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If you want your next trip to be special, go to Bulgaria to explore wild beaches, visit great parties and discover archeological treasures. Here it from locals, and visit some of these secret places unknown among tourists. You might well be the first.

Many people think a holiday in Bulgaria means going to a popular resort and spending time at a crowded beach, but the country has much more to offer. It is one of few destinations in Europe where you can find perfectly unspoiled wild nature, visit ancient remains which were just recently discovered, attend exciting music festivals and do all of this on a budget.

See unique wild nature

In Bulgaria there are numerous pristine landscapes and deserted wild beaches. One of the most beautiful and beloved by locals is Irakli, where perfect white sand goes for two and a half kilometres along a thick forest with rare varieties of tree and lots of fascinating birds. The unique spot is situated far away from popular resorts, has absolutely no infrastructure and is protected by government.

Another wild place is Karadere, 5 km of a sandy beach near an oak forest. Right now, camping here is free, but a resort will be constructed soon, so you should probably hurry to see this place as it is.

Maybe the most popular hub for camping among young locals is Kamen Bryag which can be translated as Stony Shore, as like in Game of Thrones. It’s a high shore with headlong rocks and magnificent views. They say that July Morning, a famous Bulgarian ritual named after Uriah Heep’s song, was invented here in 1980s. It is celebrated all over the country: young people come to the seashore in the evening, spend the night talking and drinking and meet the sun in the morning of July 1. Kamen Bryag is the best and the most authentic place to celebrate it.

The tiny village Sinemorets translated as Blue Sea is in the south of the country. Landscape here is unique as the sand beach is situated between the sea and the Veleka river. It is a perfect spot for fishing, camping and taking great pictures for Instagram. (Like any good young European.)

Explore local nightlife

An ultimate destination for those who want to see Bulgarian nightlife should be the minuscule village Losenets, where the best Sofia bars and night clubs Patron, Hacienda, By The Way establish themselves over the summer. It can be crowded during the season, so reserve seats in the best places in advance. (Two or three weeks is usually enough to be sure.)

Another popular hub for partygoers from all over Europe is Gradina, where you can meet people of all ages and nations. The main events happen in Bash Bar and Kite Bar at the beach, so at nights hip crowd is constantly migrating between them along the sea.

Other options are Kranevo, Kiten and Arapia, all tiny unpretentious villages with intense nightlife during the season. Students and young people come here to have a holiday on budget and go out to various bars.

One of the most famous and that’s why crowded international resorts in the country is Sunny Beach with a lot of German and British tourists. The place to be there is the Cacao beach bar run by the owners of the most famous night club in Sofia Yalta. Check the timetable before you make it out here, and take the chance to visit house and techno parties hosted by world-famous DJs.

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Photo: Evgeni Dinev (wikimedia commons); License: CC BY 2.0

Do sports

In summer sports fans from all over the country come to Kamchia where there are many playgrounds for football and volleyball at the huge sand beach. A new big sports centre up to international standards opened here in 2012 with a gym, swimming pool and professional instructors who have trained Olympic sportspeople in the past.

Bulgaria also has several nice beaches good for kitesurfing in Krapets, Carevo, Sozopol, Kranevo, Primorsko. There are usually big waves and young kitesurfers from all over Europe at these exciting locations.

The country is perfect for hiking in the mountains. One of the most famous ranges is Rila in southwest with forests and glacial lakes. Not far from there is Prirn which looks almost like the Alps with its high picturesque peaks. Then the Stara Planina or Balkan mountain range is the longest and the most diverse with several nature parks and reserves, the highest waterfall at the Balkan peninsula — the Heavenly Spray — and the strange shaped sandstone Belogradchik Rocks.

Visit music festivals

One of the most interesting international events in Bulgaria is Bansko Jazz festival. Don’t miss your chance to see Axel Zwingenberger, a boogie-woogie pianist from Germany and the American jazz legend, saxophonist Benny Golson (banskojazzfest.com, August 6-13).
Varna Summer Festival occurs in the city for already 90 years. This summer you can listen Prokofiev and Chaikovcki performed by Romanian National Symphony Orchestra and Italian Baroque music played by Concerto de’Cavalieri  from Pisa (varnasummerfest.org, till September 24).

The biggest and loudest festivals for young music lovers usually take place in Burgas. This summer the city holds the Sun Tribe Open Air festival of reggae, dubstep and all kinds of alternative music (July 29-30) and the gothic Sea of Black festival (August 6) where the German metal band Pyogenesis will perform.

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Photo: Piotr Krawiec (flickr); License: CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Discover archeological sites

In Bulgaria there are several well-known cities with historical buildings like Nessebar, Plovdiv and the former country’s capital Veliko Tyrnovo. What is even more interesting that some ancient remains were discovered here recently, and in other places excavation is happening right now, and you could even be lucky enough take part in it.

In the Rhodope mountains in southern Bulgaria, ancient ruins were found in the not-so-distant past. These treasures, the ancient cities Tatul and Perperikon, both near the city Kardzhali. Perperikon is the ancient Thracian city with an altar of the the Early Iron Age, a palace and a fortress the time of the Roman Empire and a church pulpit of the 4-5th century AD. And near the tiny Tatul village with 100 habitants there is an ancient Thracian sanctuary on top of the hill. It was built in the 4th or 5th century BC and is thought to have been the most important spiritual place in the region at the time.

Right now the excavation of the Caria fortress built in the 5th century BC is in progress at the cape Shabla. It will last at least till the end of August, and all tourists are welcome to volunteer, according to the director of Regional Museum of History in Dobrich, Koctadin Kostadinov. So maybe this is the place to be this summer, if you are looking for new things to discover.


Cover Photo: Sergey Galyonkin (wikimedia commons); License: CC BY-SA 2.0

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    Olga Pavlova is a journalist from Russia currently living in Varna, Bulgaria. She worked as an editor at InStyle and Conde Nast Traveller magazines in Moscow, finished the London School of Journalism in 2015 and now is writing about travelling and lifestyle. She is interested in Italian art, Russian literature and European cinema.

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