Bulgaria has much to boast about. Apart from a fascinating history, incredible mountain ranges, characteristic architecture, a thriving arts scene, ski resorts and Black Sea beaches, along with heart-warming culture, there are hidden gems awaiting to be discovered. Here are the gems that need to be found!
Rose oil of Bulgaria
One of the unique things about Bulgaria is the production of rose oil – “the liquid gold of the world”. The country is the biggest producer of rose oil in the world and one of the most attractive period of visiting Bulgaria is the rose blooming season. It is quite short though – about a month starting from middle of May till middle of June. It is the time when all production process is done – picking up the roses, distillation and production of rose oil and other rose related products. This period is also famous for the Rose festival which is held in the so called Rose Valley and Kazanlak city and is accompanied by demonstrations, folklore performances and other attractions.
Bulgaria Highlights by Bicycle tour departure in May is the perfect chance to witness the beauty and feel the unique aroma of the Rosa Damascena. The route includes cycling in two regions famous for the rose plantations and rose oil productions. The rose fields are just next the road and you can easily feel the pleasant aroma and even get off the bike and go among the roses for a picture. At the end of one of the most exciting descend on day 5 we stop at a local rose oil distillery and get familiar with the process of production and the special features of rose oil and other rose products. Here is the place where you can buy rose oil products at a very good price and bring back home special presents and souvenirs from Bulgaria.
Thermal springs of Bulgaria/ Bulgaria – great spa destination
Bulgaria is one of the leading spa destinations in Europe. There are over 700 mineral springs, the water of which varie? in chemical composition, temperature and properties.
Some of the oldest settlements in Bulgaria were based around thermal springs ever since the ancient Thracians. Thracians were the first to discover the healing properties of water and to build their towns in the vicinity of such springs. Later these lands were conquered by the Romans, who continued the Thracian tradition and built their Roman therms (baths). The mineral water was used for treatment of various diseases and for fitness. Nowadays, mineral water donates its healing and restorative properties in modern SPAs and sanatoriums and is included into a variety of procedures. When combined with a favorable climate and fresh mountain or marine air, mineral water gives health and fitness in various climatic and spa resorts in the country.
On Bulgaria Highlights by Bicycle tour you will have the pleasure to refresh your bodies in 3 of the most famous spa resorts in Bulgaria. We will start with the mountain spa resort of Chiflik which is nested in a beautiful valley of Balkan mountains, the cycle to Hisarya town – an ancient Roman city with many archaeological remains including Roman baths now one of the biggest spa resorts in the country. The tours ends in Velingrad spa town or as recently called “the spa capital of the Balkans” has more than 60 thermal springs and is the biggest spa resort in Bulgaria. The hotels we stay are equipped with modern spa centers and mineral water swimming pools, so complete relaxation and revitalization of the bodies after cycling is guaranteed.
Food of Bulgaria/ Bulgarian cuisine
Bulgarian cuisine is one of the tastiest in Europe, combining the rich influence of the Ottoman Empire with a peasant cooking style that uses Bulgaria’s flavour-packed vegetables and herbs to the full. Bulgarian home cooking is still very seasonal and although nowadays you can enjoy most dishes all year round they are still at their best when the ingredients are fresh and in season.
Bulgarians always start the meal with a salad, usually accompanied by a glass of rakia, the local spirit made of grapes or plums.
Bulgarian cuisine is exceptionally diverse and delicious, consisting of various salads, breadstuffs, stews, and other local dishes. Many of the dishes are prepared according to traditional recipes handed down from generation to generation over the centuries.
The most products for which Bulgaria is internationally known are yogurt and white brine (feta) cheese. These are almost always present on Bulgarian tables in one form or another.
One of the most famous and most popular breakfast items in the country is banitsa. It is a made of dough with various fillings, such as cheese, spinach, rice, and meat.
Other popular breakfasts dishes include pancakes, buhtas (fritters), mekitsas (fried dough pieces), and fried bread slices. All of these are particularly delicious when served with jam, marmalade, honey or Bulgarian yogurt.
People in rural areas grow vegetables that are exceptionally tasty, which is why salads occupy a central place in our culinary tradition. The most popular Bulgarian salad is the Shopska Salad, but there are also other salads worth trying – Shepherd’s Salad, Harvest Salad, Snezhanka, Monk’s Salad, Dobrudzha Salad, Roasted Peppers Salad, and many others.
One of the most popular appetizers is Tarator (cold Cucumber Soup). It is prepared with yogurt, cucumbers, dill, crushed walnuts and spices.
Soups and broths are also popular in the countryside – particularly delicious bean soups are served in the region of the village Smilyan, in the Rhodope Mountain. Excellent fish soups are served in the regions of the Black Sea and the Danube River.
Some of the most popular Bulgarian dishes are grilled – meat balls, kebapches, grilled meat pieces, grilled sausages, and others. Various stews and dishes in clay pots are also a regular part of the Bulgaria cuisine (hotchpotch and casseroles). These include Chomlek, Kavarma, and Kapama (in the Bansko region).
Another favorite Bulgarian dish is prepared with stuffed cabbage or vine leaves – the leaves used may be either small or broad. The dish, which is prepared by wrapping the filling in the leaves, is very popular in the Thracian region.
One of the trademarks of the Bulgarian cuisine is Cheverme – an entire lamb roasted on a spit. This dish is typical for the Rhodope region, but it is also served throughout the country.
Potatoes are a main ingredient in many Bulgarian recipes. The most popular potato dishes include Ogreten (au gratin), Patatnik (in the Rhodope region), potato stew, and fried potatoes.
During the tour you will have the opportunity to taste varied traditional dishes in authentic bulgarian restaurants. In some places you will have your own meal, while in others we order more dishes to share so that you can taste different meals and see what you like best.