Bulgaria is one of the more recent countries in Eastern Europe that has gained a mass of attention from tourist. The main reasons for this is that it is one of the most affordable within the European Union. The second reason for this is the numerous low-cost flights that make the country easily accessible from the whole of Western Europe. Apart from the ancient history and unique culture, Bulgaria has another obvious appeal, and that is its pristine nature and wild mountains. For the adventurers, there is an excellent range of outdoor holiday activities in Bulgaria, suitable for both solo travelers and families.
Thank you Geri for your contribution. Geri started her expat journey in Ethiopia many years ago. Since then she had lived in different countries. She now shares female travel tips on her blog When Woman Travels.
Hiking in Bulgaria
One of the best ways to get a good impression of a country’s environment is to climb its highest mountains and hike its deepest forests. In Bulgaria, you have plenty of both! If you like to get off the usual touristy routes, these ideas for off the beaten path, hiking in Bulgaria might suit you perfectly. The Seven Rila Lakes are the most stunning, but also the most popular hiking destinations. This often leaves the path leading there a little crowded, so you might prefer to hike to the equally beautiful Urdini Lakes instead.
An awesome way to see the Bulgaria’s countryside is from the seat of a bike. There are many areas that are suitable for a mountain bike tours and one of the best is starting from Bansko, the beautiful mountain town that is the ski capital of Bulgaria. You have various options for active holidays in Bansko in the different seasons. One of them is the two-day mountain bike tour in Western Rhodopes that will open up a whole new universe to you – picturesque views of the Bulgarian mountains, a peaceful world where homemade cheese and jams are a center of the natural existence.
Bulgaria has several places you can ski. Bansko has the most developed facilities and is the most popular ski destination in the whole region of the Balkans, not only in Bulgaria. This does however make it the most expensive.
Other alternatives are Pamporovo, the favorite of many Bulgarians because of its pristine nature; and Borovets that is the ski resort closest to the capital city Sofia. If you come to Bulgaria just for a few days and don’t have time to travel within the country, Sofia is located at the foot of Vitosha which is the ideal location for a shorter visit.
If you prefer a less extreme hike while visiting Bulgaria, you can always go walking on one of the many Eco trails. Small towns and even some villages have trails that are organized and maintained by the municipalities. Just ask the local tourist offices or locals and they will show you the way. In the summer months, be aware that you may meet a few snakes on the way (although not as dangerous as the Australian kinds).
This year, on the Bulgaria’s Black Sea coast, we are happy to see more ocean friends that we had thought we’d lost. Dolphins haven’t been seen here for several years, but this summer, there are plenty of them. If you want to get acquainted, go for a sea kayaking tour with an experienced instructor. I recommend going to the north. There are many reasons to visit Kavarna, but the most significant one is exploring the rugged coast with its hidden caves and observing the colonies of cormorants from your kayak. This is a truly unique Bulgarian experience.
Offroad in Bulgaria
You might believe that sitting in a car all day long is not the best way to discover a country. You’d be wrong as it all depends on the car and the region. Bulgaria is a country where you can still go off road, deep in nature, and see sights that you wouldn’t see otherwise. This is because most of the wild lands are not private like in the western parts of Europe and because there were many forest roads constructed during the Communist period.
You can camp almost anywhere and collect wild berries and mushrooms for dinner. In the Rila Mountains, there are still brown bears, and in the border regions, you can find yourself face to face with illegal immigrants so do your research and ask the locals for advice.
A respect for the National Parks and wild species is necessary of course. Here is how an off-road adventure with a Land Rover in Bulgaria can look like.
Bungee Jumping and More
For adrenaline-pumping activities, what more can you ask for than bungee jumping. And if this is not enough for your adventurous soul, Extreme Bulgaria offers many other ways to face your fears.Sofia & Vitosha Mountain on Foot
In case you come to Bulgaria in the summer, spring and autumn seasons, Vitosha Mountain offers great opportunities for hiking. Bulgaria’s capital is a quiet European city that is perfectly suited to be exploring on foot.
One of the Bulgaria’s natural treasures is water. Many rivers cross the landscape with their (alas, fading) volumes. That’s why there are many places where you can go rafting. One of the closest to Sofia is on the Iskar River. The other well-known option is on the Struma River near Blagoevgrad.
The Dancing Bears Park
If you travel with children, your kids will love a visit to the Dancing Bears Park near Belitsa (not far from Bansko). Don’t worry, this is not a sad place where the bears are expected to “dance”. It is a retirement facility for rescued bears, a project that is supported by two organizations – the Four Paws Organization and the Foundation of Brigitte Bardot. As a result of their work, the terrible practice of using bears as a business and entertainment in Bulgaria had seen its end.
On the lawns around the park, there are ideal spots for picnicking. You can spend time eating and playing games in the middle of Bulgaria’s deepest forests, fragrant with wood resin and wild berries.
Eastern Europe has become a preferred destination with people visiting from all over the world. Because it is still less-known, it is often hidden in a prejudice stemming from a lack of information. When visiting Bulgaria, many people find it to be charming, with its simple but very social lifestyle. For travelers, there are many activities regardless if you travel alone or with a family. It is also ideal for groups of young adults who want to have fun exploring the wildlife by day, and get lost in the nightlife when the sun goes down.