A country, a history, the traditions – let yourself be surprised…
At the heart of the Balkans is Bulgaria, one of the oldest kingdoms in Europe, with many secrets to reveal and nothing to envy of its neighbours. At the crossroads of the East and the West, between Europe and Asia, proud of its Thracian, Slavic and Proto-Bulgarian origins. Rich from the influences of the mighty Roman, Greco-Byzantine and Oriental civilisations, Bulgaria is a meeting point where different religions and traditions including Paganism, Islam and Christianity live in peace. History created a nation with a strong identity, its own values, alphabet (Cyrillic) and customs. Interspersed with a diverse countryside, a remarkable cultural heritage protected by UNESCO, a generous hospitality and a unique art of living, it’s the face of the country of the rose that we hope to help you discover.
A country, an history, traditions – a perfect harmony between man and nature that deserves to be appreciated just like a Bulgarian yogurt: in other words without moderation.
Welcome to Bulgaria !
Enter the history of a people with a diverse multicultural background.
The secular Bulgaria, which occupies only 2% of the surface of Europe, surprises those who visit for the first time with its 40,000 historical monuments, 7 of which are registered in the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites:
Thracian tomb of Svechtari
Thracian tomb of Kazanlak
Ancient city of Nessebar
Rock church of Ivanovo
Church of Boyana
Monastery of Rila
Plus 2 UNESCO protected natural reserves
Sreburna Natural Reserve
Pirin National Park
Bulgaria also features 36 museum villages, 160 monasteries, 330 museums and galleries.
The ancient people that lived in Bulgaria have left traces of their heritage in the form of numerous monuments from the different historical ages (Thracian, Roman, Greco-Byzantine, Bulgarian…) which have shaped the look of entire cities.
From the Thracian era, aside from the Thracian tomb of Kazanlak and Svechtari, 15 new tombs have recently been discovered and archaeologists are searching for artifacts in the Valley of the Thracian Kings, with 1,500 other hillocks of land (tombs have been discovered under similar hillocks) having not yet been explored and which indicate an immense building site for archaeologists and historians. The recently discovered sanctuary of Starosel and the Saint City of Perperikon can equally be cited, without forgetting the fabulous Necropolis of Varna. They present a large interest and are open to the public.
The passing through of the Romans enriched the cultural and architectural heritage of the country. The thermal baths of Varna or the antique Theatre of Plovdiv are two significant examples of the presence of the Empire. The cities, particularly those on the coast, consequently experienced an expansion under the protection of the Byzantine Empire. Nessebar, the city of 40 churches, is the incarnation of its peak.
During its long existence, Bulgaria has known how to not only conserve its multicultural history, but has affirmed its personality through the creation of a state, the following Empire permitted it to forge a strong identity. The symbol of this combative nation is engraved in the rocks near Shumen where the famous Madara Horseman was carved, and would later become the emblem of the country. To protect its territories, a number of fortresses were constructed and still remain. Today among the best conserved are those of Véliko Tarnovo, Vidin, Veliki Preslav and Pliska.
The Black Period of its existence began with the Turkish invasion and lasted 5 long centuries during which, in spite of the determination of the Turks to erase the glorious past of the whole nation, the Bulgarian flame never went out, notably thanks to the large network of monasteries – the places of ideological conservation, destroyed and reconstructed by the people. The most beautiful and largest monasteries of the Balkans are found in Bulgaria. Among the most visited today are the Rila Monastery, the Bachkovo Monastery, the Rojen Monastery, the Troyan Monastery, the Monastery of the Transfiguration and the Drianovo Monastery. We offer you the unique opportunity to lodge in some of these monasteries and to share the everyday life of these religious people in a natural framework. These are also the places where the most important revolutionaries who directed the national insurrections were lodged, which allowed the beginning of the Bulgarian Renaissance. Certain museum villages represent this key period of the history of the country. The best conserved in our eyes are Zheravna, Koprivchtitsa, Arbanassi, Shiroka Luka, Bozhentsi, Triavna, Melnik, Bansko and certain areas of towns like the Old Plovdiv, the ancient city of Nessebar, Balchik and Veliko Turnovo. They permit you to feel the atmosphere of the Bulgarian Renaissance in the ideal framework for rest, winding down and tourism.
The Orthodox churches that will impress you by the number and quality of their iconographic works and their wooden sculptures cannot be forgotton either. The most impressive, St. Alexander Nevski, is found at the center of Sofia. Nearby you will find the magnificent Russian church St. Nicolas, dominated by its golden dome which symbolises the historic ties and gratitude toward the Russian “big brother.” After the liberation, Bulgaria showed its tolerance and the Ottoman presence still remains visible, notably when passing by the mosques especially the largest of the country and the second most important in the Balkans, the Tomboul mosque situated in Shumen.
As well as the discovery of the culture, the voyager can discover several traditional activities such as the production of wine, rose oil, sculptures on wood and several others. For more information concerning these activities see the RURAL TOURISM section.
Certain ethnographic museums such as that of Etara, Varocha the old quarter of Blagoevgrad, Koulata of Kazanlak, the old Dobritch, Tchiflika (close to Albena) and that of Bruchlian (near Malko Tarnovo) represent a large interest for the demonstrations that they propose.
To embellish and animate your stay don’t hesitate to consult the calendar of folklore events. The festivals of Koprivshtitsa, Shiroka Luka, Rozhen and Predela are worth the detour. One can equally cite the Festival of Bourgas, which takes place every year during the second half of the month of August, the Festival of the Rose of Kazanlak which occurs annually at the beginning of the month of June, the Folkloric Festival of Koprivshtitsa which is celebrated every 5 years, the International Festival of the Koukeri and the mask games in the town of Pernik, celebrated every even year in January.
Are you ready to rebuild the puzzle?
The Bulgarian Beaches
Create your cocktail of pleasures!
The Black Sea, the crossroad between Europe and Central Asia, between the delta of the Danube and the Bosphorus has an area about the size of France. The ancient Greeks called it Pontus Euxinos (ie, Mar Hospital) for its extraordinary calm, low salinity, its sunshine heating the water very often more than 25 ° C. Throughout its 378 km of coastline, we can see wonderful landscapes and beautiful nature: rocky slopes in the North, followed by wonderful sandy beaches surrounded by thick forests to reach the mountain peaks to the south. Due to good weather, since antiquity, the Black Sea has remained a privileged place of rest and a traditional part of Bulgarian tourism. The complex of resorts and coastal towns offer many services relating to family vacations, fun, all sorts of parties and active sport. From slides to jumping, hunting, or even underwater archaeology, pleasure knows no limits ...
Today it is difficult to escape the crowds, especially during the summer. However, we could mention a few resorts of some interest to advise them to visit:
A city whose visit is a must due to a long and rich history.
A designited UNESCO World Heritage Site, Nessebar, a city which is home to 40 churches is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful places in Bulgaria.
Located on the north coast, this city will make your trip more romantic and mysterious.
Great destination for young clubbers.
Beware of excess pleasures!
Explore different lifestyles and traditions!
The roots of the Bulgarian spirit and its character can be discovered in authentic villages. It’s in fact the link between the different ages and cultures.
The natural environment, the folklore, the customs, the crafts, the village museums, the traditional cuisine and the famous Bulgarian hospitality will make your trip full of emotions. We find these typical villages in the region of the Balkan massif, the region of the Rhodopes and several ones near the resorts of the Black Sea.
In the Bulgarian village, the travellers are welcomed like a guest and feel like a friend of the family. They will have the opportunity to fully participate in the community life of the village (participate in carpentry work, the treatment of textiles, ceramics, the making of cheese, emmental, Bulgarian yogurt, as well as jams, cold meats and, of course, the wine).
Normally the traveller will sleep in a traditional family house and if they wish can share certain meals with the villagers. You will have the possibility to savour the traditional Bulgarian cuisine composed of natural organic products.
There folkloric festivals all over the country even today, where local traditions and customs are celebrated. You can participate in a Bulgarian wedding, the dances of Nestinari, the Koukeri Festival, Trifon Zarezan, Eniovden, Koleda, Lazaruvane, Baba Marta, Guérguiovden, Velikden and several others without forgetting the numerous national and international folklore festivals that sprinkle the Bulgarian calendar. (We strongly recommend that you consult the calendar in order to fully profit from the activities during your stay).
Rural tourism is certainly the theme with the largest emotional charge which will stay in your memory and spirit.
Have a good time travelling!
Wellness in Bulgaria
By drawing energy to the source we find harmony!
Spa tourism is an essential piece of the Bulgarian tourist vitality. The tradition of using the curing qualities of water and the natural resources takes its origins from the Thracians, whom were known in their time as wise healers. During the Roman Empire, these traditions endured and the “saintly” sources of the Thracians became famous in every corner of the Great Empire.
The popularity of spa resorts in Europe is being reborn, due to the fact that, along with the use of other traditional methods, these centers resort more and more to curative therapies from ancient times. Moreover, it is thought that these treatments can have an effect in lengthening of one’s lifespan, which increases the interest and role in the spas.
There are very few countries in Europe who can compete with Bulgaria in terms of the importance, the diversity and the riches of the thermal water (more than 550 deposits identified with more than 1,600 mineral sources and reserves of very important curative mud). The very favourable geographic position of the country creates unique bioclimatic conditions that bring benefits to the human organism. There are also a large variety of plants used for medical and curative purposes (herbal medicine, aromatherapy…).
The traditions and experience of the Bulgarian balneal centres are transmitted by well-trained professional teams. The investment in the infrastructures and human resources is permanent in order to respond to the new tourist interest with one principal objective – the quality of service dispensed specifically to the persons needed treatment, but equally specific to clienteles simply searching to wind down and relax to get away from the stress of everyday life.
The virtues of the waters are used to heal or relieve diverse afflictions (nervous, arterial, respiratory, digestive, kidney, liver, gynaecological or mobility). Certain stations are more specialised, renowned in certain domains according to the properties of sources and the climatic conditions. The best known thermal towns from which their origins trace to the Thracian and Roman periods are:
Sandanski and Velingrad – Their waters permit the treatment of chronic joint or respiratory conditions (asthma).
Kustendil and Sapareva Bania – Their sources are characterised by a temperature generally superior to 60˚C and can reach as high as 98˚C.
Hissaria – Famous for its extremely pure waters with a high concentration of calcium, sulphate and radon which contributes particularly well to the treatment of kidney and liver illnesses as well as prophylactic care of osteoporosis.
Devin – Offers cures for obesity, cardiovascular and neurological problems. It also specialises in helping people get back into shape and the treatment of rheumatisms.
The Black Sea stations – Varna, The Golden Sands, Sunny Beach, Riviera, Saint Constantine and Elena as well as Albena, towns associated with balneal and thermal assets.
Finally, to fully profit from your stay as well as your treatment, you can go discover the country (see also the sections Ecotourism, Cultural Tourism, Rural Tourism…).
Remember the essential, Be there!
Bulgaria - a land of contrasts
Bulgaria surprises people with its diversity and the quality of its natural countryside. In a fairly small area equivalent to 1/5 the surface area of France, are hidden 3 national parks (Rila, the Central Balkan and Pirin which is also protected by UNESCO); 10 natural parks such as the Vrachanski Balkan Natural Park and the Roussenski Lom Natural Park; 89 reserves of which Srebarna is equally protected by UNESCO; 2234 natural phenomena for example the Melnik sandstone pyramids, the rock formations of Belogradtchik, the Stone Forest, the Blue Rocks, the Marvellous Bridges and several others; the canyons and gorges like Trigrad; as well as 336 lakes like the 7 lakes of Rila; 4300 caves of which the most famous are electrically lit and open to the public such as Magurata, the Devil's Throat Cave and the Cave of Orlov; without forgetting the 378 km of coasts.
There is an extremely rich fauna especially remarkable for its migratory birds (70% of European birds) such as the famous stork, but equally present are wolves and bears. Concerning the flora, 13,500 species are listed. The numerous flowers guarantee the beauty of the spring and summer countryside. You will also have the opportunity to observe the edelweiss on the high Bulgarian summits.
These natural conditions offer a large choice of activities for green tourism. The hikers, mountain bikers or horse riders are facilitated by a network of 37,000 km of marked trails, maintained and laid out by local associations. The observation of species in their natural habitats, the realization of safari photos or simply spontaneous walks allow you to experience nature and to find inner peace. There are other, more dynamic aspects of ecotourism to consider as well such as canoeing, kayaking, climbing, mountaineering and caving.
Most of these activities take place in the solid Bulgarian mountains (28% of the territory) which are some the highest of the Balkans (the summit of Moussala at 2925 m and summit Vihren of Pirin at 2914 m.).
It’s in the country of the mountain people that nature lovers also discover several remaining authentic villages. The hospitality of its inhabitants and the tranquillity of nature give you the chance to recharge yourself and to find harmony with nature and yourself.
Discover the benefits of the true nature!
Explore different lifestyles and traditions!
The origins of wine trace back to between the 5th and 6th millennium A.D. Around the Caspian Sea and the Black Sea, the Thracians established themselves, made a sacred drink and started the cult of Dionysus. Numerous are the monuments and objects from that era that attest to the viticultural traditions of the Thracians (effigy to Dionysus, containers, chalices, money). The tradition was passed down through the centuries and rests strongly anchored in the Bulgarian customs despite the limitations imposed by the Ottoman rule, since Bulgaria today is among the principal producers and exporters of wine in the world.
The vineyards stretch out over 145,200 ha, covering half of the country and producing more than 2 million hectolitres par year. The diversity of climates and terrains permits the production of a wide range of original wines (more than 200 types of wine).
5 major wine producing regions can be distinguished in Bulgaria:
In the North
The Danube Valley with its continental climate and it strong sunshine produces intensely coloured, fruity red wines made from local grape varieties: Gamza and Dimiat and the French variations Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.
In the East
The region of the Black Sea, with its hot climate and late autumn, permits the production of the best strong, dry white wines coming from the Riesling, Chardonnay, Muscat Otonel, Uni Blanc and Aligote variations.
In the Centre
The sub-Balkan region, in the heart of the Valley of Roses is the principal producer of red wines created from the local grape variation Misket as well as Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon.
In the South-West
The valley of the river Struma and its mild climate allows for the production of red wines. The grape varieties that we find are Shiroka Melnishka, Pamid, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.
In the South
In the Valley of the Thracians we find a concentration of 35% of the Bulgarian vineyards and 60% of the red wine varieties of the country (Merlot, Mavrud, Cabernet, Muscat Otonel, Pamid and Pinot Noire). The area also produces sparkling wines.
Essentially rural, the country celebrates the day of the Wine grower (Trifon Zarezan) on February 14. Each family makes its own wine that you will taste in view of the generous hospitality of the inhabitants.
Take the wine route, discover the friendliness of the vaults and share a happy moment in good company.
Have a good trip and happy tasting!!!
Do good to your body and your mind!
Hunting and Fishing
In spite of its limited surface area Bulgaria is a country abound with game and fish, with a generous nature, the mountain spirit of the citizens and the almost complete absence of pollution. One finds for amateur hunters of feathered game: pheasant, grouse, partridge, etc. and of other game: rabbit, doe, wild boar, wild sheep, deer, but also the nearly extinct wolves from Western Europe and more than 900 bears living in total liberty.
Concerning fishermen, they can find multiple freshwater and saltwater species notably trout, carp, silures, river or grey mullets, sturgeon, turbots and several others.
However, the abundance of the fauna is due to a strong respect for the regulations of the hunting and fishing societies which asks that you respect them as well in order to safeguard this large fortune and that hikers can come across a large number of species during their voyage such as the case is today. Contact us for more information.
The coasts of the Black Sea offer perfect conditions for several water sports such as scuba diving (including underwater archaeology), waterskiing, and for ocean lovers, sailing.
The Bulgarian terrain and the infrastructures in place permit the practice of most winter sports notably alpine skiing as well as cross-country skiing. The ski period lasts around 5 to 6 months and includes more than 80 km of trails. The best equipped stations are Borovets, Pamporovo and Bansko which permit you to challenge the highest summits in Bulgaria approaching about 3000 metres.
During the summer season, these and other stations are transformed into wonderful places for active tourism, in other words you will have the occasion to participate in hiking, cycling and/or horseback riding, equally have a moving experience with the possibility to go hang-gliding, paragliding or parachuting. Other activities can be practiced such as kayaking, climbing, caving or orientation races.
In conclusion, all traditional sports are practicable in Bulgaria, but what would you say to a day on a golf driving range. Even if this is a new activity in Bulgaria, the complexes have been opened in Ihtiman and Sliven. Will you be the next Tiger Woods?