Travel Guides Crafted by Experienced Archaeologists & Historians

Bulgaria Travel Guide

At the heart of the ancient world, Bulgaria’s archaeological heritage is under-explored. Many of the sites are on a par with those in neighbouring Turkey and Greece, but the big difference for the visitor to Bulgaria is that there are none of the huge crowds. Bulgaria has some 40,000 archaeological and historical sites, seven of which are included on the UNESCO List of World Heritage Sites and a further eight are on the tentative list. These sites range in date from the earliest farmers some 8,000 years ago to extraordinary monuments constructed during the Communist period.

Reasons to Visit Bulgaria

Ancient Thracian Beehive Tomb (3rd Century A.D) In Pomorie, Bulgaria.

Thracian Tombs,

Kaliakra - long and narrow headland in the Southern Dobruja region of the northern Bulgarian Black Sea Coast,  60 km northeast of Varna with an ancient stone fortress.

Empires & their Forts,

Transfiguration Monastery Veliko Tarnovo
Mountains & Monastaries,
Bulgarian girl dressed in traditional dress picking roses and having fun during the Annual Rose Festival in Kazanlak, Bulgaria
… and the Kazanlak Rose Festival.

About Our Bulgaria Travel Guide

Interesting Things to Know About Bulgaria

Since Bulgaria was founded and named as such by Khan Asparuh in 681 AD, it is the only country in Europe that hasn’t changed its name.

In all, Bulgaria has 10 UNESCO World Heritage sites, seven cultural sites and three Natural. The cultural sites are: the ancient City of Nessebar on the Black Sea coast, Boyana Church in Sofia, the 8th century rock carving known as the Madara Rider, Rila Monastery, the rock-hewn Churches of Ivanovo, and the Thracian Tombs of Kazanlak and Sveshtari. Two of the natural sites, Pirin National Park and Srebarna Nature Reserve are in Bulgaria. The third, the ancient and primeval beech forests of the Carpathians and Other Regions of Europe, is made up of 94 sections spread throughout 18 countries from Ukraine to Spain.

Bulgaria produces around 85% of the world’s rose oil. For centuries the Damask Rose has been grown in what is called the Rose Valley, centred on the towns of Kazanlak and Karlovo. From mid May into the first week of June, the area hosts the annual Bulgarian Rose Festival. And has been doing so since 1903. The area broadly corresponds with the Valley of the Thracians, so called because of the concentration of Thracian tombs.

Bulgarians write and read using the Cyrillic alphabet. And they have been since the 9th century as the alphabet has its origins in the First Bulgarian Empire. The Cyrillic script was commissioned by the Bulgarian tsar Simeon I the Great, and replaced the Byzantine Glagolitic script. 
Over the last two thousand years, land in and around what is now Bulgaria has been part of the Roman Empire, the Byzantine Empire, the First Bulgarian Empire, the Second Bulgarian Empire and the Ottoman Empire.

Find Places to Visit in Bulgaria

Featured Attraction

Serdika Ii Metro Platform

Gateway to Sofia's Roman Past

Instead of billboards on the platform, passengers arriving at Sofia’s Serdika II Metro station get to see glass cases displaying prehistoric and ancient artefacts. Complete Neolithic pots and capitals of Classical columns are some of the objects used to tell stories of Sofia’s past. On exiting the station at street level commuters and visitors then get to walk through restored streets of Roman Sofia, or Serdica; from which the metro station takes its name.

Inspiration & Itineraries

Five Popular Attractions in Bulgaria

Neolithic House Museum Figurines
Neolithic House Museum
Roman Gate Diocletianopolis
Roman Hisarya
Religious frescoes on the treatises from the Bible, painted on the church wall in Rila Monastery, Bulgaria
Rila Monastery
Thracian Frescoes in the reconstructed tomb of Kazanlak, Bulgaria.
Kazanlak Thracian Tomb
Sofia Rotunda St George
St George Rotunda

A Brief History of Bulgaria for the Traveller

Buzludzha Monument

Bulgaria: Stone Age Sites to Communist Landmarks

When it comes to archaeological destinations around the World, it is probably safe to assume Bulgaria does not spring to mind for many people. This is surely a reflection of recent historical events in the south eastern Balkans than the archaeological and historical sites for tourists to visit. Archaeologists there argue that the gold artefacts from a Chalcolithic cemetery in the east are amongst the oldest gold artefacts in the World. Some of the country’s major cities have Neolithic remains – making these some of the oldest cities in Europe. What’s more, many of these sites are open to the public.

Explore Bulgaria more deeply

Where to Go in Bulgaria

North West

From dramatic mountainous landscapes to gentle Danubian Plains. From Stone Age paintings in caves to forts and castles along the Danube River.

South West

Scattered about the mountainous south west are medieval villages, monasteries and churches. The most well known being the 10th century Rila Monastery.

North Central

Medieval Veliko Tarnovo, the heart of the 2nd Bulgarian Empire, contrasts with Ruse, or ‘Little Vienna’, with its Neo-Baroque and Neo-Rococo architecture.

South Central

Although best known for Thracian archaeology, such major cities Plovdiv and Stara Zagora, both important Roman cities, have been settled since the Neolithic.

North East

Along the coastline of the Black Sea are a number of ancient seaside towns. One of these, Varna, has the remains of one of the largest Roman public baths.

South East

Sandy beaches and ancient seaside ports, first settled by the Greeks, but also important trading posts for the Romans, Byzantines, Bulgarians and the Ottomans.

Historic Cities in Bulgaria



Stara Zagora



What to See in Bulgaria

The entrance to the Thracian tomb of Helvetia.

Thracian Tombs & Treasure

Bulgaria has some quite spectacular archaeology, certainly rivalling that of neighbouring Greece and Turkey. But perhaps none more unique to Bulgaria than the extraordinary heritage of the Thracians. Although this group of ancient tribes inhabited a large part of the south eastern Balkan Peninsular including Greece, Romania and Turkey, it is in Bulgaria that we find the best of the Thracians today. Following in the footsteps of the Thracians takes you to to a number of beautifully decorated tombs, some of which are on the UNESCO World Heritage List, and to collections of exquisite gold and silver metalwork in the country’s finest museums.
One of the mosaic floors in the Bishop's Basilica in Plovdiv.

Roman Bulgaria

Lands in and around present-day Bulgaria were incorporated into three Roman provinces: Moesia, Dacia and Thracia. Macedonia had been conquered by Rome in 196 BCE, but was divided in 6 CE creating Moesia. In 188 BCE Romans entered Thrace, by 46 CE the Roman province of Thracia was created. Dacia was conquered in 107 CE by Trajan. Important and influential centres developed, and include what are today Sofia, Plovdiv and Stara Zagora. By the end of the 4th century CE the Goths were in northern Bulgaria, followed later by the Huns and Slavs.
The fortress of Tsarevets in Veliko Tarnovo on a bright summer's day.

Fortresses & Castles

Most of the so-called castles we see in Bulgaria today are more accurately fortresses. Strongholds built to protect communities in various conflicts in the country’s long history. In many instances, these fortified settlements have long histories, strategic or prominent locations that were successively occupied by Thracians, Romans, Bulgars and Ottomans. Some played crucial roles in battles between Bulgarians and the Turks, and are now sites of immense national pride and popular tourist attractions.

Popular Tours & Activities in Bulgaria