Surrounded by sprawling parkland, Sofia, the capital and largest city of the Republic of Bulgaria. With a history that stretches over seven millennia, ruin-rich Sofia is one of Europe's oldest cities. The National Historical Museum is one of Eastern Europe's most extensive. Wide, cobblestone boulevards, charming boutiques and truly electrifying nightlife star in this city of 1.3 million.
Sinking, soft and golden sands curve around this gently lapping bay. Its blue waters are ideal for cooling off after a spot of beach volleyball. There’s plenty for those not wanting to be beach bums, with banana boats, pedalos, jet- and water-skiing on offer. Away from the sea and sun loungers, pop into the waterfront bars and clubs the resort is known for.
Bulgaria does big beaches well, and Golden Sands’ four-kilometre-long belt is no exception. In fact, it’s got some of the purest sand in the country, along with light-blue waters. It pairs these natural charms with family-friendly touches, like minigolf, fairground rides and a shop-packed promenade. There’s a waterpark close at hand, too.
Bulgaria’s third city and maritime capital, Varna is the most interesting and cosmopolitan town on the Black Sea coast. A combination of port city, naval base and seaside resort, it’s an appealing place to while away a few days, packed with history yet thoroughly modern, with an enormous park to amble round and a lengthy beach to lounge on. In the city centre you’ll find Bulgaria’s largest Roman baths complex and its finest archaeological museum, as well as a lively cultural and restaurant scene.
With an easy grace, Plovdiv mingles invigorating nightlife among millennia-old ruins. Like Rome, Plovdiv straddles seven hills; but as Europe’s oldest continuously inhabited city, it’s far more ancient. It is best loved for its romantic old town, packed with colourful and creaky 19th-century mansions that are now house-museums, galleries and guesthouses.