Bulgaria. Authentic beyond belief. Ancient and mysterious. An adventure traveller’s paradise. But a wine destination? Well…wine not?
Feel like an escape from everyday life but you don’t have much vacation time? Is a long weekend away exactly what you need? Do you have 3 days to spare while in Bulgaria?
A three-day stay in Bulgaria is enough to get the rhythm and the feel of the country. A short getaway combining food, wine, culture and history is the perfect way to get to know Bulgaria and give yourself a well-deserved break. Here’s our pick on how to spend just 3 days (72 hours) in Bulgaria:
Day one. Discover Sofia
A day or half-day exploring the capital of Bulgaria is not to be missed. For great travel tips from Sofia locals on what to do, see, eat and drink, check out this article. Sofia is easily accessible by foot. Take a walk down the famous Vitosha Boulevard. The most popular cultural monument to see is probably the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral but there are so many other interesting religious and cultural monuments to discover. There is a really cool initiative called the Free Sofia Tour. Twice a day, a free walking tour of Sofia with a guide is organized. The tour is about 2 hours and you get to see the most important sights.
Day two. Rila Monastery, Wine tastings and Spa-time
The Rila Monastery might just be the most iconic and well-known cultural heritage site in Bulgaria. It was recognized as having outstanding universal value and inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1983. The Rila Monastery is just 120 km from Sofia. Prepare to be drawn in by the beautiful architecture, ornate frescoes and spiritual ambience. Insider tip: Just outside the massive wall that protects the monastery, you can buy the most delicious Bulgarian “mekitsi”, a deep-fried bread dough that can be eaten sweet (add sugar or jam) or savory (pair it with Bulgarian white cheese). Also, you have now officially entered the Struma Valley Wine Region. Very close to the Rila Monastery is the highly interesting Medi Valley Winery, named after the Thracian tribe ‘Medi’ that used to inhabit the lands. You may be familiar with Spartacus, who was the famous Thracian slave that started an uprise against the Roman Empire. Spartacus was in fact from the Medi tribe. Make a stop at the Medi Valley Winery for an enlightening showaround of the facility, taste their excellent wines in the dedicated tasting room and purchase a bottle or two at the onsite shop before leaving. Spend the night in Sandanski (160 km from Sofia; 100 km from Rila Monastery). A well-known Spa and Wellness Resort, Sandanski is famous for its natural spring water. Chill in your hotel pool, melt away in the sauna or treat yourself to a world-class therapeutic massage. Enjoy a meal at your hotel or try a traditional Bulgarian meal at a traditional “mehana” restaurant in town. We recommend the Sandanski Han restaurant. It doesn’t get more authentic than that.
Day three. Melnik, Wine tastings and Exploring
A day dedicated to wine, gastronomy, nature and good conversations. Visit two boutique wineries in the rural landscape surrounding the tiny town of Melnik. Yes, it is literally tiny for Melnik is the smallest town in Bulgaria. Orbelus winery is a good place to kick off the day. A modern winery producing wine from organic grapes, you will be captivated by the in-depth explanation of how wine is made at this winery. What exactly does organic wine mean? Is it more challenging to make wine from organic grapes? And does it taste any different? Not too far away lies the delightful Villa Melnik. A new winery that has quickly gained recognition for its excellent wines. The underground wine cellar is sure to impress – as are the wines and tantalizing appetizers. Continue on to Melnik where you will have a clear view of the so-called Melnik sand pyramids. Walk around the small town to see the local architecture. It is truly picturesque. Visit the Kordopulov’s house and get lost in the underground wine cellar that is characteristic of the large houses in this area that were once owned by rich merchants in national revival times (mid-1700 until end-1800). Travel back to Sofia as this is where your 72 hours ends. Or don’t. Extend with a night in a charming guesthouse in Melnik or return to Sandanski for another night in the hot tub. This was just a sample itinerary but there are many more options. Scroll down to our other itineraries for more inspiration on how to spend 72 hours in Bulgaria.
Uhm… why Bulgaria?
We get it. If you have the time, money and motivation to travel for a long weekend, and all you want is good food, good wine, a few cultural sights and relaxation, you might be thinking Piedmont (Italy), Bordeaux (France), Tuscany (Italy), Rioja (Spain) or maybe a city-break to a European metropolis. But if you’re in the mood for something different and willing to get a bit adventurous, Bulgaria is definitely worth a visit. It has got to be one of the most underrated (wine) destinations in Europe but has so much to offer. Check out this article for 12 pretty good reasons why Bulgaria should be on your shortlist. Bulgaria actually has really good wines and a very long history in winemaking. In fact, Bulgaria is one of the first places to ever produce wines as it has been proved that the ancient Thracians were avid winemakers. Bulgaria also has amazing food. Yes, similar to its neighbours, Greece and Turkey, Bulgaria also has a rich food culture. Get ready for lots of grilled meats, more than lots of cheese, unbelievable salads and be sure to try a sip of rakia – the local brandy. Check out this photo gallery for pictures of classical Bulgarian dishes. Great value for money should be the motto of this destination. For a fracture of the prices in northern and southern Europe, you get unbelievable quality experiences.
Thank God for budget airlines. Am I right? Sofia is a well-served airport easily reached by all over Europe. The low budget airline WizzAir has simply made it so much easier and affordable to jet around Europe for short city breaks or weekend retreats. Currently, WizzAir has direct flights to Sofia from Spain, Italy, United Kingdom, Switzerland, Sweden, Norway, Germany, France and other countries. A number of larger airlines also serve Sofia such as SAS, Lufthansa, Austria Airlines, Turkish Airlines etc.
Check www.skyscanner.net or www.momondo.com to search and compare flight tickets.
For tips and great advice on how to fine cheap flights, check out this article.
Our three day wine tours
Feeling inspired? We would be happy to help you plan a three day stay in Bulgaria. Check out our 3-day wine tour itineraries for ideas:
Melnik and Struma Valley 3-day wine tour
The Odrysian Wine Trail 3-day wine tour
Eastern Thrace Wine & SPA 3-day tour
Sakar and Eastern Rhodopes 3-day wine tour
The Rose Valley Wine Trail 3-day tour
Get in touch
If you have a question, remark or enquiry, get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org or by filling out our enquiry form.