With several dramatic mountain ranges, superb beaches, numerous historic towns and a web of working villages with traditions straight out of the nineteenth century, Bulgaria has a wealth of attractions crammed into a relatively compact country. More than anything else, this is a land of adventures: once you step off the beaten track, road signs and bus timetables often disappear (or are only in Cyrillic), and few people speak a foreign language, but almost everyone you meet will be determined to help you on your way.
Bulgaria's image has altered dramatically in recent years, thanks largely to the modernization of the country's tourist infrastructure coupled with soaring foreign interest in inexpensive rural and coastal properties. Independent travel is common: costs are relatively low, and for the committed there is much to take in. Romantic National Revival era architecture is a particular draw, with Koprivshtitsa, Bansko and Plovdiv foremost amongst examples of the genre. The monasteries are stunning too – the finest, Rila, should be on every itinerary, while for city life aim for Sofia, Plovdiv, and the cosmopolitan coastal resorts of Varna and Burgas.
Top image: Orthodox Rila Monastery © Dennis van de Water/Shutterstock
Population 7.3 million
Area 110,910 sq km
Currency Lev (Lv)
Capital Sofia (population: 1.35 million)
International phone codet359
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