Bulgaria holidays always come with a hint of adventure. Maybe it’s the fact that most of the signs are in Cyrillic. Maybe it’s the natural drama of turquoise seas, thick forests and wild mountains, where bears and lynx can still be found. Or maybe it’s the legacy of the past in a land fought over by Thracians, Romans, Bulgars and Turks. But Bulgaria is also straight-up fun. The Black Sea resorts – easily reached via a flight to Varna – offer warm sun, gentle sea breezes and drinks with a view, and are set up for an easy and well-priced beach holiday. For winter sports fans, Bulgaria’s equally affordable pistes are increasingly popular, and can be reached by a transfer from the capital, Sofia.
Sofia itself has a gentle energy that’s particularly noticeable on sunny days, when everyone seems to be out enjoying themselves. There are some good museums and a stunning cathedral, and it’s a fine base for exploring the rest of the country. The second city, Plovdiv, is the oldest continually inhabited city in Europe with great historic sites ranging from Roman remains to a charming Old Town and 19th-century mansions.
Many of those buildings are now galleries, shops and guesthouses, and a growing calendar of events and festivals is bringing more and more visitors to the city. Away from the coast and the cities, Bulgaria can be wonderfully wild. The Central Mountains boast dramatic peaks and remote monasteries with gorgeous wood carvings and frescoes. To the north you’ll find the Danube, great fortresses and more epic scenery. Head south and strange sandstone pyramids sprout near the border with Greece. Wherever you go, adventures beckon.
An excellent month to hit the beaches. The weather is good, the festival season is just starting to kick off and the countryside is alive with wildflowers.
Usually the most snow-sure month for skiers and boarders. Coincidentally, but happily, it’s also when winemaking festivals take place in towns around the country.
The Plovdiv/Night festival sees the city’s museum’s, galleries and venues take over the evenings with international art exhibitions, public installations, parties and movies. Many events are free.
Bathe in the Black Sea
Bulgaria’s Black Sea coast offers everything from vast, purpose-built resorts to secret hidden coves, and there’s sun, sand and clear blue sea almost everywhere.
Get arty in Plovdiv
Plovdiv’s fine cultural scene takes in art galleries, music and theatre, while simply strolling the streets of its beautiful and historic old centre will raise your spirits.
Head for the hills
Bulgaria’s dramatic mountains and forests are home to ski resorts, hiking trails, rare wildlife and ancient monasteries. Prepare to be awed – there’s inspiring wilderness everywhere you turn.