A guide to things to do in Bulgaria

Because of its unique position on the map, holidays to Bulgaria offer plenty of activities for the adventurous, as much as to those of you looking for some culture and cuisine. Good old fashioned market days and high-tech shopping malls entice bargain hunters, while tours of historical sights show off the splendour of this ancient country. Here’s a selection of things to do in Bulgaria.

History and mystery

Bulgaria has a host of things to see, tours to take and museums to visit for those of you fascinated by the story behind this intriguing nation. You can take in the architecture of Sofia, the stone and spires of Varna, and the undeniable charm of UNESCO World Heritage Centre Nessebar.

If you’re enjoying the hot weather and supreme fun of Sunny Beach, be sure to stop by another UNESCO-recognised site of Ravda, where Roman fortress ruins and Byzantine churches mingle with classic 19th-century architecture. The ancient sites are just part of Bulgaria’s cultural richness, and you’ll be hard pressed to get from one side of the day to the other without encountering one masterpiece or another.

Wine tasting

If you’d rather the artistry tingle on your palate, make sure you take a wine tour. Bulgarian wines may not be as famous as other European counterparts, but you’ll discover it’s probably because the locals are guarding their succulent secrets closely.

The wine cellar tour of the little town of Melnik is a well-spent day trip, while close to Varna is the glorious mansion and grounds of the Palace of Euxingrad, which houses a wine cellar that produces many of the finest tipples to be found on restaurant tables throughout the land. The Palace of Euxingrad is a grand day out in its own right too, with annual opera performances out in the open every summer.

There’s plenty of Bulgarian delicacies to try too so don’t forget to save a little room!

Get out and about

Whether you’re taking a sailing trip out of Nessebar into the sunlit reaches of the Black Sea, or biking the trails that weave through Bulgaria’s stunning woodlands, you and the family are going to find your time outdoors to be pretty invigorating.

If it’s more adventure you’re after on a package holiday to Bulgaria, from Nessebar you can also pile into a galleon for a pirate-themed cruise. Parasailing, waterskiing and taking 4x4s out through the back country always prove delightful.

For sports fans, there are golf courses to consider in the Varna area, as well as horseback riding experiences. Plus there’s the opportunity to explore some of the most mysterious cave complexes in Europe, particularly around the northern Black Sea area.

Shopping for souvenirs

One way to immerse yourself in the Bulgarian way of life is hitting up the market days of the town you’re visiting, where bargain hunting is an art form as homegrown craftsmanship is made available to you. The most traditional of the markets, as well as one of the most well known, is Kobleshkovo near Sunny Beach, which sees fine leather jackets and locally produced wines lining stalls besides tasty delicacies and handwoven baskets.

When you’re ready for upmarket boutiques and emporiums packed with gadgets, it’s off to the glitz and dazzle of the malls for you. Newly built shopping complexes like the Galleria Mall in Bourgas showcase the latest fashions and most enticing shopping experiences, but don’t miss out on the local stores either.

Even beyond those crowded clusters of commerce, the narrow streets of old towns like those in Nessebar and St Vlas will provide little shops and cafes to satisfy your curiosity as much as your hunt for the perfect souvenir. St Vlas’ marina also has a selection of upmarket boutiques if you want to treat yourself to something to wear in the bars that night.