in the middle
Bulgaria is a mountain covered, forest-blanketed country in the Balkans, bordering the western banks of the shimmering Black Sea. In the country's eastern Black Sea Coast, sun-seekers will find sweeping sandy beachfront, while the rocky southwestern area overflows with winter skiing and snowboarding opportunities, alongside summertime hiking and biking trails.
Bulgaria's not only about natural wonders, however. Medieval towns and ancient cities are sprinkled across the country. The capital, Sofia, is a magical metropolis blending museums and art galleries, Communist-era architecture and ancient ruins, shopping malls and market stalls.
If you want to travel in the sun-struck summer months, search dealchecker to find bargain Bulgaria hotels in Sunny Beach, a sparkling resort strung along the Black Sea coast. High-rise hotel complexes and apartment rentals line up beside a seemingly endless stretch of soft golden sands, which curve down to the balmy, blue Black Sea waters. Sunny Beach boasts an abundance of buzzing bars and international cuisine restaurants, too.
Southwestern Bansko – a small, rustic town based at the foot of the Pirin Mountains – is perfect for sports fans searching for a winter getaway. Today, quaint Bankso is a popular ski resort dotted with chalets and acts as a gateway to the mountains' abundant snowy ski slopes. It also makes for a great summer break – the town is quieter, and the surrounding forests are full of fresh blue swimming lakes and secluded hiking paths.
Culture vultures will find no end of inspiring activities in the sprawling, capital city of Sofia – from the expansive National History Museum to the National Art Gallery, based in a former palace. Architecture lovers will go wild for the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, an immense gold-blue Neo-Byzantine masterpiece, while shoppers splurge in Sofia's tree-lined boulevards and malls. Foodies can indulge in the city's range of traditional restaurants, which serve up authentic Bulgarian cuisine like stuffed peppers, grilled meats and moussaka.
History buffs should visit Plovdiv – one of the oldest cities in Europe – a quiet, rustic city, surrounded by rolling hills and dotted with Roman ruins, Ottoman sites and Bulgarian-revival buildings.
If you're looking to blend a beach holiday with the benefits of a bustling metropolis, check out the seaport city of Varna, which boasts captivating museums, idyllic parks and nearby sands.