Photo Credit:  Vyara Iskrova

Being a country lucky enough to have both mountains and water means that Bulgaria can offer a wide range of things to do from skiing in winter to swimming in summer, with golf and wine tours available all year round. The beaches on the Black Sea coast were what first attracted visitors to Bulgaria, but the mountains and valleys inland are what keeps them coming back. One unique activity that visitors should try is soaking in one Bulgaria’s thermal hot springs, noted for their curative properties since ancient times. Velingrad has the most healing waters, but there are a number of other pools across the country.

One of the best ways to enjoy Bulgaria’s stunning countryside is by hiking. Places like the Rila Mountains have self-guided paths available, but organizations like BG Hikes can provide gear for rent and instruction. Alternatively, Mountain Hiking Holidays offer multi-day treks through the beautiful Pirin Mountains.

Bulgaria is well known as an affordable ski destination with a range of slopes to suit all abilities. Bansko is particularly popular, with a long season that can last until May. Borovets has several pistes including Markoudjika, which often still has snow in late April. Organizations such as Bansko Ski School or the Borovets based Snowmasters Ski and Snowboard School offers lessons and rental.

The proliferation of hot springs in Bulgaria means that taking a thermal soak is practically a national sport. The town of Velingrad has about 80 hot springs and is one of the best known spa destinations. High end resorts such as the Aquatonik Hotel also offer spa treatments. Bansko is another area where five-star resorts such as Kempinski Hotel Grand Arena can provide pools and day packages.

Bulgaria is known for the Black Sea Coast beaches, especially those at Nesebur, St Constantine & Helena, Sunny Beach, and Sozopol. Some visitors opt to stay shoreside, while others book coach tours through organizations like Balkan Holidays in order to sample several beaches along the coast.

Blessed with underwater wonders, Bulgaria has good scuba diving, as well. Divers can head to PADI certified resort such as Angel Divers for a course or trip to the reefs to spot seahorses, jellyfish, crabs, and fish. Alternatively, professional groups like Black Sea Dive specialize in wreck trips to the many sunken galleys, warships, submarines and merchant vessels off the Black Sea.

Golf is one of Bulgaria’s best kept secrets, with a number of good courses and top-notch resorts. The dramatic cliffs and seaside scenery of Cape Kaliaktra are home to both the Cape Lighthouse Golf and Spa Resort, a picturesque 18-hole Ian Woosnam designed course by the sea, and the dramatic Gary Player designed course at the Thracian Cliffs Golf and Beach Resort.

Bulgaria is well known for wine, producing about two percent of the world’s exports each year, with Mavrud, Melnik and Gamza being amongst the more famous. Wine tours are a very popular activity and can range from one day tasting tours organized by Zet Travel to week-long immersions. Allegro Holidays offers eight-day wine explorations that take in several regions including the Thracian Lowlands, Struma Valley and Plovdiv.

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