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3 Must Visit Places for a First Timer in Bulgaria

Planning a visit Bulgaria is definitely a good idea if you want to broaden your horizons and get out of your comfort zone. Here is your 3 must visit places for planning your next trip.

Bulgaria is a dignified descendant of the Slavs and Great Bulgaria, was long invaded by the Ottomans, and finally fell under the communist regime. Its cultural richness testifies to this extraordinary past of diverse influences. Our time in Bulgaria can be summed up as the discovery of orthodox Christianity. I became completely obsessed with its beautiful Orthodox churches, each filled with a striking numbers of religious icons. But what I found most fascinating is how orthodoxy in Bulgaria has persisted and survived in the face of communism, which is a hostile regime against religions. I found Bulgarians to be a people proud of their Christian roots and very practical and pious in their religious beliefs, which contrasts greatly with what we are used to seeing in Western societies.

Must Visit Places for a First Timer in Bulgaria

Sofia

Among the things to see in Sofia, the famous cathedral of Saint Alexandar Nevski and the incredible St Nedelya Cathedral will stay with me forever. I have not visited many orthodox churches before, but these two really are incredibly impressive from the inside. Just when I thought that iconography was already pushed to the extreme in certain catholic churches, it is nothing compared to orthodox iconography, where the figurative representation of saints or biblical characters must respect very strict rules in accordance with the dogma. Without wanting to talk about idolatry, I admit that it confuses me a little. I do, however, admire the sincerity of the Orthodox in their practice of religion and in finding meaning in what they do. And their churches are beautiful, without being extravagant. So it’s a positive thing from my point of view.

Saint Alexandar Nevski Cathedral - Front

Saint Alexandar Nevski Cathedral – Front

Saint Alexandar Nevski Cathedral

Saint Alexandar Nevski Cathedral

Saint Nedelia Cathedral

Saint Nedelia Cathedral

Saint Nedelia Cathedral

Saint Nedelia Cathedral

Ivan Vazov Theater

Ivan Vazov Theater

Monument to the Soviet Army

Monument to the Soviet Army

National Assembly of Bulgaria

National Assembly of Bulgaria

Rila Monastery

Rila Monastery is the heart of the Bulgarian Church and culture. It’s also the most visited place in Bulgaria. To tell the short story, this church intimately links the history of Bulgaria with that of Christianity, as Ivan from Rila, who was the founder of the church in the 10th century, is honoured today as the patron saint of Bulgaria.

Rila Monastery - Interior Court

Rila Monastery – Interior Court

Rila Monastery - Interior Court

Rila Monastery – Interior Court

Rila Monastery - Church

Rila Monastery – Church

The cave of St. Ivan Rilski Church

The cave of St. Ivan Rilski Church

Boyana Church

UNESCO considers the buildings of the church of Boyana as “ one of the most complete and perfectly preserved monuments of east European medieval art.” The church is very small, and only 8 people can enter at the same time, for 10 minutes maximum.

Boyana Church

Boyana Church

Boyana Church Fresco

Boyana Church Fresco

For a better preparation

Itinerary

We spent a good day and a half getting to known Sofia, the Bulgarian capital. The second day was dedicated to visiting the medieval church of Boyana and Rila monastery, two UNESCO world heritage sites.

Lifestyle

The apartment that we rented was located in the heart of the city of Sofia, and we explored the city centre on foot. The main attractions being located within a small perimeter, it did not take us more than half a day to see everything.

We preferred to hire a private guide/chauffeur to take us from Boyana to Rila. That night we were taking the bus to Istanbul, so we didn’t want to tire ourselves out with the hassle of renting a car.

Our apartment in Sofia

Our apartment in Sofia

A Bulgarian Dish

A Bulgarian Dish

Expenses

The cost of our small 3 day trip to Bulgaria is not very representative of the extremely cheap cost of living in this country, as the flight tickets and the guided tours of Boyana and Rila considerably increased our expense total. Our expenses in Bulgaria for 3 days was:

  • 828,00 BGN (496.13 USD)
  • 276,00 BGN (165.38 USD) per day
  • 69,00 BGN (41.34 USD) per person per day.

In detail :

Expense Category Amount Spent
Plane 306,00 BGN / 183.35 USD
Accomodation 191,00 BGN / 114.45 USD
Transport (including gas, toll, parking) 15,00 BGN / 8.99 USD
Eating out 69,00 BGN / 41.34 USD
Groceries 66,00 BGN / 39.55 USD
Activities 181,00 BGN / 108.45 USD
Total828,00 BGN / 496.13 USD

In a nutshell

Dates2018-08-15 to 2018-08-17
Number of days 3
Inbound From Berlin, Germany by plane
Outbound To Istanbul, Turkey by bus
Mode of transport Taxi and private shuttle
Distance travelled (car & foot) 253 km
Number of photos taken 850 (283 per day)
Currency Bulgarian Lev (1,00 BGN = 0.60 USD)

 

Conclusion

Our world tour is starting to take a change of scenery. We are starting to leave our comfort zone. The next destination on our world tour is Turkey!

==> Download all our photos of Bulgaria for free!

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