Bulgaria is one of Europe's oldest countries, home to a fascinating culture and cities that go back further than Rome. In terms of attractions it's hard to beat: you can sunbathe on the many beaches of the Black Sea coast, hit the slopes at ski resorts like Pamporovo or Vitosha Mountain and marvel at natural landmarks like the Belogradchik Rocks.
With magnificent mountains, beautiful beaches and captivating cathedrals, Bulgaria has plenty on the locker. Here's our guide to the top Bulgarian attractions.
Marvel at the iconic Sagrada Familla in Barcelona.
Gaudi’s majestic creation has been wowing crowds since it first began construction in 1882. Since then, multiple architects have taken up the reins on the project, some honouring Gaudi’s original designs, other’s redefining the creation completely. The multiple and varied facades of the building, plus its sheer size and majesty, make it a must do for any traveller visiting Barcelona.See all trips that visit Barcelona
Indulge in traditional Andalusian delicacies in Seville.
Seville is renowned for its gastronomic offerings, and whilst the traditional dishes may be simple to prepare, they’re bursting with fresh regional flavours. Gazpacho, Pescaito frito and Huevos a la Flamenca are all famed Andalusian specialities, or for those preferring traditional tapas, Seville has around 4,000 tapas bars to choose from – take your pick!See all trips that visit Seville
Live like a King in the Royal Palace of Madrid.
Get a glimpse of life as the other half live with a guided tour of the Royal Palace in Madrid. The largest palace in Europe, the Palacio Real de Madrid is the official residence of the Spanish Royal Family, though is only used formally for state ceremonies. Gorge your eyes on the many works of art by famed Spanish painters as you delve a little deeper into Spain’s rich history.See all trips that visit Madrid
Party till dawn in the clubbing mecca of Ibiza.
Nowhere on Earth will you experience clubbing quite like Ibiza. Home to some of the world’s most infamous clubs, come and join the party as night after night revered world class DJ’s play their hearts out to adoring crowds. Get into the mood with sunset cocktails at Café Del Mar then party till sunrise at Space, DC-10 or Ibiza Rocks.See all trips that visit Ibiza
Bask in sunlight on Barceloneta Beach.
Some cities are fortunate enough to have the perfect city/beach balance, and Barcelona is one of them. Whilst Barceloneta Beach may be man-made, the water is clear and refreshing and the beach is alive with travellers and locals alike chatting, swimming and generally loving life. Spend long leisurely lunches in the surrounding cafes and restaurants, hire bikes or rollerblades or just relax in the sunshine.See all trips that visit Barcelona
Explore the Islamic inspired fortress of Alhambra.
Rising from woods of cypress and elm, the Alhambra reigns supreme on the hillside of Gibraltar. Born in the 11th Century and then further developed over the 14th and 15th century’s, the fortress holds an extensive network of lavishly decorated palaces and irrigated gardens and gives those who visit it a glimpse into the rich history of the Spanish empire and the influence both Islam and Catholicism had on the Alhambra’s design.See all trips that visit Gibraltar
1. Bansko Jazz Festival – Bansko Jazz is one of the biggest music events on the Bulgarian calendar. It takes place annually in August, with a variety of European and international artists bringing the noise.
For more information on the Bansko Jazz Festival, click here.
2. Meadows in the Mountains, Rhodopes – This festival of art and music takes place over a long weekend in June, in the beautiful setting of the Rhodope Mountains. Expect offbeat entertainment, camping, bonfires and magical vibes aplenty.
For more information on the Meadows in the Mountains festival, click here.
3. Water Tower Art Fest, Sofia – Sofia's biggest festival of contemporary visual art takes place each June, with a series of exhibitions held at various spaces throughout the city. It features works by Bulgarian and international artists.
For more information on the Water Tower Art Fest, click here.
4. Varna Summer International Music Festival – Held annually in June and July, this festival of classical music is the longest running in the country. It features a host of performances by leading soloists, ensembles, orchestras and choirs from around the world.
For more information on the Varna Summer International Music Festival, click here.
5. Night of Museums and Galleries, Plovdiv – Each year on 30th September, the Plovdiv’s museums and galleries throw open their doors to visitors, meaning you can roam free and get your cultural fill until the early hours of the morning. Various pop-up spaces and a citywide program of entertainment ensure a festival atmosphere.
For more information on the Night of Museums and Galleries, click here.
1. National Historical Museum, Sofia – ABulgaria's largest museum is home to a whopping 650,000 exhibits, covering everything from archaeological artifacts to fine art. A cool 65,000 are on show at any one time.
For more information on the National Historical Museum, click here.
2. National Museum of Military History, Sofia – This excellent museum features extensive exhibits covering Bulgaria's military history, but it's the outdoor displays of artillery and military vehicles that will really dazzle. These include tanks, jet fighters and even missiles!
For more information on the National Museum of Military History, click here.
3. Earth and Man National Museum, Sofia – Located in central Sofia, this museum of mineralogy is one of the largest of its kind in the world. It exhibits a truly colossal array of minerals, with highlights including giant gems and glittering geodes.
For more information on the Earth and Man National Museum, click here.
4. National Archaeological Museum, Sofia – This museum is housed in a former Ottoman mosque dating from the late 15th century. Its excellent collection of archaeological exhibits more than lives up to the setting.
For more information on the National Archaeological Museum, click here.
5. National Gallery for Foreign Art, Sofia – Bulgaria's premier gallery is home to a varied and extensive collection of European, Asian and African art, with highlights including celebrated works by Rodin, Picasso and Dalí.
For more information on the National Gallery for Foreign Art, click here.
Bulgaria's fantastic climate means fruits and vegetables grow here in abundance, and some say you haven't even tried a tomato until you've had one here. Meat figures highly in the typical Bulgarian diet, as do dairy products like the ubiquitous sirene cheese and Bulgarian yoghurt, whose unique taste and renowned health benefits make it a Bulgaria travel must-try!
Banitsa – The banitsa is an indispensible Bulgarian breakfast item found in bakeries all over the country. A concoction of eggs, cheese and milk layered in filo pastry then baked, comes in sweet and savoury versions.
Best eaten at – Marquissa Patisserie, 12 Solunska Street, Sofia
Shkembe chorba – This spicy tripe soup is a prized hangover remedy in Bulgaria. It's usually served with mashed garlic and chilli pepper, and whether you eat it that night or the morning after, it's best washed down with an ice cold beer.
Best eaten at –Borimechkata, ulitsa "Akademik Boris Stefanov" 6, 1700 Sofia
Kavarma – This rich, slow-cooked stew of pork, leeks and other vegetables is traditionally prepared in a clay pot. Hearty and delicious, many people consider it to be the quintessential Bulgarian national dish.
Best eaten at –The Authentic Bulgarian Restaurant Chevermeto, NDK- Pronoto, 1 Bulgaria Blvd, Sofia
Shopska salad – This classic Bulgarian salad contains chopped onions, peppers, tomatoes and cucumber, topped with parsley and grated sirene cheese. Deceptively simple and utterly delicious, it's a Bulgaria travel 2016 must-try!
Best eaten at – Di Wine Restaurant & Wine Cellar, 2 Bratya Shkorpil Street, Varna
Meshana Skara – This mixed grill platter consists of some of the country's finest grilled meats, including kebapche (sausage-like mix of chopped pork and beef with spices), kyufte (flattened meatballs with onions) and parjola (pork chop). It's normally served with French fries, salad and a spicy vegetable relish called lyutenitsa.
Best eaten at – Skara Bar, 12 Ulitsa Gergi Benkovski, Sofia
Sunglasses - Whether you're living the Bulgaria beach life or getting stuck into après-ski in Pamporovo, a good pair of shades will see you right.
A camera - With sights like the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, the Rila Monastery and Plovdiv Old Town on display, you can bank on taking a lot of pictures!
A translator app - Bulgaria uses the Cyrillic alphabet, so road signs and restaurant menus will be indecipherable. Time to send your trusty smartphone to the rescue!
Painkillers & hydration treatments - From the Sunny Beach clubs to the Sofia nightlife, there are endless opportunities for good times in Bulgaria. Make sure you're equipped for a sore head or two.
An adapter plug and voltage transformer - Bulgaria uses the standard European 2-pin plug. The voltage here is 230V, so you'll need a step-down transformer if you want to use appliances that require 110V.