Take a Road Trip Adventure Through One of Eastern Europe’s Last Undiscovered Gems
Bulgaria is a quiet Eastern European nation tucked in between Turkey, Romania, and the Black Sea. It also shares borders with Serbia, Macedonia, and the northern stretches of Greece. Mostly unspoiled by Western tourism, but slowly gaining popularity, Bulgaria still offers an authentic, exciting experience for the travelers willing to venture there. Without a doubt, the geography and culture will keep you entranced throughout your Bulgaria tour. And, whether on two wheels or four, a Bulgaria road trip will have you cruising along the gorgeous beaches of the Black Sea, through the more secluded, mountainous wilderness of the southwestern corner of the country, or along the rolling plains of the Northern Thrace region.
Bulgaria has a rich national history with well-preserved old towns, ancient architecture dating back to Roman times, UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and other archaeological gems. There is also plenty of adventure to be found, and no Bulgaria adventure would be complete without experiencing the fantastic outdoor activities the country offers. From Sofia to Bansko, and beyond, the geography provides plenty of opportunities for skiing, hiking, and more. Imagine, after rolling into Bansko, you can catch a gondola right from the southern edge of town and be skiing within minutes! Just outside of town are the Pirin Mountains, which are home to numerous ski and snowboard slopes, footpaths across the alpine landscape, impressive wildlife such as bears and wolves, and striking views of the 2,900 meter-tall Vihren Peak, forested ridgelines, and stunning glacial lakes.
While a large portion of the country is more rugged and mountainous, the eastern stretches of the country, along the Black Sea, are much more idyllic with beaches and resorts, while the remaining expanses are covered by green, grassy rolling plains. This combination leads to a variety of weather, with relatively temperate climates along the coast, and more seasonal extremes amongst the mountains. Higher elevations can experience significant snowfall (in case the awesome skiing was no indication). With this in mind, we wouldn’t recommend a Bulgaria road trip during the winter. So, Planet Ride features tours running from late spring until early fall. You might have a few more tourists to contend with, but you don’t risk sliding off an icy mountain road!
What Planet Ride offers for an adventure in Bulgaria !
Planet Ride tries hard to avoid any such mishap, and we achieve that by working with expert local guides who are incredibly familiar with the local terrain, vehicles, and way of life. The guides we choose to partner with are experienced professionals who meet all of our stringent quality requirements. This helps ensure a better Bulgaria tour experience for everyone involved! For example, Maria leads the 16-day Great Crossing of the Balkans motorcycle tour, which spends a couple of days in Bulgaria, and makes stops in Croatia, Greece, Romania, Serbia, and a few other nearby countries. Imagine saddling up on a BMW 800 or 1200cc adventure-touring bike to cross mountain passes, carve switchback turns, and explore the vibrant cultural diversity of the Balkan peninsula. In Bulgaria, you’ll visit the small town of Melnik, whose 96 buildings are all classified as historical monuments; You’ll spend a night in Bansko, which resides in the heart of Bulgaria’s mountains; and, you’ll discover Koprivshtitsa, which is a larger city known for its architecture and folk music festivals. Before departing, you’ll cross the mountains that are home to the famous Shipka Pass, before continuing your journey to Valiko, which is the capital of the second Bulgarian empire. Finally, you’ll venture back to Bucharest for the finale of your trip.
For the more adventurous amongst us, we do feature some tours without a guide. You’ll still have some support from the guide’s company, but you’ll do all the traveling entirely on your own. In either case, you’ll receive a briefing at the start of your tour, along with help making lodging and other travel arrangements.
Whether you settle on this particular tour or one of our other awesome road trip adventures, be sure to immerse in the local culture! During any Bulgaria tour, one thing you’ll always find is incredible cuisine. Be sure to try the unique cheeses and yogurts, along with dishes like kyopoolu, kebapche, or shopska salad, and the fantastic desserts of baklava and garash cake. Among other fascinating things, folklore plays an integral role in Bulgarian culture. One essential element is fire, which is believed to banish evil spirits and illnesses. Some rituals against evil spirits have survived for countless generations and are still practiced today. One, in particular, is Kukeri, which are actually the elaborately costumed men, and sometimes women, who walk and dance through villages to scare away evil spirits. Another is Nestinarstvo, a ritual fire-dance of Thracian origin that is included in the list of UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage.
So, if you’re ready to sign up right now, here’s how you get to Bulgaria, as well a few other key pieces of information. Sofia is home to the main international airport and is well connected to much of Europe. There are other international airports located in Varna, Burgas, and Plovdiv, but flights will be more limited. Train travel is another great option, especially from other European capitals. Of course, it wouldn’t be a real Bulgaria adventure if there isn’t some sort of road trip involved. Whether you rent a car, motorcycle, or camper van on your own or through one of Planet Ride’s tours, it’s always a fantastic option for getting off the beaten path.
If you’re an EU citizen, or a citizen of a Schengen Agreement nation (of which Bulgaria is also a member), then you’ll need nothing more than a valid ID. American, Canadians, and others will need a valid passport, and possibly a visa – check the requirements for your particular country! Lastly, if you exercise a little common sense and basic safety precautions, you won’t have much to worry about!