Breathtaking Balkans: 6 reasons why you need to visit Pirin mountain

My last holiday started with flying to Sofia and going up the Bulgarian mountain to find one amazing hidden village in between the breathtaking Pirin mountain. I had a great experience there, and I would like to share it with you so you can plan a budget trip to Leshten, in Pirin mountain.

For everyone who is NOT Bulgarian: the prices there are really low + the flights are incredibly cheap, so it is definitely a budget saving destination.

I decided to go to Leshten, because I saw this amazing village in one Bulgarian movie a few years ago (The Foreigner). Since then I always wanted to go and visit it.

Where is Leshten located?

Leshten is not that easy to reach, but on the other hand, it is a very beautiful trip. You will be crossing Struma river, the famous ski resort Bansko and driving around beautiful mountains.

Why you definitely need to visit Pirin mountain, Leshten?

See for yourself how Leshten looks like, and then I will list my top reasons why you need to visit it 🙂

1st. Amazing panoramic view
If you are a mountain lover, which I believe you are since you are reading this post, then Leshten will give you an amazing panoramic view and true satisfaction of your soul. The mountains are breathtaking and Leshten is right in the middle of it.

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2nd. Total relaxation
Leshten is a very calm village, small and quiet. You will go there if you need to relax and start your holiday with total relaxation. You will enjoy the beautiful views and nature while hearing only the sound of birds, bugs or animals. In the evening you can visit the restaurants, and there you will probably hear some music, but again it is all about focusing on yourself and the company you are with.

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3rd. Delicious food
The food in Bulgaria is in general great, especially for the meat lovers. However in Leshten, is pretty amazing, because all the vegetables are BIO, grown in someone`s garden ;). I would recommend trying something meaty (around 2-3 EUR), definitely aubergine, or any other salad you would like (they are around 1,70 EUR) and for a dessert yoghurt with jam (1,10 EUR). Please visit the place after the bridge at Leshten, across their only shop.

4th. Mineral healing water
If you go to Leshten, you can take advantage of the famous mineral water in the bacteriological resort nearby – Ogniyanovo. If you only would like to swim, you can do that at Leshten, but if you want to stay still in the water and let it heal your body, then you can take a short ride of few kilometers and go to Ognyanovo.

5th. Scenery village very pleasant for a walk.
The cobblestone streets of the village, together with the cosy small houses surrounded by green and mountains, makes it very scenic and lovely for a walk. Leshten will offer you a mountain hike, picking mushrooms and herbs in the mountain, and fishing. I would say that 2, maximum 3 days here are enough for you to feel recharged and energized.

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6th. The Bulgarian mountains are perfect for your trip on a budget!
Since we are focused on minimizing our budget and maximizing the quality of our trips, then Leshten and in general the Bulgarian mountains would be a great choice. First of all, as I already mentioned couple of times, the flights should be around 50-60 EUR with a low cost company as RyianAir, WizzAir and Transavia from Central Europe to Sofia. Furthermore, a night in a very nice hotel would be between 40-50 EUR for two people with Spa, and swimming pool and breakfast included.
The food is around 20 Eur for two people, which will include a main dish, veggies, and rakija.

I hope you find my recommendations helpful, and if yes, please subscribe for my blog.

Thank you for visiting,
xxx

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9 of the best places to eat and have drinks in Sofia

As you all know I appreciate good food and in Bulgaria I can guarantee you will enjoy delicious vegetarian or meat dishes. Our kitchen includes a lot of meat, variety of vegetables and herbs and various desserts. We have many different salads and appetizers, that go well with rakija (the traditional Bulgarian drink). In Sofia you will find classy or traditional type of restaurants, and you will be impressed of their prices, quality and fabulous look. The restaurants in Bulgaria differ a lot in the outlook than the Dutch ones. Visit them and you will directly see it.

1. Shastlivetsa

This place has absolutely great atmosphere and perfect location. You will find it in the city center, at the main boulevard – Vitosha. They have a lot of choices and the prices are reasonable. Shastlivetsa will offer you variety of great meat dishes, representative for the Eastern European kitchen. If you are searching for a place with good location, nice atmosphere, warm employees and delicious food, Shtastlivetsa will definitely give you all that.

Prices per dish: 7-10 E

2. Laguna

The restaurant offers one of the best cakes in Sofia. I brought my colleagues from the Netherlands to try the cakes there, and they loved it. You can have great lunch or dinner as well. The cosine is European/Eastern European and you will not be disappointed with the quality of whatever you choose to order. There is a beautiful garden, where you can enjoy the sun, even in the winter days.

Price of one cake: around 1,50 – 2 EUR (3,60 BGN)

3. Esterhasi bar

This place is great for cocktails, drinks, pre-drinks and delicious cakes. In case you want to have lunch or dinner here, bear in mind the quantity of food is not huge, but the quality is really good. My advice is to take some snack and to focus on the impressive cocktails. The locations is very convenient, and you will have a beautiful view of Sofia University.

You have a lunch menu with traditional Bulgarian dishes (again – the quantity is not big!) and a menu with excellent international food.

Price of lunch menu: around 3-4 EUR per dish

The international food: 5-10 EUR

4. Sense

The bar will offer you an amazing view of the heart of Sofia. You can try there cocktails and some snacks. The atmosphere is great and it requires more classy dress code. The cocktails are fabulous, and my friends say the food is well prepared as well.

Fun fact: Just couple of months ago Gerard Butler visited the place.

Cocktail prices: around 3-4 EUR

Picture taken with my friend, who gave me extra tips for these places @sofiaradulova

5. Grande

This is very cozy and cute places for having coffee and cake. Bulgaria is a country that values good quality cakes and in Grande you can try variety of that.

6. Chrystal steak House

I put this place for the steak lovers. Crystal stake house offers great variety of meat, and you can choose your own cut. The location is city center again, and the stuff are really helpful. You will find great wine there as well. I can recommend you to try the Bulgarian rib eye steak, which is dried for 40 days. They will show you the steak and you can tell the waiter how much do you want from the steak exactly. The time between offering the steak to having it done in your plate, is relatively short. You can also try the mushrooms in olive oil and for a dessert please try the green pear cake with mascarpone, blue cheese (however that is not a traditional Bulgarian dessert!)

The prices per dish vary between 7-10 EUR.

The dessert vary between 3-5 EUR.

7. Happy Bar & Grill (Lozenec)

Happy restaurants are everywhere in Sofia, but the one I recommend you is in Lozenec. Of course if you choose another Happy, you will not make a mistake, although, there is difference in the food preparation. In Happy (Lozenec), you will find great view, service and very well prepared food and I can recommend you to try the Sushi salad. The prices are good, they vary between 7-15 EUR, including a drink.

9. The view

I already mention the view in my previous article and together with Tavan. They both are great if you want to see Sofia from better angle. The view is closer to the city center and had an open balcony where you can sit and have great coffee and food with amazing view. Mountain Vitosha looks incredibly close, so does the city center of Sofia.

10. Tavan

Tavan offers great view as well, closer to the mountain, however the balcony is not always open, which means in a cold but sunny day you will need to sit inside. The prices are a bit higher for Bulgaria, however it is still not expensive compare to Central Europe. Tavan has more classy style and requires a bit more classy dress code.

if you would like to check more places in Sofia, besides TripAdvisor, you can use – rezzo.bg. I hope you like these places, like I do 🙂 If you have any comments, please share and also if you have any other places that you tried and liked in Sofia, leave it in the comments or txt me directly.

Thank you for visiting

Till the next time

XXX

4 things you can do in Sofia like a local

I will share with you how my last visit back home went and what are the places I chose to visit. This trip started in Sofia, so today I will tell you what I did back home for a couple of days in Sofia!

For the people who have never visited Sofia – guys those places are obviously not that touristic (at least not the most famous sightseeings) and you definitely need to include them in your trip list. And for the people who are from Sofia – let me know whether you visited those places and which are your favorite activities in the city.

Some information for my city:
With its 7 millennia, Sofia is one of the oldest cities in Europe, that will surprise you with stunning views of the famous ski mountain Vitosha.

Surrounded by parks and great nature, Sofia offers modern boutiques and shopping centres, ancient ruins at every corner, wide open squares, one of the best museums in eastern Europe and truly hectic nightlife that won`t let you be bored.

What can you do in Sofia as a local, going back home?

1. Morning coffee at Vitosha Boulevard.
That is one of the main boulevards in Sofia, and it offers a great view of Vitosha mountain one side and the other of the city centre.

I walk usually from Serdika metro station all the way to the National Palace of Culture (NDK). It is like 10-15 minutes walk if you do not stop at any store. It is full of bars, stores, cafes, restaurants. You will enjoy the fact that it`s pedestrian street, tree-lined with an amazing atmosphere. Having a coffee at Vitosha Boulevard is peaceful but still in one of the most lively parts of the city.

2. Having lunch at `The View`
It is a place where you will find gorgeous view of Vitosha mountain in front of your nose and city center view on the other side. This place has an amazing terrace and going around it, you will find a view of the different parts of Sofia. I feel like we are so lucky to have Vitosha mountain right next to the city which allows you to have an escape in nature for literally few minutes drive. At The View, you will have the opportunity to enjoy the sun on the terrace, have a nice meal, and make amazing pictures. I recommend you to go there for lunch, or dinner (especially if it is a romantic date). You will spend a lot of time in taking pictures (even not being a blogger) but it is all worth it. I loved it, and I am so much looking forward for the next time I go back home and visit it.

3. Having Dinner at `Tavan`
I heard so much about this place, that I had to visit it once I am back home. That is another restaurant with great view and terrace. Firstly, we arrived there, and we were heading directly to the terrace, however, the stuff stopped us because it was getting cold outside. We were already at the place, so we decided to stay inside. We did not have dinner there, however if you decide to go, I strongly recommend it for a dinner!

The view is great, and the food is good as well, however, I consider it a bit overpriced. The atmosphere is more classy, and you will need to dress up a bit. I had a dessert and a drink, and since I am a sweet tooth person and I always try desserts at a different place, I can say that the essence of that dessert was a bit too much and it was not as great as it looked like. My friend had a very nice salad with calamari and arugula, and I can fully recommend it to you.

4. Taking my time in the city for pictures.
If I have time (and usually I do not), l like to walk around and take pictures of the city on a sunny day. Sofia is beautiful and can offer so many different and amazing views. Here are some of the places I went to:

This is what I did in my couple of days in my home – Sofia. You can include it in your list, in case you visit Sofia, as a local 😉

Thank you for visiting,
till next week!

Breathtaking Balkans: 4 facts that will make you visit the ancient city Sozopol

If you haven`t given a chance to the Balkans until now, Sozopol is the first reason to do it.
That is one of the most ancient cities in Bulgaria. Its age is around 6000 years old. But that is not the reason I strongly recommend you to visit it. Here is why:

1. Budget!
Guys, the Balkans are your perfect choice for holiday if you are thinking about your budget! Now, after Spain, my next choice for beach holiday is moving to Bulgaria, Black sea. That is my third summer vacation, so I am definitely focussed on my budget.

Let`s start with the flight tickets. I bought mine in March for 120 EUR. In late June, the tickets dropped to 50 EUR. So you can easily fly to Sofia, using Ryanair, Transavia or Wizz Air on the price of a dinner in Amsterdam. From Sofia, you can take a bus to Sozopol or rent a car.

Next – the accommodation and food costs. The accommodations are relatively cheap (around 35 EUR for a double room, however, you can get it cheaper if you book in advance, or higher if you want some perks), but you certainly will be nicely surprised by the food costs, drinks and parking and of course the quality of the food.

2. Sozopol is one of the most charming places on the Balkans

It is believed that the Black Sea was named after the terrible, sudden heavy storms that forced the ships to stay in the harbor. Sozopol was a natural shelter for sailors, as the sea here is mostly calm and the weather is wonderful.

This place simply got my heart. It has a special spirit coming from the preserved local feel. Walking around more than 200 ancient houses, built 17-19th century, I felt like going back into time, while I was passing women selling jam, corn, hand made clothes, hats, socks from their own houses. When visiting the archaeological museum, I learned that the lower floor of those houses is originally built for stores to keep nets and other fishing inventory. Now, they are transformed into small shops, coffees, galleries or hotels.

3. The hospitality of the locals

Yep, they are very hospitable. If you need anything in a restaurant, they will do everything possible to get it for you, even to go buy it from the competitors. I got help and extra help for everything I needed to arrange, from sightseeings to simple errands like hair dresser, navigating me in the city etc. People were just nice, relaxed and chatty.

4. Not overcrowded town with variety of activities
Sozopol gives you peaceful feeling, but in the same time full of life place. There is a cute town center with cable streets, where you can taste good ice creams and cakes. Special attention to the cakes here! They are absolutely amazing, and so many different kinds, that it is hard to choose.

Then the beach, lined with restaurants and bars, mostly offering traditional Bulgarian cuisine, and also cater for fast food appetite. The streets and beaches are not overcrowded both at night and day.

Here is the list of activities I did during my 6 day holiday:

Boat trip. You can easily take a 1 hour boat trip. It will give you breathtaking views (because of the rocks around the peninsula), that are visible better from the boat and it is really relaxing. You can also take a boat trip on Ropotamo river, which coastline is sandy and form enormous dunes where you can see the rare water lilies.

Ravadinovo castle. There is no historical value of this castle, but if you a fan of fairy tales and want to see stunning views – this place will take you on a magical tour in the old world of legends. It is set beautifully on a lake with amazing gardens around, and it will take you around 2-3 hours to see it all. You can visit the art gallery there, spend some time horse riding, try an escape room, drink a cup of coffee with stunning view and of course take many many pictures (exactly like I did). I definitely recommend you to see that!

Museum (in my case – on a rainy day). I had 1 stormy day so I used to learn something new about the history of this ancient city. The archaeological museum of Sozopol is small but very well organized. You can spend like 30-40 min there. It will give you great insights on the history and development of Sozopol, about its first name – Apollonia, how it became an independent city-state and then later the first democratic state of the territory of Bulgaria.

Shopping: I love the rose oil products, that are 100% natural, without parabens and among the best rose oil worldwide. I recommend you to take some of those products, at extremely low prices, compared to the expensive brands from other countries. I bought a soap, eye serum, and lip balm. You can take a look also at the leather coats, they are at reasonable prices.

I recommend visiting the ancient churches in Sozopol. It is worth visiting: the church St Georgi (330 a.C.), St. Zoslim (19th century), deep down in the ground Virgin Mary (15th century), St. Cyril and Methodius, which attracts many tourists because of the relics of St. John the Baptist lies there.

In case you have some more time you can also try:

A day trip to Nessebar. You can take a boat to Nessebar for around 15 EUR, 45 min. You will walk around Nessebar, and come back. It is definitely worth seeing, however, I would rather spend few days there.


Aquapark Neptun.
If you like Aquaparks, then right next to Ravadinovo castle, you will find aquapark Neptun. The entrance is 18 EUR for adults for the whole day, there are also prices for half day and kids. It is a good idea if you want a change from the beach view.
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If you go there in late August or September, you can also visit the famous Apollonia festivals, however, I have to warn you – the city will be packed.

That is my second story in more than few words! I haven`t been to the Bulgarian sea side for years, but because I work in the travel industry I know all about it. Sozopol is one of the favorite destinations for Russian, German and Scandinavian tourists and after I saw it, mine as well. You will find beautiful views on a rainy or sunny day and always something to do without being in overcrowded place. Let me know your impression of Sozopol, or whether you are planning to visit it soon.

Till next time