Even though there’s plenty to see in Bulgaria itself, the central location of this Balkan country allows you to easily divert to another place. Rent a car from Sofia and you’re able to explore Serbia, Romania or even Greece. Distances are relatively short. Rent your car with Savoy Rent a Car and request a border crossing for 39EUR. We will make sure your insurance is in check and you can hit the road, on your way to the border.
It’s most certainly possible for you to visit some places in Bulgaria with your rental car and then cross the border – meaning you will see some of Bulgaria as well. In fact, there’s plenty to see on the way. In this post, we will expand on the option of traveling to Greece. A stunning country that shares its northern border partly with Bulgaria. Greece is, for obvious reasons, a popular travel destination for Bulgarians. It’s relatively close – in 182 kilometres from the Savoy Rent a Car office, you’re at the Greek border. Even though there’s still passport control, the check is fast and with the documents we’ll have arranged for you, crossing to this mediterranean country is a breeze. You now have access to explore the whole area of Northern Greece. Or, if time allows you to go farther, why not explore Central Greece or even Western Greece? There’s literally tons of places for you to see. If you come outside high season, you won’t even need hotel reservations. Follow your senses, drive on and find a place to sleep wherever suits you. Near the beach or in a small mountain village, near the Meteora monastery or the Olympia mountain? It’s all possible. Greece is very accessible from Bulgaria, especially by rental car and traveling from Sofia. The road to the border is of a good quality with almost a third being highway. Then, the Greek roads are in an excellent state as well. There are toll roads but these are quite affordable. Besides, the roads are quiet outside the high season, when there’s not a lot of holiday traffic.
|Kyustendil||Blagoevgrad||Dupnitsa Rila Park|
You’ll most likely have to think hard when designing your itinerary – that’s why we’re able to help you! We’ll advise you on where to go and have your rental car ready in Sofia. You can cross the border to Greece by rental car and have a care-free vacation. First, let’s expand on what’s to see in Bulgaria on the way to the border. It would be a pity to drive past the many sights on the way abroad, after all. First, take the highway southwest from Sofia. The direction is Kulata. Get off at Pernik and drive past the Pchelina lake. Then, visit the little town Zemen and its Zemen monastery. An authentic, quiet place that only few foreign travelers visit. Make sure to hike through the Zemenski Prolom eco trail as well. It’s a trail through a steep canyon, along the Strimon river. A stunning, rocky scenery. You can walk quite far and even have a picknick at one of the tables put in place for visitors. Do make sure to wear long-sleeved pants because ticks could be present in the tall grass. This is a risk for the spring and summer months.
After visiting quaint Zemen, continue south towards Kyustendil. It has a nice center with a large square and the excellent Strimon Spa Hotel. You can also visit just to use the spa center. Then, hop back in your rental car and head east. Stop by in Nevestino village, where you find the impressive Kadin Bridge, built in 1470. Read here (http://kustendil.com/en/landmarks/view/3/45/Kadin-Bridge-%E2%80%93-village-of-Nevestino) about the legend of the bridge. Then, you could visit Dupnitsa, another pleasant town where you can have a stroll through the Rila Park. Not the national park, the city park that’s also called Rila. Modern and with some good playgrounds for kids. Just beautiful. Now we’re there, the Rila Mountains are quite close. You could drive in for a bit or visit the Rila monastery, one of Bulgaria’s most iconic sights. Blagoevgrad is another cool city to visit. A lively student town where you find some good restaurants, shops and nightlife. Blagoevgrad is continuously ranked as one of Bulgaria’s most liveable cities, it’s a young place that attracts many families as a good place to live. You can see these families strolling through the city park, along the Bistritsa river. Essentially, the park continues right into the Rila Mountains.
|Zemen Monastery||Panagia Monastery||Kerkini Lake|
Right south of Blagoevgrad is the Kresna gorge. The gorge was formed by the Struma river over many thousands of years. In 1913, this was the place where the gruesome Battle of the Kresna gorge (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Kresna_Gorge) took place. It was fought between the Greeks and Bulgarians, during the Second Balkan War. At the beginning of the gorge, there’s a place where you can do rafting (http://www.adventurenetbg.com/sports.php?lang=en&sid=3&tab=pro&pid=11). If you pay close attention, after passing through the Kresna gorge, you’ll see another mountain chain arise on your left. These are the Pirin Mountains, definitely some of the most stunning places in Bulgaria. The mountains are quite steep but you could make some excellent hikes. One of the bases is Sandanski – there are plenty of good spa hotels and guesthouses. Right south of Sandanski, you’ll be on the Greek border.
After a good stretch of highway through Greece, you’ll pass Thessaloniki. This is the country’s second largest city, after Athens. Thessaloniki is a surprisingly large yet relatively unknown city. It has a vibrant nightlife and is packed with culture – as well as with ancient sites. Thessaloniki has been inhabited for 3.000 years, continuously. You’ll find relics of Byzantine, Roman, Ottoman, Jewish and obviously Greek heritage. The Byzantine walls surrounding the center are still standing and so is the White Tower, the city’s landmark. It functions as a museum as well (http://www.inthessaloniki.com/en/white-tower-museum). By visiting, you’ll get a good impression on the geography and the historical and present life in the city of Thessaloniki. Take a walk along Nikis Avenue on the waterfront and enjoy a strong Greek coffee. It’s time to take your rental car again – why not visit one of the many beaches Greece counts?
If you take a look at the map, you’ll see the region of Halkidiki southeast of Thessaloniki. The region consists of three peninsulas. Actually, the region is one peninsula but you’ll see three strips of land reaching far into the Aegean Sea. These three strips, from west to east, are called Kassandra, Sithonia, and Agion Oros. The strips are quite mountainous, yet the roads are good and along the coast mostly straight. Each of the three strips are very popular for tourism, ever since the 1950’s when the people of Thessaloniki visited the quiet villages. Then Germans, Austrians and now people from many Balkan nations like to spend their money in the beach resorts. And rightly so, the beaches are perfectly clean, the restaurants are good and there’s a wide choice in accommodation. Choose one that suits your needs, with your rented car you can drive around as you please. Likewise, in low season, you will have no problem finding a good place to sleep.
In the morning, leave your rental car for a bit and walk along the beach. Even though Greece is close and easy to reach by car, it’s good to take a walk, look at the waves crashing on the beach and have a good Greek coffee at a cafe that is just opening up. In many places, you buy a drink and get a sunbed to enjoy it on. Greece is tourist-friendly, its people are, the infrastructure is – you just feel welcome as a guest. Why not enjoy an excellent breakfast, such as tiganites (Greek pancakes, possibly with huney and walnuts)? Have some fresh orange juice with it, or why not another coffee, and you’re good to go. There’s so many beaches in the Halkidiki region that you can just drive around and stumble upon them. In fact, there’s no need to do any research at all, you drive and will pass some quiet places. Make sure to bring water shoes, as most beaches are sandy, there are stones in the sea. These are difficult and painful to walk on with bare feet.
If you’ve eventually had enough of the Greek coast, which is hard to imagine, you can make your trip back. Inland, there’s plenty to see as well. On your way back to Bulgaria, you’ll again have to pass Thessaloniki. You might pass by the Monastery Panagia Theoskepastos Sohos – a seemingly newly built monastery with some hospitable nuns and monks. Then right near the border with Macedonia and Bulgaria is Lake Kerkini, which is a popular destination for fishermen and birdwatchers. This is an important migratory route for birds on their way to the Aegean Sea. The lake is quite large – in fact it’s an artificial reservoir that was created in 1932. There’s some good local restaurants around the lake, where you can have a Greek salad and why not a glass of wine. After that, it’s time to go back to Bulgaria, or to enjoy far more of what Greece has to offer. The options are endless. So, let us know your interest, we will prepare your rental car in Sofia and you’re free to go where you wish! Safe travels.
Read more fantastic stories about Bulgaria: https://www.leondeleeuw.net/travel-bulgaria
Savoy Rent a Car is one of the leading car rental companies in Bulgaria established in 2003. Our goal is to provide our customers with high quality services at the most competitive rates. Savoy offers a wide range of vehicles. Whether you are travelling for business or pleasure, we have a vehicle to suit your needs. Our fleet contains economy, compact, mid-size, SUV, minivans and full size cars. We guarantee: - Unlimited mileage - Full insurance coverage - 24/7 customer support - Free delivery - Delivery & transfers to every point in Bulgariaread more
Welcome to Bulgaria. Where you have an endless amount of places to see on a small surface. Where the climate is fantastic and allows for year-round tourism. You can make trips through the whole country and be surprised by something unexpected and pretty every moment of your stay. It might seem like you have to make a long round trip to make the best of your visit to Bulgaria. And making such a trip with your rental car is certainly worth it! However, it’s not necessary to go from hotel to hotel. There’s enough to see around Sofia to entertain you. For a trip as long as you wish. There’s so much to see around the capital, that you can stay there and make day trips. It’s just as fulfilling and will leave you with good memories. It is recommended that you use a rental car service, however. Public transport is relatively reliable but with a rental car you are considerably more flexible to do as you please. We will have your rental car, including insurance, ready in Sofia. You can choose one of the many hotels in our capital. In the wide array of accommodation, there will definitely be something that suits your needs. Most hotels have a place to park your car, so you can make your day trips and return in the evenings. Then, you can enjoy the many good restaurants of Sofia and the nightlife of this cool city! You might feel more comfortable and relaxed if you keep one and the same hotel during your stay and make day trips from where you are. No need to carry around your luggage, you take a daypack knowing you’ll be back at night. So, pick up your rental car from our office, and you’re ready for your first day trip! Vitosha Mountain Day 1 As you most likely already saw from the airplane, Sofia has a huge mountain right next to the city. In fact, there’s houses built against the slopes. This mountain is called Vitosha, with 2.290 metres quite a tall mountain to be right next to a metropolis. It’s a popular destination for local people as well as tourists. To get a breath of fresh air, to go hike or to practice winter sports. The mountain offers all kinds of ways to relax or get active during your trip. You could take the cable car up or drive towards the mountain hut ‘Aleko’, from where you can make excellent hikes. On the way, you will pass the Kopitoto tower. This TV tower itself is not accessible for the public but you can stay outside and enjoy the wide view over Sofia. During the day, it’s an excellent place for a picnic. At night, you will surely have the best view over the many lights of the busy Bulgarian capital. It’s a good place to celebrate New Year’s as well, if this is the time you visit. Just imagine looking at the fireworks you get to see! The place is best reached by car. There is a cable car but it’s not working since a long time – hiking there is too far from the city. If you come during the winter season, we will make sure your car is equipped with winter tyres so you can drive to the resorts safely and enjoy your winter activities! Apart from the slopes on Vitosha mountain, Bulgaria has several more and even better slopes for some action in the snow. Drive to Borovets, just under 70 kilometres from the capital. You could make a day trip – just as many locals do. Alternatively, you could surely spend the night there. Then there’s Bansko, however it might be a bit too far for just a day if you plan to spend many hours outside practicing sports. Visiting Vitosha mountain or Borovets is a wiser decision if you’d just like to spend a day. Day 2 If you come through any other season than winter, it will be interesting for you to see the Iskar gorge north of Sofia. The river, that was once far wider and mightier than it is now, carved many interesting shapes into the rocks. After many thousands of years of erosion, you can now admire the rock formations and tall cliffs that reach north of Sofia for over a hundred kilometres. A unique and scenic drive. Each village on the way will have something interesting to offer you, such as the Batulia monastery off the main road in Rebrovo, the little town Svoge with the Soleil restaurant (http://soleilbg.com/) or the wide views from the village Zhelen. Then, there’s two waterfalls in the villages Bov and Gara Bov. The ‘Vazova ekopateka’, in Gara Bov, will surely be a good option if you enjoy a hike uphill. Not too difficult and totally worth the climb. You’ll be rewarded with a wide view on the Skaklya waterfall. Keep in mind that it tends to dry up in high season, best is to come in early spring. Continue to Lakatnik and see the arguably most beautiful cliffs in the country. Visit one of the mountain huts that are up in the hills, to enjoy a strong cup of herbal tea. These mountain huts, called ‘hizha’ or plural ‘hizhi’, are spread all over the country. The ones you can visit on this day trip are Hizha Trestenaya or Hizha Gubislav. Iskar gorge Vazova Ekopateka Lakatnik Day 3 Drive northwest towards the small town of Godech, where you can have a coffee and visit the small river front with the many plants and flowers in springtime. Then, continue towards the waterfall Kotlite, which is at its best in spring. Late in summer, unfortunately, the waterfall is dry. Make sure to stop by at the Bukorovski monastery. You could walk downhill and visit Razboishte monastery, where you find a chapel inside the rocks and an interesting monastery complex of hundreds of years old. It’s situated along the Nishava river. Then, walk on towards Sveta Petka monastery. This place was abandoned but is now inhabited by a couple from Sofia, that is truly happy at this serene place. Now let’s get back to your rental car. There’s even more to see on the road! Head north towards Berkovitsa. You’ll drive the Petrohan mountain pass, through the dense forests of Western Bulgaria. You’ll approach Berkovitsa and can turn right on the way to Varshets. Then, after just a few kilometres, turn right again towards the Klisurski monastery. At that junction, you find Complex Stalin, where you could have a delicious meal. At the monastery, they sell many products such as homemade wine, honey and jam. Berkovitsa itself is a nice town to visit – with a wide view over the mountains. If you have time left, drive up until Hizha Kom. Have some tea at the mountain hut and enjoy a walk through the beautiful landscape. Day 4 Time to explore the region east of Sofia. There’s plenty to see! Drive towards Mirkovo, a little, peaceful town at the foot of the Stara Planina mountain range. The town has the second-largest golden dome of Bulgaria on a church, right on the main square. The first-largest dome can be found on the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral in Sofia. You could have a meal or some drinks at the hotel/restaurant complex St. Ivan Rilski and perhaps enjoy a walk around the town. Then get back to your rental car and drive on towards Chavdar. Many say it’s the prettiest village in Bulgaria. This might count for the village square, which is renovated and indeed looks fine with many rose gardens and ponds, including fountains. As you drive east, you’ll come across many more towns and villages that will be interesting for you to see. If you’d like to return to Sofia, it might be nice to take the road south through Smolsko and Baylovo. You’ll most likely have the road to yourself, just be prepared to make sudden stops in case of animals on the road! You’ll end up at Gorna Malina, where, on a hot summer day, you could swim at the complex Vyatarnite Melnitsi. It means ‘Windmills’. Even though the entrance fee is not to be called cheap – the experience is certainly worth it! You could make a day trip out of just visiting the complex and once you had enough, then visit some villages. Design the trip as you want! Klisurski monastery Kom Monuntain Complex "Windmills" Day 5 Now let’s go south, the only direction you haven’t gone yet. On the road to Samokov, you’ll pas the Pancharevo lake. Another popular place for city folks to spend their free time. It’s nice to walk around a bit or to enjoy a picnic on the side of the lake. As you continue south, on your left you can’t miss the Iskar reservoir. This is an enormous lake where Sofia gets its tap water from. There’s several small paths leading up to the lakeside, where you can enjoy another stunning scenery. And you’re not even an hour outside of Sofia! Just a bit more south of the Iskar reservoir is the city of Samokov. The city is famous for its delicious potatoes – the best of the country. For that reason, and more, make sure to stop and spend some time in the center. An excellent place to have lunch is the Kokoshkova Kushta (www.clubsamel90.com/index_en.html). They cook wonderfully and have a spacious garden where you can enjoy their specialties. There are plenty of other small restaurants around town, all should serve the local potatoes! As you walk around, you’ll see plenty of architectural treasures in the form of old houses and churches. Many of these were built during the National Revival period in Bulgaria, starting around 1762 up until the liberation from the Ottomans in 1878. Samokov played an important role in the National Revival. The city used to have one of the three woodworking schools in Bulgaria and even nowadays, many examples of fantastic woodwork of masters from Samokov is found all over the Balkan peninsula. Mainly in churches. You’ll notice that there’s some tall mountains close to Samokov, this is the Rila mountain range. There, you’ll find the tallest peak of the Balkans, which is Musala mountain (2.925 metres). You could visit the mountain and ski resort Borovets or opt for a swimming or spa retreat in Separeva Banya. You will be nothing but impressed by the opportunity to see a lot in just a day – even when spending the night in Sofia! Would you like to get some more information on destinations nearby? Do not hesitate to contact us. We will prepare your rental car so you can enjoy a carefree trip through the surroundings of Sofia. Enjoy! by Leon de Leeuw Website: https://www.leondeleeuw.net/ Youtube: Visit Read more fantastic stories about Bulgaria: https://www.leondeleeuw.net/travel-bulgariaread more
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