For Europe-bound travelers looking for a new adventure this summer, Bulgaria is an undiscovered delight. The country, which is bordered by Romania to the north and Greece and Turkey to the south, has a long and storied history. The country’s origins date back to antiquity, and the Thracian rule that began roughly 2,700 years ago was followed by the Romans, Byzantium, the Ottoman Turks and the Communists. Now its own parliamentary republic, the country — which joined the European Union in 2007 — features a mix of attractions both modern and historic.
In total, Bulgaria’s most popular hotspot is Slanchev Bryag, better known as Sunny Beach. The seaside resort is the country’s most expensive location, and features 3.4 miles of beautiful and sandy beaches (with water temperatures that average 78.8 degree Fahrenheit in the summer), as well as several major water parks and discos. And while sunning and clubbing are the activities of choice for younger visitors, other popular options include everything from parasailing to exploring of the region’s numerous (and atmospheric) monasteries.
Other country highlights include Nesebâr, s a UNESCO heritage site known for its medieval churches and nicknamed the “Pearl of the Black Sea“; Lozenets, a seaside resort; Plovdiv, an ancient city popular with traveling royals and university students; and the capital city of Sofia, home to the Royal Palace and National Art Gallery and the Ethnographical Museum, and the gold-domed Alexander Nevski church.
For everyone interested in exploring Bulgaria, as well as its neighboring countries of Turkey and Russia, Celebrity Cruises offers up a variety of Black Sea cruising options that begin and end in Istanbul but make stops in both Varna and Burgas, Bulgaria. (The two cities are the country’s third and fourth largest, respectively, after Sofia and Plovdiv.) If travelers book now, they may even been in place to celebrate Unification Day, Independence Day and Revival Leaders’ Day later this year.