Bulgaria

Nestling on the western shore of the Black Sea, Bulgaria is a country of variety: mountainous regions and isolated villages vie with bustling cities and golden beaches.

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A gorgeous gem which is often overlooked

Bulgaria's capital city Sofia is a destination often missed by tourists. Your Local Expert will reveal its fascinating qualities, including views of the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, a Neo-Byzantine edifice typical of Russian churches in the 19th century. Here you can admire the gorgeous golden domes decorated with gold leaf that was donated by Russia in 1960.

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Wondrous architecture

Sofia is a glorious mix of architectural styles, from the neo-Renaissance design of the National Assembly building to the Viennese Secession structure of the Central Mineral Baths. The remains of the intriguing 3rd century Roman amphitheatre of Serdica, unearthed in 2004, are a hidden gem. In the Boyana neighbourhood you will find Boyana church, a UNESCO World Heritage Site dating back to the 10th century; inside, dozens of frescoes and faces are early examples of the icon-painting style. Equally striking but very different is the Largo, an example of Stalinist architecture and the former residence of the Bulgarian Communist Party.

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Parks and green belts

Sofia is blessed with four main parks. The city's oldest and most celebrated, Borisova Gradina, is a beautiful mix of tree-lined avenues and fascinating sculptures, including the dramatic Monument to the Soviet Army. Sofia's oldest natural park, at Vitosha, on the slope of a volcanic mountain, is perfect for hiking. It’s also home to small mammals, birds, insects and reptiles, as well as a wide variety of tulips and orchids.

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Culture and art

Sofia is home to the National Art Gallery, which houses Bulgaria's most significant collections, including work by Vladimir Dimitrov, one of the country's most respected painters. In the National Gallery for Foreign Art, you will find sketches and woodcarvings by Matisse and Renoir, as well as tribal masks from India and Africa. Move on to the National Historical Museum, home to more than 600,000 artefacts spanning prehistoric times to the present day. Stuffed birds and mounted insects will compete for your attention, alongside rocks and minerals, periodicals and photographs from the late 19th century.

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We've pulled together and answered some of our guests' most popular questions. Here you'll find everything you need to know – from who you'll be travelling with to whether tips are included.

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