After my short visit to Bulgaria, when I told my friends about it, few of them asked me if Bulgaria is a country and if it was in Europe or Middle East. I realised that this little gem is still not one of the France and Italy to get the mind share of an average tourist. Probably if you are in Europe you would not ideally ask this question.
So here is my take on Bulgaria.
Yes its in Europe and its not a part of Russia. Bulgaria is an Independent country, however is not part of the EU yet. It is one of the Balkan countries which has Black Sea on one side and other side has neighbours like Romania, Serbia and Macedonia. While its not part of the Schengen countries, you can enter the country with a Schengen Visa.
My three day stay was in the capital city Sofia which is a beautiful green city, very modern with well preserved historical monuments. The Vitosha Mountain looms over the city and even in summers you can be lucky to see some last bit of leftover snow on the mountain top, right from the city center.
Plovdiv which is just a little over an hour drive from Sofia is the second largest city. It is supposed to be the oldest city in Europe dating back to 4th century BC. Vivid flavours of Greek and Roman rule can be seen throughout the city. Having been chosen as the European Capital of Culture for 2019, its right on the international tourism map.
Bulgaria is blessed with the beautiful Balkan Mountains which gives it a stunning scenery tick mark; on the other side the coastal towns on Black Sea gives it a much sought after beach destination status. In winters Sofia can go upto a steep -20 C with thick snow. However few months of summers is when the population of the seaside towns like Burgas swells many fold.
I found Sofia quite safe though my friends warned me and literally made me paranoid about my safety. It has a very busy and vibrant nightlife. Infact the party scene starts after 10:30 pm and that’s probably a very safe time to be on streets or travel back to your hotel. However its good to be cautious.
Transport in Sofia was a breeze. Cheap taxis, a well laid out underground(Metro) and some colorful trams in the city, its all well connected.
The food was simply awesome and I was spoilt for choice. Though dishes with chicken were fairly less on the menu in any restaurant. Lovely breads, lots of Greek and Turkish food joints, a wide variety of cold cuts and some fantastic cheese options.
My trip was short but still I feel I explored a lot. In three days I managed to visit Plovdiv, Rila, Boyana and ofcourse Sofia since I was staying there. Subsequent posts will have much more details on it. But I felt I should have stayed atleast for a week and visited some towns on the coast as well.
Ready to explore?
Bulgaria is definitely a hidden gem in the beautiful Balkan family. If not explored on its own, you must make a stop over in Sofia and Plovdiv if exploring Eastern Europe. It will definitely add a different character to your European travel and open an unexplored country to your travel memoirs.
Browse through this blog to check out some interesting write-ups and candid pictures from my various trips across Bulgaria.