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The 27 Best Places to Visit in Bulgaria (A 2023 Complete Guide)

  • Post last modified:May 23, 2023
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If you're looking for the best places to visit in Bulgaria, or a reason for visiting this off-the-beaten-path gem, then you've come to the right place!


Last summer (July 2022) we had the pleasure of road tripping all of the Balkans, spending a full week in Bulgaria. From the delicious food to friendly people, and the fun beach bars to vibrant nightlife, we fell in love with this underrated country, and we're sure you will too!


In this travel guide we're going to share everything you need to know for visiting this stunning country, from how to get there and get around, to the tastiest dishes, and the best places to visit in Bulgaria. Let's jump right in!

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Where is Bulgaria Located?

Bulgaria is a country located in south east Europe. It borders Macedonia to its South East, Serbia to its North East, and Romania to its North. Bulgaria also shares borders with Greece to its South, as well as Turkey to its South East.

Where is Bulgaria?

Bulgaria is located in south east Europe.


How to Get to Bulgaria

Now that you know where Bulgaria is located, how do you get there? Here's how!


Where Do You Fly Into For Bulgaria?

One of the easiest ways to explore the best places to visit in Bulgaria is by flying there. The country has 4 different airports that you can fly into internationally, which are also home to some of the best places to visit in Bulgaria!


Sofia is the capital, and has the biggest airport serving Bulgaria. Other cities that have airports include Varna or Burgas, located along the coast of the country, and Plovdiv, which is one of our favorite places to visit in Bulgaria.


Flying to Plovdiv

Cities that fly direct to Plovdiv include Budapest, Istanbul, London, Memminghen, and Tel Aviv.


Flying to Burgas

The cities that fly to Burgas include Bratislava, Kaunas, Krakow, London, Poznan, Vienna, and Warsaw.


Flying to Varna

International cities that fly directly into Varna include Berlin, Brno, Brussels, Cologne, Dortmund, Eindhoven, Frankfurt, Geneva, HamburgIstanbul, Karlsruhe, Larnaca, Liverpool, London, Memminghen, Nuremberg, Prague, Tel Aviv, and Vienna.


Flying to Sofia

Sofia is the only city in Bulgaria that receives several direct flights from cities outside of Europe. These include Aqaba, Djibouti, Doha, Dubai, Fes, Hanoi, Hurghada, Phuket, Sharjha, and Tel Aviv.


The European cities that which fly direct to Sofia include Alicante, Amsterdam, Athens, Baku, Barcelona, Basel, Belgrade, Berlin, Birmingham, Bologna, Bournemouth, Bratisalva, Bristol, Brussels, BucharestBudapest, Catania, Chambery, Cluj Napoca, Cologne, Copenhagen, Dortmund, DublinEdinburgh, Eindhoven, Frankfurt, Geneva, Gran CanariaHamburgIstanbul, Karlsruhe, Larnaca, Leipzig, Lisbon, Liverpool, London, Madrid, Malaga, Malta, Manchester, Memmingen, Milan, Munich, Naples, Newcastle, Nice, Nottingham, Nuremberg, Paphos, Paris, Pisa, Prague, Rome, Stockholm, Valencia, Vienna, Warsaw, Zagreb, and Zurich.


If you'd like to look for flights to Bulgaria, simply put "from your city", and "to Bulgaria", to find the cheapest city to fly to!

Other Ways to Get to the Best Places to Visit in Bulgaria

If you're coming from a nearby country, or flying isn't your thing, there are also a few other options for getting to the best places to visit in Bulgaria.


Can I Go to Bulgaria by Train?

If you want to get to Bulgaria by train, you can take the express train from Istanbul to Sofia.


Other Options for Getting to Bulgaria

Two other ways to get to the best places to visit in Bulgaria are to either take international buses, or to take Bla Bla Car, which is a carpooling app that is popular in Europe.


Here are a few of the most popular buses that you can book from International cities:


Buses to Sofia:

Buses to Other Top Places to Visit in Bulgaria:

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Entry Requirements

Now that you know how to get to Bulgaria, let's check out the requirements for entering the country.

 

Visa Entry Requirements for Bulgaria

Bulgaria allows foreigners to visit the country for a period of up to 90 days within a 180-day period. Bulgaria is not part of the Schengen Zone yet, so you won't have to worry about expiring your time within Europe if you are visiting Bulgaria.


Covid Entry Requirements for Bulgaria

All requirements to enter Bulgaria when it comes to Covid-19 are no longer in effect. In Addition, masks are no longer required for entering any establishments or on public transportation.


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Local Adjustments

Whenever visiting a new destination there are certain things that you may need to adjust to, which could differ from your home country. Here are a few of the "local adjustments" to put into consideration while traveling to Varna, Bulgaria.


What Language is Mostly Spoken in Bulgaria

The official language in Bulgaria is Bulgarian, which is a Slavic language. The language of Bulgarian is written in Cyrillic, which is the same alphabet that is used by other nearby countries like Russia, Ukraine, Serbia, and Macedonia.


Local Currency in Bulgaria

The currency used in Bulgaria is the Bulgarian Lev. Currently (May 2023) 1 USD or Euro is equal to 1.83 Bulgarian Lev, and 1 British Pound is equivalent to 2.21 Lev.


Can I Use Euros in Bulgaria?

While Bulgaria doesn't use the Euro, some of the best places to visit in Bulgaria (the ones with higher tourism at least) may accept Euros if it's the only thing that you have on you. We always suggest going to an ATM so that you can withdraw plenty of Bulgarian Lev to carry on you. Many restaurants and hotels will accept credit cards, but there are some that will only accept cash. It is also great to have extra cash on you for street vendors, tipping, or other small expenses, especially in some of the lesser known places in Bulgaria.


Is Bulgaria Cheap for Tourists?

Bulgaria in general is a pretty cheap country to visit compared to other European countries. We found Bulgaria to be very affordable, even in the capital and beach locations in the country.


Plug Types Used in Bulgaria

Bulgaria uses the same outlets as the rest of Europe, which require plug types C & F. The standard voltage in Bulgaria is 230 V with a standard frequency of 50 Hz.


If you are coming from the Northor South America, you will need to get a travel converter (not just an adapter) so that your electronics won't blow out when you plug them in.


Is the Water in Bulgaria Drinkable?

The water is perfectly safe to drink throughout Bulgaria. We suggest bringing a reusable water bottle with you to fill up at fountains in the different cities. We use vacuum-sealed ones so that they can hold the temperature.


Tipping Culture in Bulgaria

The tipping culture in Bulgaria is similar to many other European countries. While tips are never required, it is standard to leave 10% of the bill as a tip in a restaurant, and to tip in cash (you cannot add tips onto your credit card). If you feel you've received excellent service, you could of course leave a bit extra.

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The Best Places to Visit in Bulgaria 

Now that you know all the basics, it's time to share all of the best places to visit in Bulgaria!

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The Best Places to Visit in Bulgaria #1: Sofia

No trip to a European country is complete without seeing the capital! Sofia is small, but it definitely had a few things to offer to keep you busy for a couple of days. The main highlight of the city is the breathtaking St Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, which is the heart of the city.


Sofia is also known for fun nightlife, trendy rooftops, and the beautiful mountains surrounding it. Want to learn more? Take a look at our Sofia travel guide where we share everything you need to know for visiting!

Sofia, the best places to visit in Bulgaria

Sofia is known for its iconic church in the middle of the city.

Look for a place to stay in Sofia:

Booking.com


The Best Places to Visit in Bulgaria #2: Belogradchik

This is definitely one of the best places to visit in Bulgaria, and we regret not coming here so much! (We had a friend who visited right after we left and it looked incredible). Tucked away in the north western corner of the country, this certainly isn't the most convenient place to visit, but certainly worth it, and it can be done on a day trip from Sofia. Belogradchik is a  fortress that has been constructed in front of striking rock formations.


Not only is the place incredibly beautiful, but you can also do epic activities around it such as ATVing, bungee jumping, or ride in a hot air balloon!


The Best Places to Visit in Bulgaria #3: Burgas

Now let's head to the east coast of the country! Burgas is a beach city located along the south west of the Black Sea. During the summer you can enjoy trendy bars along large stretches of golden sands, and even a giant sand castle competition.


In Burgas it's all about the good vibes. As soon as we arrived we had to work a ton, and got welcomed at one of the beach bars with a smiley bartender handing us free shots. We loved all of the people there, the music, and the whole atmosphere of Burgas so much that we ended up spending the whole day eating and drinking on the beach, definitely making it one of our favorite places to visit in Bulgaria.

sand castle in Burgas, the best places to visit in Bulgaria
jet ski in Burgas, the best places to visit in Bulgaria
beach club in Burgas, the best places to visit in Bulgaria

Book a stay in Burgas:

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The Best Places to Visit in Bulgaria #4: Varna

Another one of the best places to visit in Bulgaria is definitely Varna. Also located along the coast, this beach city is one of the top coastal cities in the county.


We didn't have big plans for Varna, nor seemed impressed with what we read online. However, when we arrived we spent some time on the beach and then to explore the ruins. As soon as we walked up to the ruins we saw people setting up tables, which ended up being for a wine festival! $5 and countless wine tastings later, we found ourselves making friends with tons of locals, and partying all night long in the ruins.

Varna, the best places to visit in Bulgaria
Varna, the best places to visit in Bulgaria
Varna, the best places to visit in Bulgaria
Varna, the best places to visit in Bulgaria

Varna is one of the best places to visit in Bulgaria.

The following day we took one of our new friends with us and explored a ton of great nearby attractions like a stone forest, sunflower fields, and cliffs. We had a great weekend in Varna, and  absolutely recommend visiting there in the summer. If you want to learn more, make sure to check out our full Varna Travel Guide that we've put together.

Look for accommodation in Varna:

Booking.com

The Best Places to Visit in Bulgaria #5: Nessebar

Nessebar for us turned from a quick lunch stop to what we found to be one of the best places to visit in Bulgaria! This tiny coastal town is located along the coast between Varna and Burgas. While Varna and Burgas are more city-like, Nessebar is full of tiny alleyways with quaint buildings, ruins, and local vendors. 


This town is amazing for roaming around aimlessly, shopping, and having a delicious seafood meal along the water. Also, in summer they are known for their foam parties! We ended up spending half a day here, but definitely recommend spending a night to enjoy the nightlife and the amazing evening atmosphere of Nessebar.

Nessebar, best places to visit in Bulgaria
Nessebar, best places to visit in Bulgaria
Nessebar, best places to visit in Bulgaria

Nessebar √ģs one of our favorite places to visit in Bulgaria.

Look for a place to spend the night in Nessebar:

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The Best Places to Visit in Bulgaria #6: Sozopol

This is another ancient seaside village that is a must-visit while in Bulgaria! Unfortunately we didn't hear about it until after we left the country, but will definitely be back to see it one day! The historic village is situated along the coast of the Black Sea, all the way in the south Bulgaria. With beautiful beaches and traditional architecture, it's no wonder this has become a popular vacation destination for Bulgarians.


The Best Places to Visit in Bulgaria #7: Veliko Tarnovo

This city is located in the north central region of Bulgaria, and is known for its many orthodox temples, quaint alleyways, and beautiful fortress.


The Best Places to Visit in Bulgaria #8: Plovdiv

While Sofia is a must-visit city, we have to admit that our favorite city in Bulgaria was actually Plovdiv. Located in the heart of the country, this city is the perfect blend of historic architecture and vibrant art. Check out the trendy cafes, watch the colorful fountain show, and stroll the picturesque alleyways of this hidden gem in Eastern Europe.


Want to learn more about Plovdiv? Stay tuned for our brand new Plovdiv travel guide coming up soon!

Plovdiv, the best places to visit in Bulgaria
Plovdiv, the best places to visit in Bulgaria
Plovdiv, the best places to visit in Bulgaria

Plovdiv is a true hidden gem of Eastern Europe.

Book a stay in Plovdiv:

Booking.com

The Best Places to Visit in Bulgaria #9: Asenovgrad

Looking for a great day trip outside of Plovdiv? Located just a half hour south east of the city is Asenovgrad. This ancient fortress hosts ruins, an old church, and a beautiful terrace with panoramic views of the beautiful nature around it.


Here are a couple of tours that visit Asenovgrad:

The Best Places to Visit in Bulgaria #10: Bansko

This is definitely on the of the best places to visit in Bulgaria for the skiers out there. Bansko is located in the south west of Bulgaria, along the foot of the Pirin mountains, and is one of the best (and most affordable) places to ski in Europe. 


Here are also a few other things you can experience in Bansko:

Book your accommodation in Bansko:

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The Best Places to Visit in Bulgaria #11: Balchik

Located just a half hour north of Varna is another one of the top places to visit in Bulgaria. Balchik is a small town which has a palace, as well as botanical gardens that you could easily spend a couple of hours exploring.


Another thing we loved about Balchik is an amazing restaurant we had lunch at called Bistro Kestena. Everything from the food to the service there was simply incredible. We had the opportunity to try a ton of local dishes, (one of our favorites being the caviar dip).


Another thing that we loved about Bistro Kestena is that after a devastating fire destroying the restaurant, the entire town of Balchik came together to rebuild it better than before.

Balchik, best places to visit in Bulgaria

One of our favorite restaurants in Bulgaria was in Balchik.

Take a day trip to Balchik:

The Best Places to Visit in Bulgaria #12: Rila Monastery

Located in the same area as Seven Rila Lakes is one of the most stunning monasteries in Bulgaria. Rila Monastery is located 117 km south of Sofia, and is another great day trip from the capital.


Take a day trip to Rila Monastery:

The Best Places to Visit in Bulgaria #13: Seven Rila Lakes

This is our favorite hike in Bulgaria, and can also be done as an epic day trip from Sofia. Seven Rila Lakes are a group of 7 different lakes tucked away in the mountains. The hike allows you to see every one of them, and even has a viewpoint where you can appreciate seeing 6 of them at once!


There's a lot to know for visiting, so make sure to read our Seven Rila Lakes Tavel guide for everything you need to know!

Seven Rila Lakes, best places to visit in Bulgaria
Seven Rila Lakes, best places to visit in Bulgaria
Seven Rila Lakes, best places to visit in Bulgaria
Seven Rila Lakes in Bulgaria, best places to visit in Bulgaria

One of the most fun things to do in Paraty is to visit a Cachacaria.

The Best Places to Visit in Bulgaria #14: Tryavna

Looking for one of the cutest villages in Bulgaria? Well, Tryavna is located right in the center of the country, and is known for its beautiful traditional architecture, as well as its textile industry.


Here are a couple of tours that include a stop in Tryavna, Bulgaria:

The Best Places to Visit in Bulgaria #15: Ethno Village Etar

If you're looking to learn about the culture and customs of Bulgaria, then this open-air museum is perfect to add to your list or the best places to visit in Bulgaria. Ethno Village Etar is located in northern Bulgaria, between the city of Gabrovo and the Bulgarka National Park. Here you'll be able to see local crafts, traditional architecture, and experience an authentic slice of Bulgarian culture.

The Best Places to Visit in Bulgaria #16: Shipka

Located in Central Bulgaria, this town is home to a beautiful cathedral, as well as an iconic monument for the country. The monument is a symbol of Bulgarian liberation, and resembles a Bulgarian fortress which can be seen from miles away.


Here are a few organized tours that go to Shipka:

The Best Places to Visit in Bulgaria #17: Koprivshtitsa

Looking for another one of the most picturesque places to visit in Bulgaria? Well, look no further than Koprivshtitsa, a traditional town located in the heart of the country. You can easily reach here on either a day trip from Sofia or Plovdiv, or stop here while on a road trip from Sofia to the western end of Bulgaria.


here are a few tours that you can take to visit Koprivshtitsa:

The Best Places to Visit in Bulgaria #18: Kovachevitsa

This charming village will take you back in time with its cobblestone streets and traditional architecture. The white washed buildings with cobblestone accents make this small town so dreamy, and definitely worth a stop while traveling through Bulgaria. It is located in the south west corner of the country, just an hour from the city of Bansko.


The Best Places to Visit in Bulgaria #19: Shiroka Laka

Very similar to Kovachevitsa, Shiroka Lake is another stunning village to check out. With stone bridges and quaint alleyways. you'll love roaming around this adorable place in the south of Bulgaria.


Here is a tour we found that visits Shiroka Laka:


The Best Places to Visit in Bulgaria #20: Cape Kaliakra

Located off the northern coast of Bulgaria lies a beautiful cape where you can enjoy a trail up to the cliffs overlooking the Black Sea. As a bonus you can also enjoy a meal in the restaurant right along the edge.

Cape Kaliakra, best places to visit in Bulgaria
Cape Kaliakra, best places to visit in Bulgaria
Cape Kaliakra, best places to visit in Bulgaria
Cape Kaliakra, best places to visit in Bulgaria

Cape Kaliakra is a beautiful cape in the north of the country

Here are a few tours that visit Cape Kaliakra:


The Best Places to Visit in Bulgaria #21: Ovech Fortress

Dating back to the 4rd century, this Byzantine Fortress is just 45 minutes outside the city of Varna. We definitely recommend coming here on a day trip, or stopping here on your way to the east coast while traveling through Bulgaria (or vice versa).


Here are a couple of tours that visit Ovech Fortress:


The Best Places to Visit in Bulgaria #22: Kamani Stone Forest 

Pobiti Kamani Rock Formations are also known as the stone fortress, and are another attraction just outside of Varna. The different formations are so amazing to see, especially with the wild stories that are behind them (but we'll leave that for you to learn when you go).


The area is covered in column-like stone formations, and there are two different parts that you can get tickets to enter and look for the special rocks. Check out one of our favorites below! 

stone forest, best places to visit in Bulgaria
stone forest, best places to visit in Bulgaria
stone forest, best places to visit in Bulgaria


The Best Places to Visit in Bulgaria #23: Devetashka Cave

The Devetasha Cave is an enormous and beautiful set of karst caverns. This is known to be the most beautiful cave in the country, and is a natural wonder located in the north central area of the country. You can easily get here after just a five minute walk from the parking lot and explore it on your own.


Here are some different tours from Sofia that include Devetashka Cave:

The Best Places to Visit in Bulgaria #24: Cherepish Monastery

Located in the north west of the country, this 14th century monastery is located along a gorge and surrounded by lush greenery. Just and hour and a hour north of Sofia, this makes a great day trip from Bulgaria's capital.


Here is a tour that includes the Cherepish Monastery:

The Best Places to Visit in Bulgaria #25: Eagle's Eye

If you're planning on road tripping through Bulgaria, then you'll definitely want to add Eagle's Eye on your list of places to visit in Bulgaria. located along the Rhodope Mountains, this is a dramatic platform with spectacular views of Bulgaria's natural landscapes. This is also the perfect place to stop if you plan on visiting Shiroka Laka.


The Best Places to Visit in Bulgaria #26: Devil's Bridge

Ever see pictures of those picturesque stone bridges in Germany? Well, Bulgaria also has one called Dyavolski most, which is translated to Devil's bridge. This bridge arches over the Arda River, and is 10 km from the town of Ardino in the Rhodope Mountains in southern Bulgaria.


The Best Places to Visit in Bulgaria #27: Dokuzak Waterfall

One of our favorite things about Bulgaria is amazing nature that it has. If you're road tripping the country you'll definitely want to take advantage of the opportunities to see some of them along the way. Dokuzak waterfall is a great hidden gem, and the perfect place to have a picnic which is family friendly.


The Best Places to Visit in Bulgaria BONUS: Sunflower Fields

This may be a seasonal thing, but we definitely couldn't skip sharing this one with you! This was actually one of the reasons that we loved road tripping around Bulgaria. All over the the country you'll find massive sunflower fields along the highways. While many are private, there are some that you can stop and enjoy along the way.

sunflower fields in Bulgaria, best places to visit in Bulgaria

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Getting Around Bulgaria

Now that you know all of the best places to visit in Bulgaria, how do you actually get to them?


Well, when we visited Bulgaria, we had a rental car, and really felt that it was the best way to get around the country and experience all that Bulgaria has to offer. You can easily rent a car from the airport, or inside any of the major cities.


The roads in Bulgaria are well paved, and driving around the country was very easy. We suggest sticking to paid parking lots, to ensure that your rental is safe.

How Do You Get Around Bulgaria Without a Car?

If you don't feel comfortable renting a car while you're in Bulgaria, you can also get from place to place by taking local buses. They are extremely affordable, and also run between all different areas of the country.


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Traditional Bulgarian Food

Bulgarian cuisine is an amazing blend of Mediterranean and Balkan cuisine. It shares a lot of similar ingredients and dishes as the surrounding countries, like Greece and Serbia. Flaky pastries, fresh olive oil, and sharp cheeses are some of the things you'll find a lot, as well as hearty meat dishes. Here are a few of the dishes that you should try while in Bulgaria:


  • Banitsa: a cheese filled pastry that's very popular for breakfast
  • Shopska Salad: staple salad of the Balkans with tomato, cucumber, and cheese
  • Tarator: a cold yogurt-based soup with cucumber and dill
  • Sarmi: meat-stuffed cabbage leaves
  • Moussaka: a dish similar to Greek Moussaka, but instead of eggplant they use potatoes
  • Meshana Skara: traditional meat platter
  • Chorba: popular soup- the most traditional is Shkembe Chorba, which is made with tripe.
  • Chushka Biurek: cheese stuffed peppers baked in a tomato sauce
  • Palańćinka: thin pancakes like crepes that have both savory and sweet fillings
Food in Balchik

Is Bulgaria a Safe Country to Travel?

Right as we were about to embark on our 3 month Balkan road trip, our car rental company in Romania warned us particularly about the coast of Bulgaria. As we were traveling throughout the Balkans, we continued to get many of the same comments to be super careful throughout the coast of Bulgaria, as it is extremely dangerous.


Varna, Burgas, and other coastal towns have a really bad reputation for people stealing cars, so we definitely were a bit hesitant to visit that area of the country (especially considering our car was broken into in Macedonia, which is the neighboring country.)


Our experience in Bulgaria as a whole is that we actually felt very safe, and found that the locals were extremely sweet and helpful to us and other tourists. We really feel that Bulgaria is super tourist friendly country, but like anywhere, you should definitely keep an eye on your belongings. As for cars, we highly suggest making sure that your accommodation has private parking if you visit the coast, and to always leave your vehicle in a private parking lot just to be safe.


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Other Things to Know About Visiting Bulgaria

Now that you know the best places to visit in Bulgaria, how to get around, and what to eat, here are a few other things to keep in mind when visiting Bulgaria.


Weather in Bulgaria

Bulgaria is a country that has all four seasons, with sunny and hot summers, and cold, snowy, winters.

sunflower fields in Bulgaria

If you visit Bulgaria in the summer you can experience the beautiful sunflower fields.

The Best Time to Visit Bulgaria

The best time to visit Bulgaria definitely depends on exactly where you'd like to visit. However, we overall feel that the summer if the best time to visit Bulgaria. This is when you can fully enjoy the beach towns like Burgas, Varna, and Nessebar, while also enjoying warm temperatures in the mountains. Summer is also when you'll be able to enjoy the country covered in sunflower fields!


Packing For a Trip to Bulgaria

Packing for a trip to Bulgaria will of course depend on what kind of trip you are having. However, here are some of the things that we found useful to bring when we were visiting Bulgaria:


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How Long Should I Spend in Bulgaria?

We spent a week in Bulgaria, and found that it wasn't nearly enough time to do everything we wanted to do! If you'd like to see some of the highlights, then you can certainly see a lot in a week. However, we highly suggest spending 2 weeks there, as it is much larger than other surrounding countries like Macedonia or Serbia.


So are you ready to explore all of the best places to visit in Bulgaria? We know you'll love this underrated country and all of the delicious food, friendly people, and hidden gems waiting for you. Make sure to check out our full articles for Sofia, Varna, and Seven Rila Lakes too!


Plan on visiting other countries in the area? We have plenty of Eastern European travel guides for you to check out!


Ready to start planning the most epic trip? Well now you can leave the hard work to us. Unlike traditional travel agencies, we work off flat rates, which means no ridiculous commissions, o overpriced flights and hotels. Want to learn more? Check out the different travel planning packages that we offer, or simply shoot us an email for your free consultation.


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