Bulgaria, a Balkan nation with the varied rich heritage, stands to be the melting point of cultures in Europe and is nothing less than a hidden treasure. Bulgaria as a city is not usually in the radar of tourists, but this country is capable of vowing you off your feet with its natural and enriching beauty; especially during offset of winters.
Winters in Bulgaria are an absolute enchantment to experience. From skiing to ice climbing the frozen waterfalls to dance party on waters of cold biting rivers to just having a serene indoor night by the fireplace; the adventures that the heart of this country beholds can be way beyond your imaginations. Waking up to a snowy paradise is a dream of every traveller and Bulgaria stands to be the living example of your paradise.
To help you plan a trip, here’s why Bulgaria should be your ultimate winter destination this year:
Skiing and snowboarding
Bulgaria boasts some of the most divine picturesque mountains of Europe ranging from Alps and Caucasus. During the winters, most of them are covered in snow, forming a gorgeous white sheet all over the country. The capital city Sofia shelters the most stunning and luxurious ski resorts like Borovets, Bansko, and Vitosha. If you’re a big fan of snow-related sports activities, Bulgaria is a place for you. The ski season takes a leap in December start and remains to function till late March. So if you’re planning a trip to Bulgaria in the winter months, do not miss their extravagant ski and snowboarding activities. After all, no vacation is completed without getting a taste of adrenaline rush of the outdoors.
As the saying goes, “When in Rome, do as the Romans do”; if you’re visiting a country, filled with the delicious history of food, go all out and reminisce the local cuisine. After an eventful day on snowy slopes, enjoy the traditional Bulgarian spread in the local restaurants, situated in the quaint corners of the city, furnished with teak wood interiors and fireplace along with some ambient music. Refurnish your taste buds with fresh farm grew vegetables, dried fruits, pickles and minced meat in honey as you adore the sight. Relishing local food can resonate to the roots of any place and the best advisable way to savour the culture of any country is by unfolding the tales of the meals you eat.
Some wine and cheese, please!
Christmas in Bulgaria is as beautiful as any other European country; especially during winter, Christmas markets light the city up and has gained immense popularity in recent years. The age-old shop exhibits their products gearing up for the pre-Christmas celebration, the main attraction is the top-quality wine collection going back to the ancient Thracians era; who were the pioneer winemakers in the world. Relish the age-old wines with some homemade delicious cheese as you explore the Christmas market of Bulgaria, and make the night worth remembering.
If you haven’t done ice skating in Bulgaria, you haven’t really visited Bulgaria. Tourists experience one of the best ice-skating rinks worldwide in Bulgaria. For youth, this can be an activity that enlightens their adrenaline rush and is also considered as go-to romantic things couple often like to check off their lists. In Sofia, the artificial lake Ariana located at the entrance of the wonderful Boris’ garden is especially emptied to host the biggest ice-skating rink in the Balkans as a tradition.
Post-Christmas is a carnival season here. However, carnival in Bulgaria comes with a bit of a twist. There’s a peculiar ancient ritual tailed in deeper parts of Bulgaria to spook away the evil spirits; where men and women walk and dance around the streets, dressed in scary wild animal costumes, with a large bell around their waist; popularly referred as Kukeri.
Art museums and galleries
Winter in Bulgaria is holiday season and the whole country seems to just rejoice their roots and celebrate the serenity that their hometown has to offer. The country, fortunately, stands rich in heritage and has its share of antique museums and art galleries. There’s nothing like a quiet visit to an art gallery for an inquisitive tourist. There are some world-renowned galleries and museums which luckily remain open in Bulgaria like, the National art gallery and Sofia history museum.
What’s better than rejuvenating yourself by indulging in some spa sessions? Winters in Bulgaria can get severely cold. Imagine enjoying the view of snowy peaks as you sit inside a hot sauna tub with the smell of lavender added along with some soothing music. You can simply take a day off from all the outdoor activities and let your body settle down with a massage session done by professionals. Almost, every resort has an indoor spa, making it really convenient for the guests to come back to their resorts for relaxation after the full day of sightseeing.
Follow the footsteps
Europe is highly popular for free walking tours. If you want to explore the city and not follow the mainstream path; grab a map from the nearest city centres and start covering the unseen and unknown parts of Bulgaria. During winter in Bulgaria, the country turns into a white wonderland with glittering street lights; a walking tour in the city of Sofia involves many radiant encounters with local people, city architecture and even the local food. If you don’t want to get absolutely lost in the city, it is advisable to hire a city guide and go along with a larger group of people for the city tour.
Get connected to your spiritual insight
The famous Rila monastery is a world heritage, with a mountain backdrop. According to the many tourists, the air inside the monastery is so pure and distinctly clean that you can almost feel it physically. The interiors of the monastery are the literal piece of art, standing farfetched in the history; every single element and details inside, from galleries to the old kitchen to weapon collections are all composed of different eras and put together making it a unique structure. Apart from this monastery, another spiritual must visit a place is the Cathedral Saint Alexander Nevski. The church is situated in a very special location and the tourists are not allowed to click pictures inside. During winters in Bulgaria, the pre-Christmas preparation light up the whole place so beautifully that you can spend days together just admiring the beauty; if you get lucky you might even find the choir singing the prayers or preparing for the Christmas eve.
Bulgaria is not just unbelievably gorgeous but is also very reasonably priced. In fact, Bulgaria is one of the most affordable holiday destinations in Europe. The ski and winter resorts as compared to other countries offer accommodation at a very low price, offering luxurious services. The quality of services and adventures are never compromised, considering the price. The next time you are planning a euro trip, make sure you include Bulgaria and experience the country so rich in adventures and culture without spending a fortune.
Celebration at its peak
December is the best season to visit Bulgaria, not only will you find the pristine snow-covered mountains and snow activities; you will also have a chance to spend the best Christmas and New Year’s celebration of your life. It is celebrated with the most delightful yet unique traditions and customs, the whole country lights up with folklore music, festive spirit, ritual loaves of bread, holiday dinner, and sensational parties.
As they say, if you have experienced Christmas in Europe, you have achieved eternal happiness in your life. Bulgaria is almost always crowded during this season and thus it is always advisable to book the tickets, resort accommodation, and sightseeing tickets in advance to avoid the last-minute price hike, hassles, and inconvenience.
Wanderer of a million colourful thoughts. A hardcore believer of destiny and miracles. Grew up with a world map stuck on my bedroom wall and have been ticking off cities since then. Absolutely rebels against the idea of growing up and staying put. I’m all about deliberately getting lost in a strange city, surprising people with posted letters, extra kadak chai and watching undisturbed sunsets.
Willing to explore the world and more. Aspire me and become a part of my once upon a time.