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.