We’ve compiled the best of the best in Bulgaria - browse our top choices for the top things to see or do during your stay.

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  • 1. Magura Winery


    Whether you're a keen oenophile or just enjoy a good class of wine, touring Magura Winery's cellars is a really fun way to pass an afternoon. The winery, in the village of Rabisha, 20 km (12.5 miles) from Belogradchik, opened in 1967. Growing conditions in the region are favorable and as such, the grapes here produce some of the country's best sparkling wine. Bottles are stored in 15-million-year-old Magura Cave. Three levels of guided tastings are available, starting from 25 leva per person on weekdays (18 leva per person for groups of 10 or more). All tastings include a selection of wine and a platter of cheese and cold appetizers.

    Village of Rabisha, Vidin district, Rabisha, 3938, Bulgaria
    02-2857–0015-Sofia office

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: 25–24 leva per person depending on the day and tasting level; 18–27 leva per person for groups of 10 or more, BGN 25
  • 2. Alexander Nevski Church

    Named after the Russian Tsar who saved his country from invading Swedish troops in 1240, and who is also revered as a saint in Bulgaria, this imposing Neo Byzantine building is one of the largest Orthodox churches in the world and dominates central Sofia. Built as a memorial to 200,000 Russian soldiers who died in the Russo-Turkish Liberation War (1877-78), the foundation stone was laid in 1882, but it was not completed until 1912. Covering an area of more than 30,000 square feet and said to be able to hold up to 10,000 people, some of Russia and Bulgaria's best artists worked on it. The external architecture is simply beautiful, and its multi-domed roof reaches 175 feet at its highest point. The interior, which has five aisles and three altars as well as plenty of imported Carrara marble, is gloomy and dimly lit, but this just adds to the mystical atmosphere.

    pl. Alexander Nevski, Sofia, n/a Bulgaria, Bulgaria
  • 3. Arbanassi Palace


    The former palace of Todor Zhivkov, the then-People's Republic of Bulgaria last communist head of state, is today a hotel. It's run down and we don't recommend staying here; come instead to soak up the history. The building, its exterior made up of white marble and stone, dates to just 1975, and though its interior is shabby, you can see traces of the regal building this once was; the original ceiling medallions and chandeliers are still intact and many of the ceilings are constructed of beautifully carved wood. The view of the surrounding forest and Veliko Tarnovo in the distance is stunning and best enjoyed on the terrace with a drink.

    Arbanassi Palace Veliko Tarnovo, Kapitanska Street 2, Arbanassi, Arbanasi, 5029, Bulgaria

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Free Wi-Fi
  • 4. Art Gallery Nikola Petrov


    Housed in a beautiful neoclassical building from 1892 (the former Military Club), this gallery is named for local painter Nikola Petrov. Most of the works on display are from Bulgarian artists but there are a few works from foreign graphic artists, painters, and sculptors. The gallery, which is just off Danube Park and a few blocks from the river, has a nicely tended courtyard in which you'll find a monument to Petrov and a few stone sculptures.

    Pl. Bdintsi 2, Vidin, Bulgaria
  • 5. Astronomical Observatory


    Just 100 meters from Belogradchik Fortress is the Astronomical Observatory which has three telescopes available for night sky viewing. Night visits need to be arranged in advance and are possible only when the sky is clear. Those who visit during the day time can tour the observatory, listen to a brief lecture on the work that goes on here, and have questions answered by an astronomer.

    Institute of Astronomy, 72 Tsarigradsko Chaussee Blvd. 1784, Belogradchik, 3900, Bulgaria

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Daytime: 2 leva; Nighttime: 3 leva
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  • 6. Baba Vida Fortress


    On the banks of the Danube is this well-preserved medieval fortress, which dates back to the 10th century and was a defensive stronghold though the Middle Ages. It was captured by the Ottomans and used as storage space for food and munitions and, after liberation in 1878, was used by the Bulgarian army. It opened as a museum in the mid 1950s and is today a popular spot for filming. From the tops of the towers and the walls, take in panoramic views of the Danube River and surrounding cityscape. This is a good place to pick up a few postcards.

    Ul. Baba Vida, near Ul. Kazarmina, Vidin, 3703, Bulgaria

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: 4 leva; tours available for 20 leva/adult, BGN 4
  • 7. Balchik Old Town

    Like Nessebar, Balchik can trace its history back more than 2,000 years to the Ancient Thracians. That history is not as immediately obvious, but it is still a charming old town, some 15 miles north of Varna, with plenty to keep visitors interested. It enjoys an attractive location, pinned to the Black Sea Coast by being at the foot of sandy cliffs that dominate it from above. Much of its appeal lies in wandering the streets lined with whitewashed houses. The picturesque setting has attracted generations of artists who come to paint the scene—Balchik seascapes are regularly seen in galleries across the country. The lack of beach here has kept mass tourism at bay, giving the town a sleepy feel that only adds to its charms. Between the two World Wars the town found itself part of the Kingdom of Romania, and during this time the Balchik Palace was built as a summer residence for Queen Marie and her family. The elegant whitewashed villa (open daily) and the adjacent Botanical Gardens are the town's most popular landmarks to this day.

    Balchik Square 21 September Sqaure, Balchik, n/a Bulgaria, 9600, Bulgaria

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: BGN 5, June – September: from Monday to Sunday 09.00 am - 5.00 pm on Sunday – upon request October – May from Monday to Friday 07.30 am - 4.30 pm
  • 8. Belogradchik Fortress


    Parts of this well-preserved stronghold on the north slope of the Balkan date all the way back to when this area was part of the Roman Empire. The fortress was expanded first in the mid 14th century, when it served more for surveillance than defense, and then in the late 14th century when it was captured by the Ottomans. Its walls stand 39 feet (12 m) and, at the foundation, are more than 6 feet thick (2 m). The fortress lies at the foot of the Belogradchik Rocks, which served as further protection. Kids can run around here to their hearts' content, playing Battle of the Empires, Ottoman vs. Bulgarian.

    Belogradchik, Bulgaria

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: 4 levas
  • 9. Belogradchik Rocks


    Running along the western slopes of the Balkans Mountains are these gorgeous rock formations, some of which stand more than 650 feet (200 m). The rocks, made of sandstone and conglomerate, are believed to have started forming a cool 230 million years ago. They're mostly reddish brown in color with some yellow tinges and look especially beautiful as the sun sets and illuminates their cliffs. The groups of rocks closest to central Belogradchik have interesting names based on local legends, like the Schoolgirl, the Madonna, and the Mushrooms. Whether you hike up to the plateau or walk leisurely around the lower levels, the views over the forest are phenomenal.

    Belogradchik, Bulgaria
  • 10. Boris Denev State Art Gallery


    This small gallery, inside Assenevtsi Park and next to the Assens' monument, is housed in a fine early 20th-century building. On display are paintings and etchings by 20th century Bulgarian artists, both of Veliko Tarnovo itself and of the region's historical events. The best pieces are paintings of the colorful houses that sit upon the city's hills, which is exactly the view you see from the museum's windows. Tours in French or English are available for 5 leva per adult.

    ul. Alexander Stamboliyski, Veliko Tarnovo, 5003, Bulgaria

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: 4 leva; free on Thursdays
  • 11. Boyana Church

    Boyana Orthodox Church is both a charming and fascinating medieval structure in the southern outskirts of Sofia, on the lower slopes of Mt. Vitosha—get here by bus 64 or 107, minibus 21, or take a taxi. The earliest part of the building, the east wing, was originally constructed in the late 10th or early 11th century. The central wing was added in the 13th century, and it was expanded again in the mid-19th century. But the church owes its global fame mainly to its frescoes, most of which were painted in 1259 by a local artist known simply as 'Vasily'. Recognizing the 89 scenes depicting 240 human images as one of the most complete and well-preserved examples of Eastern European mediaeval art, UNESCO awarded the building World Heritage status in 1979. The frescoes have been restored and cleaned several times in the last century and are worth making the effort to visit.

    ul. Boyansko Ezero 1-3, Sofia, n/a Bulgaria, 1616, Bulgaria

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: 10 leva, Apr.–Oct., daily 9:30–5:30; Nov.–Mar., daily 9:30–5;
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  • 12. Central Market


    The perfect place to take in the local color and try some of the traditional street snacks. Be on the lookout for dyuner (döner kebabs), flaky byurek (börek), a phyllo dough pastry filled with white cheese, and the similar banitsa, a scrumptious treat made by baking phyllo dough layered with whisked eggs and cheese. You can also find kebapche, which looks similar to a sausage but is made of minced pork and beef and rolled into its shape and then grilled.

    Corner of Ul. Alexander Stamboliiski and Ul. Pazarska, Vidin, 3700, Bulgaria
  • 13. Chiprovtsi Historical Museum


    An hour outside Belogradchik is the town of Chiprovtsi, where this five-room museum displays objects related to the history of Chiprovtsi. The museum was opened in 1988 in part as a commemoration of the 300th anniversary of the Chiprovtsi Uprising, which was a backlash against the Ottomans. Exhibits include one on archaeological findings in the region from the Neolithic period to the late Middle Ages and another on Chiprovtsi carpets, a traditional handicraft that's an essential part of Bulgarian heritage.

    2 ul. Vitosha, Chiprovtsi, 3461, Bulgaria

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: 2 leva
  • 14. Chiprovtsi Monastery

    Religious Building/Site/Shrine

    This monastery dedicated to Sveti Ivan Rilski (St. John of Rila) is in Chiprovtsi, a village an hour outside Belogradchik. The monastery, composed of the church, a small graveyard, and a belfry, was originally built in the 10th century but was razed six times between the 15th and 19th centuries, including right after the violent Chiprovtsi Uprising against the Ottomans. The church you see today dates to the mid 19th century.

    Chiprovtsi, 3461, Bulgaria
  • 15. Church of Nativity

    Religious Building/Site/Shrine

    The simple exterior looks more like a stone barn than a house of worship but Arbanasi's oldest church has exceptional artwork hidden within. Built during the 15th century, its exterior is so unexceptional so as to avoid rousing the ire of the then-ruling Ottoman Empire. In the mid 17th century, nearly every single inch of the church's walls and vaulted ceiling were painted with stunning frescoes—nearly 2,000 scenes from both the Old and New Testament are featured. Most have been lovingly restored, but a few were left untouched so that visitors can make a comparison. Keen craftspersons should also take note of the church's hand-carved iconostasis.

    ul. Rozhdestvo Hristovo 2 , 5029 Veliko Tarnovo, Arbanasi, 5029, Bulgaria
    062-885–105–282-For winter reservations

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: 6 leva. Combination tickets, valid for two days and inclusive of 10 museums, are 20 leva per adult or 30 leva for a family with up to three children., BGN 6, Closed Mon. Morning
  • 16. Church of the Archangels Michael and Gabriel

    Religious Building/Site/Shrine

    The 17th-century church is hidden inside a handsome, tree-shaded stone building with terracotta roof—it looks more like a wealthy merchant's house than one of worship. The reason is because when Bulgaria was under Turkish rule, it was decreed that churches could not be taller or more ornate than mosques. Its interior walls and domed ceilings are covered entirely in striking frescoes. The wood-carved iconostases were meticulously carved by artists trained at art school in Tryavna.

    ul. Spiro Konstantinov, Arbanasi, 5029, Bulgaria

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: 6 leva. Combination tickets, valid for two days and inclusive of 10 museums, are 20 leva per adult or 30 leva for a family with up to three children., BGN 6
  • 17. Convent of The Dormition of The Virgin

    Religious Building/Site/Shrine

    Believed to have been built in the Middle Ages, this working convent has been plundered several times over its long history, and sections of the church were rebuilt in the 18th and 19th centuries. After the Liberation of Bulgaria in 1878, a belfry went up over the eastern entrance. The convent's beautiful frescoes are the work of then-well known icon painters, two of whom, a father and son pair, were trained at the art school in Tryavna.

    Ul. Georgi Anagnosta, near route 514, Arbanasi, 5029, Bulgaria
  • 18. History Museum


    A preserved National Revival-period home dating to 1810 houses the city's history museum, which is adjacent to the Natural Sciences Museum. The museum opened in 1970 following light renovations and is now home to several thousand artifacts. These are mostly from the Ottoman and Revival periods and include wood and ceramic handicrafts, jewelry, and vibrant folk costumes and accessories.

    1 ul. Kapitan Krastyo, Belogradchik, 3900, Bulgaria

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: 3 leva, BGN 10
  • 19. Ivan Vazov National Theater and City Gardens

    The performances at Bulgaria's national theater—also its oldest, having opened in 1907—may be almost exclusively in Bulgarian, but it is worth coming here to check out the building's wonderful architecture alone. The Neoclassical structure was designed by famous Viennese theatre architects Hermann Helmer and Ferdinand Fellner, but it had to be almost completely rebuilt after it was extensively damaged by a fire in 1923. Still one of Sofia's most impressive buildings, it is also located in the leafy heart of the city, with a facade facing the City Gardens. Together these make a beautiful and peaceful place simply to stroll about.

    ul. Diakon Ignatius 5, Sofia, n/a Bulgaria, 1000, Bulgaria
  • 20. Konstantsalieva House

    Historic Home

    You can tell the wealth of the former owner of this 17-century home by its most exclusive feature: an indoor toilet. True, it's less 'porcelain throne' and more 'hole in the ground,' but it was a luxury when the house was built. Today a museum and tiny ethnographic gallery, this two-story house—with a stone lower half and timber on the upper floor—surrounded by a stone fence, is typical of Arbanasi. Walking through the house, particularly the kitchen with period cookware, it's possible to imagine what it life would have been like for a wealthy merchant family in 17th-century Arbanasi.

    Ul. George Kandilarov, near Ul. Kapitan Pavel Gramadov, Arbanasi, 5029, Bulgaria
    062-885–105–282-for winter reservations

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: 6 leva. Combination tickets, valid for two days and inclusive of 10 museums, are 20 leva per adult or 30 leva for a family with up to three children., Closed Mon. 9–noon, BGN 6, Closed Mon. morning

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