9 Best Cities to Visit in Bulgaria

Architectural-Ethnographic Complex - Etara

Bulgaria is popular with tourists for its beautiful beaches, attractive winter resorts and last but not least for being one of the most affordable countries in Europe.

However, this is a country of a very old and rich history, incredible culture and rich architectural heritage.

If you want to visit Bulgaria because of its architecture, you should definitely consider the following 9 places:

1. Veliko Tarnovo

The old capital Veliko Tarnovo
The old capital Veliko Tarnovo by Klearchos Kapoutsis

Veliko Tarnovo has a population of the urban area of around 88,670 people.

It is one of the most important historical cities in Bulgaria.

It is proud of its beautiful architecture, monuments, cathedrals, fortresses, monasteries and narrow cobbled streets.

It was the capital of Bulgaria during the period between 1187 and 1393.

The city is situated in a picturesque hilly area, and its neighborhoods of old colorful houses lie on both sides of the deep Yantra River.

Veliko Tarnovo is also famous as one of the education capitals on the Balkans.

2. Gabrovo

Architectural-Ethnographic Complex - Etara
Architectural-Ethnographic Complex – Etara by www.bdmundo.com

Gabrovo is a beautiful historical city.

It is located in the central part of Northern Bulgaria, not far from the Balkan Mountains, and has a population of 59,611 people.

Gabrovo is known for the Etar Architectural-Ethnographic Complex, which is a really must-visit place.

It offers numerous craftsman workshops, which offer you the chance to see and even to take a part in the production of various goods.

This is the best way to touch a small authentic part of the European craftsmanship and its old traditions.

In addition to the great experience, you will have the chance to spend the day in a place with an incredible natural beauty.

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3. Sozopol

Central beach in Sozopol
Central beach in Sozopol by www.bdmundo.com

Sozopol is an ancient Greek settlement, which is today on the territory of Bulgaria.

The town has a population of 5,753 people.

However, because of its attractive location on the Bulgarian Black Sea Coast, during the summer season its population usually increases dramatically.

Sozopol exists much before most of the European cities.

The large number of artefacts in the area prove that the city was a thriving port between the 1st and 2nd millennium BC.

It has a beautiful old architecture, which, in a combination with the fine golden beaches, makes the town a really romantic place to spend your holiday.

4. Plovdiv

Architecture of Plovdiv
Architecture of Plovdiv by ornello_pics

Plovdiv is the second largest city in Bulgaria, and its urban area has a population of 544,628 people.

Plovdiv is a really charming city, and traces of its incredibly rich ancient history could be seen at every turn.

Because if of its historical heritage, Plovdiv one of the European capitals of culture for 2019.

The first settlement in the area was established approximately 6000 BC, which makes the city one of the oldest in Europe today.

It is famous for its charming old town which offers a number of galleries to visit but also numerous cafes and restaurants.

5. Nessebar

Nessebar Old Town
Nessebar Old Town by Vicki Burton

Nessebar is a small historical town on the Southern Bulgarian Black Sea Coast.

It has a population of the urban area of around 28,957 people.

Because of its ancient history as a Greek colony, today the town is a popular tourist destination.

Since 1983, Nessebar is under the auspices of UNESCO.

Despite of its small territory, the town offers dozens of churches to visit, some of which date from the 5-6 century.

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Just a few minutes walk from Nessebar is one of the largest seaside resorts in Southeast Europe – Sunny Beach.

6. Dryanovo

Dryanovo Monastery
Dryanovo Monastery by Donald Judge

Dryanovo is a lovely mountain town with a population of around 7,968 people.

It offers beautiful architecture and incredible natural surroundings.

However, the town is famous mostly for its Dryanovo Monastery, which dates from the 12th century and was later restored during the 19th century.

Another attraction in the area is the majestic Bacho Kiro cave, which is only about 5 km of the center of the town.

Other must-visit attraction is the Saint Nikola church, which is one of the first projects of the popular Bulgarian architect Kolyu Ficheto.

7. Balchik

Balchik Botanical Garden
Balchik Botanical Garden by Ulbrecht Hopper

Balchik is a beautiful town with a population of around 22,035 people of the urban area.

It is located on the Northern Black Sea Coast and is a really beautiful place.

The most important sights in the town are the Balchik Botanical Garden, which is considered one of the most interesting on the Balkans, as well as the small but really extravagant Balchik Castle.

If you want to visit the town, you could stay in the nearby resort of Albena, which offers fabulous beach and is really exciting because of its architecture from the communist era.

8. Arbanasi

Patriarchal Monastery of the Holy Trinity
Patriarchal Monastery of the Holy Trinity by Klearchos Kapoutsis

If you want to visit Bulgaria because of its architecture, you should consider to spend some time in the most beautiful village on the Balkans – Arbanasi.

It has a population of only 349 people but is a real gem.

The village is located not far from Veliko Tarnovo in Northern Bulgaria.

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It brings the spirit of the other centuries and is really well maintained, which makes it even more beautiful. Arbanasi is a village-museum and an architectural reserve.

The place is especially beautiful during the summer months, when lush vegetation, trees and flowers complement the view of old-style historical houses.

9. Melnik

Melnik by Ebs Els

Melnik is the smallest town in Bulgaria.

It has a population of only 385 people and is located in the Southwest of Bulgaria, not far from Blagoevgrad.

Even if so small, Melnik is a popular tourist destination.

It is famous for its old traditional architecture, and many people want to visit it at least for a day to enjoy the old spirit of Bulgaria.

About 7 km from the town is the Rozhen Monastery of the Nativity of the Mother of God, which is one of the must-visit sights in the country.