BUL­GARIA

WHY IT’S HOT: CUL­TURE MEETS COAST IN EASTERN EUROPE.

Wanderlust Travel Magazine (UK) - - Wonderlust Travel Hot List 2019 -

We say: De­spite their rich his­tory and soar­ing peaks, Bul­garia’s hin­ter­lands have largely failed to reg­is­ter with trav­ellers more fa­mil­iar with its cheap pistes and laid-back cap­i­tal. But, as Eu­ro­pean Cap­i­tal of Cul­ture Plov­div puts the rugged south-west on the map in 2019, that may be about to change.

As one of Europe’s old­est in­hab­ited ci­ties, Plov­div wears its his­tory lightly – there aren’t many places where you can glance from Ro­man theatre to Ot­toman-era mosque. Wan­der its cob­bled Old Town and crum­bling fortresses, then head for the Rhodope Moun­tains where scenic trails wind past Byzan­tine and Cru­sader relics.

The coun­try’s his­toric east coast is open­ing up, too, as new low-cost flights to the Black Sea city of Bur­gas launch from nine UK air­ports in May. Com­bine a visit with ex­plor­ing rose-pink salt lakes, for­mer pi­rate is­lands and some dra­matic kayak­ing.

Don’t miss: Not far from Plov­div lie the pin-striped monas­ter­ies, hik­ing trails and hid­den vine­yards of the Rila Moun­tains, a rugged es­cape far off the tourist trail.

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