Bulgaria’s has the ability to offer the best tourism in the world from its unique geographical features. As a country it is small, less than half the size of the UK with a population of only seven and a half million, but it has every geological feature you can think of from high mountain peaks and glacial lakes to fast-flowing rivers, vast forests and a beautiful natural coastline on the border of the Black Sea. The country’s rich geography is more diverse than countries four times its size, and the fact that it is not heavily populated means that there are more species of animals than other nations much larger in size. Bulgaria offers visitors a wide diversity of options for year round holidays, and does with out a doubt offer some of the best tourism in the world.The Mountains
Its mountain ranges offer some of the tallest peaks in Europe. They are rich in Bulgarian folklore and history as well as being the source of most of Bulgaria’s rivers. The diverse mountain climate as well of the variety of ranges creates a diverse tourist industry offering perfect skiing and snowboarding conditions during the winter and ideal cool but sunny weather for a variety of sports from golf at the new mountain courses near Bansko to climbing, hiking, cycling and horse riding to name but a few sports.
Mountain ranges like the Rhodopes offer year-round tourist experiences with purpose built resorts like Pamporovo 260 km from the capital of Sofia is encircled by verdant pine forests. The resort possesses modern hotels, great amenities and 25 km of ski runs all at a minimum altitude of 1,620 m above sea level. Unlike some European ski resorts, winters here are not severe and there is an average of 150 days of snowfall each year allowing for an extended ski season.
Tourism in Pamporovo is increasing during the summer thanks to its terrific infrastructure, which includes many good places to eat, drink and be entertained. For summer tourists, the area is rich in natural caves especially around the Arda and Shirokolushka Rivers. The villages in this area and around the main town of Smolyan are now very popular with extreme sports fans.
The 320 km coastline is lined with Blue Flag beaches; some cater for the tourist masses, whilst others are more remote offering nudist beaches and places to camp. Coastlines the world over always offer a host of water sports and the Bulgarian Black Sea coast is no exception with everything from diving and sailing to jet skiing and parasailing. During the summer months temperatures can reach 30 – 35 degrees, whilst the late spring and early autumn still offer perfect conditions for sunbathing, but in less extreme temperatures. In addition to beach tourism, the coast also has its share of historic sites, golf courses and mineral spas as well as a rugged landscape ideal for nature lovers.
The Rivers and Lakes
There are numerous rivers and lakes in Bulgaria and they come in all shapes and sizes from vast, wide, fast flowing rivers to small wetlands. They offer their own unique form of eco tourism making them great places for bird watching and fishing ands well as rafting. Many of the country’s rivers stem from the Bulgarian mountains and were home to ancient Thracian settlements; Plovdiv on the banks of the Maritsa River has many wonderful examples of Thracian, Roman and Byzantine life.
Huge pine forests line the mountain slopes and many have been turned into national parks to protect and conserve the flora and fauna within. Nature abounds here with plenty of wild boar, deer, wolves, jackals and bears to mane but a few species common to these territories. They also contain many rare animals and plants, which in other parts of Europe are endangered species. They are great places to hike and many people collect wild berries and mushrooms, which grow profusely here.
Bulgaria’s rich history spanning many centuries has left its mark in some of its larger cities, which provide chic, cosmopolitan tourist attractions for site seers and those who like to get away from the daily grind by staying in a luxury hotel far from home. Bulgarian cities like Sofia, Plovdiv and Varna are rich in ancient history and architecture, but offer all of the modern comforts city break tourists crave; shopping malls with low prices, traditional restaurants serving quality food and a thriving nightlife.
Increasing Tourist Numbers
Bulgaria’s tourists come from European countries, Russia, Serbia and the Middle East making tourism the main source of tourist revenue. Each year the number of visitors to the country has been increasing as it improves the infrastructure and quality of services on offer and according to the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) it is likely to attract around 16 million visitors per year by 2017.
Most of the key tourist resorts have been expanding their bed capacity to cope with growing demand by constructing luxurious hotels and apartment blocks. There has already been a 13% growth in passenger numbers at Bulgaria’s airports and there is plenty of room for expansion here because air travel still remains the strongest of Bulgaria’s travel segments. Many low cost airline fly into the country from all over Europe and charter flights from Russia and the Middle East are also common. Increased tourism is expected to contribute a further 12% to Bulgaria’s GDP and create a 10.2% increase in employment in the short term. The future for Bulgarian tourism still looks bright despite the economic slow-down; the diversity of its landscape, its improvements to the basic infrastructure and its low prices make it a very attractive destination and offers some of the best tourism in the world to holidaymakers from around the globe.