The mineral spring waters, the cool climate, the nice restaurants, and the Roman Ruins makes it a tourists’ oasis that attracts travelers from far and wide.

The hot spring town of Hisarya

Address: Hisarya

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21. Smolyan


For travelers with a soft spot for mountains and a desire to spend their holidays surrounded by breathtaking views, then the town you should head to is Smolyan. This town sits up high in the Rhodope Mountains, and it is one of the top locations for winter sports in the country. There is a chairlift to take you to the Snezhanka Summit and to the TV Tower where you will enjoy heart-melting views of the Rhodope Mountain Ranges. If you are lucky to visit on a clear day, you may catch views of the Mediterranean Sea from this town.

The mountain town of Smolyan

Address: Smolyan

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22. Shipka


A beautiful environment, great climate, and fresh air from the mountains are the unique attributes of Shipka that makes it an ideal stopover for travelers on road trips across the country. It may not be dotted by lots of historical attractions, but it has a few stirring monuments that sum up the country’s rich history. Notable among them is the Russian Church of Shipka, which was built in honor of the Russian soldiers who paid the ultimate price during the Russian – Turkish wars of 1877. The town also has hundreds of burial mounds and archeological sites that tell the story of the occupation by the Thracian Kings who ruled the region back in the fourth century BC.

The ever beautiful town of Shipka

Address: Shipka, Bulgaria

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23. Vidin

vidin
Source: instagram

Due to its location, Vidin may not be a popular travel destination in Bulgaria, but it has gems worth checking out, especially if you are on your way to Romania. It is located on a bend along the Danube River, and with a shrinking population with very little economic activities, you may meet an eerie and forlorn town when you arrive. However, it is the home to the majestic Baba Vida Fortress – a gigantic structure that happens to be one of the best-preserved fortresses in the country. Vidin also offers very fine riverside views for the weary soul longing for countryside relaxation.

Vidin

Address: Vidin, Bulgaria

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24. Velingrad


The presence of more than 77 mineral springs and being only 2 hours away from Sofia, has made Velingrad become one of the top spa destinations not just in Bulgaria, but in the entire world. Commonly known as the Spa Capital of the Balkans, the town is very popular among travelers looking for spa and wellness holidays. Its location in the Rhodope Mountain Ranges also assures visitors pristine views while they soak in the swimming pools and the natural mineral baths believed to have healing powers.

Velingrad, the Spa Capital of the Balkans

Address: Velingrad, Bulgaria

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25. Elena Balkan

Posted by Град Елена България on Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Elena Balkan is in central Bulgaria, and a part of the town is flanked by the legendary Balkan Mountains. It is a relatively small town with a population of about 7,000 residents, though there is historical evidence of occupation during the Thracian, Roman and the Byzantine periods. The most interesting attractions in this town include the architectural ensemble of The Five Houses of Razsukanov – a complex of five unique houses constructed towards the end of the 18th century by Dimitar Razsukanov. Then, there is also the Daskalolivnitsa building which housed the very first-class school in Bulgaria. Another landmark worth checking out is the Popnikolova house – a cultural monument of national significance.

The Elena Balkan

Address: Elena, Bulgaria

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26. Vratsa


Vratsa is a quiet little town located below a steep, narrow gorge in Vranchanska Mountains. Its location makes it ideal as a starting point for exploring the Lopushanski and the Cherepish Monasteries, without forgetting the Vrachanski Balkan Nature Park. The park has a horde of unique attractions such as unique caves, magnificent views of the rolling countryside, and more than 900 plant species. Within the town square, there is a giant statue of a 19th-century revolutionary leader whom the town is named after. The decent collection of museums will ensure that you bring yourself to speed with the rich history of the town.

The quiet town of Vratsa

Address: Vratsa

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27. Zlatograd

zlatograd
Source: instagram

Zlatograd is neatly tucked away in the southern parts of the Rhodope Mountains and it shares a border with Greece. It is a very peaceful town, with lots of charm that those who love quiet and serene environments will not find difficult to fall in love with. This old town still boasts the traditional way of life, with small white houses featuring round chimneys and bay windows. There is not so much that goes on here, but visiting will be worth it if you want to learn more about the region’s history, especially the commonalities shared with Greece.

The border town of Zlatograd

Address: Zlatograd, Bulgaria

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28. Pliska

The Great Basilica sbonkov4
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Sbonkov used under CC BY-SA 3.0

If you are a passionate student of history, then Pliska should never miss in your itinerary for the best places to visit in Bulgaria. It was the very first capital of the First Bulgarian Empire between 681AD and 893AD. Though once a glorious city, there is nothing to show for the vibrant past, but you will love the scenes of the ruins that still tell the story of how amazing the town was during its sunny days. There is an archaeological site a few kilometers from the modern town where you will appreciate the richness in history of the town that was once the seat of the Bulgarian power.

The historic town of Pliska

Address: Pliska, Bulgaria

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29. Lovech


Lovech is one of the oldest settlements in Bulgaria and the home to one of the last remaining Ottoman citadels – The Hisarya Fortress. The old town boasts an incredible history that has been well preserved in the city’s history museum. A notable attraction that draws in thousands of visitors each year is the covered bridge that runs across the Osam River and connects the new and the old towns. Though not vibrant like most of the top tourist destinations, taking a detour to this town will be a refreshing break on your way to Sofia from Veliko Tarnovo.

The ancient town of Lovech

Address: Lovech, Bulgaria

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30. Nessebar (from USD 52.0)

Nessebar is commonly known as the pearl of the Black Sea, and a visit to this historic town will leave no doubts in your mind about the suitability of such a name. The town dates back to antiquity when it was used as a Thracian Settlement. It is a town that felt the military might of the Romans, Greeks, Bulgarians, Byzantines and the Ottomans who all participated in its fortification. Currently, it is recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site, and a stroll down the cobblestone streets will lead you to rich remnants of history, including more than 30 brick churches, with some dating back as far as the 6th century.

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Nessebar Old Town Walking Tour

Duration: 3 hours

1 review

Fall in love with Bulgaria

Fortress, Bulgaria
Source: Pixabay

Whatever you may be looking for as a traveler, Bulgaria has it all! Whether you want to delve into the cradle of Eastern Europe’s history, or you want to visit the best beaches of the Black sea, or perhaps you desire to soak in the beauty of the untouched countryside, you will find your heart’s delight in the best places to visit in Bulgaria discussed above. Take the time to fall in love with the country’s history, beaches, and cultures.

Any must-sees we missed? Tell us about them in the comments section or write a post here to help out fellow travelers!
Disclosure: Trip101 selects the listings in our articles independently. Some of the listings in this article contain affiliate links.

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Victor firmly believes that writing is a skill anyone can develop, and he is a living testament to that philosophy. With a genuine love for writing, he finds it to be a powerful means of sharing...Read more

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