Bulgaria is a country of roses, but it is also known worldwide for its unique yogurt made from cow milk, for potter’s wheels and carpets, for traditional kukers, nestinars, and more. Tourists, who don’t have a clue of some of these things, can visit Bulgarian countryside to personally experience these Bulgarian features. Many of small villages, hamlets, or authentic small towns have preserved the unique customs, traditions, culture and crafts of the interesting past that this country has had.
Small villages are scattered all across the country and visitors will be amazed by the great number of attractions hidden there. An example for such quiet place is Melnik, the country’s smallest town located close to Sofia. People will see beautiful rock pyramids and will be able to visit wine cellars where they can taste a fine mature wine.
Leshten, Kovachevitsa, and Chiprovtsi
Two gems that show Bulgarian architecture of 19 century are Leshten and Kovachevitsa, while the carpet weaving capital is considered Chiprovtsi.
People, interested in local history, may go back to the last few years of the Ottoman Rule and take a look at the Bulgarian revolutionary movement by visiting Koprivshtitsa and the villages and small towns around. This informative trip will replace the need for reading a history book connected with this region.
Another place where tourists can get acquainted with Bulgarian history is Panagyurishte, a small town located near Plovdiv. It is considered among the main revolutionary and cultural centers in the fight for liberation of Bulgaria. Being now an open-air museum of the previous times, the town looks like a live encyclopedia that shares knowledge with every visitor.
South of Plovdiv another interesting village is located in the mountains, called Shiroka Laka. This is the place where people can be lost in the attraction of Bulgarian folklore played by traditional bagpipes and their amazing sounds.
Located very close to Veliko Tarnovo, the village Arbanasi is another historical site, where old churches, houses and taverns with an unmatched architectural style can be seen.
Gabrovo and its Etar Ethnographic Complex is another must-see attraction that gives tourists an opportunity to learn more about the traditional local customs and crafts. People can even try their own skills in craft making and buy some unique souvenirs to remind them for this lifetime experience.
Bozhentsi is another peaceful paradise place, coupled with rustic comfort. The old houses with rusty hoes and sickles in the backyards and the fresh air form the idyll for a tranquil and stress-free vacation.
Beings among the most famous artistic centres in Bulgaria, Tryavna is a town devoted to wood-carving, a home town for many skilled masters. The connoisseurs of the fine arts will not regret if they visit this town, located in the center of Bulgaria.
Zheravna is another architectural reserve located in Stara Planina Mountain. The cobblestone streets, the domestic animals that roam all around, the hospitable and friendly local people and the great surrounding nature make the village perfect for tourists, who would like to get an insight into the traditional lifestyle. This quiet and peaceful place is away from the noisy and crowded night clubs and restaurants, but visitors can enjoy the several houses museums and little farms where sheep and other cattle are raised, and to sample a genuine home-made Bulgarian yogurt and cheese.
Not far away from Zheravna, the cozy town of Kotel is located that is an old sheep-farming center dating from the 16th century. During the Ottoman Rule, this town has remained relatively autonomous in return for the sheep they provided and for mountain pass guarding. Kotel was also famous for the attractive carpets woven by skillful women. The old Galata Quarter or the former school house in Kotel contains a unique Carpet Exhibition where a lot of traditional handicraft examples can be seen. Fortunately, this wooden building has survived the big fire that occurred in 1894 and destroyed the most of the town’s houses. Some great colorful carpets can be seen also at the Ethnographic Museum located nearby. Visitors can enjoy this old house built in 1872 in the typical for the 19th century style.
Balgari is another fantastic place to visit, where tourists can witness the amazing dances of the nestinars, who walk on burning coals. The participants of this ancient pagan ritual perform sophisticated dances barefoot on hot embers. They believe that these dances cleanse the souls of all participants, including spectators.
Rural Tourism in Bulgaria
All these beautiful places and hundreds of others have created prerequisites for rural tourism development in the country. The tourists can take advantage of their stay in any of the village houses to appreciate and experience Bulgarian culture, lifestyle and local well-preserved customs, crafts and cuisine.
Foreigners, who are looking for a unique rural vacation, are usually accommodated in old houses built in the end of 19th century. The hosts prepare delicious Bulgarian food combined with some fresh products gathered directly from the garden.
Attractive Activities In Rural Places
The activities like helping the host with the farm work, or with food preparation, picking some local herbs, mushrooms or forest berries will make this vacation unforgettable. Tourists will really enjoy to learn how to prepare the yogurt themselves, to make jams, white or yellow cheese and much more. At the evenings, they may enjoy having a meal with the hosts, who can share some local legends or perform some folksongs.
In some villages, the tourists can even join some lessons in folklore dancing, icon painting, embroidering, sewing and pottery making.
Wine lovers should visit at least one of the Bulgarian internationally recognized wineries, located at Damyanitsa, Lyubimets, Katarzhina Estate, Tera Tangra, Sakar, and Brestovitsa, to name a few.
While in the country, tourists can attend some of the local festivals that take place all through the country. One of them is the Plovdiv International Folklore Festival that takes place in Plovdiv, the National Folklore Gatherings organized in Koprivshtitsa and Rozhen, Rituals “Surva”, Carnival Games and the Festival of Masquerade in Pernik and much more. They may witness a traditional Bulgarian wedding in some of the rural regions, too.