A country in the southeast section of Europe, Bulgaria is sandwiched between Greece and Turkey to the south, North Macedonia and Serbia in the west, and Romania to the north.
Bulgaria is one of the most underrated countries in the world, as many tourists may dismiss going here and go to its “more appealing” neighboring countries. What people don’t know about Bulgaria is that it is rich in culture and history. From its times of political turmoil to its era of artistic discovery, Bulgaria is already an interesting country just based on its historical events alone.
Backpacking in Bulgaria is relatively easy. You will need at least 80-90 levs (the currency in Bulgaria) a day to get food and other expenses out of the way. There are hostels (like the Hostel Mostel) that offer cheap rooms and beds for backpackers, and most of Bulgaria’s food and delicacies are relatively inexpensive. Also, you should use public transport rather than taxis as they are the cheaper alternative.
With that said, here are some beautiful locations in Bulgaria that you can go to while backpacking.
Mainly because it is where its main airport is located, the capital city of Sofia may be the first city you will visit in Bulgaria.
Plenty of museums and cathedrals are located in Sofia, but the most notable ones are the National Art Gallery and the St. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral.
The National Art Gallery, home to more than 50,000 pieces of Bulgarian art, is situated in the former royal palace since 1946 at Battenberg Square. The gallery was already planned for development from 1934 to 1941 by Victoria Angelova, the first female architect in Bulgaria. However, it was ruined two years after its first opening in 1942 due to bombing.
Conceived initially to house contemporary art, the National Art Gallery now also has medieval sculptures and paintings on display.
The St. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, however, is a placed filled with Bulgarian religious history. The cathedral affiliated with the Bulgarian Orthodox Church, the largest religion in Bulgaria with over six million devotees.
The building can house 5000 people because of its interior area size of 34,100 square feet (3,170), which qualifies it as one of the biggest Christian churches in the world.
Interestingly, the church was built in honor of the soldiers who died in the Russo-Turkish War from 1877 to 1878. The war liberated Bulgaria from the Ottoman Empire.
The second-largest city in Bulgaria, with Sofia being the first, Plovdiv is said to be the cultural capital of the country and one of the oldest cities in the world.
Plovdiv was known in ancient times as Philippopolis or “Philip’s Town” because Philip II of Macedon conquered it during the 4th century BCE. It has been invaded by many races, particularly the Persians, the Greeks, and the Turks.
During the previously mentioned Russo-Turkish War, the Eastern Orthodox coalition (made up of soldiers from Bulgaria, Montenegro, Romania, and Serbia) successfully reclaimed Plovdiv from the Ottoman Empire.
Nowadays, Plovdiv is famous for hosting the International Fair Plovdiv, wherein industrial and agricultural advancements in the country are celebrated. The International Fair Plovdiv is founded in August 1892 and is considered the oldest and the largest international trade fair in the country.
The third-largest city in Bulgaria located at the northeastern Bulgarian Black Sea Coast, Varna has been known as the major tourist spot during the summer.
Not only is it one of the centers of tourism, but it is also the center of transportation, entertainment, and education in the country. It is also known as the maritime capital of Bulgaria.
Like Sofia, it is home to a lot of museums like the Varna Archaeological Museum and the Naval Museum. However, one of the most interesting historical spots in Varna is the Roman Thermae or the Roman Baths.
The Roman Baths are located in the southeastern section of Varna, otherwise known as Odessus during the reign of the Roman Empire in the country. It is said that they were constructed during the late 2nd century AD, and coins depicting the face of the Roman Emperor Septimius Severus are discovered within the ruins.
A costal town also located to the northeast of Bulgaria, it is known for having hills or terraces that are naturally colored white. Balchik is often named “the white city” because of these terraces.
During Romania’s control of the town and its surrounding regions, the Balchik Palace was Queen Marie’s favorite vacation residence. The coastal town also has Queen Marie’s Oriental villa, a building where her heart was kept until 1940 when it was moved to Bran Castle in Romania. The town of Balchik was then given back to the people of Bulgaria because of the Treaty of Craiova.
In present times, the palace as well as its botanical garden is a popular tourist attraction.
Speaking of the Black Sea, there are several resorts around it that you can go to at a price. Sunny Beach is the most popular and one of the most expensive, with thousands of tourists visiting it during the summer season.
You can also go to the less expensive beaches like Pomorie Beach if you can’t afford to go to Sunny Beach. There’s not much going on in Pomorie compared to Sunny Beach, but this is the place to be when you want to relax and unwind under the sun.
Along with its beach, Pomorie also has Lake Pomorie. This place has mud baths which are claimed to have healing properties and health benefits. There is also a claim that childless couples can cover themselves with mud from Lake Pomorie to finally have a child.
Bulgaria still has many places that can offer magnificent sites and beautiful sceneries, but these are the best ones to go to if you are on a tight budget. Whether you have plenty of money to spend or if you want to traverse its cities without hurting your wallet, Bulgaria will be able to show enough for you either way.