Imagine the cultural hub of Europe. Italy, France, maybe Greece come to mind? Well, it’s time to branch out and discover new regions that are just as impressive. This time we’re travelling to Bulgaria, the country known for its wallet-friendly holidays and sunny beaches, but it has way more to offer to curious minds.
While there’s a lot on the table for foodies in this south-eastern Balkan country, the safest option that will suit everyone’s palate is banitsa. The flaky cheese pastry filled with almost whatever your heart desires will make the classic Bulgarian breakfast. Traditionally, locals also pair it with boza – a malt drink made from various wheat. Although, it might surprise your taste buds as holidaymakers usually aren’t as fond of the drink as the locals. For afternoon nibbles, try a fresh shopska salad or a spoonful of tarator cold soup.
This UNESCO-stamped ancient city invites you to explore a number of historic churches and fortifications hidden in the Old Town. And if you’re in need of another museum dose, there’s a couple of those here too. Narrow, cobbled streets run next to old stone-walled houses filled with craft and souvenir shops. If you look up and through the lush greenery separating the two floors, wooden houses with tiny balconies reveal themselves. What a dreamy view!
what souvenirs to get for your loved ones back home? Anything rose-related is
our suggestion when visiting Bulgaria. The Balkan giant produces half of the
world’s rose oil used for skincare, perfumery and medicine. Visit the Rose
Valley and follow the step-by-step process of a petal becoming an essential oil
in the distillery. If you’re visiting in June, you can even pick the petals
yourself or attend a festival that celebrates the blossoms by performing
picking rituals. Bulgarians do love a festival!
If you’re looking to escape the love fest on February 14th – Bulgaria is the place to be. Instead of celebrating the couples, Bulgarians celebrate… wine! Traditionally marking the first day of vine-pruning, the day is celebrated with unusual rituals and wine-tastings paired with local produce. So, head to the nearest winery, learn about the history of this Bulgarian tradition and experience it together with the locals! Single or coupled-up, this is a different Valentine’s Day you don’t want to miss.
Just a 20-minute drive from Bourgas, lies its much older cousin Sozopol. Walk ancient streets as you make your way to the museums, churches or historic fortress. Another one of our favourites is taking a quick boat ride to St Ivan Island. Rich with historic and sacred sites, the island offers a nature and culture-filled escape from bustling Sozopol. The key event back on the mainland is Apollonia Art Festival, held for ten days annually. A mix of acting performances, films, open-air concerts and literature evenings is planned every summer, so delve right into your preferred form of art in Sozopol!
No, we’re not talking about the people you met on a night out in Sunny Beach. Drinking culture is pretty much an essential part of Bulgarian hospitality. The famous fruit brandy rakia is popular in Bulgaria and there’s a variety of flavours to try. Although rarely associated with breweries, the country does not budge to the likes of Germany with local beers too. And well, the celebration of wine day instead of Valentine’s clearly shows their love for the grape. If the Balkan countries are known for something, it’s their range of local beverages and drinking habits. Just don’t try to keep up!
Discover the rocky past of ancient tribes that used the magical place of Beglik Tash for their daily rituals. Take this time to have a walk through the ancient labyrinth of megaliths and soak in the prehistoric atmosphere. If you look closely, you might even spot some carvings from the Iron Age! When you’re filled with mesmerising energy, make your way to the astronomical clock and throne carved out of stone. There’s nothing quite like it – enjoy the one-of-a-kind experience on your day trip!
Musicians, orchestras and ensembles from across Europe gather in Varna every summer to share the sounds of their passion with listeners and each other. The range of music from baroque to modern astonishes everyone and transforms Varna into the music capital of Bulgaria year after year. About to celebrate its 100th birthday, the festival is one of the oldest of its kind in Europe. The best part? It lasts the whole summer, so you won’t miss it! Alongside festive sounds, you can visit local museums and wineries in Varna.
Posted: 19th Jul 2023. Updated: 14th Jul 2023.