Things to do - general

Bulgaria has long been associated with cheap beach holidays on the Black Sea coast or bargain ski holidays, but now Bulgaria is revealing a side to it which remains little visited by foreign tourists. One of the EU’s newest members, but for so long a satellite of the Soviet Union, democratic elections in 1990 saw Bulgaria slowly emerging as a vibrant economy with so much to offer visitors.

Bulgaria holidays reveal a land of contrasts. With its mix of Byzantine and Turkish architectural styles, attractive Sofia is crammed with churches, museums and galleries. The Black Sea resorts, particularly Varna are still a magnet for visitors but those in the know head inland.

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Trace Bulgaria’s rich heritage in the picturesque historic towns of Koprivshtitza and Veliko Turnovo with their preserved architecture. Take in the breathtaking scenery of Rila National Park with its 11th-century monastery. Head up Mount Vitosha by cable car for stunning mountain scenery, explore the narrow cobbled streets and Roman amphitheatre of Plovdiv and make sure you sample fine local wine at Melnik, famed for its wine cellars.

Country Bulgaria
Visa requirementsSchengen Area.
Languages spokenBulgarian
Currency usedBGN - Bulgarian Lev
Area (km2)110.994 km²

Sports & nature

The natural landscape of Bulgaria is diverse, consisting of lowlands, plains, foothills and plateaus, river valleys, basins, and mountains of varying elevations. About 70% of the country’s territory is hilly land and 30% is mountainous. The average elevation of the country’s territory is 467 m, generally decreasing from south to north and from west to east.

In the central part of the country lies the Balkan Mountain Range, where the highest peak is Botev (2,376 m). From south to north, its western area is crossed by the Iskar River, which forms a picturesque gorge more than 70 km long. The northern arm of the Balkan Mountains is mainly karst. The highest peak in this range is Vasilyov (1,490 m).

To the south of the Balkan Mountains are the western Balkan valleys and the Srednogorie (central mountainous region). The largest valley in the southern arm of the Balkans is the Sofia valley, the location of the Bulgarian capital Sofia. The mountains in the Srednogorie are the Zavalsko-Planska Range, the Ihtimansko Srednogorie, the Sashtinska Sredna Gora, and the Sarnena Gora.

Between the northern arm of the Balkans and the Danube River lies the Danube valley, with an area of roughly 31,000 square meters. Its eastern part consists of plateaus – the Dobrudzha plateau, the Plovadia plateau, the Lilyak plateau, and the Shumen plateau, among others. To the north lie the Trans-Danube lowlands, which occupy the terraces of the Danube river.

To the south of the capital Sofia rises the mountain Vitosha, whose highest peak is Cherni Vrah (2,290 m). Its foothills extend to the middle part of western Bulgaria, where low-lying and medium-elevation mountains alternate, such as Ruy, Milevska, Zemenska, Konyavska, Verila, and others. West of the Struma River valley and south of Kraishteto is the Osogovo-Belasishka mountain range, which includes the peaks of Osogovska (Mount Ruen, 2,251 m), Vlahinska, Maleshevska, Ograzhden and Belasitsa (Mount Radomir, 2,029 m).

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Nightlife info

Sofia night life is amazing – the city truly comes alive at night. An atmosphere of liberation and fun pervades the night life scene of Sofia. Because there are just a few licensing laws, bars can serve alcohol at any time of day or night so one can always find a party going on.Bars and cafes are usually closing at midnight (or later) and after that the city numerous night clubs are taking over the party until 5 or 6 AM.

There are many restaurants working during the night, providing the hungry crowd a warm breakfast in 6am and a quiet place where the tired party animals can discuss what happened in the night club and after that the bars and cafes open again. It is highly recommended to wear sunglasses when you go out in Sofia – you will need them for the morning sun.There are plenty of opportunities to see live music. Clubs regularly schedule performances by bands that play anything from traditional Bulgarian music to hardcore, punk, reggae, electronica, or metal. The largest clubs in Sofia are concentrated in Students’ town (Studentski grad). The city’s 16 universities promise that there is a continuous glut of young people looking to have a good time.The typical going out in Sofia includes a dinner in some fancy restaurant or mehana, then going to a bar with live music or a night club at midnight. At 3 am half the people are going home and the other half is changing the night club. At 5 or 6 o’clock people are either going home or they go and eat something before they go home. Another way of finishing the party night is going to erotic clubs which are usually open between 10 PM and 5 AM.

Public transport in Sofia comes to a halt from 1 am until 5 am, so you’ll need to take a taxi when out late. Despite the fact that Sofia is a safe city, walking alone at night is not recommended.

The Sofia night life is abandoned with places to go in the evening. Good places to go and have a dinner are: Victoria restaurants, Happy Bar & Grill, BESO Bar & Dinner; Nice bars are: Corner, Baskerville, Murphy’s, etc. Swinging Hall is a bar where you can enjoy some quality live music at night. You can find the largest concentration of bars in Sofia near Vitosha Blvd. and around Sofia University where many students like to hang out; You have an enormous choice for a night club: Yalta and Chervilo are the best for house and electronic music; go to LaRocca, Brilliantine or Liqueur for a good retro music; Alcohol and Backstage are good for those who love Rock; there are many chalga clubs (local type of music and exceptional atmosphere) like NightFlight, Sin City, Biad, Nai Club, Review, etc. ; a good selection of piano bars is also available, we can recommend My way, Sinatra, Big Apple and Lime Light; Sofia night life wouldn’t be complete if there were no strip clubs – the best one is Kama Sutra at Dondukov Blvd.

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Culture and history info

Lifestyles and cultures in what is now Bulgaria have developed over thousands of years. The country is located at the crossroad between Europe and Asia, and the lands of Bulgaria have been populated since antiquity. The Slavs and proto-Bulgarians were greatly influenced by the cultures of the Thracians, Illyrians and Greeks, and all peoples who resided on these lands – Thracians, Romans, Slavs, and Bulgarians – have contributed to the world’s cultural heritage. It is no accident that the earliest European civilization grew up here. Some of the most famous treasures in the world were discovered at the Varna necropolis, including the worlds oldest golden ornaments; There are Thracian tombs and sanctuaries in Kazanlak, Sveshtari, Starosel, Aleksandrovo, Perperikon, and Tatul. A large number of other golden artifacts have been found, in the Panagyurishte, Valchitran, Rogozen, and elsewhere. The remains of the Thracian, Hellenistic and Roman culture are many and varied. In the dozens of Thracians tombs that have been discovered, there are unique remains attesting to the high material and spiritual culture of antiquity. Entire city complexes had been found – Augusta Trayana, Trimontium, Nikopolis ad Istrum, Pautalia, Akre, Mesemvria, Apolonia, Serdika and many others. The traditions, festivals, customs, and rituals preserved by Bulgarians through the ages are evidence of the country’s profound spirituality and its dynamic lifestyle and culture.

Bulgarian customs are rooted in antiquity and are closely tied to the country’s history and particular expression of Eastern Orthodox Christianity. Dancing on live coals is an ancient Bulgarian ritual still practiced in a few villages in the Balkan Mountains. The ritual in its authentic form is performed on the name day of Saints Konstantin and Helena – 21 May or (3 June according to the old calendar. Fire dancers prepare for their dance by spending hours locked in a chapel, venerating the icons of these two saints while listening to the beating of drums and the music of gaidas (Bulgarian bagpipes), which is a special melody associated with fire dancing, after which they often fall into trance. In the evening they perform their special dance on live coals. During their dance they always hold aloft in both hands an icon of Saint Konstantin and Saint Helena. Amazingly, they never get hurt or burn their feet.

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Hilton Sofia

Hilton Sofia

1 Bulgaria Boulevard, 1421 Sofia, Bulgaria, Bulgaria
Across from the National Palace of Culture and within 10 minutes by walking from the heart of the ci More info
Radisson Blu Grand Hotel Sofia

Radisson Blu Grand Hotel Sofia

4 Narodno Sabranie Sq., Centrum, 1000 Sofia, Bulgaria, Bulgaria
In a central location in the heart of Sofia across from the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, the Radisson More info
Ramada Sofia

Ramada Sofia

Maria Luisa Blvd 131, 1202 Sofia, Bulgaria, Bulgaria
The Ramada Sofia is within walking distance of tourist sights and commercial areas of the city, feat More info

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