Why You Should Visit Bulgaria

By now, I have written and rewritten this piece a few times. And it will almost inevitably remain a work in progress. To find good answers to the question why you should travel to Bulgaria is akin to finding good answers to the very question “Why do we travel”? Why do we leave home for new and unknown places and what do we hope to find along the way? Perhaps instead of telling you why you should visit, I should ask you what brought you to this page? You landed on my web site for a reason. Something made you interested. What was it? 

But in order to remain truthful to the title of this page, I will offer my perspective on what makes Bulgaria a wonderful place to explore. 

It’s fun: Spending time in Bulgaria, getting to know the country and people can be tremendous fun. Bulgaria is a very safe country. My fellow countrymen are famous for hospitality and we love to proudly show our country off to visitors. There is a tendency to be boastful or even bombastic. You will be told that the first PC was invented by a Bulgarian (perhaps partially true). You will hear that Plovdiv, Bulgaria, is the oldest European city (simply untrue, although being the third oldest is more than respectable!). You will be informed that for 30 years, the world high jump record for women is held by a Bulgarian (definitely true). 

Bulgarians love a good time. The food is fresh and delicious with plenty of variety for all tastes. The mild climate and long growing season provide perfect conditions and you will savor fruits and vegetables, whose taste will linger in your memory for a long time. One of Bulgaria's still pretty well kept secrets is its wines, including some unique local varieties. Meals are a long and vivacious affair. The eating and drinking happen in a slow, indulgent manner and serve as a backdrop for hearty socializing - conversations, jokes, story telling. If you are into it, clubbing and dancing after dinner can carry you into the wee hours.  

It’s an adventure: From the signs in Cyrillic to the Bulgarian way where nodding your head actually means “no” - it’s no ordinary, easy to navigate geography. After years of living in the US, I find my countrymen to be notoriously confusing when giving directions. No one uses “north” and “south” and metrics such as “walk down this way for five minutes and then turn right” are not rare. You will encounter a handful of road signs you’ve never seen before. You will walk into tourist information offices where no one speaks English. But for the true explorer, all this makes a destination so much more desirable since we love venturing off the traditional paths and sometimes even getting lost. 

It will enrich you with knowledge and beauty: And this is the most important point. If you love one or more of the following - history, culture, archeology, nature, arts - you will not be disappointed. The country was established in 681 but the territory has been inhabited for millenniums. And it has the Roman theaters, Thracian sites, and Ottoman relics to prove it. For such a small country, it has a wonderfully diverse terrain with impressive mountains, gorgeous valleys, rivers and lakes, and, of course, let’s not forget the Black Sea coast. Bulgaria currently has nine UNESCO World Heritage Sites and another fourteen on the tentative list: List of World Heritage Sites in Bulgaria

It will change your perspective: Invariably, when my foreign friends learn of the triumphs and falls of the past and present - from the golden age of the 10th century, through Bulgaria's struggles to keep its cultural identity during 500 years of Ottoman rule, to the controversies of the communist regime and the four-digit inflation of the 1990s - they often gain a new appreciation of the contrasts of the world and an enriched viewpoint.

Need more convincing? Keep reading for more Bulgaria Travel Tips. And consider watching Rick Steve's newly released Bulgaria episode

The ancient Roman theatre in Plovdiv frequently serves as a stage for operas, concerts, ballets, and dance performances

The ancient Roman theatre in Plovdiv frequently serves as a stage for operas, concerts, ballets, and dance performances

Melnik - the tiniest Bulgarian town, famous for its Bulgarian National Revival houses and sand pyramids

Melnik - the tiniest Bulgarian town, famous for its Bulgarian National Revival houses and sand pyramids

Eagles Bridge in Sofia - a beloved city landmark

Eagles Bridge in Sofia - a beloved city landmark