Holiday plans might be on hold right now, but there’s nothing to stop us browsing, right? We’ve had this contribution from Katya, who blogs at Katya and Kids, sitting in drafts since she told us about her wonderful trip to Bulgaria with her children. We decided now was the perfect time for some holiday reading. Enjoy!
I will not be revealing any secrets if I tell you that Eastern Europe receives less tourists than Italy, Spain or France. However, the nature, weather, food and sights are comparable to the ones in Western Europe. And if you want great value, Eastern Europe is so much more affordable than the Cote D’Azure, Cinque Terre or Costa del Sol. I am a great advocate for Eastern European travel as it is less commercialised, you get more value for your money and the tourist spots are often deserted, so you can have them all to yourself to wander. Today, I want to share my 1 week itinerary in Bulgaria, which I did with my daughter last year over the Easter break.
Day 1-2 Sofia
You are likely to arrive to Sofia by plane and you need at least a couple of days to see the sights and appreciate Bulgarian local life.
Things to see and do:
Start with a free guided tour around the city, which will take you to all the major sites, like Alexander Nevsky Cathedral and the White House. I always find guided tours the best, as you get familiar with the city landscape in a couple of hours and then decide which sights you want to come back to and have a non-rushed visit.
For kids, I recommend Sofia Zoo if the weather is good, and if the weather is bad then Muzeiko, which is an interactive museum for all ages. Older kids will enjoy workshops and learning about the world, while younger visitors can enjoy soft play and feeling/touching the objects.
Another great activity is to go for a walk with Sofia Green Tour, as you will get outside of the city centre and into the National park, breathing some fresh air and appreciating nature around you.
Day 3-4 Thermal Resort
Get on the bus and go into the mountains. There are a number of various thermal water resorts within a couple of hours travel from Sofia, where you can stay in a nice hotel for a fraction of the price you pay for a similar place in Western Europe.
We went to Velingrad and loved every minute: small town with enough cafes and restaurants to entertain you for a couple of days and a few walking routes to walk off excess calories. We stayed in Vella Hills Park Hotel and Spa and my daughter did not want to leave the hotel at all, as they had an outside pool/ inside pool and a variety of spa rooms, like sauna, ice room and steam room. If parents want to treat themselves, you can also book a massage or a treatment.
Day 5-6 Cultural Plovdiv
Did you know that European Capital of Culture 2019 is Plovdiv? The Old town reminded me of a jewellery box, filled with exquisite houses and quaint courtyards, where you can sit on the bench and listen to the birds. Despite being promoted in 2019, the city is not busy with tourists and you can have majority of the sites to yourself.
Start with the walking tour of the old town with Plovdiv Audio Guide which you can pick up at the start of your walk. Having walked the main part of the old town,select couple of houses that you want to go inside and dedicate the rest of the day to that. I selected Hindliyan House and Balabanov house, as they are different in style and there is plenty to see in both houses.
Next day explore the hipster Kopana district, full of craft beer bars, organic cafes and art shops. Have a leisurely cup of coffee, piece of cake, relax and watch the world go round. You can also do some shopping for souvenirs or Bulgarian food, as there are plenty of souvenir places in the Old town. Or if you want to take a visual reminder of Old Plovdiv, come and have your portrait taken in Old Plovdiv Retro Photo, one printed picture will be ready for you within 30 minutes and the rest of the gallery is sent to you by email later.
Day 7 Return to Sofia and fly back home
We enjoyed our break in Bulgaria immensely, as it offered us a combination of cultural sights, relaxation and beautiful nature. Young Bulgarians speak perfect English, so you should not have any problems with communication. If you have any questions on Bulgaria or the above itinerary, please feel free at contact me on @katyaandkids or firstname.lastname@example.org