There’s more to Bulgaria for a holiday than the bargain ski resorts and the thrumming Black Coast beaches. Savvy travellers on the hunt for charm and culture without the large crowds, venture inland to be rewarded with authentic Bulgaria: wild mountain ranges peppered with remote mountain villages and charming UNESCO-listed monasteries.
Sofia, the capital city, is home to a unique blend of Byzantine and Turkish architectural roots, while areas of grey architecture linger reminiscent of the country’s Soviet Parks – all nowadays interspersed with large green parks, pretty gardens and glossy upmarket hotels. Perfect for either a short city break, or as the jumping-off point for a fly-drive, the streets are crammed with churches, fine museums and art galleries, and grand domed churches dot the cityscape – the most impressive of which, the Alexander Nevsky Church, has become a national symbol of Bulgaria.
Popular self-drive routes combine Sofia with journeys out into the country’s pretty national parks – some of which are still home to wild brown bears – or setting off to visit the ancient ruins of past civilisations, as Bulgaria is home to a selection of both Roman and Greek fortresses.