If you are looking for rural and authentic Bulgaria away from mass tourism, then you need to look no further than the southwestern Rhodopi Mountains and the beautiful area of Garmen, where you will discover a piece of rural paradise. The area is a hidden gem of Bulgaria, full of locals, authentic old villages, crafts and traditions. The Roman ruins at Nikopolis ad Nestum, the warm mineral baths of Ognyanovo, the rural tourism village of Leshten and possibly the most impressive village in Bulgaria, Kovachevitsa, are all in this region. Only known for many years to afficionados of Bulgarian village life, these villages are now finding themselves with more and more tourists, who are visiting for a slice of the real Bulgaria.
Nestled at the feet of the Balkan Range in the beautiful valley carved out by the Yantra River, Gabrovo, Bulgaria is a pretty town with an abundance of traditional Revival architecture. It has been dubbed with many nicknames including the capital of humour and satire, Bulgaria’s Manchester and the longest town, which it is stretching 25 km along the Yantra, yet only being 1 km wide in places.
Nestled in a tiny valley in the border of the Sredna Gora Mountains, the pretty town of Hissarya often referred to as just Hissar, is a popular destination for Bulgarians looking for peaceful surroundings and a healthy environment. This town is famed for its mineral spas of which there are over 20 and a strong history with pre-historic remains excavated in the town centre. The town is home to 9,308 people but as one of the country’s biggest and most striking spa resorts it attracts thousands of local and international visitors each year.
The little village of Ichera is a haven away from the mass tourism along the coast in summer and the ski resorts in winter. Not far from Sliven, this small destination is little known and is ideal for a 'get-away-from-it-all' break. Offering complete serenity and quiet, houses are dotted up the narrow streets which lead uphill from the Luda Kamchiya river. Those seeking a spot away from the hordes will delight. In winter you can jump in your car and within less than an hour ski all winter long; in summer this is a wonderful place to be away from the scorching heat on the beach, in a beautiful mountain area perfect for days out strolling, in the car or cycling.
At the foot of the Balkan Mountains in the stunning Valley of Roses lies the town of Kazanlak. Here the beauty of the mountains is combined with the fertile lands of the Tundzha River valley. The region attracts tourists from all over Bulgaria and abroad, drawn by the beauty of the area and the hot mineral springs of Pavel Banya, Ovoshtnik and Yagoda. The aromatic Bulgarian rose has been grown in the Kazanlak area for many centuries. The essential oils from the rose are produced here, adding to the attraction of the region. Peppermint, lavender, sweet basil and marigolds are also grown here.
There are few people in this world who have touched anything like the beauty and nature that surrounds the mountain town of Vratsa and few outsiders realize that this town is by far one of the most picturesque towns in Bulgaria. Home to 62,909 inhabitants and located in northwestern Bulgaria at the foot of the Balkan Range traversed by the Leva River, Vratsa is a town full of spirit, art and culture, with many protected natural wonders and historic monuments. It has a rich crafts industry as well as being a commercial hub and main railway junction. The area’s extreme natural beauty has provided much in the way of recreation and the town’s motto is “Town as the Mountain - Ancient and Young!”
The beautiful small town of Kotel, often dubbed "The Stronghold of Bulgarian Spirit", lies in a small, picturesque valley in the Balkan Range. It is a lush, green area with pure air and fresh mountain water and is a significant cultural and historic centre. Kotel is a fascinating place, rich in architectural heritage and history. The old town contains around a hundred houses from the 18th and 19th century, which survived many Ottoman attacks and raging fires.