Known as “the Jewel of the Balkans”, beguiling Bulgaria is jam-packed with fascinating sights and amazing places to visit. From the crystal-clear waters and golden sands of the Black Sea coastline to the majestic snow-capped peaks of some of the Balkans highest mountains, you’ll have plenty to see and do whatever time of year you visit. In a lush forest valley in the Rila Mountains, you’ll find one of Bulgaria’s top attractions – Rila Monastery. This charming Eastern Orthodox monastery houses stunning frescoes and valuable icons and is regarded as one of Bulgaria’s most important historical monuments. If you’re searching for cheap flights to Bulgaria from Ireland, you’ll find direct flights to both Sofia International Airport and Burgas International Airport.
In summer, Bulgaria’s Black Sea coast is buzzing with beachgoers enjoying the warm temperatures along strands such as the aptly named Sunny Beach. Most of the area’s most popular beaches offer a variety of water sports like water-skiing, paddle boating and windsurfing. However, the best time to find cheap flights to Bulgaria is during the cooler winter months, from November to February. Winter is all about fun in the snow at Bulgaria’s top ski resorts including Borovets, Bansko and Pamporovo. Rising majestically above Sofia, Mount Vitosha is an excellent location for picnics, mountain biking and hiking from spring through to autumn, while in winter you can jump on the Simeonovo gondola lift and ski or snowboard down the slopes. Spring and autumn are also best for exploring Bulgaria’s big cities to avoid the crowds and soaring temperatures of high summer.
Direct flights to Bulgaria from Ireland are limited to two destinations from Dublin. Ryanair offers direct flights to Sofia, Bulgaria’s capital city, three times weekly from Dublin to Sofia International Airport with a flight time of just less than four hours. Aer Lingus departs from Dublin three days a week and lands in Bulgaria’s Burgas International Airport four hours later. Flying from any other Irish airport will involve taking a connecting flight and one of the most convenient ways to get from Cork or Shannon to Sofia is to fly Aer Lingus to London and then onward with British Airways to Sofia. If you want to get to Bulgaria’s Varna Airport from Ireland, the easiest option is to fly with Turkish Airlines from Dublin via Istanbul.
You’ll find a number of options at Bulgaria’s main airports for onward travel to your final destination. Sofia International Airport is located around 10 km from the city centre and the most convenient option is to jump in one of the licensed airport taxis and pay 10 to 15 Bulgarian lev (BGN) to get to the centre. Sofia Metro Line 1 will get you from Sofia Airport to the city centre in around 18 minutes, while two public buses, nos. 84 and 384, travel separate routes to the centre also. From Burgas Airport you should take a licensed taxi to your destination and you can expect to pay BGN10 to the city centre or around BGN50 to Sunny Beach. The 30-minute taxi journey from Varna airport to the centre costs BGN10 to 20, but again, be sure to only deal with licensed companies to avoid excessive fares.
If you like to take the time to stop and smell the roses, then you’ve come to the right place. Bulgaria produces over 70% of the world’s rose oil, which is often used in popular and expensive perfumes. Most of it comes from the rose blossom regions of the Valley of the Roses or Rose Valley. Spread out over the rose fields of Karlovo and Kazanlak, just south of the country’s central Balkan Mountain range, it’s difficult to pinpoint the specific location of Rose Valley. Nevertheless, every year in June the town of Kazanlak hosts a Rose Festival, which includes a ‘Queen Rose’ competition, rose-picking rituals, street parades, a fireworks display, folk dancing and more.
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