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These three cities in Bulgaria are near Sofia and make perfect easy escapes on a day or weekend trip.
There’s no doubt that Sofia is a great digital nomad destination and it’s one of my favorite places in the Balkans. However, big city life can wear on anyone and sometimes a weekend trip from Sofia is in order.
If you don’t have a car, no worries.
Daniel and I visited all three of these destinations from Sofia and really enjoyed them. If you’re looking for something new, check out these three cities in Bulgaria with this guide!
The cliffside town of Veliko Tarnovo
1. Veliko Tarnovo
Distance: 3 hours and 15 minutes by bus
Cost: 20 lev / 12 usd for a one-way bus ticket
Veliko Tarnovo is one of my favorite destinations near Sofia.
A trip here will take you out of the city and set you down right inside a fairy tale. This charming cliffside town has a medieval fortress and a lot of history. It was the seat of Bulgarian Kings and even the capital of the country for a few years.
This weekend trip is best for history lovers and travel bloggers looking for the perfect Instagram pic… saying Veliko Tarnovo is photogenic is a massive understatement.
The festive Kapana District in Plovdiv
Distance: 2 hours by bus
Cost: 14 lev / 8 usd for a one-way bus ticket
Every Bulgarian that you run into in Sofia will ask you the same thing: When are you going to visit Plovdiv?
The second biggest city in the country has a special place in the locals’ hearts and it’s easy to see why.
This hipster destination is one of the best cities in Bulgaria because it’s full of art and culture and good eats. Interestingly, it’s only recently made a revival and big changes are in the works as they prepare to be the European Capital of Culture in 2019.
The charming town of Sozopol on the Black Sea
Distance: 6.5 hours from Sofia
Cost: 27 lev / 16 usd for a ticket from Sofia to Burgas, and then another 4.5 lev / 3.50 usd for the ride from Bugas to Sozopol.
If you don’t have a car, Sozopol is a bit more difficult to get to.
Although it takes only 4.5 hours on your own, by bus our trip was about 6.5 hours from start to finish. It includes a 5.5 hour bus from Sofia to Burgas and then another 45 minute ride out to the Black Sea and the town of Sozopol.
However, this is definitely one of my favorite cities in Bulgaria and is perfect for a 3-day weekend. Daniel and I visited at the end of May for Memorial Day Weekend and had a blast. If you like relaxing on beautiful beaches, this is the place for you.
Just keep in mind that the summer season doesn’t officially start until mid-June, so if you’re looking for lively parties or wild nightlife make sure you visit in the right timeframe.
On the other hand, if you’re looking for a quiet weekend, avoid the crowds by going before the official season starts.
Visit These Three Cities in Bulgaria During Your Stay in Sofia
Bulgaria is a diverse country and there’s something here for travelers of any style.
Relax on the beach at Sozopol, dive deeper into history Veliko Tarnovo, or enjoy the culture and nightlife of Plovdiv. Whatever you’re looking for, these three Bulgarian cities are sure to have you covered.
Ready to go? Use Skyscanner to find the cheapest flights to Sofia and then explore accommodation like unique stays on Airbnb or the top-rated hotels on Booking.com to plan the perfect night, weekend, or long-term stay in Sofia and beyond.
This article is part of the See Sofia Series. Read the rest below:
Or, explore the complete Bulgaria Series for more insider tips on what to see, do, eat, drink, and discover in the country.
I’ve been traveling full-time for three years, these are the resources that make it happen:
➤ I exclusively use Airbnb for savings and security on long-term stays in furnished apartments.
➤ I use Booking.com for short-term stays in hostels and hotels on weekend trips.
➤ Upwork allowed me to take the leap to travel full-time because they make it so easy to find freelance clients in any field.
➤ The Superstar Blogging Travel Writing Course launched my travel writing career and helped me become a contributor at sites like Cincinnati Refined and International Living, and even get published in the Boston Globe.