Bulgaria is witnessing a near return to normality after the pandemic, with visitor numbers expected to reach 75% of 2019 figures by the end of the year – a peak for the industry, according to the World Travel and Tourism Council. Most foreign tourists come from Romania, Poland, Germany, the Czech Republic and the United Kingdom. The council expects the sector to create 17,500 jobs this year, reaching a total of more than 287,000.
“If we compare [Bulgaria’s visitor numbers] to Greece’s 30 million, we have a third of its visitors – Greece, a world-famous destination, which has no equal with us. It really means that we are doing very well, given our size and capabilities,” says Rumen Draganov, director of the Institute for Tourism Analysis and Evaluation.
Bulgaria: where beer costs less than a euro
Draganov says that visitors to Sofia, the capital of Bulgaria, “are surprised by what they see. Unlike what happens in larger European cities where you can meet people of all nationalities, in Sofia the people on the street are mostly locals and most are very friendly,” he says.
It’s easier to meet and socialize with locals, unlike in larger, cosmopolitan cities.
“You can easily find company in a park in Sofia and spend a nice evening sitting in the park in front of the National Theater with a two-liter bottle of cold beer which will cost you less than €1 ($1). Bulgaria is a country where you can have fun and live well: let’s hope we don’t lose it.”
Tourists enjoy free walking tours of Sofia
Tour guides in Sofia are busy thanks to the influx of tourists.
Tomislav Rashkov, running free exciting tour with Free Sofia, says the city is “a combination of many different styles, eras and contrasts, which can be seen especially in the historical part.”
He says that Sofia’s Tolerance Square is “one of the few places in the world where we have the opportunity to observe a mosque, a synagogue, a Catholic cathedral and two Orthodox churches, which are of significant interest and distinctive character for our city”.
Vanessa Teng, a tourist from Taiwan, states that Sofia’s rich cultural and religious heritage is a major attraction for tourists. “Here there is the Balkans but also a very European touch, I feel there is a mix of both cultures and this is very interesting,” he says
Read on for more ideas on how to plan a trip to Bulgaria.
Where are the best places in Bulgaria for skiing?
Bulgaria is one of the best ski destinations in Europe.
Bansko is cheap for a ski holiday and has hot springs for when you need a soak at the end of a long day on the slopes. Read this article for all the details about Bansko’s amazing ski slopes.
What are the best beaches in Bulgaria?
The Bulgarian Black Sea coast has gained popularity in recent years.
Sunny Beach is renowned for its 24-hour party atmosphere and has been popular for stag and hen parties for some years.
But don’t write off this coast. It has much more to offer in terms of long, quiet beaches. Read more about The stunning beaches of Bulgaria here.
Where is the best place for an outdoor adventure in Bulgaria?
If there is anyone who is an expert on how to get the most out of Bulgaria, it is definitely Tourism Minister Zaritsa Dinkova.
In an interview with Euronews Travel last year, he shared his favorite place to visit: “I have had a favorite place since I was seven years old…near the town of Shumen, about 70 kilometers from Varna.”
To learn more about why he loves Shumen so much, read this article at The incredible rock formations of Bulgaria.