Cheap flights to Bulgaria

A still relatively unexplored part of Europe, Bulgaria is an enchanting country whose natural beauty and traditions make it seem as though you have travelled back in time. The UNESCO protected beaches of Nessebar in the South East Balkan peninsula are 230 miles of uninterrupted Black Sea coast and some of the most beautiful beaches in Europe. With resorts popping up yearly, it is possible to stay by the sea in style. Don’t leave without visiting Nessebar’s spellbinding historic old town, full of cobbled alleys, wooden houses and medieval churches.

The capital Sofia is one of the oldest cities in the world. Filled with ancient treasures, the World Heritage listed old town is simply astonishing to see, particularly the ancient fortress at Staroto Gradishte and 10th century Boyana Church – one of the most complete and perfectly preserved monuments of East-European medieval art. Open air cafes, outdoor markets selling locally grown produce, rumbling old trams and street musicians add to the relaxed feel of Sofia.

On the outskirts of Sofia lies Pirin National Park with lakes, waterfalls and caves crying out to be explored, as does the Rila Monastery, the largest Eastern Orthodox monastery in Bulgaria, just south of Sofia.

Those with a passion for winter sports should head straight for Bansko where world class skiing is top of the to-do list and half the cost of major European resorts. In the summer it has equally as much to offer from walking and rafting to outdoor climbing, while the architecture of its old town is a wonderful example of the Bulgarian Revival period.

Varna is home to the former Bulgarian Royal Summer Palace; with its lush landscaped gardens it’s a wonderful place for a wander. It is here in this beautiful setting that the annual Operosa, or opera festival takes place. 11th century Bachkovo Monastery in Plovdiv is home to some of the most valuable Orthodox wall paintings in the world, while the bone vault should not to be missed.

If visiting in late summer don’t miss the sight of Bulgaria’s fields transforming into a carpet of Sunflowers, or the Valley of Rose whose scent of the Damascus Rose fills the air in June. Take in the sights of shepherds and goat herders returning to little local villages with their flocks.

Romantic Melnik’s pyramids or picturesque Rousse perched on the mighty Danube; wherever you end your journey through Bulgaria make your final stop a traditional Bulgarian tavern or Mehana for a taste of delicious regional cuisine and warm hospitality.

Fly In

Flights to Bulgaria land in one of three airports. The first is Sofia International, just six miles from the city centre and Bulgarians largest airport. It is ideal for visiting the capital city, the Black Sea resorts and the beautiful Balkan Mountains. Served by good public transport links visitors can be in Sofia in approximately 40 minutes by bus.

The second airport is Varna International. Ideally suited for accessing the Black Sea resorts, this slightly smaller airport is just five miles from Varna itself and conveniently reached by public bus line.

The final airport is Bourgas International. Located just six miles from Bourgas, the second largest city on the Black Sea, this is a popular airport with package holiday tour operators.

What you need to know

Currency: The Bulgarian Lev (BGN)

Visas: Visitors in possession of a Schengen visa do not require a further visa to enter Bulgaria for a stay of up to 90 days. While this is the same for British passport holders entering Bulgaria, a different type of British nationality may require a visa, so it is important to check with a local embassy or the Foreign Office website for more information. Visitors planning to stay longer than three months are required to register with the police and obtain a special permit.

Passports must be valid for the duration of stay.

Laws: Smoking has been banned in all public places in Bulgaria, while 18 is the minimum age for drinking alcohol. Offences relating to drunken, disorderly behaviour are treated much more seriously than in the UK.

Best times to Visit

Bulgaria’s snowy winters mean the mountains are filled with snow-sports enthusiasts from November to January. A beach holiday by the Black Sea is best from June to August which is the hottest, driest time of year; however autumn is warm enough to take a dip in the Black Sea but with fewer tourists. Autumn is harvest time in Bulgaria and it is well worth seeing the countryside in full bloom.

Bulgaria hosts some fantastic festivals. Supplying the highest per cent of the world's attar of roses, Bulgaria celebrates its most important flower in June with the beautiful Rose Festival. The National Folk Art Festival takes place in the summer, celebrating Bulgaria’s long history of folklore, music, stories and arts while March sees the arrival in Sofia of the International Film Festival.  

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