Sep 27


Sofia is the capital of Bulgaria. Distinguished by its special combination of classic European and Communist style architecture Sofia is home to many ornate Orthodox churches and Soviet looking stone civic buildings. The city boasts vast manicured parks and with such closes proximity to mighty Mt. Vitosh for skiing or a hike, it is easy to enjoy a break from the busy city streets. Some of the best things to see and experience in Sophia are The Nevski Church, the most beautiful park in Sophia, Park Borisova Gradina and Manastirska Manernitsa restaurant to sample delicious Bulgarian cuisine.

Sofia is one of Europe’s most ancient capitals. Originally established by the Thracians, it was later an important city of the Roman Empire; Emperor Constantine famously referred to it as “My Rome”.

A large part of Sofia’s ancient heritage is still preserved. The most prominent example is the red-bricked Hagia Sophia (Sveta Sofia) Church from the 6th century which gave its name to the city itself. Make sure you visit the church’s underground crypt to see Roman frescoes and artifacts.

Saint George’s Rotunda is even older than the Hagia Sophia Church and bears the title of the oldest extant building in Sofia. Dating to the 4th century, its unusual cylindrical structure is now curiously nested in the courtyard of the Sheraton Hotel, Ministry of Education and Presidency edifices.

Many locals still don’t know that Sofia has a partially preserved Roman amphitheater. It’s not easy to find though – its ruins are now mainly inside the Arena di Serdica hotel. Ask at the reception and they will be glad to let you in to see the amphitheater for free. Being on the underground level of a hotel and knowing that gladiators fought on this very spot is a surreal feeling.

Some twelve kilometers southeast of the city center, the former village of Pancharevo is a favorite weekend retreat for the citizens of Sofia. Pancharevo owes its attraction to its scenic location between the Vitosha and Lozen mountains and particularly to the artificial Lake Pancharevo, a preferred place for sunbathing, swimming, fishing and watersports. Because Sofia is relatively far from the sea, locals jokingly call Lake Pancharevo the “Sea of Sofia”.

Take buses 1 or 3 from Tsarigradsko Shose metro station and you’ll be enjoying the beaches of Lake Pancharevo in no time. There’s a trail with a panoramic view of the lake for you to hike. And if you feel like seeing some medieval ruins, you can visit the fortress of Urvich at the neighboring village of Kokalyane.

 Now go back to the cosmopolitan city center and feel the vibe of Vitosha Boulevard, which is Sofia’s main shopping street. A pedestrianized thoroughfare, its main part runs from the Saint Nedelya Church to the grand National Palace of Culture. Vitosha Boulevard is lined with comfortable cafés to sit in and engage in some people watching. If you’re hungry, you can have lunch or dinner at an Irish pub, an Italian restaurant or a Chinese fast food place.

Not far from Vitosha Boulevard, along Graf Ignatiev Street, is Slaveykov Square, well known for its open-air book market. Browse the dozens of stalls selling all kinds of literature in a multitude of languages, from romantic novels to political and scientific volumes.

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Sep 16


Bulgarian town of Bansko is located near the Glazane River at the foot of the Pirin Mountains on the eastern side where you can admire the most beautiful, and highest peaks, only 160 km from Sofia and 6 kilometers from Razlog and is considered the highest quality resort ski in Bulgaria. The town of Bansko is located at 925 meters above sea level; the slopes are situated at an altitude of 2000-2600 meters. The Pirin Mountains are very similar to the Alps and Vihren is the highest peak of 2914 m. The name Bansko derives from the word “ban” which means “master” in Bulgarian. Bansko has become a favorite resort in terms of skiing and snowboarding, mainly due to the exceptional conditions of the slopes, and the particular historical architecture perfectly combined with modernity.

Despite the fact that the resort itself is not older than a decade, it has a lot to offer its visitors. The 44 Technoalpine snow cannons covering most slopes make the ski season last longer. The variety of ski slopes offers opportunities for both beginners and advanced. Also, snowboard lovers can enjoy the first Balkan fun park, where they meet all sorts of crazed fans of extreme sports. For them, but also for the skiers, there are daily racing organized on the new slope at Shiligarnika.

Regarding facilities, the Bansko locals took special care of the comfort and safety of skiers and snowboard lovers. Thus, in Bansko there is a gondola with 8 seats, 3-seater chairlifts, 7 ski lifts and 10 facilities for children. The total length of installations around the resort is 26 km. At Bansko you can find slopes for slalom, giant slalom and ski trails of a length of 5 kilometers.

The perfect mixture between a modern resort and a city with a living history, makes Bansko an elegant and exciting place to spend a pleasant skiing season. Each house has its own history that can transform a simple vacation into a trip to the traditional world of Bulgaria. Bansko taverns, called “Mehana” provide a welcoming atmosphere where you can enjoy Bulgarian traditional food and exceptional wines. Most taverns have live music performed by orchestras during the quiet and romantic evenings and for those who are trully energetic, there are plenty of clubs and discos that close once with the sunrise.

Of course there are many things to see in Bansko, such as the 120 cultural and historic monuments, around which there are numerous souvenir shops. Besides the wonders of Pirin Mountains, the city possesses other tourist attractions such as the ancient ruins from Staroto Gradishte and Pirin National Park, which is protected by UNESCO. In the park there are waterfalls, lakes, caves and a specific flora and fauna. Bansko together with Dobrinishte is known for its mineral waters.

Bansko is one of the largest resorts in Bulgaria, offers countless opportunities for accommodation, from luxury hotels, apartments and hotels for all tastes near the slopes.

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Sep 15


Long ago, long before the first known Wallachian prince to appear on the history scene, on the land south of the Danube, the Vlachs, along with Bulgarians, were setting the basis of Tarnovgrad, that was going to remain in history as the third Rome and the second Constantinople. A citadel of kings and scholars, a city where history was literally written page by page, a mythical place whose walls have broken thee egos of proud Byzantine emperors.

The chroniclers of the long passed eras called it “the most inaccessible and most beautiful city in the whole Hemus” and if we made you curious or if you want to see if we are wrong somehow, let your steps take you there. Certainly, you will have all the ingredient for an unforgettable  vacation.

It is true that in recent years Bulgaria has progressed in terms of the number of tourists and the tourism industry revenues, but simply walking on Bulgarian lands to convince you that this phenomenon is not just a fluke.

About Veliko Tarnovo you cannot speak otherwise but mostly in the best of the terms and descriptions, and that’s because Bulgarians were able to sell their past in the most efficient way possible – in a positive way, obviously. It is enough to visit the former medieval Bulgarian capital and we guarantee you that you will want to get back there soon.

Grandeur and humility are contradictory terms that paradoxically define this fascinating city on the banks of the Yantra River. It seems indeed an antagonism, but perhaps this is precisely the charm of this medieval city, whose heart spreads the perfume of the old times. The grandeur of a glorious past is felt in every stone of the great Tarnovgrad, that somewhat has the aura of an old giant that your read about in legends, or, if you prefer, Tsarevets – the City of Kings – all this is harmoniously blending with the modesty and simplicity of the houses that seem to rise from the steep cliffs of one of the biggest – if not the biggest – canyons of Europe .

Since the moment you enter Veliko Tarnovo, you have the feeling you stepped back in time. Narrow, winding streets, unchanged for centuries, cafes with a specific Bulgarian, Macedonian, Greek and Albanian flavor – some of them carved directly into the rock massive – houses that have been abandoned or suspended on the slope of the canyon and the fascinating artisans working in their homes with windows wide open so you can see their entire activity, all rather remind you of a forgotten past that you might think that it is possible to be brought back in full XXI century. But it exists and it keeps moving on undisturbed, and in Veliko Tarnovo almost everything there leaves you this impression.

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Sep 09


May and June are great for city breaks and road-trips throughout the fascinating rural areas of Europe: the weather is just perfect, everything is green, the fields are full of flowers fruits and ripe in a dazzling abundance: cherries, peaches, apricots and all the blessings of nature. Bulgaria has more than that, for years, it is a world leader in the production of essential oil of rose and recently it has surpassed France at the production of lavender oil. So you do not need to fly halfway across Europe to see fields of purple lavender, where you do that in Bulgaria, especially that it is not yet a mass touristic area, therefore all the beautiful places are not annoyingly crowded and very importantly, the prices are lower when it comes to accommodation and food.

But before lavender blossoms, it is time for the roses to bloom; this particular type of roses are used for marmalade and fragrance of essential oil with a strong smell.

Geographically speaking, the Rose Valley is stretching from Klisura Kazanlak, between the rivers Stryama (in the west) and Tundzha (towards the east), at an altitude of 700 meters.

From mid-May to early June, the Rose Valley is adorned in clebebrations robes and receives tourists from all over the world to see the miracle. The fields are in bloom and delightful scents flood the surroundings; the show that it provided by the billions of roses in bloom is unique and charming.

At the festival you will enjoy traditional and modern singing, dancing, street parades, and a popularity / beauty contest, where the Rose Queen is chosen among the most beautiful girls; however, beyond all these festivities, the main attraction is very ritual of picking the roses. Rosa Damascena – Damask rose in free translation – it’s the variety that is grown here at the foot of the Balkans and is considered, rightly, the greatest treasure of the region. Aligned rows of roses unfold in front of your eyes just like the beautiful vineyards in Tuscany.

Each piece of this blessed land is cultivated with pink roses and when it is time for harvest, hundreds of day laborers are brought from all over the country to fill hundreds of bags with delicate petals every day.

Obligatory stop: the Damascena Private Distillery in Skobelevo

Damascena is an ethnographic complex, which includes the distillery where you can see how they make the essential oil during the rose harvest season, a rosarium with hundreds of varieties of roses – which come in all shades of pink and all intensities of fragrance, a park, an ethnographic museum, a gift shop (with cosmetics based on rose and lavender) and a restaurant with a lovely garden where the tables are placed under a canopy of climbing roses.

This beautiful place seems to be taken out of the pages of ancient fairy tales, or that you have reached a parallel dymension that resembles Heaven. You will certainly love this place and will definitely want to return.

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Jun 07


Varna is the third largest city in Bulgaria after Sofia and Burgas and it counts about 350,000 inhabitants. Bulgarians live alongside about 10,000 ethnic Turks, about 3000 Gypsies and some 3000 other ethnicities.

The city’s history begins in the 7th century BC. The Greeks were those who created this settlement which they named Odessos. Like many regions of those times, it became part of the Roman Empire sometime in the 1st century b.C. In the 7th century the city was conquered by Slavic leader Asparuch Khan.

The city’s name becomes Varna; following the rename there came a rapid development of the city which became an important maritime hub. In the late 14th century the city falls under the rule of the Ottoman Empire and only in the 19th century, it will be issued by the Russian fleet. During World War II, despite partisan resistance, the Germans have taken over the city at the end of the war. However, it was the Soviets whose influence was decisive, just like in the entire Eastern Block.

Geographically speaking, Varna is situated on the west coast of the Black Sea, and from the educational point of view, Varna is a university center. Here operates a military academy, a technical university, an agricultural, a commercial and a medical science center.

Since Varna is a big city, there are enough landmarks that are worth being seen.

The Assumption Cathedral was built between 1880 and 1886, and is the second largest in the country after the cathedral in Sofia.

The ruins of the Roman baths built in the second century b.C. are among the largest Roman baths on the territory of the empire.

The National Naval Museum is a half indoors, half outdoors museum where we can document ourselves on the history of the Bulgarian maritime fleet. The outside exhibits are impressive; visitors can admire from helicopters to rocket ships and all kinds of military vehicles.

You can also see the “Stoyan Bachvarov” Theatre, an outstanding Baroque edifice built between 1912 and 1932, admire the fish and other creatures particularly from the Black Sea fauna in the only aquarium built in Bulgaria or go on a dolphin show at the Dolphinarium .

Other objects worth seeing: Church of Panagia, St. Athanasius Church, Bulgarian Renaissance Museum, other museums dedicated to natural history, ethnography, medicine, history, archeology, marina. For those interested in shopping there is the Grand Mall of Varna, and for beach lovers there are numerous great beaches in Varna, including the famous Golden Sands in the north of the city.

There are over 220 accommodation spots, including hotels and pensions, with convenient prices.

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May 05


Nessebar is one of the most popular touristic destinations in Bulgaria and on the shore of the Black Sea.

Nessebar was included on the List of World Cultural Heritage Sites of UNESCO in 1983 and its fascinating millennial history never ceases to amaze the guests and is considered the “crown jewel” of Bulgaria; in 1956 it was declared a museum city and archaeological and architectural reserve. From its early days, the settlement has been surrounded by fortification walls, as it had always been a target for conquerors due to its beauty and strategic settling; some remains of these walls have survived to this day.

The same with thermal baths, which remained ever since the Roman and Byzantine period; they were built in between the 6th and the 8th century and at that time, they represented an attraction spot to the citizens of those times.

The ancient town is located on a romantic rocky peninsula connected to the mainland by a narrow isthmus. The peninsula is 850 meters long and 300 meters wide.

Nessebar was founded 3200 years ago and is one of the oldest settlements in Europe. There are many pieces of archeological evidence, which prove the complex history and existence of this place and many of them can be seen at the Archaeological Museum, located at the very beginning of the peninsula. During Antiquity the town was called Mesembria, in the Middle Ages it was known as Mesemvria, and it was later renamed to Nessebar.

The several museums that you will find there will provide information about the town’s development under the control of the Thracians, the Roman Empire, the Byzantine Empire, and last, the Bulgarian State.

Another one is the Archaeological Museum, the Ethnographic Museum of Nessebar, also located on the peninsula.

Its exhibition is displayed at Moskoyani House which was built during the Bulgarian Revival Period. The construction is very representative of the Nessebar typical architecture. Its owner used to be a prosperous merchant, back in 1804 and later turned into a cultural edifice. Here you can admire objects and items used and worn in the everyday life by the locals of Nessebar.

The most important assets of Nessebar are the numerous churches lasting from the early Byzantine period and the Middle Ages and among the most impressive buildings in Nessebar are the two basilicas: Sophia and the Basilica on the north coast of Eleusa, built between in the 5th and 6th century. The latter has been destroyed and rebuilt several times and is also known by the name “Mary Eleusa” because of an old icon representing the Mother of God.

Also, the churches of “St. John the Baptist”, characterized by its high cylindrical dome, and “Sveti Stefan” (Saint Stephen) represent remarkable pieces of architecture thanks to its frescoes from the XVI century of high artistic value.

Today the old part of town is an attractive place for romantic walks along the narrow cobbled streets where you can buy handmade souvenirs; amid wonderful antique atmosphere gives an opportunity for relaxation. The accommodation base is focused on family hotels and private rooms which are comfortable and multifunctional.

But do not imagine that this place is totally separated from modernity, as there are plenty of things to do by yourself, or with your friends or family, such as visit the Aqua Paradise, or the Mini-Aquapark Pirates of Caribbean for the little ones, visit the Film Museum or get to know the local cuisine in one, or more of the numerous bars and pubs that you encounter on your way.

Also, Bulgaria is well-known for its good wines and Nessebar has a lot to offer in this respect, as well. You can enjoy the lovely tastes of this legendary liqueur at the famous Hristis Winery; and if you got too excited after these visits, you can always go on a boat trip and admire the view from the opposite angle.



Apr 21


Balcic is a small town some 40 kilometers from Varna and it used to be a part of the Romanian Kingdom, together with the rest of the southern part of Doborgea, when the political region named Cadrilater was a Romanian territory (1913-1940). In those times, the Romanian royalty and artistic and cultural elite considered Balcic their favorite place for leisure time.

It has been inhabited for a very long time, since Antiquity, when it was known by the name Crunos / Crunon / Crunoi, or Dionysopolis, named after the Greek god of wine and banquets.


The places hardly preserves the romantic touch of the between wars period, due to the newly built communist blocks, but the Castle belonging to Queen Mary of Romania is the centerpiece of the area, which the visitor will love and admire. It’s a classical and simple building, rather modest, compared to what one might imagine when thinking of a royal residence, but it has a scenic look that transmits tranquility and peace. The surrounding garden wears the print of Queen Mary who was passionate of nature and built this park after her own desire and here you can admire a great diversity of plants and flowers.

As the matter of fact, the entire edifice was built at the order of Queen Mary and it represented the summer residence and her favorite place to spend her time in.

The botanic garden, gathering a few hundred species of cactuses and Mediterranean vegetation is unique in Central and Eastern Europe. Queen Mary appealed to the experience of the Swiss garden decorator, Jules Jany, to give it the pattern of the Cretan labyrinth and the rock was built from Crete.

The inside of the castle keeps the same air of austerity, by the small number of rooms. The entrance continues with a 50+ squared meters, the first floor holds a Turkish bath, a living / bedroom, a dressing room and a terrace where you can admire the sea. The white walls contrast the blue of the sea, reminding of Greece.

The Queen suggested the two Italian architects – Augustino and Amerigo – to blend different styles: Moorish, Italian and Turkish – hence the minarets that make it resemble a mosque.

Inside the castle, there’s a restaurant, where the Queen used to serve her meals and now you can take part of this royal adventure and have a taste yourself.

Within the area of the castle there are several villas, a well-known holy spring, a cascade, a chapel and the tomb of Queen Mary. One of the most stunning parts of the areal is Allah’s garden, paved with Moroccan stone.

The entire domain is very vast and you might need a map – which will be sold to you at the entrance, together with the access ticket – to go around.

The first thing that you encounter is the Sentry Box, a triumphal arch, followed by the Silver Well, where you can throw a coin and the legend says that if you make a wish, it will come true. Allah’s garden connects the Silver Well to the Blue Arrow Villa, where you can admire the amazing cactuses and numerous antique objects, stone benches, dating from Queen Mary’s times and beautiful cypress trees.

You will be mesmerized by the Temple of Water, the Stella Maris Chapel, the Blue Wave Lane, the English Court and the Waterfall, among many other surprises.

It is one of the most picturesque places on the Eastern shore of the Black Sea that will definitely offer you beautiful memories and will take you back to the nostalgic ages reigned by an icon of elegance and dignity.



Apr 07


Today we are heading towards the former capital city of Bulgaria, Veliko Tarnovo – formerly known as Tarnovgrad. Situated in the Northern part of Bulgaria, it is one of the best-known touristic attractions in Eastern Europe. It is a city of contrasts with a glorious millenary history that is blending with contemporary influences, making it a mixture of old and new that is very much appreciated by tourists from all over the world – fact that can be easily noticed when you walk along the streets packed with ancient landmarks and modern hotels and restaurants that will lure you with delicious traditional or international dishes. The good quality of the treat also comes at an available price, so there’s another good reason to chose Veliko Tarnovo for your next holiday destination.

The place has an impressive past that is going down in history as long as five milleniums B.C., according to archaeological evidence.


In the year 1185 it was declared the capital of the Second Bulgarian Empire, on the background of several independence battles lead against the Byzantine Empire. Until the 14th century, the community had encountered a great era of glory and prosperity that is still obvious to this day.

Thanks to the well-preserved ancient architecture and cultural heritage, Veliko Tarnovo has been chosen the European Capital of Culture in 2009 and the city has wonderful potential for the future, by virtue of its natural resources and carefully conserved traditions which will surely keep it in a frontrank position from now on, as well.

Before you book your tickets, you must know that, due to its special placement – alligned vertically on the slope of three hills – there are considerable diferences of temperature between summer and winter – both at the extremes -, thus, spring or fall will offer you the best occasion to visit Veliko Tarnovo. But overall, just like in all parts of the world along this latitude, the weather is great at any time of the year and it is up to the individual to chose her/his visit, according to personal preferences, as any season has its particular charm.

The three hills that shelter the buildings alligned on the surface of the slopes are called Tseravets, Trapezitsa and Sveta Gora and they are crossed through by the Yantra River. Also, the district is divided into several areas, known as New Town, Sveta Gora, Old Town, Tseravets and Asenova Mahala.

The misteries of the hills are far from being fully discovered, as they constantly reveal new facts and testimonies of forgotten times, when ancient sedentary cultures began to establish their first settlements on the teritory of Old Europe.

The spectacular architecture displayed on layers represents old, narrow streets paved in stone blocks, medieval monastaries and murals. Among the numerous museums that you will encounter on your travel, I would mention only a few, such as: the Museum of Archeology, Hadji Nikoli Inn Museum, the Museum of “The Bulgarian Revival and the Constituent Assembly”, The “Sarafkina House” Museum and many, many more, preserving exhibits that acknowledge the great history of the place, and even artifacts from old Egypt and Sumer, so if you are a history enthusiast, this is the place to go. Actually, the entire area is a city-sized museum that offers the visitor a sample of each epoch that has left its fingerprint on the face of the bastion.


Asenov Mahala

Hence, from the misterious prehistoric civilizations to the better–known Roman times, the dawns of Christianity, the Ottoman menace and the contemporary economic and cultural revival, Veliko Tarnovo is definitely a must-see spot that completely deserves its name – The Great Throne (the homonimous translation of its slavic etymology) and will never cease to surprise and fascinate you with every step that you take.


Apr 13

The Castle of Queen Mary – Balchik (Castelul Reginei Maria)

The Castle of Queen Mary, which is located in Bulgaria, in Balchik town, has been constructed back in 1937 by the ruler of Romania, Queen Mary – as it is obvious from the name given to the castle.

The construction actually took 11 years to complete but it has worth the wait as the result is mesmerizing. And this doesn’t refer solely to the caste itself, but to its surroundings as well, which are an intrinsic part of the castle.


According to the historical facts, Queen Mary was taken aback by the breathtaking beauty of this region as it was a natural landscape, untouched by human hands. At that time, the region, which was called the Quadrate, was under Romanian ruling.

Story has it that the queen could no longer bear the unfaithfulness of her husband King Ferdinand of Romania (with whom she married in order to form a political allegiance), so she turned to the bay for refuge. Here she gave order to the architects Amerigo and Augustino, of Italian descend, to construct the castle under discussion. The surroundings were transformed into beautiful gardens by the Swiss florist Jul Joni.


The estate contains, besides the main castle, several villas where the guests of the Queen could rest undisturbed, a botanical garden with waterfalls and streams, Roman baths, and a chapel.

The entrance to this complex is done through a Sentinel Post which in ancient time had a lampion shaped as a candle above its gate in order to light the path for those returning late to the castle. This construction was strategically placed as all the 4 roads were visible from here: the paths leading to the Triumph Vila, to the Divine Garden, to the sea and to the castle.

Upon entering the estate, you are embraced by the luxurious vegetation and a state of peacefulness takes hold of your being. Access to different parts of the domain is done through stairs carved in rock. The place is vast so tourists have to pay attention to the direction they are taking so as not so miss certain interesting objectives. In fact, there are maps placed every now and then which allow tourists to make out their current location and to verify where they have to go next.

What is striking to most visitors is the fact that the estate combines different types of architectural designs but the explanation for this is quite simple: Queen Mary wanted to create here a replica of the Holy Lands. So, different cultural elements are harmoniously combined to create one-of-a-kind edifices.

On a closer analysis, you can observe Oriental, Thracian, Roman or Christian symbols, all coming together as a statement for the equality between people and nations. This is the principle which guided the Queen’s life and the construction represents a way to praise this equality.

In the middle of the garden rests a pond shaped as a crucifix, created after the Byzantine style. This symbol had different connotations in ancient times: it either referred to the Sun God, to the god of rain, or to the 4 elements which were used when the world was created.

One thing that always impresses the visitors is the 9 m long waterfall which makes them stand their ground for a long time, making it impossible to take their eyes away from it. It seems impossible that such lavish vegetation is found so close to the seaside. You can literally turn your head to the other direction and gaze upon the blue water of the Black Sea.

Right above the waterfall, there is a flower garden with diverse blossoms which creates a vibrant and colorful scenery.

The park contains more than 3,000 rare species of plants and flowers. You should know that the botanical garden is unique in all of Europe due to the vast collection of cactus plants it has.

The Castle of Queen Mary can be described as an oasis. It offers a wonderful insight into the architectural designs of different cultures. The gardens offer a state of tranquility through the beautiful imagery it conveys to the visitor.