For a small country, Bulgaria manages to pack in a lot. There are sweeping mountains, sandy beaches, and lush forests. There are also captivating churches and exquisite religious art in even the smallest villages and towns.
For visitors to this corner of the Balkans, the natural sites and historic attractions are a real draw. There are plenty of ways to explore the country, but one particularly enjoyable option is by foot. Whether you’re wandering through the capital, Sofia, or taking a walking tour of the natural landscape, this is a very special way to see all that Bulgaria has to offer.
If you’re planning a trip to this charming European country, read on. Here are some must-see sites to explore on foot.
Beli Iskar Eco Trail
For a relaxing walk, head to the village of Beli Iskar. Close by is the starting point of the eco trail, a 7km route that sits in the gorge of the river Beli Iskar. This is a quaint circular trail that features a series of wooden bridges and includes a small shelter at the mid-point, before walkers return downstream.
It takes around two to three hours to complete and follows a picturesque, tree-lined path, making this a pretty trail for walkers.
The Seven Rila Lakes
The Seven Rila Lakes is one of the most popular hiking destinations in Bulgaria – which is, perhaps, unsurprising, given the majesty of these glacial waters. Walkers come from all over to hike around Kidney Lake, Eye Lake, and their five counterparts. Each lake is named for its shape or local legend, and they all gently flow into each other.
Begin by taking a chairlift up to The Seven Lakes Chalet before setting off on the trail. It takes around three hours to complete and visitors can take in the scenic views when they reach Lake Peak.
Raiskoto Praskalo Waterfall
This is the highest waterfall in the Balkans and its name means ‘spray from heaven’ – a nod to how close to the clouds this waterfall appears to be when visitors are staring up from ground level.
This is a five-hour route and there are steep areas, so this is suited to more experienced hikers. It might be worth breaking up the walk, too, by staying in Ray Chalet – or Heaven Chalet – so that you can make the most of this majestic trail.
Sights to See
There are some must-sees while you’re in Bulgaria. These include:
Alexander Nevsky Cathedral
The beautiful Alexander Nevsky Cathedral – named after a warrior prince from the 13th century – is located in Sofia and is the largest Orthodox temple in the Balkans. As well as being a remarkable building, it’s a tribute to the 200,000 soldiers who died in the Russo-Turkish War between 1877 and 1878 while fighting for Bulgaria’s independence.
Visitors can take in the murals, ornate chandeliers, and impressive thrones. It’s also possible to attend services, which include Orthodox chanting. It’s a must for those who enjoy stunning architecture and religious sites.
Head to Veliko Tarnovo in northern Bulgaria and you’ll come across Tsarevets, a fortress that is the former seat of tsars. Here, the remains of houses, 18 churches, and the royal palace can be explored. Visit in the evening and you can experience a sound and light show.