Explore the Bulgarian cities
Bulgaria, Cities
 17 Apr '24
 18 |  0 

Аs Bulgaria is a small country, it has just a few big cities: Sofia, Plovdiv, Varna and Burgas.

Sofia

Sofia is the capital and most likely your first stop in Bulgaria. People have lived here since Roman times, and you can still see remnants of this period around the city. Most of the tourist sites can be found in the city center, and you could fit them all in a day or two. But if you have more time, you can go to Boyana church which is on the outskirts of Sofia. It’s a UNESCO site and dates back to the Middle Ages. The frescoes inside are truly impressive. Borisova Garden is actually my favorite place in Sofia. It’s a big park, and it’s very popular for all sorts of outdoor activities and open-air events. It’s super nice for walking, cycling or just escaping the noise of the city.

Plovdiv

Plovdiv is the second biggest city in Bulgaria, and it will be the European Capital of Culture in 2019, so lots of exciting things will be going on there throughout the year. In fact, Plovdiv is one of the oldest cities in Europe. It dates back to prehistoric times and was later incorporated in the Roman Empire. In my opinion, the best part of the city is its Old Town which showcases its diverse history. There you can visit the ancient Roman theatre which is one of the iconic sites that Plovdiv is famous for.

Varna

Varna is the so-called Sea Capital of Bulgaria, and it’s located on the Black Sea coast. It’s around 5-hour drive away from Sofia, but you could also get there by plane, a bus or a train. I would generally recommend taking a train in Bulgaria only if you’re looking for an adventure because
it’s not as straightforward as in most European countries. Frequent delays don’t help much, so as a result, a lot of people avoid trains here.

Varna is a big city with lots of things to do and see, one of the most popular attractions being the Dolphinarium. Varna is also a good starting point if you want to explore the north coast of Bulgaria. If you want to go to the south coast, first you need to get to Burgas.

Burgas

Burgas is my hometown, so I may be just a little bit biased when I say that it’s the best city to visit in Bulgaria. It has this peaceful vibe that makes it a great place to relax, and at the same time there are lots of things going on here, especially during the summer. In any case, it’s worth visiting Burgas if you want to explore the Bulgarian coast, as some of the best beaches lie just south of Burgas.

Some smaller cities

Apart from these four main cities, there are other smaller ones which are also worth a visit. Some of them are really popular with tourists, while others are definitely off the beaten track. Get ready to take notes as the names of these cities are impossible to remember.

Belogradchik

Belogradchik is famous for the Belogradchik Rocks which are impressive natural rock formations, and while you are there you can go to Magura Cave some 20 km away.

Blagoevgrad

Blagoevgrad is really nice with lots of young people, thanks to the universities here, and you can use it as a base to explore the nearby mountains of Pirin and Rila, or to go rafting on the river of Struma.

Melnik

Melnik was once called the smallest town of Bulgaria. You can spend an entire day wine tasting here, or go to the nearby Rozhen monastery, or visit the sand pyramids.

Smolyan

Smolyan makes for the perfect base for exploring the Rhodope Mountains. Some of the most popular places here are the Yagodina Cave and the Devil’s Throat Cave.

Asenovgrad

Asenovgrad is a small town close to Plovdiv, and from here you can easily get to Bachkovo Monastery.

Haskovo

Haskovo is nicely located close to the eastern part of the Rhodope Mountains, and there are a lot of Thracian fortresses, tombs and sanctuaries,
some of the most famous ones being the city of Perperikon and the sanctuary of Tatul.

Stara Zagora

Stara Zagora is a relatively big city in the central part of Bulgaria. I’d recommend the ancient Roman Forum Augusta Trayana, and actually Augusta Trayana was the name of Stara Zagora during its Roman period. Kazanlak is close to Stara Zagora, and from here you can easily get to two of the most popular monuments in Bulgaria – Buzludzha and Shipka.

Karlovo

Karlovo is famous for the Valley of Roses and the Rose Festival held annually in May. It’s also a great starting point if you want to climb Botev peak, or go to one of the most beautiful waterfalls – Raisko Praskalo.

Koprivshtitsa

Koprivshtitsa is a small historic town, and the entire town is an architectural and historical museum, and it’s definitely worth seeing.

Troyan

Troyan is surrounded by beautiful mountain peaks, and it’s nice and quiet. While you’re here, you can go and visit Troyan Monastery just outside of town. Lovech is around half an hour away from Troyan, and the city itself is really beautiful with old-time houses and the river flowing through the city, but if you want to see something else nearby, you can go to Devetashka Cave and Krushuna Waterfalls. Gabrovo is famous for the House of Humour and Satire, and for the ethnographic open-air museum of Etara where you can step back in time and experience life in a traditional Bulgarian village.

Veliko Tarnovo

Veliko Tarnovo was the capital of Bulgaria in the Middle Ages, and there are quite a lot of pieces of history preserved here. The most popular one is the fortress of Tsarevets which is a must-see for all visitors.

Ruse

Ruse is the 5th largest city in Bulgaria. It’s on the bank of the Danube River in the northeastern part of the country. One of the most popular sites in this area is the fortress of Cherven.

Silistra

You won’t find Silistra on your guidebook or on any list of places to visit in Bulgaria, but if you’re looking for a place off the beaten track,
then that’s a great one. It is located on the Danube River in the northeastern part of Bulgaria on the Bulgarian-Romanian border. So, if you are going to Romania and if you need to stop on your way, then this is the place to spend a day or two. Srebarna is a nature reserve near Silistra. It is a popular site for bird-watching, there is a lake in the center of the reserve, and the surroundings are also really beautiful. They say that the name Srebarna (which means “silver”) comes from the reflections of the moon on the lake because they look like silver.

So, these are some suggestions for cities to visit in Bulgaria.

Bulgaria, being a petite nation, boasts only a handful of major urban centers such as Sofia, Plovdiv, Varna, and Burgas. Let’s delve into the charm and allure of these distinctive cities. Bulgaria, being a relatively small country, boasts only a handful of prominent cities, namely Sofia, Plovdiv, Varna, and Burgas.

Sofia

Sofia, the capital city, is likely to be your first point of entry into Bulgaria. With a history dating back to Roman times, remnants of this era can still be observed throughout the city. While most tourist attractions are concentrated in the city center and can be explored within a day or two, a visit to the Boyana Church on the outskirts is highly recommended. This UNESCO World Heritage site dates back to the Middle Ages and features impressive frescoes. Moreover, the Borisova Garden stands out as a personal favorite in Sofia – a spacious park popular for various outdoor activities and open-air events, providing a peaceful retreat from the city’s hustle and bustle.

Plovdiv

Plovdiv, Bulgaria’s second-largest city, is set to be the European Capital of Culture in 2019, promising a year filled with exciting events. As one of Europe’s oldest cities, Plovdiv’s history traces back to prehistoric times and its incorporation into the Roman Empire. The Old Town is a highlight, showcasing the city’s diverse heritage, with attractions such as the ancient Roman theatre adding to the city’s charm.

Varna

Known as the “Sea Capital of Bulgaria,” Varna lies along the Black Sea coast, about a 5-hour drive from Sofia. Varna offers a myriad of attractions, including the popular Dolphinarium, making it an ideal starting point for exploring Bulgaria’s northern coast. To venture south, travelers must proceed to Burgas.

Burgas

Burgas, the author’s hometown, exudes a serene ambiance perfect for unwinding, yet offers a vibrant atmosphere especially during the summer months. Visitors to Burgas can enjoy the best of both worlds – relaxation and a range of activities, with some of Bulgaria’s finest beaches located just south of the city.

In addition to these major cities, Bulgaria boasts numerous smaller towns worth exploring. From the stunning natural rock formations in Belogradchik to the vibrant atmosphere of university town Blagoevgrad, each town offers a unique experience showcasing Bulgaria’s rich history and natural beauty. Whether it’s wine tasting in Melnik or exploring the Rhodope Mountains from Smolyan, Bulgaria’s smaller towns promise unforgettable adventures waiting to be discovered.

Belogradchik

Belogradchik is renowned for its impressive natural rock formations known as the Belogradchik Rocks. While you’re there, consider visiting Magura Cave, which is located about 20 kilometers away.

Blagoevgrad

Blagoevgrad is a charming town with a vibrant atmosphere, thanks to its universities. It serves as an excellent base for exploring the nearby Pirin and Rila Mountains or enjoying rafting adventures on the Struma River.

Melnik

Once considered the smallest town in Bulgaria, Melnik is a delightful destination. Spend a day wine tasting, explore the nearby Rozhen Monastery, or visit the intriguing sand pyramids.

Smolyan

Smolyan is an ideal starting point for exploring the Rhodope Mountains. Don’t miss the Yagodina Cave and the Devil’s Throat Cave, both popular attractions in the region.

Asenovgrad

Located near Plovdiv, Asenovgrad provides easy access to the historic Bachkovo Monastery.

Haskovo

Haskovo is situated in the eastern part of the Rhodope Mountains. Explore Thracian fortresses, tombs, and sanctuaries, including the famous city of Perperikon and the sanctuary of Tatul.

Stara Zagora

As a relatively large city in central Bulgaria, Stara Zagora boasts the ancient Roman Forum Augusta Trayana. Additionally, nearby Kazanlak offers access to two iconic Bulgarian monuments: Buzludzha and Shipka.

Karlovo

Karlovo is famous for its Valley of Roses and hosts an annual Rose Festival in May. It’s an excellent starting point for further exploration.

For more travel inspiration, you can also explore other charming Bulgarian towns like Kotel, Koprivshtitsa, Kalofer, Sopot, Elena, Tryavna, Bansko, and the picturesque Melnik, which holds the title of Bulgaria’s smallest town⁵. Enjoy your Bulgarian adventure!

Source : conversation avec Bing, 17/04/2024
(1) Destinations – Cities | Bulgaria Travel. https://bulgariatravel.org/destinations/cities/.
(2) . https://bing.com/search?q=Bulgaria+smaller+cities.
(3) Sofia. https://www.bing.com/travel/place-information?q=Sofia&SID=eff4fcb8-c55d-2f4b-c72e-3fe0a1efe922&form=DCTCAR.
(4) Varna. https://www.bing.com/travel/place-information?q=Varna&SID=fd0629ee-2860-5c3b-9c00-ddc7af0e2bff&form=DCTCAR.
(5) List of cities and towns in Bulgaria – Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_cities_and_towns_in_Bulgaria.

Post expires at 5:09pm on Wednesday July 17th, 2024

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