Tucked between Greece, Turkey, North Macedonia, Serbia, and Romania, Bulgaria is one of the oldest countries in Europe, with an ancient culture and traditions. Roses, yogurts, and hot springs are some of the things Bulgaria is renowned for, but let’s explore what is Bulgaria famous for.
Sometimes overlooked by tourists, Bulgaria is home to a wonderful coastline with amazing beaches and beautiful mountains with ski resorts, waterfalls, and scenic views. If you are planning a trip to this lovely country, we suggest you also read the things you need to know before traveling to Bulgaria.
Ten things Bulgaria is famous for
#1 Black Sea beaches
The beaches in Bulgaria are absolutely stunning. The Black Sea offers warm, clear water with usually yellow, fine sand. From north to south, these inviting beaches are spread throughout the whole coast. Some of them are famous for their party scene, others are family-friendly, there are a few wild and isolated, and others tend to be very busy, but there are beaches for every kind of traveler.
Bulgaria is a very cheap country to travel to, so it tends to attract thrifty sun-lovers, but there are also some renowned beaches for their luxury resorts, attracting the rich and famous. Some of the best beaches in Bulgaria include:
- Sunny Beach – possibly the most famous beach and the ultimate party beach
- Sozopol – amazing for families
- Smokinya Beach – great for camping
- Kara Dere Beach – a wild and isolated beach
- Varna – a wonderful city beach
- Burgas – another great city beach
#2 Ski Resorts
If Summer attracts sun-lovers to Bulgaria, in Winter, it’s all about the mountain villages and ski resorts. The three main ski resorts in Bulgaria are:
- Borovets – the biggest international mountain resort in Bulgaria;
- Pamporovo – a modern ski resort in the heart of the Rhodopi mountain, the sunniest in Bulgaria;
- Bansko – the most recent discovery for international tourists.
However, there are a few other smaller and lesser-known that provide beautiful mountain sceneries and reasonable infrastructure.
Yet, the most significant advantage of skiing in Bulgaria is the price. Skiing is never a budget option, but in Bulgaria, you’ll find some of the most inexpensive ski passes, lodging, and packages in Europe.
Plus, they are great for beginners and intermediate skiers. Advanced skiers also have a few good slopes, but there are other/better options in France, Austria, and Switzerland.
#3 Plovdiv – one of the oldest cities in the World
Determining the world’s oldest city isn’t easy, and that’s not what this article is about. Yet, however you measure it, Plovdiv is always close to the top.
With evidence of habitation dating back to the 6th Millennium BCE, in the Neolithic period, Plovdiv is 8 000 years old. Evidence also suggests that it has been continuously inhabited since at least the 4th Millennium BCE. In Europe, only Athens rivals Plovdiv in terms of antiquity.
Numerous people have left their traces on the twelve-meter-thick cultural layers of the city. Plovdiv was a Thracian settlement later ruled by Persians, Greeks, Celts, Romans, Goths, Huns, Bulgars, Slavs, the Rus’, Crusaders, and Turks. This long list of rulers shows how long (and conturbed) the history of Plovdiv is…
Naturally, Plovdiv has transformed itself many times. It was the capital, it has suffered earthquakes and wars, but it always survived. Today, it’s extremely attractive to tourists, particularly the ruins and the Old Town.
#4 Home of the Thracians
The Thracians were a group of tribes who occupied the southeastern part of the Balkan Peninsula and spoke a dead Indo-European language. These mysterious people influenced both the Greek and Roman cultures, leaving a deep mark on the cultural development of European civilization. The area where the Thracians lived corresponds mostly to what today is Bulgaria (and small parts of Turkey and Greek).
Thracian soldiers were highly regarded mercenaries, particularly by the Macedonians/Greeks and Romans. The most famous Thracian is probably Spartacus, the gladiator who led a significant slave uprising in Southern Italy in 73–71 BC and defeated several Roman legions. There are movies and tv series about him.
Besides being mighty warriors, the Thracians were also highly regarded wine-makers, jewelry-makers, and exquisite ornamentation. There are very few traces and remains of this civilization, but it’s possible to visit a few Thracian tombs in Bulgaria – some even UNESCO heritage sites.
#5 Rose oil
If there’s one thing Bulgaria is a worldwide leader that’s producing roses and rose oil, and most of it comes from the Rose Valley in Central Bulgaria, about 100 km from Plovdiv.
The valley is only about 95km long and 10-12km wide on average, but Bulgaria produces more than half of the world’s rose oil. Kazalank is the center of this important industry, and it even has a rose production museum and a Rose institute.
The rose-picking season occurs in May and June, and during this period, the whole area has a pleasant sweet scent and is covered with multi-colored flowers. It’s also when several Rose and Rose oil festivals occur.
The perfume industry heavily uses Bulgarian rose oil and other derivative products. It’s usually considered superior quality and unrivaled in the world. Thus, most reputable perfumery brands prefer it. Part of the secret for this success comes from the perfect weather and soil conditions, but also from the technology that evolved during centuries of production.
#6 Hot springs
Bulgaria is one of the countries in Europe with more hot springs. In fact, it ranks second in this list, only after Iceland. With over 1600 mineral springs, ranging between 20º C and 103ºC, it has an incredible abundance and variety. This means it has all the natural conditions to develop spa tourism all year round.
The ancient Thracians we discussed earlier believed in the healing qualities of the hot springs and built their villages around them. Later, they were conquered by the Romans, and Bulgaria prospered as a healing center for their Emperors and armies. Today, this kind of tourism is thriving again, with people traveling to enjoy the Bulgarian hot springs with healing properties, rich in minerals structures, and micro-components.
Places like Sapareva Banya (the hottest spring water in Europe), Hisarya (Roman Spa ruins), Devin, Varshets, and Velingrad are becoming increasingly popular, attracting national and international tourists.
#7 Bulgarian Yogurt
What is Bulgaria known for food? Yogurt is the foodies’ answer.
Bulgarian yogurt is famous worldwide and one of the things Bulgarians are really proud of. It is said that Bulgarians have been producing yogurt for more than 4000 years. Curiously, in Bulgaria, it’s Kiselo Mlyako, which translates “sour milk” not yogurt.
So, what’s so different about Bulgarian yogurt? For yogurt to be considered Bulgarian, it has to have two specific bacteria, Lactobacillus bulgaricus, and Streptococcus thermophilus. These microflorae give the yogurt a mild sour taste and a more jelly-like consistency.
It’s also believed to be one of the most healthy dairy products in the world. Naturally, it is used as an ingredient in many Bulgarian dishes such as the famous tarator (a soup) and ayran (a drink).
#8 Cyrillic Script
One of the things everyone quickly notices in Bulgaria is that they use the Cyrillic Alphabet. However, more than simply using it, the Bulgarians created it in the 9th century CE, during the First Bulgarian Kingdom.
Created at the Preslav literary school by disciples of St. Ciryl and St. Metodious, the Cyrillic script became official in Bulgaria in 893. It later became the basis of the alphabet in various languages, particularly Slavic origin, and Russian influence.
Today, Cyrillic is used by roughly 250 million people and more than 50 languages. The most notable include Bulgaria, Russian, Mongol, Serbian, Ukrainian, and Belarusian. With Bulgarian’s admission to the EU, it also became the third official script of the organization (after Latin and Greek).
#9 Famous landmarks and UNESCO sites
One of the things Bulgaria is known for is its wonderful landmarks, both natural and manmade. The long and rich history of Bulgaria created a huge list of interesting landmarks.
Some of the most famous Bulgarian Landmarks include:
- The ancient city of Nessebar;
- Rila Monastery;
- Thracian Tomb of Kazanlak;
- Boyana Church;
- Madara River;
- All of Plovdiv’s old town, really;
- Buzludzha monument;
#10 Famous Bulgarians
Finally, the people of Bulgaria. One of the main reasons we hear about Bulgaria is because of its people and achievements. There are famous Bulgarians in many fields, from sports people to musicians, scientists, and even actors and politicians.
Some of the most famous Bulgarians include:
- Stamen Grigorov – the scientist who discovered the Bulgarian Bacteria that makes Bulgarian yogurt unique;
- John Atanasoff – inventor of the first electronic digital computer. Though he was only of Bulgarian ascend;
- Nina Dobrev – Actress, mostly famous for the vampire diaries;
- Hristo Stoichkov – male footballer, one of the best of his generation;
- Kristalina Georgieva – Managing director of IMF;
- Grigor Dimitrov – Tennis player;
- Veselin Topalov – Chess Grand Master and former world champion.
Enjoyed this post? Maybe you’ll also like to read:
- 50 things you need to know before traveling to Bulgaria
- Best day trips from Sofia
- Best things to do in Bulgaria
- What to eat in Bulgaria
- Best Beaches in Bulgaria
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