Rila Mountain ski trails, Black Sea beach resorts and a spate of mineral spas. Tombs older than Christ, ancient monasteries carved from rock, and 7th century fishing villages. The birthplace of yogurt, supplier of 80% of the world’s rose oil, and the only European nation to keep the same name for 1300 years. That’s right, we’re talking about Bulgaria.
Bulgaria threw its babushka into the capitalist ring in the 1990’s, but has managed to retain the folkloric charm of earlier times in its villages and rural areas. Bulgaria’s capital city, Sofia, has amenities ranging from hopping nightlife to ancient churches. The mountainous Bulgarian countryside is a destination for eco-tourists and adventurers, with mountain biking in the Rhodope mountains, rock climbing in the Pirins, and week long hiking expeditions through Bulgaria’s 35,000 km of trails. Museums are plentiful amongst the stone buildings of Arbanassi and in the picturesque river city of Veliko Turnovo, also known as the City of the Czars. The annual Festival of Roses blossoms at the foot of the Balkan Mountains each June. Bulgaria hasn’t sacrificed its character to the bland god of mainstream tourism, and the ironic result is a plethora of experiences for tourists to enjoy.