Sofia Adventures

Welcome to Sofia!

Sofia is an intriguing city, with corners that show at various times a glint of the splendor of Vienna, the charm of Istanbul, the quirkiness of Budapest, and the brutalism of Moscow. You’ll find Roman ruins in our subway stations, medieval icons in the church basements, and Thracian relics in the former presidential palace. Yet Sofia brings all of these seemingly disparate traditions together into one magical, inspiring city.

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DISCOVER SOFIA

DISCOVER SOFIA

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7 Lovely Things to Do in Melnik, Bulgaria

I’ve visited a lot of Bulgaria, but a visit to Melnik always eluded me. It was just a bit out of the way for most of the day trips I did, and I knew it deserved at least a weekend so that I could explore the thriving wine scene down in Melnik.

When it came time to decide where to spend a romantic weekend with my boyfriend for his birthday, we ended up deciding to finally visit Melnik, Bulgaria’s wine capital.

We had initially planned to visit a ski resort like Borovets or Bansko to enjoy some snow (my boyfriend is from Brazil and therefore snow to him is what a tennis ball is to a golden retriever: complete and utter crack). But since Bulgaria was having an abnormally warm and snowless winter, we ended up opting for lovely Melnik. While it wasn’t a winter wonderland, we had a fantastic, wine-filled trip and were so glad we chose to spend two nights there.

There wasn’t a ton of information on Melnik I could find before my trip, so I hope this guide to visiting Melnik, Bulgaria will be useful as I see this becoming a hotspot for Bulgaria’s booming wine tourism sector in the future.

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Planning a trip to Melnik, Bulgaria? This small town in Bulgaria is known for the Melnik Pyramids and delicious Melnik wine. It's one of the best places to try Bulgarian wine and enjoy some of the best-priced wines in Europe! Here's a guide of all the best things to do in Melnik, from the Kordopulov House to the Rozhen Monastery to the wineries of Melnik!
Planning a trip to Melnik, Bulgaria? This small town in Bulgaria is known for the Melnik Pyramids and delicious Melnik wine. It's one of the best places to try Bulgarian wine and enjoy some of the best-priced wines in Europe! Here's a guide of all the best things to do in Melnik, from the Kordopulov House to the Rozhen Monastery to the wineries of Melnik!

Here are the best things to do in Melnik, Bulgaria!

I recommend staying in Melnik for at least two nights if you can, but if you don’t have time for that, it is possible to do Melnik as a day trip from Sofia.

This tour includes transportation to and from Sofia, the wine museum, walking through Melnik, a visit to Rozhen monastery, lunch in Rozhen (at your expense), the Kordopulov house, and a guided tour of Villa Melnik, so it hits most of the highlights below.

Visit the Wine Museum

Melnik is best-known for being the heart of Bulgaria’s best wine region, and the town is synonymous with high-quality wine for many Bulgarians. While there are several wineries in the Melnik area, many of them are only accessible via car or on a wine tour. Not so for the wine museum in the heart of town!

If you want to try some delicious Melnik wines and get some insight into the wine-making process while in town, be sure to check out the cute wine museum located on the main street (which is really, frankly, the only street in Melnik).

For 5 leva (less than $3 USD), you can wander around the wine museum and have a degustation of four wines and one rakia. There are lots of artifacts related to the wine-making process, but unfortunately, the signage was only in Bulgarian so I wasn’t able to understand what the significance of the objects were.

After wandering around the wine museum for about 15 minutes, we headed into the cellar area for the degustation.

We tried one white wine (I believe it was some sort of misket, but I don’t remember the exact name) as well as three different local reds, before moving onto a rakia.

The wines were really tasty, so of course, I couldn’t help but leave with a bottle (OK, two). It was really fun because the man helping us with the degustation even let us bottle our own wine, sealing the cork and all!

Shop for cute souvenirs

There are so many adorable souvenir shops in Melnik offering a variety of Bulgarian souvenirs that are perfect to take home for a loved one back home. While of course, wine is the obvious souvenir choice, there are plenty of other souvenirs worth bringing back.

For a present for someone with a sweet tooth, you couldn’t do better than bringing back some local jams or honey. Other souvenirs you can find in Melnik include traditional pottery, kukeri figurines, typical kitsch like magnets and postcards, and jewelry.

Visit the 18th-century Kordopulov House

Bulgaria has plenty of museum houses, which are basically private homes that have been converted to museums that have been lovingly kept up over the centuries. The largest museum house in Bulgaria can be found in Melnik, which is interesting as the town of Melnik itself is really quite small.

The Kordopulov House was owned by a wealthy Greek trader, Manolis Kordopulos, as Melnik is located not far from the Greek border. The house was built in 1754 for wine production (hence its massive cellar, which you can explore on a visit). Its architecture blends the Bulgarian National Revival style with Venetian and Ottoman architecture trends, including Venetian stained glass windows on some of the upper floors, such as those seen in the picture above.

Below the Kordopulov House, you’ll find the ruins of a church which belonged to the house complex.

Visiting the Kordopulov House costs 3.50 leva (less than $2 USD) per person and includes a free taste of wine in the cellar at the end of the tour.

Eat tasty Bulgarian cuisine

I’ve been living in Bulgaria for over a year and hands down, I can say that my top two Bulgarian meals have both been in Melnik! There aren’t that many restaurants in Melnik, but those that are there are truly incredible and seriously serve up some incredible Bulgarian food.

The first night, we ate at Mencheva House and our meal was fantastic. We enjoyed sirene cheese baked in honey, sirene-stuffed peppers coated in breadcrumbs and covered in Bulgarian yogurt, gyuvech with sausage and cheese, and baked beans. Every single bite was delicious, but the cheese in honey and peppers in yogurt were obvious stand-outs.

Our second night, we were almost tempted to go back to Mencheva House as the meal had been so delicious but we decided to try another place and we were so glad that we did as our meal there was just as good, if not even better. We ate at Chavkova House and wow. We enjoyed chicken kavarma (a clay-pot cooked stew of peppers, onions, mushrooms, and chicken), ‘village-style’ potatoes (with dill, garlic, and grated sirene cheese), and another gyuvech stew with ham, egg, and cheese.

Visit the Rozhen Monastery

About a 10-minute drive from Melnik, you shouldn’t miss a visit to Rozhen Monastery while you’re in town. This beautiful monastery is the biggest monastery in the Pirin mountain range, located in Bulgaria’s southwest corner.

The monastery dates back to the medieval ages, with evidence of a grave as well as artifacts from the Byzantine empire dating back to the 13th century. The marble frieze of the church’s central gate is one of the oldest parts of the monastery complex, dating back to either the 13th or 14th century.

The church of the monastery was built sometime in the 1400s and its frescoes and walls were likely painted in the late 1500s. While fires ravaged much of the monastery in the 17th century, it was lovingly restored aided by wealthy Bulgarian benefactors over the next 100 years, finishing in 1732. It’s remained one of the most popular tourist destinations in the Melnik region since.

The monastery is free to visit, and no photographs are allowed inside the church.

Check out the Rozhen Pyramids

While at the monastery, don’t miss the 10-minute walk to the viewpoint over the Rozhen pyramids – one of the most beautiful formations in the area. Look for a sign that says Rozhen Pyramids in Cyrillic (Роженски пирамиди) – it’s on the upper path leading away from the monastery up the hill.

When you reach a fork in the path, continue towards the left rather than turning right – that’s how you’ll get to the path properly (we made a mistake and ended up schlepping through the mud for a bit unnecessarily!)

You’ll see a small bench area and that’s how you’ll know you’re almost there. The viewpoint here is incredible!

Visit a winery

Melnik is best known for its incredible wines and you can’t plan a trip here without visiting a winery, right? While you can definitely taste some wine at different cellars in the town of Melnik, nothing is better than drinking fine wines from some of Bulgaria’s best winemakers.

We made a stop at Villa Melnik, one of the most award-winning wineries in all of Bulgaria, and we were so happy we did.

They offer several levels of tours ranging from around 5 leva per person for a simple tour of the winery with a welcome drink to 30 leva per person for a tour of the vineyards, six tastings plus a welcome tasting, and tour of the winemaking facilities.

We opted for the 15 leva per person package which meant we got to try 5 wines plus a bonus tasting on the house from their Aplauz line, which are their premium wines. All six were truly delicious, but we especially loved their orange wine (a white wine vinified like a red with extended skin contact) and their Melnik 55. We couldn’t help but bring back two bottles, which were a great value at about 15 leva per bottle and truly some of the best Bulgarian wines I’ve tried.

Where to Stay in Melnik

Since we visited Melnik for my boyfriend’s birthday, I made sure to pick the best hotel in town – and all signs pointed to Manoleva House, which had a nearly perfect score (9.9/10) on Booking.com.

Our experience there matched that. Our room was fantastic: we booked the triple room and we had a huge double bed, a sofa-bed that we placed all our luggage on but which could have easily slept another person, an ensuite bathroom with a bathtub (!), a flatscreen TV, and a gorgeous view over the town of Melnik from our hillside location. The floors were heated and everything was super clean and cozy, with really beautiful decor and a warm, modern sensibility to it.

I mean, this was the view from our window:

The owner, Margarita, was incredibly helpful and kind during our stay, giving us recommendations and offering assistance with everything. The breakfast was fantastic and entirely homemade. One day we had mekitsa with jam and sirene — absolutely fantastic — and another time we tried the banitsa with yogurt. I had the poached eggs and bacon on the first day and they were incredible too!

I loved our stay at Manoleva House and highly recommend it to anyone else looking to visit Melnik for a special occasion. Check out reviews, prices, and availability here.

Bulgaria Travel Resources

If this will be your first time in Bulgaria, we have some resources to help make your first trip here a breeze. Check out our guide on how to plan your trip to Bulgaria, which goes over everything from visas to ground transportation to budgeting your trip.

We also have guides on what to do in Sofia, Plovdiv, and Veliko Tarnovo, which are other popular destinations in Bulgaria you might be planning to visit.

You may also want to check out our overview of Balkan currency, which describes Bulgarian leva and what to tip in Bulgaria.

Finally, Don’t Forget Travel Insurance

No trip preparation is complete until you have a valid travel insurance policy. Bulgaria is a safe place to travel, but unexpected things can happen anywhere. You want to be able to get your stuff replaced if it’s lost or stolen, or if you get injured you while you’re enjoying hiking or taking a scenic drive throughout the region.

For travel insurance, I use World Nomads.I’ve been a happy customer of theirs for almost three years, and I’ve never had an issue when making a claim. I’m happy to refer them to anyone I meet.

Get a travel insurance quote for your trip here.

21 Seriously Awesome Things to Do in Pristina, Kosovo

There’s a serious lack of travel information about Pristina available online, but that oversight has less to do with the city and more to do with how travel writers constantly seem to skip over Kosovo. W

hether due to (mostly misplaced) worries about the political climate, the opacity of proper visa and passport procedure to visit Serbia and Kosovo back-to-back, or traveler’s desire to simply check Kosovo off as they count countries, Pristina has been a victim to modern travel writing.

Yet the city is super cool, and I found that spending nearly a week there wasn’t quite enough to enjoy everything I wanted. So here are our recommendations for the best things to do in Kosovo, plus where to stay and more Kosovo travel resources to help you plan your trip. 

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A note about Kosovo and Serbia. This article is things to do in Pristina (sometimes spelled Prishtina or Pristine), which is the capital of Kosovo. This is not a political statement about whether or not you should consider Kosovo as part of Serbia; we are merely trying to help those looking for information about Pristina find it easily. Political comments will be deleted. –

Where to Stay in Pristina

Kosovo - Pristina - Sunset
View from my hotel at sunset at Hotel Sara

Accommodations in Pristina offer great value compared to other cities in Europe. Here is a general range of what we mean by each budget category:

  • Budget: A room in a hostel, usually $5-12 USD per night for a dorm bed or under $40 for a double.
  • Mid-range: Around $40-80
  • Luxury: Around $100 per night or more 

Budget: If you want a hostel with an awesome location, book a bunk at Hostel Han. The center of Pristina is fairly walkable, and here you’ll be able to take advantage and get out an explore the city center. Rooms are bright and clean, and the bunks have individual privacy curtains to give you some space when you get back to the dorm.  Check rates and availability here. If you are traveling in peak season, be sure to book online, as Hostel Han is popular and tends to get booked up.

If you’re looking for a budget hotel room in Pristina (read: not a hostel), I stayed at the Hotel Sara for almost a week. My room was clean and comfortable, and the staff was very friendly. Located a bit away from the center (about half a kilometer), I was still able to walk easily to and from the city center to get wherever I wanted to go (even in the middle of a blistering heat wave). Check rates and availability here

Mid-range: Located near the beautiful Gërmia Park, Hotel La Familia Residence is a four-star hotel that has a swimming pool, fitness center, and massage chairs onsite. While it’s outside of the city center (about twenty-five minutes on foot), it’s got awesome views of the city to enjoy. It’s a great bargain, too – check rates, reviews, photos, and availability here.

Luxury: For a luxurious Pristina stay, check into the Hotel International Pristina & Spa. You can enjoy the hotel’s wide array of amenities, including the sun terrace, hot tub, sauna, pool, hotel bar, and onsite restaurant. Rooms are up-to-date, with modern furnishings and relaxing ensuites. You’ll absolutely love the skyline Pristina views. Check rates, reviews, photos, and availability here.

The Best Things to Do in Pristina

So many people just pop into Pristina for a day or two while on whirlwind Balkan backpacking trips, but Allison and I each spent about a week there. Two weeks of total Pristina exploring time really showed us how much there is to do here, and our favorite Pristina activities include both the traditional stuff everyone says to do plus some of our own favorites. 

Check Out the Newborn Monument

Kosovo - Pristina Prishtina - Newborn monument

The Newborn Monument is a statue that celebrates Kosovo’s place as Europe’s newest country. Unveiled on the day that Kosovo announced its independance from Serbia, it is repainted annually to signify a new theme for the year. When I saw it, it had two letters placed on the ground, while in 2010 it had the “b” replaced with a “1” to read NEW10RN, celebrating Kosovo’s tenth anniversary of Independance. 

See the National Library 

Kosovo - Pristina Prishtina - National Library

Fondly referred to as one of the world’s “ugliest buildings,” the Kosovo National Library is a brutalist masterpice from the 1980s during the Yugoslav era. From the side the buildings seems more like a prison than a library, and the (73!) white domes are supposed to represent the white hats of Kosovo’s national costumes. The white domes and brown cubes are supposed to resemble a modern take on the blend of Ottoman and Byzantine architecture that is present throughout Kosovo.

For those who don’t find brutalist architecture pleasing, the drone shots of the roofs (see an example here) are quite magnificent. If you want your own drone shot, make sure to follow all local regulations. 

The library does have a dark past (as do so many places in the former Yugoslavia). It was used as the Serbian army headquarters in 1999 during the Kosovar War for Independance. 

Enjoy some Cultural Tourism at the Kosova National Art Gallery

Kosovo - Pristina - Kosova National Art Gallery - Wikimedia Commons
By The Kosova National Art Gallery – “The Kosova National Art Gallery”, special number of Kosovo Contemporary Art, 2005, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

Located behind the National Library of Kosovo, the Kosova National Art Gallery is the most important art museum in the country. Located in a former Yugoslav army barracks, the space alternatively served as a library and architecture museum during the second half of the twentieth centure. In 1995, the space was formally turned into the current Contemporary art museum.

There are many works here by Muslim Mulliqi, Kosovo’s most important artist of the twentieth century, along with dozens of other important Kosovar artists. 

Tour the Cathedral of Saint Mother Teresa

Kosovo - Pristina - Cathedral of Mother Tereza - shutterstock_381413518

While Kosovo is predominantly Muslim with a Serbian Orthodox minority, one of the most important religious sites in the city is the Roman Catholic Cathedral of Saint Mother Teresa. While she was born in modern-day North Macedonia, she is ethnically Albanian and therefore extremely important to the people of Kosovo. The cathedral was inaugurated in 2010 on the hundredth anniversary of her birth.

Wave to the Bill Clinton Statue on Bill Clinton Boulevard

Kosovo - Pristina - Stephanie Selfie with Bill Clinton Statue

Bill Clinton is beloved by Kosovo, becuase of his integral role in supporting Kosovo in the 1998-99 Kosovo that lead (eventually) to Kosovo’s declaration of Independance. President Clinton came and spoke at the statue’s uneveiling in 2009. The statue is eleven feet high, so it might be difficult to give it the high-five that he seems to be asking for, but feel free to give it a try with the help of photography (forced perspective or Photoshop-the choice is up to you).

Buy an Awesome Pantsuit at the Hillary Store

Kosovo - Pristina - Hillary Store

If you still aren’t over the 2016 US election (the disaster that just keeps on giving), there’s one place in Kosovo where Hillary gets the respect she deserves. The Hillary store down the block from the Bill Clinton statue sells gowns fit for an Inauguration and pantsuits in colors for every day of the week.

Kosovo - Pristina - Hillary Store Pantsuits

Should you NOT want to actually purchase a pantsuit or ball gown, if you come inside and take a photo whle you’re covered in sweat, the clerks will definitely look at you strangely. 

Visit One of Kosovo’s Mosques

Kosovo - Pristina - Mosque

It would be a shame to visit this Muslim-majority country and not step foot in one of Pristina’s historic mosques. You can choose from a number of them. The Sultan Mehmet Fatih Mosque, also known as the Imperial Mosque, was built in the fifteenth centure. Or you can visit the nineteenth-century Jashar Pasha Mosque located in the old quarter or even the Carshi Mosque, also known as the Taş Mosque or Stone Mosque located near the Pristine spomenik.

Whichever you choose, these are all cultural monuments as well as religious sites. Women should cover their heads to enter, and everyone should dress modestly and remove their shoes. 

Slow Down and Enjoy the Coffee Culture

Turkish Coffee - Pixabay  - mug-594621_1920

While most former Ottoman occupied countries in the Balkans love Turkish coffee, most have rebranded the name. Not Kosovo, where it’s perfectly find to refer to the thick stuff as “Turkish.” Kosovo’s Islamic legacy means that while they’re fiercely into their Independance, they aren’t so quick to get upset about Turkey’s legacy here. 

Cafes in Pristina range from fancy, modern spots to pound your double espresso to more traditional spots where you can slow down and people watch for hours. It’s common for some Kosovars to spend hours every day socializing over coffee.

Enjoy some Red Tourism at the Pristina Spomenik

Kosovo - Pristina - Spomenik

Officially known as the “Monument to Brotherhood & Unity,” the Pristina Spomenik is a 1960s Yugoslav monument. If you like traveling through the former Yugoslavia, you’ll no doubt run into Spomeniks all over the region (some of our favorites are in Belgrade and Bosnia). 

If you love spomeniks, too, bookmark the Spomenik Database. The database is working to gather information about all of the remaining Yugoslav monuments. Whie this monument isn’t being actively protected by the local government, red tourism can help save sites like this. A great example is Buzludzha in Bulgaria, which is being saved by people working outside of the governement. So come see it, photograph it, Instagram it, and make people see that you care about saving these historical monuments. Maybe the Kosovo and Pristina government’s will listen. 

Amble on a Xhiro

There are some cities where the urban walk is a part of life. Rome comes to mind, but so does Pristina! Here locals go on a Xhiro (prounounced like gyro), a walk through the city’s main squares or streets. You can walk off your latest meat plate, or you can pick a spot in a cafe and watch the people go by.

Visit Skanderberg Square

Every city in Europe seems to have a prominent equestrian statue, and this statue of Skanderberg (alternatively Sheshi Skënderbu) on his namesake squre is it for Pristina. Skanderberg was an Albanian national hero who worked to overthrow the Turks, and the statue’s prominance signals Kosovo’s historic ties to Albania.

See a Performance at the National Theater of Kosovo

By Adlum Ramadani Own work, CC BY 3.0, Link

Allison actually got to see a free performance of Swan Lake at the National Theater of Kosovo during her time here, but I didn’t have such luck. If you’re interested in seeing a performance while in the city, check out their calendar of upcoming events. 

Visit the Bazaar of Pristina

prishtina-kosovo-bazaar-1024x768

While the historic fifteenth century Ottoman bazaar no longer exists in Pristina, you can still enjoy an open-air market experience by heading to the current bazaar. Similar to the markets you’ll find in the rest of the Balkans, the Pristine bazaar sells everything from old cell phones to fresh produce to kitchen appliances. Bring cash if you want to buy anything.

Find the Statue of Mother Tereza

Kosovo - Pristina - Mother Teresa Statue - Wikimedia Commons
By Dave ProfferMother Teresa, CC BY 2.0, Link

I’m sad to say that I missed this statue while in the city, but those who are interested in her legacy should make sure to seek it out. It’s controversial with some tourists finding it moving and others feeling that it’s nothing special. If you only see one place honoring Mother Teresa, go to the cathedral, but if you still want more find this peaceful bronze statue dedicated to her memory

Shop Until You Drop

I found shopping in Kosovo to be a singular experience, even in the Balkans. The H&M is located inside another store, and many brand names don’t have any stores here at all. Traveling in the middle of a heat wave, though, I needed more (lighter-weight) clothing to survive the brutal temperatures. I loved shopping in the city, even when I was shopping brands I could find elsewhere it was a unique experience since I had to go out of my way to find them.

Tell Time at the Clock Tower

Kosovo - Pristina - Clock Tower - Wikimedia Commons
Arianselmani [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

This nineteenth century landmark is a protected cultural monument. It originally stood near the Old Bazaar and marked the times for the call to prayer, but these days it functions with an electronic time piece and is more of a memory to a bygone era than an important part of daily life. 

Sip Some Rakia (Just Don’t Shoot It!)

Serbia - Belgrade - Rakia Bar
Rakija sneaks up on you – so drink wisely!

Rakia (or rakija) is the ubiquitous fruit brandy found throughout most of the Bakans, and Kosovo is no exception. If you’ll be traveling around the region, you’re going to run into it whether you want to or not. I personally prefer spicier rakias to plain ones. Just remember, this is an apertif which is served often before food and should be sipped while eating small plates. Rakia on an empty stomach is a bad idea. 

See What Life in Kosovo was Like at the Ethnographic Museum

If you’re visiting Kosovo, don’t miss a visit to the Ethnographic Museum in the heart of the Bazaar area of Pristina. This museum is located in a beautiful traditional home, featuring all sorts of artifacts related to Kosovar life, with a particular focus on textiles and furniture you’d find in a traditional Kosovar household. If you’re lucky like I was, you’ll get to make the visit with the guidance of the curator, who will personally tell you all they know about the items on display.

Visit a UNESCO Site in Gračanica

Kosovo - Gracanica - Gracanica Monastery

Gračanica Monastery (pronounced Grachanitsa) is a Serbian Orthodox monastery in a suburb of Pristina. Guarded by NATO troops, you’ll need a passport to enter. After visiting the monastery, check out the beautiful grounds, shop at the gift store, and observe the monastery’s nuns at work. 

See the Assasin Miloš Obilić’s  Statue

Kosovo - Gracanica - Milos Obilic Statue

If you come out to Gračanica, make sure to stop by the Miloš Obilić statue outside of the monastery gates. The statue honors the fourteenth-century Serbian knight and national hero who is supposed to have been the assassin who murdered the Ottoman Sultan Murad I. 

Eat at Himalaya Gurkha 

Kosovo - Pristina - Himalayan Gurkha Restaurant

When you absolutely can’t eat another cevapi or grilled meat plate, Allison and I both love the Nepalese and Indian restaurant Himalaya Gurkha. Get the momos. Bonding over this unassuming restaurant at the back of a seemingly-abandoned mall is how Allison and I became friends in the first place (and why this blog exists). We owe it our undying gratitude. 

More Kosovo Travel Resources

Headed to Pristina? We have some great travel resources to help you with your trip. You can check out our list of the city’s most Instagrammable places. We also have a Balkan currency guide which explains how money works in Kosovo and local tipping customs.

If you’re still putting together your itinerary, here’s a great list of places to visit in Kosovo to help you choose.

If this will be one of your first trips in the Balkans, check out our massive list of things to know before traveling the Balkans as well as our Balkan busroad trip, and itinerary guides. 

We publish new articles and trip advice nearly daily! For more information about traveling to Kosovo and the Balkans, bookmark our Kosovo and Balkan travel pages, where you’ll find our entire archive plus anything new we publish before you leave for your trip. 

Finally, Don’t Forget Your Travel Insurance!

I’m sure you’re aware that travel insurance is essential for Kosovo and for travel in general! This is especially true when you’re talking about traveling in a city where tourists can be targeted for petty theft. In addition, while the political situation in Kosovo is generally stable, the occasional flare up means you’ll be happy to know you have insurance to cover you if something goes awry. 

Allison and I have both been paying customers of World Nomads for the last three years. We love the peace of mind it gives us in case of emergencies, accidents, illnesses, theft, or trip cancellation or disruption.

While Kosovo is perfectly safe to travel around, there’s always a risk inherent in everyday travel, so it’s better to play it safe. The saying goes “if you can’t afford travel insurance, you can’t afford to travel” is true!

 

Get a travel insurance quote for your trip here.

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21 Things to Do in Pristina, Kosovo

Where to Stay in Lake Bled: Hotels & Accommodations You’ll Love!

If you’re planning a trip to Lake Bled, you’re in for a treat. Not only is this scenic Slovenian lake paradise ultra-Instagrammable, it’s extremely relaxing and beautiful.

If you’re planning a trip to Lake Bled – whether in summer, in the shoulder seasons of fall or spring, or even coated in snow in the winter – you’re in for a true treat.

We’ve gathered the best places to stay in Lake Bled and the surrounding area to make planning a trip to Slovenia even easier. Note that Bled is a very small village and there are limited hotels in the town of Bled and on the shores of Lake Bled itself. As a result, we’ve selected some highly-rated hotels in the towns nearby to Bled, none more than a maximum of 10 kilometers away from Bled.

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If you're planning to visit Lake Bled, Slovenia, you're in for a treat! But deciding where to stay in Lake Bled can be difficult. Here our top Bled hotel recommendations for all budgets, in Lake Bled and surrounding Bled villages.
If you're planning to visit Lake Bled, Slovenia, you're in for a treat! But deciding where to stay in Lake Bled can be difficult. Here our top Bled hotel recommendations for all budgets, in Lake Bled and surrounding Bled villages.

Where to Stay in Lake Bled: Hostels

You can find some seriously affordable hostels in Bled, close to the lake and all the amenities of town. A bed in a dorm should cost about $15 per night but may be higher in the peak season.

Top Choice: Back Hostel

In Bled proper, Back Hostel is close to both Bled Castle and the town of Bled, as well as a bus stop for getting around via public transportation or free parking if you have a car. The dorms are spacious and clean with wooden bunks. There is a shared lounge, bar area, and kitchen. Guests have raved about the hospitality here!

»» Check out reviews, prices, and availability here «« 

Runner Up: Castel Hostel 1004

500 meters away from the town of Bled, Castle Hostel 1004 has a great location and a fantastic price. There are both double rooms and dormitories, with 4, 6, 8, and 12 bed rooms. The hostel has a shared kitchen and lounge area as well as a lovely sun terrace on the roof, and it’s a mere 5 minute walk to the lake!

»» Check out reviews, prices, and availability here «« 

Where to Stay in Lake Bled: Budget Hotels & Guesthouses

For this section, expect your average double room to be around $75 per night or less. You’re going to have to sacrifice a little on location or newness in order to get a Lake Bled hotel in this price range, but I’m sure you probably figured as much. Here are our top picks for where to stay in Bled on a budget (excluding hostels, which you’ll find above)

Top Choice: Vila Bojana

Just 200 meters away from the edge of Lake Bled, Vila Bojana is a great budget-friendly place to stay in Bled close to the main road. Rooms here include a complimentary breakfast buffet in the dining room each morning, and there is a terrace on the third floor from which you can enjoy panoramic views over Lake Bled and the natural beauty of the region. It’s close to many restaurants which you can easily walk to from the hotel.

Rooms are spacious and quiet, with both heating and a fan available (no AC, so keep that in mind if traveling during the warmer parts of the year). Many power points are available throughout the room, as well as desk space and mini fridges in some room. The furniture could definitely use an update, but for the price and the location, I can find very little to complain about!

»» Check out reviews, prices, and availability here ««

Slovenia - Lake Bled - Snow Winter Pixabay

Runner Up: Hotel Krek

A bit away from Lake Bled, Hotel Krek is a great place to stay if you are traveling to Lake Bled with your own car as they have free parking and you’re less than 5 kilometers away from the lake itself. While you don’t have a lake view, it is just a 10-minute drive away, so it depends on what you prefer for your travel style.

Rooms have a large, comfortable bed, plenty of room to spread out, balconies, a shower, AC in each room (great for summer travel as Slovenia can get hot!). Admittedly, the furnishings are a bit dated, but that’s part of why this hotel is such a good budget deal. The rooftop terrace offers a nice view of the surrounding mountains, though you can’t see Bled from there.

»» Check out reviews, prices, and availability here ««

Runner Up: Aparthotel Kazina

If you don’t mind being a little away from Bled, Aparthotel Kazina is a great option. It’s a condo-hotel, meaning that the apartment units (but not the doubles and other smaller rooms) come with a kitchen complete with an oven and microwave: great if you are traveling to Bled on a budget, as you can cook for yourself and skip some pricy meals out. A continental breakfast is also available, should you feel like eating in the hotel.

It’s about a 15-minute drive from Bled in the town of Jesinice, but it’s within walking distance from a shopping center and major supermarkets so it may be a good choice if you have a car while you are traveling Slovenia as you get a lot more bang for your buck while you’re not in Bled proper.

The hotel itself is extremely modern and clean, with new furniture and a great eye for design (unlike some of the other budget offerings in Bled, which definitely veer towards the more dated end of the spectrum and look like they haven’t changed since the days when Slovenia was part of Yugoslavia). Rooms have wooden floors, giant beds, big windows with plenty of natural light, and bedside tables with individual lamps.

»» Check out reviews, prices, and availability here «« 

Where to Stay in Lake Bled: Mid-Range Hotels

Generally, in this range you’ll be able to find stylish, cozy accommodations between $75-150 USD per night, on average. Note that prices will range quite a bit based on the season, however, with prices higher in the summer season and much lower in late fall, winter, and early spring. These hotels are not in Bled proper, but very close by – usually just a few kilometers – so it’s a great choice for those with cars as parking in Bled can get quite crowded.

Top Choice: Nature Hotel Lukanc

Just 2 kilometers from the center of Bled Town, Nature Hotel Lukanc is budget-friendly yet easily accessible by foot or car to the lake (by foot takes about 15-20 minutes). Because it’s just a bit outside of the town, it’s much quieter than the rest of Bled, allowing you the opportunity to enjoy Slovenia’s best asset: its pristine nature. The hotel has its own restaurant, so you won’t even need to go into town for dinner unless you’d like to. You can also relax on the terrace and access the communal garden, which are both lovely places to relax and get away from it all in the summer.

Some units have their own balconies with beautiful views over the town of Bled, while still enjoying rural surroundings and plenty of greenery. The rooms are a little dated in terms of furnishings but they have everything you need, including extra-large beds, plenty of bedside tables, and big wardrobes so that you have plenty of room for your clothing should you choose to unpack and stay a few days. Desk space and TV is also provided, as well as a kettle for each room.

»» Check out reviews, prices, and availability here «« 

Runner Up: Hotel Ribno

Not located in Bled proper but in the lovely adjacent village of Ribno, this calm hotel surrounded by a beautiful pine forest offers beautiful panoramic views of the nearby countryside. There are plenty of places to indulge in some outdoor activities, including five tennis courts and a beach volleyball court to enjoy.

Hotel Ribno has some serious eco-friendly bona fides: it was the first zero waste hotel in all of Slovenia. The restaurant is also committed to serving delicious local cuisine (as well as some international favorites) including a wide variety of Slovenian wines that you can taste.

The rooms offer incredible views – some even have balconies! The rooms have large windows, lovely wooden furniture, and desk space provided, which give the hotel a super-cozy cabin feel. If you’re looking for an eco nature escape that’s not far from Bled, this is your place.

»» Check out reviews, prices, and availability here «« 

Runner Up: Linhart Hotel

Just under 5 miles away from Lake Bled, Linhart Hotel is a cozy place to stay on a mid-range budget. It’s located in the nearby town of Radovljica, recently renovated so that everything looks brand-spanking-new. It’s located right on the main square of the small town, so that everything is quickly within arms reach (and it’ll be more affordable in this town then in Bled proper). There’s even an on-site coffee house complete with a terrace!

The architectural style is beautifully rustic, modern, and cozy. We’re talking white-painted walls with wood beams criss-crossing the ceiling and walls, rich-hued wooden furniture, airy white linens, and plenty of space to spread out. Other in-room perks include bedside tables with reading lamps, as well as large wardrobe units and seating areas in some of the rooms.

»» Check out reviews, prices, and availability here «« 

Where to Stay in Lake Bled: Luxury Hotels

On the luxury end of the spectrum is where you’ll find some of. the best values in Lake Bled – you can get a truly world class hotel room for about $200 and literally be staying in a former president’s summer palace! So if your trip to Bled is celebrating some special occasion, or if you’re in a place where you can splurge a bit, there are some truly incredible luxury options here (two of them right on the lake, too!)

Top Choice: Vila Bled, a.k.a. Tito’s Summer House

Many of the accommodations on this list are not on Lake Bled itself, as there are limited accommodations that meet this criterion. Vila Bled is a notable exception, quite literally located on the shore of Lake Bled, surrounded by beautiful parklands. Why is this hotel so grand? Well, it used to be Yugoslav president Tito’s summer residence!  How often can you say that you stayed in the summer house of an ex-communist leader?

This hotel is truly luxury at its finest: mid-century modern furniture, an unparalleled view of Lake Bled, a private swimming deck and boathouse, and a delicious in-house restaurant serving up Slovenian and international cuisine. The hotel itself is super Instagrammable, with salmon-pink walls and a stunning breakfast view of the oft-photographed island in the middle of Lake Bled. There’s also an in-house spa with jacuzzi and massage rooms.

The interior is a little bit on the older side, but to me, that just adds to the charm of staying in a place that used to be the stomping grounds of Josep Tito!

»» Check out reviews, prices, and availability here «« 

Runner Up: Adora Luxury Hotel

Adora Luxury Hotel (which used to be named Vila Istra) is located right on the banks of Lake Bled, offering stunning views of the lake with its picture-perfect island as well as Triglav Mountain in the background. You can enjoy breakfast with an incredible lake view outside on the terrace in nice weather, and there’s also a small private garden and pavilion you can relax in for a respite from the occasional crowds you’ll find at the lake.

There is a variety of rooms on offer, ranging from everything from a cozy but compact double room to luxury king suites and even penthouse apartments, fitting anywhere from two to four people. Decorated with elegance, all the rooms feature unique furniture – new but with an old-fashioned, vintage twist that pay homage to its roots as a former villa. The bathrooms are large and modern, some with his and hers sinks and even bathtubs!

»» Check out reviews, prices, and availability here «« 

Runner Up: ECO Boutique Hotel AMS Beagle

Just 200 meters from Vintgar Gorge, and a short drive from both Triglav National Park and Lake Bled, ECO Boutique Hotel AMS Beagle is an incredible choice of where to stay in the Lake Bled area. All rooms have beautiful views, either of the mountains or on-site gardens. The area is popular for a variety of outdoor activities, from horse riding to cycling to hiking to golfing, all of which can be organized by the hotel if required.

While not in Bled proper, it’s extremely close – just two kilometers away, or about a 20 minute walk. There are plenty of restaurants in the nearby area as well as a gorgeous river, so that nature is quite literally at your doorstep. Some rooms are a bit on the smaller side: others are bigger, featuring kitchenettes, dining areas, and large wardrobe and luggage storage areas. All rooms have rustic wooden furnishings made by a local artisan with an updated-but-cozy feel.

The hotel is extremely eco-friendly, using a passive house environment set up: the hot water is heated by solar panels, breakfast is local and all bio/organic, and only recycled paper products and environmentally-friendly cleaning products are used. You’ll enjoy a luxury experience without leaving behind much of a carbon footprint at this stunning eco hotel.

»» Check out reviews, prices, and availability here «« 

Slovenia Travel Resources

If you’re just starting to prepare for your trip to Slovenia, read our guide to planning a trip to Slovenia which features an 11-step checklist!

If you’re an avid photographer, you’ll find our Instagram guide to Bled helpful (Ljubljana on the way!).

If you need more Slovenia travel inspiration, check out the best places to visit in Slovenia and what Slovenian souvenirs you should bring home.

For all of our resources on Slovenia, check out our Slovenia travel page as well as our Balkans guides. We post new content on the site almost every day, so keep an eye out for new posts or click around to find more content if you are planning a multi-country Balkan trip.

Finally, Don’t Go to Slovenia Without Travel Insurance!

Make sure you always travel to Slovenia and the Balkans with a valid travel insurance policy. While the country is safe, accidents can happen anywhere. If you experience an accident or theft, travel insurance will help you recover your costs and enjoy the rest of your trip. 

For travel insurance, I use World Nomads.I’ve been a happy customer of theirs for almost three years, and I’ve never had an issue when making a claim. I’m happy to refer them to anyone I meet.

Get a travel insurance quote for your trip here.

13 Perfect Instagrammable Places in Heraklion, Crete

Most people who come to Heraklion pop in to see the Palace of Knossos, and then move on to more traditionally picturesque parts of Crete. However, after staying in Heraklion in December for two weeks, I have to say that the city has completely charmed me.

While it has a more grimy exterior in places, I absolutely adore that about the city. Beyond this, though, there are so many beautiful Instagrammable places in Heraklion and hidden photography spots that you should definitely give the city more than a glancing pass. 

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The Most Instagrammable Places in Heraklion

Here are my favorite Heraklion Instagram spots, in no particular order…

Sinaitiko Cafe

While the city is full of delicious cafes, the most Instagrammable cafe in Heraklion (in my opinion) is Sinaitiko Cafe off of Saint Catherine Square. You can sit outside and enjoy a Greek coffee while looking at the beautiful Agios Minas Cathedral and watching the pigeons gather in the trees. Though it would be a shame if you came and didn’t snap a pic of the lovely green door juxtaposed against the orange trees. 

Location: Archontopoulon 14, Iraklio 712 01, Greece

Palace of Knossos

Most people come to Heraklion explicitly to see the famous Palace of Knossos. If you want to get shots without tourists in them, come early! You can buy a Skip the Line pass and arrive first thing in the morning to help you avoid the crowds.

Check prices for Knossos Skip the Line pass.

Location: Knossos 714 09, Greece

Koules Fortress, Venetian Harbor, & Lighthouse

You can’t visit Heraklion and skip the Venetian Harbor. Koules Fortress juts out into the water with the lighthouse at the end of the causeway. When you come down, give yourself enough time to really explore every angle. This shot above is my take on the classic fortress shot. But there are so many other cool angels you can do!

I love this shot of the fortress with the water in winter. Don’t forget to play with close-ups and textures when you’re here!

Location: Heraklion 712 02, Greece

Historic Lakkos District

Lakkos Historic District is the former red light district in Heraklion, but these days it is celebrating its seedy past with an amazing display of street art and art projects. If you love street art, you’ll be in heaven here! 

Start at the Lakkos Cafe before exploring the surrounding area. 

Location: Taxiarchou Markopoulou 41, Iraklio 712 01, Greece

Rocks on the Shore

A lot of the shoreline in Heraklion is rocky. Even though these areas aren’t the gorgeous sandy Cretan beaches people come to the island for, they still make a great photo opportunity! Come at golden hour so you can play with the reflections and intense colors.

Location: the shoreline all around Heraklion

Beautiful Doorways

If you get out into the residential streets, you can find all kinds of beautiful doors here. I love this green one I found while wandering the city (can’t remember exactly where). Get out and explore the city and find your own gorgeous Heraklion doorway!

Of course, not all of the beautiful doors in Heraklion are private houses! Get out into the city and see what you can find. 

Location: all over the city!

Venetian Walls

From the ground level, the Venetian Walls are impressive, but they’re truly marvelous from above! If you’re traveling with a drone, make sure to check the local drone laws before flying!

Location: Leof. Plastira 25, Iraklio 712 01, Greece

Heraklion Tetrapods

I fell in love with Crete’s tetrapods while in Rethymnon, but there are some of these super cool engineering marvels protecting the shoreline in Heraklion as well. I can’t find information on whether or not they’re actually safe to crawl out on, so do so at your own risk. But the shot sure does look cool.

Of course, you can photograph them by themselves, as they make quite an interesting subject against the water. 

Location: near the Lighthouse in the Venetian Harbor

The Beach

Most people don’t come to Heraklion for a beach vacation, instead, they come for the culture and architecture and then move onto the beaches on the rest of the island. There are some gorgeous beaches in Heraklion prefecture, including Matala Beach and Stalis Beach. 

There’s no end to the gorgeous beach shots you can get on any beach, so they aren’t exactly Heraklion-only Instagram shots. However, no trip to Crete should go without at least one (or five) amazing beach days, and you might as well bring your camera when you come down. 

Location: All over, but the closes is at Arkadias 33, Xeropotamos 713 03, Greece

Venetian Loggia

The Venetian Loggia now serves as city hall, but you can come into the courtyard for free on your own. This is the traditional shot in the courtyard. 

However, this shot of the sky through the top of the courtyard might be my favorite! I do feel stupid, as I spent a ton of time in this courtyard, and never thought to take this pic!

Location: August Str. 25, Iraklio 712 02, Greece

Agios Minas Cathedral

I stayed across the street from the Cathedral for two weeks, and I have to say that it’s a building I have truly grown to love. It’s impressive without being overpowering. There are two squared next to it, one in front and Saint Catherine Square to the side. 

Location: Heraklion 712 01, Greece

Agios Titus Church

Agios Titus is the beautiful little church off of August 25th Street. The square out front is absolutely gorgeous, but do take a moment to go inside and see the lovely icons. 

Location: Pl. Agiou Titou, Iraklio 712 02, Greece

Morosini Fountain

The fountain has definitely seen better days, but you can’t come to Heraklion and not grab a pic. I enjoyed sitting at the Phyllo Sophies cafe next to the fountain, sipping Greek coffee and eating bougasta while looking at the faded beauty of the fountain and the square. 

Location: Pl. El. Venizelou, Iraklio 712 02, Greece

More Crete Travel Resources

Headed to Crete? If this is your first trip to Greece, check out our guide to Planning a Trip to Greece, which covers visas, budgets, vaccines, and everything else you need to consider as you plan your trip.

For Heraklion, make sure to read our guide to the best Heraklion restaurants and cafes.

If you’ll be exploring the rest of the island, we have guides to things to do in Rethymnon, Rethymnon Instagram spots, and where to stay in Rethymnon, which includes hotels and hostel recommendations. 

If you’re planning to see Crete’s beautiful beaches, we have our recommendations for the best beaches in Crete and a guide to visiting Seitan Limania (our personal favorite). 

If you’re combining a trip to Crete with the mainland or other Greek islands, check out our Greek Island Hopping Guide and our list of Greek vacation spots if you’re wondering where to go in Greece. 

We publish new articles and trip advice nearly daily! For more information about traveling to Greece and the Balkans, bookmark our Greece and Balkan travel pages, where you’ll find our entire archive plus anything new we publish before you leave for your trip. 

Finally, Don’t Forget Travel Insurance

I’m sure you’re aware that travel insurance is essential for Crete and for travel in general! This is especially true when you’re talking about traveling with your camera and smartphone near the water because you don’t want your trip ruined if they get lost, stolen, or fall in the Mediterranean. 

Allison and I have both been paying customers of World Nomads for the last three years. We love the peace of mind it gives us in case of emergencies, accidents, illnesses, theft, or trip cancellation or disruption.

While Crete is perfectly safe to travel around, there’s always a risk inherent in everyday travel, so it’s better to play it safe. The saying goes “if you can’t afford travel insurance, you can’t afford to travel” is true!

Get a travel insurance quote for your trip here.

Pin This Guide to the Best Heraklion Instagram Spots for Your Trip to Crete

Most Instagrammable Places in Heraklion

17 Most Instagrammable Places in Sunny Beach & Nessebar

We are absolutely obsessed with the beaches of the Bulgarian Riviera, and none of these are as high on our list for summer beach spots as Sunny Beach and Nessebar. Situated just a short drive apart, you can (and should) easily combine these two beach towns on your Bulgarian beach vacation. And no summer vacay is complete without a few fabulous photos to remember your trip by. Here are our recommendations for the most Instagrammable places in Sunny Beach and Nessebar, plus a few can’t-miss spots nearby. 

 

Read: 6 Fantastic All Inclusive Bulgaria Beach Resorts to Enjoy

 

The Most Instagrammable Places in Sunny Beach

Sunny Beach is almost more of a feeling than a place, but while you’re here you should make sure to hit up some of the iconic activities that make any Sunny Beach vacation complete, from the beach bars to the water sports. Here are our favorite Instagram spots in Sunny Beach to snap while you’re here.

Beach Bars

If you’re in Sunny Beach when five o’clock rolls around (or maybe 1 pm) you know you want to hit up one of the relaxed and downright groovy beach bars. I have my personal faves (my lips are sealed), but if you want one that’s extra Instagrammable then find the kitschiest, tiki-est beach bar you can. Bonus points for ordering a drink in a coconut. 

The View from Khan’s Tent

Khan’s Tent is a crazy restaurant with a floor show, where you have to book reservations a few days in advance. It’s a seriously nuts experience in and of itself, but it’s also situated above Sunny Beach so you get this absolutely incredible view of the coast.

To eat at the restaurant and enjoy the show, you need to book tickets with one of the local agencies at least a few days in advance. However, if you have a car, nothing’s stopping you from driving here and photographing the view sans reservations. 

Action Aquapark

The only waterpark in Bulgaria, this is a popular spot to come and enjoy a day while on your beach vacation. It has a lazy river, water slides, and tons of options to photograph yourself with that inflatable unicorn you know you brought with you. To visit, book early. Since it’s one of a kind in the country, it tends to sell out early. 

Reserve Your Action Aquapark Tickets

Piers

There are a couple of piers along the water that gives you the opportunity for a great catwalk-like Black Sea photo. While they don’t have addresses, you can easily find them using the Satellite view on Google Maps (one is located at the GPS coordinates 42.693739, 27.716153). 

Aquatic Sports

Sunny Beach has tons of great options for aquatic sports, from parasailing to kayaking to water sliding off the back of a cruise ship. Whatever you choose, remember that it’s the experience that’s the most important thing, and the photos are just a bonus. 

To get that perfect action Instagram photo, just make sure you trust your photographer. Shooting on burst mode helps if it’s a friend or family member. Otherwise, a lot of companies will let you buy the action photos from them. While pricey, you do tend to get better shots. 

Hanging Out on the Beach

You came to Sunny Beach to relax! So relax and enjoy your time here. You’ll end up getting a ton of great photos just from spending time with your friends, family, or whoever else you traveled here with. All that beach time is what really counts here!

Living that Beach Resort Life

I don’t think the beach resorts in Sunny Beach are necessarily beautiful, but they do have the impressive resort vibe that will forever remind you of your time here. Grab a couple of cool photos of your hotel. If you don’t know where to stay, check out our beach resort guide. 

 

Most Instagrammable Places in Sunny Beach

 

The Most Instagrammable Places in Nessebar

Nessebar is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Between its historic architecture and its beautiful natural setting, you really won’t be at a loss to find great Nessebar Instagram spots, but here are our favorites.

Historic Houses

Spend some time wandering through the historic part of the city, and you’ll find absolutely lovely 18th-century houses. To avoid the crowds, come early to photograph them in the morning (you’ll get better light anyway). 

Church of Saint Sophia

This Byzantine-era church is preserved in beautiful ruins. It’s a must-see for anyone coming to Nessebar, but you can also get some cool Nessebar Instagram inspiration if you can avoid coming here when it’s crawling with tourists. 

Nessebar Beach

The picturesque beach with a pier is a great place to enjoy the natural side of Nessebar, as opposed to its important history. Bring your swimsuit and enjoy an afternoon here (after you get your Instagram shots, obviously).

Old Nessebar from the Sky

Nessebar looks absolutely amazing from above. If you have a drone, don’t leave it at home! 

The Old Windmill

Located about halfway down the causeway from the new city to the old city, the Old Windmill is shrouded in mystery but a great Nessebar photography spot nonetheless. 

Nessebar Harbor

Um…pictures of boats…need I say more?

Nessebar Rocks

While personally, I think some of the rocks shots are overdone (and done poorly) if you can get a fresh or glamorous take crawling or walk on the rocks along the shoreline, then more power to you. 

Instagram Spots Out of Town

If you have a car or want to hire a taxi, you can find a few more Instagram-worthy places an hour or so outside of Sunny Beach. 

Lake Atanasovsko

If you’re going to come all the way to Sunny Beach, don’t skip a visit to the pink lake! We have an entire guide to visiting (inflatable flamingo not included): 

Lake Atanasovsko: Bulgaria’s Stunning Pink Lake You Probably Never Knew Existed

Lavender Fields

You have to get the timing right (and having a matching dress doesn’t hurt), but a photograph in a lavender field is really as beautiful as Bulgaria gets. Which is to say, absolutely effing stunning. You need to come before its harvested around the end of June, so plan to come early June for the best shots.

Sunflower Fields

This particular field is in Shipka, but there are great sunflower fields in the Sunny Beach / Nessebar / Burgas area of Bulgaria. You really need to go in early July (they all harvested by mid-August). 

Bulgaria Travel Resources

If this will be your first time in Bulgaria, we have some resources to help make your first trip here a breeze. Check out our guide on how to plan your trip to Bulgaria, which goes over everything from visas to ground transportation to budgeting your trip.

For picking out the best beaches and resorts, read our Bulgarian Beaches and Bulgarian Resorts guides. 

Next, check out our guide to avoiding taxi scams in Sofia. We don’t have taxi guides yet for Varna and Burgas, but the information about common scams and how to avoid them is the same. Unless you’ll be picking up a rental car at the airport (which is what we typically do for the coast) you’ll likely get into a Bulgarian taxi at some point during your beach vacation. 

You will also want to check out our overview of Balkan Currency, which describes Bulgarian leva and what to tip in Bulgaria.

Finally, Don’t Forget Travel Insurance

No beach trip preparation is complete until you have a valid travel insurance policy. Bulgaria is a safe place to travel, but beach trips involve being out in nature. That means unexpected things can happen (like your prescription sunglasses getting swallowed up by the Black Sea…not that I would know…). You want to be able to get your stuff replaced if it’s lost or stolen, or if you get injured you while you’re enjoying hiking, swimming, climbing, partying, or whatever else you plan to do here. 

For travel insurance, I use World Nomads. I’ve been a happy customer of theirs for almost three years, and I’ve never had an issue when making a claim. I’m happy to refer them to anyone I meet.

 

Get a travel insurance quote for your trip here.

 

Pin this Guide to the Best Instagram Spots in Nessebar & Sunny Beach

Most Instagrammable Places in Nessebar

 

17 Instagrammable Places in & Near Sibiu, Romania

Sibiu is one of my favorite cities in Romania, and it just may be the most photogenic of all the places in Transylvania – a high honor, given how beautiful this region is.

What can I say about Sibiu? It’s a city that’s so easy to fall for. I love the pastel-colored walls and the strange slit-windowed architecture which makes the entire city look like its squinting at you. I love the town squares which buzz with life, surrounded by buildings older than anything I’m used to seeing back home in the U.S. I love the historical towers and churches you can climb for a stunning view.

Sibiu is also a great base for a road trip through Romania which allows you to see some of the country’s best sights all within around two hours’ driving distance from the city, so I’ve listed some of those at the end as well.

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The 10 Best Instagram Spots in Sibiu

View from the Lutheran Cathedral Belltower

The Lutheran Cathedral offers one of the best views over the city of Sibiu. The rooftops are especially beautiful when Sibiu has been hit with a dusting of snow, which is the way I fell in love with Sibiu and the way I’ll always feel it looks best.

To get to the top, you’ll have to ascend the slightly scary steep steps up to the bell tower – and there are way more of them than you think. Trust me, you will end up winded! But it will be worth it (and the 8 lei/~$2 USD entry fee) when you get to the top and see these stunning views.

Lutheran Cathedral (Interior)

A lot of fuss is made of the view from the Lutheran Cathedral Belltower, which obviously is one of the top Instagram spots in Sibiu, but not as much hype surrounds the interior of the Lutheran Cathedral, which I think is a shame!

This building is beautiful, with a criss-cross buttress pattern on the roof that reminds me of churches you’d find in France and Rome. The look is very simple but beautiful, and you really should take the time when exploring Sibiu to spend a few minutes inside the cathedral proper.

Lutheran Cathedral (Exterior)

The Lutheran Cathedral of Saint Mary can be quite hard to photograph from the exterior due to its size and position within the city.

You’ll have to get a little creative when it comes to picking the right angle to photograph it! Be sure to straighten out its lines in Lightroom or Snapseed afterwards for a more professional, symmetrical effect.

Here’s another great view of it, which you can find in the area around Strada Centumvirilor (bring a good zoom lens!).

Piata Mare

One can’t-miss place in Sibiu is its main plaza, Piata Mare, which is in the heart of the city center.

Grab a gelato, throw it against a backdrop of a typical European plaza, and bam, Instagram gold.

Strada Centumvirilor

One of my favorite streets in Sibiu, Strada Centumvirilor, has some great views of not only the Lutheran Cathedral, but also the traditional cobblestoned street and pastel-colored buildings that make Sibiu so photogenic.

The fact that the street is angled downwards means that you can get a lot of the city in your photo and play with perspective and compression in lots of interesting ways, particularly if you have a telephoto lens.

Bridge of Lies

Here’s one of my favorite shots from my trip to Romania: me standing on the Bridge of Lies, which I got a friend to shoot from the street adjacent to the bridge.

This is one Sibiu Instagram photo that would be a little hard to pull off solo (with just a tripod) because you’d have to be quite far from your camera to get this exact shot. While I feel like Romania is very safe, I generally like to be close to my camera, and this would be a bit of a test of my comfort!

The Street Below the Bridge of Lies

The Bridge of Lies is beautiful, and there are a lot of fun angles you can capture it from in order to have more versatile photos that you can use in the future to illustrate your time in Sibiu.

I particularly like these photos that are taken from the street beneath the Bridge of Lies in Sibiu and think a better Instagrammer than I could have a field day with this brick wall, wrought-iron bridge, and pastel-house backdrop!

Kleines Café Alley

The alleyway on which you’ll find the entrance to Kleines Café, right off of Piata Huet, is one of my favorite of Sibiu’s many scenic alleys. Kleines Café means “small café” in German and it’s pretty dead on as this is supposedly the smallest café in all of Sibiu!

It’s small inside, but it’s a great place to warm up for a bit if you happen to be visiting Sibiu during the pretty but bitterly cold winter (get a hot chocolate here, it’s delicious!).

Eyes of Sibiu

One of the quintessential photos of Sibiu is a shot of the famous “Sibiu eyes” that this city is known for.

This shot is of the Old Town Hostel in Piata Mica, but you’ll find them all over the city. Zoom in and frame it tight for a unique, detailed photo.

ASTRA National Museum Complex

Sibiu has an open air museum similar to many other Eastern European cities like Tallinn and Bucharest, and it’s really stunning! It’s close to Sibiu’s city center, just 4 kilometers, so it’s definitely an easy side trip while you’re visiting Sibiu.

You’ll find a variety of museums on topics related to Romanian ethnology and folk life in this museum complex, which also is home to traditional village houses (300 of them!), artificial lakes, and artifacts such as typical textiles and pottery.

7 Instagrammable Places Near Sibiu

Clay Castle

Castelul de Lut Valea Zanelor (much simpler to call it Clay Castle) is an eco-hotel-to-be, which you can visit while they finish up construction. They have a tiny coffee stand with some outdoor seating that you can visit in the meantime, and you can pay a small fee to visit and take photos.

It’s located about 50 kilometers outside of Sibiu without any public transportation options that I’m aware of, so it’s not a place you can easily get to on a whim. However, if you are doing a road trip through Transylvania and have access to a car, I highly recommend adding this to your Transylvania itinerary.

Sighisoara

100 kilometers away from Sibiu, but easily accessed via public transportation, if you’re an Instagrammer visiting Sibiu you seriously need to make sure you can squeeze in at least a day trip to Sighisoara!

Unfortunately, I only got to spend about two hours here but it was easily one of the most beautiful places I visited on my entire Romania trip. Don’t miss a day trip there if you’re in Sibiu!

Biertan

About 87 kilometers from Sibiu is the fortified church of Biertan, one of the most beautiful places in Romania.

Again, this is a place that’s best to visit on either a guided day trip or if you have a car as public transportation between Sibiu and Biertan is limited at best. I recommend this guided tour that includes both Biertan and Sighisoara, two of the most beautiful Instagram spots in Romania, which you can learn more about here.

Corvin Castle

One of the most beautiful castles in Transylvania, Corvin Castle is located just an hour and a half’s drive away from the city of Sibiu.

It looks strikingly similar to how I’d imagine Hogwarts looks, don’t you? Between this and Clay Castle, there are so many fairy-tale places in Romania to discover!

Transfagarasan Highway

The most famous highway in Romania, frequently named one of the best roads in the world, you simply can’t miss driving on the Transfagarasan if you’re visiting Romania in the right season (keeping in mind that it can get closed in bad weather).

Having your own car is best, obviously, but if you can’t do that or don’t want to then there are day trips which will take you from Sibiu to Balea Lake via the beautiful Transfagarasan (you can learn more and book here).

Balea Lake

An hour and a half away from Sibiu, you’ll find one of the most gorgeous lakes in Romania at Lake Balea.

It’s best visited in the summer when you can see the beautiful lake in all its glory (and also to be able to drive here rather than having to take the cable car in, as the road is inaccessible during the winter).

Balea Waterfall

While Balea Lake is relatively well-known, fewer people know that Balea has a waterfall which is a relatively easy hike away from the lake. You can visit this and Balea Lake via the Transfagarasan on this day trip, or go via your own private transportation.

Don’t Leave Without Travel Insurance!

Finally, make sure you always travel to Romania with a valid travel insurance policy. Transylvania is a very safe place to travel, but accidents or theft can easily ruin your trip if you don’t have the travel insurance coverage to recover the losses. Recently my aunt fell on a train in France and needed surgery, but luckily her travel insurance covered the costs in full. Thank goodness!

For travel insurance, I use World Nomads.I’ve been a happy customer of theirs for almost three years, and I’ve never had an issue when making a claim. I’m happy to refer them to anyone I meet.

Get a travel insurance quote for your trip here.

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