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Map of Bulgaria

Map of Bulgaria

This former Soviet satellite offers everything from Black Sea beaches to fortified frescoed monasteries, plum brandies to Eastern Orthodox cathedrals.

Sofia is the capital of Bulgaria, a city of Roman ruins, Ottoman-era mosques, and Eastern Orthodox churches. It lies near the nation’s western border with Serbia, connected by rail to the capitals of neighboring countries—Belgrade, Serbia, to the west; Bucharest, Romania, to the north, Athens (via Thessaloniki), Greece, to the South; and Istanbul, Turkey, to the southeast—as well as to Budapest, Hungary (and on to Vienna or Bratislava from there).

Perhaps a reflection of where Bulgarians in the capital would rather be, the country’s two main train lines cross the country east-west, connecting Sofia with the cities of Varna and Burgas in the east, gateway to the beaches of the Black Sea. Two and a half hours southwest of Sofia by train is Bulgaria’s second city, ancient Plovdiv, with Thracian and Roman ruins, medieval streets, 19th century architecture, and a delightful mix of Orthodox and Catholic churches, a Sephardic synagogue, and Europe’s oldest mosque outside of Spain.