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Overview

Bulgaria's culture is beautifully unique, a fascinating mélange of Russian, Turkish, and even Greek and Macedonian influences, evidenced in everything from its colorful folk art, costumes and handicrafts, its deliciously rich, hearty and complex cuisine, to its array of architectural styles. These styles range from the decorative wooden structures of the Ottoman empire and Bulgarian "revival" period to the grand edifices and monuments of the Soviet era. While the lively capital of Sofia warrants a few days, and Bulgaria's Black Sea beach resorts inevitably beckon, the best thing to do is hire a car for a week (very cheap), grab a ...

Bulgaria's culture is beautifully unique, a fascinating mélange of Russian, Turkish, and even Greek and Macedonian influences, evidenced in everything from its colorful folk art, costumes and handicrafts, its deliciously rich, hearty and complex cuisine, to its array of architectural styles. These styles range from the decorative wooden structures of the Ottoman empire and Bulgarian "revival" period to the grand edifices and monuments of the Soviet era. While the lively capital of Sofia warrants a few days, and Bulgaria's Black Sea beach resorts inevitably beckon, the best thing to do is hire a car for a week (very cheap), grab a phrasebook to learn the Cyrillic alphabet (so you can read the road signs), and set off to explore the country. Must-sees include Plovdiv with its charming old quarter, the architectural beauty or Ruse — a "little-Vienna" — and Veliko Turnovo, Bulgaria's capital in the Middle Ages. As you drive through the bucolic countryside, especially beautiful in spring when the wildflowers are out, you'll pass old men atop wooden carts led by horses, see elderly head-scarfed women working the fields, and discover gold-domed Orthodox churches, decorated with exquisite icons, situated in the middle of nowhere.

Lara Dunston
About the Expert

Lara Dunston and Terry Carter have traveled to over 60 countries and written more than 40 guidebooks for Lonely Planet, DK, Rough Guides, Footprint, and others on destinations in the Middle East, Europe, and South America.

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Lara Dunston for Triporati

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Facts at a Glance

  • Location: Eastern Europe, Bulgaria is located in Southeastern Europe, bordering five other countries: Romania, Serbia, Greece, Turkey, and Republic of Macedonia.
  • Language: Bulgarian, English
  • Currency: Lev
  • Research: Wikitravel | Bulgaria