20 July 2020

5 Fun Ideas: How Expats Spend Their Free Time In Bulgaria

We have a lot of sunny days ahead of us, and we want to give you some insider tips on things to do to have the summer of your lives. 

As there are already many top 5 lists on this matter, we tried to go a little beyond to share some real hidden gems.

This post is interesting for you if you are:
  • Living or working in Bulgaria as an expat or foreign student
  • A local looking for things to do in his or her home country
  • Someone who is planning a holiday, or having one, in Bulgaria
So, without further ado, let's dive in 5 out of the box ideas for your time in Bulgaria!

Visit the warmest region of Bulgaria - Sandanski

We've hear some of our colleagues speaking about a very warm place within Bulgaria, called Sandanski, and we did some research to see what it has to offer. Averaging over 2700 annual sunshine hours, Sandanski is the city that officially has the warmest temperatures in Bulgaria. 

Sandanski is a great place to visit as an foreigner or expat in Bulgaria. It offers a great variety of restaurants and bars, and a long walking street if you like to wander around. Multiple squares within the city to enjoy an ice cold beverage and some beautiful archaeological sites in the city ensure you won't get bored when you are in Sandanski.

Location-wise, Sandanski is favourably located in South-Western Bulgaria. Within an hour drive, you can get to Melnik (we'll dive deeper into Melnik further below) or even some Greek beaches. Sofia is just 3 hours driving from and to Sandanski, which makes it even more clear why some of our colleagues love this place so much.

And when you're visiting Sandanski, you might as well visit the following place:

Sandstone pyramids & delicious local wines in Melnik

melnik bulgaria foreigners expats
According to some Eurocorrians this is one of the most beautiful places in Bulgaria, one when you can truly relax and enjoy beautiful sights everywhere around you. We've just discussed the warmest region of Bulgaria, and while Melnik is a part of that region, it's the #1 on another end of the spectrum. With a population of only 200 people, Melnik is officially the smallest village in Bulgaria.

If you look back at the history however, you will see that Melnik used to be a thriving town with a population of over 25.000. Unfortunately however, because of wars, changed infrastructure and an infection to the vine plants, the size of the town shrank drastically. The town that was (& still is) living of trade, suddenly lost all of it's possessions and people resorted to more favourable places to live.

Good news for Melnik and all of us is, that the region is still world-renowned for it's one-of-a-kind red wines - and many love to go to Melnik for a great wine tasting. As for all the rocks you can see on pictures of Melnik; they're actually sandstone rocks carved by the forces of Mother Nature and time and are naturally called "The Melnik Pyramids".

Go fishing at the beautiful lakes, dams & rivers of Bulgaria

fishing in bulgaria lakes dams rivers
While you do need to get a permit (it's not hard, check this link for more info), you'll get to experience the most wonderful sights in a completely different way. How about spending an entire day fishing at one of the beautiful Rila lakes (make sure to check where the fishing spots are!) and enjoy the view and peace of all the nature around you.

The Burgas Lake is another massive lake of 9 by 5 kilometers at its widest with beautiful scenery along the shore. Both local and visiting fishermen view this lake as a 'fishing temple' as it hosts a great variety of fish. You can find Carp, Pike, Grey Mullet, Bass and many more totalling to 25 different species of fish. 

We believe this is another great relaxing activity for expats and foreigners to spend their free time in Bulgaria. A way you get to both explore the nature in the Bulgaria and have a relaxed time.

Go beyond and explore the hidden beaches of Bulgaria

Bulgaria is home to 378 kilometers of coastline and while most locals and foreigners tend to opt for known places such as Varna and Burgas, there is a great variety of hidden beaches: untouched, clear water & clean beaches with beautiful views. To help you get on the way, we made a collection of the best we could find!
  • Bolata - The cove of Bolata (as seen in picture above) is home to many birds and a beautiful beach to relax and enjoy the moment with mountains all around you.
  • Tyulenovo - Beautiful scenic rocky coast, also perfect for sea jumps, diving, rock climbing and kayaking, and also a very famous place for wedding photos.
  • Irakli - Very famous wild camping spot with a long sandy beach and a forest next to it - giving it a very untouched and wild, natural feeling not often found.
  • Kara Dere - The wildest of all beaches, without any infrastructure or running water - it's beautiful, just be sure to bring your own food, drinks and transport.
  • Kamen Bryag - The place where the Bulgarian tradition of July Morning (read more about that right here) is celebrated and a wonderful place for rock climbing.

Explore and search for true hidden gems of Bulgaria

kardzhali travel and exlore in bulgaria
While we are trying to give you some more out of the box ideas in this article, only you can make your trip truly one of a kind. Take a look on Google Maps and select some random cities, see if there is anything you like around and just take a car, bus or train to go there. You'll most likely miss out on heavy crowds and have a truly unique experience.


That were some of the things our people love to do in their free time, and we hope you'll like them as well.

If you'd like to know what foreigners and students like about living in Bulgaria, click on this link for another article.
If you are interested in 12 more reasons to live & work in Bulgaria, click on this link for another article.