10 Natural Phenomena to Visit in Bulgaria
Situated in Southeast Europe, Bulgaria is not among the largest countries on the continent. Still, it is an amazing place to find beautiful landscapes and interesting tourist attractions. You may have visited some of them, but some others are still largely unexplored even by the locals. For sure, there are a few places you shouldn't miss when you do a tour around the country. If you are eager to learn more, read our list of ten natural phenomena that are a must visit in Bulgaria.
As the name of these waterfalls suggests, they are located near the village of Krushuna. They are almost half-an-hour drive away from Lovech, a town in North Bulgaria. Because of the picturesque landscape and the limestone formations, this place is a unique natural phenomenon. There is a tourist path leading to the cave, from which the Poynovska River springs, and the first and biggest waterfall from the cascade -- Praskaloto. Some of the caves very closely situated to these waterfalls are Maarata, Boninska cave and Urushka Maara. Interestingly, there is also a monastery nearby which dates back to the Second Bulgarian Empire and is open to tourists.
The Wonder Bridges
Formed by the erosive activity of the Erkyupryia River, and located in the karst valley of the river, the Wonder Bridges are situated in the Rhodope Mountains in Southern Bulgaria. The marble clefts were transformed into a deep-water cave which ceiling eroded and consequently collapsed most probably due to an earthquake. The two remaining bridges are 100 and 50 meters high and 40 and 60 meters wide respectively. There is a very small third one which is actually a submerged cave. You can walk under the bridges and since ancient times, a tradition remains: everybody who walks under the first bridge should write their names with a coal on the wall. You will find the Wonder Bridges as one of the 100 National Tourist Sites of the Bulgarian Tourist Union.
One of the biggest caves in Bulgaria, the Devetashka Cave was discovered in 1921. It is 2442 meters wide, and has an area of more than 20 000 square meters and height of around 60 meters. While having a walk in the Devetashka Cave, you can see many stalactites and stalagmites. There are a few protected animals that inhabit the cave, as well as 14 or 15 bat species. One curious fact is that ‘The Expendables 2,’ an action movie starring Bruce Willis, Jason Statham, Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jet Li and Chuck Norris, was partly filmed in this cave in 2011. The Devetashka Cave is the 30th tourist attraction on the list of the 100 National Tourist Sites of the Bulgarian Tourist Union.
Pobiti kamani – The Stone Desert
Located 18 km away from Varna, this natural phenomenon is considered the only desert in Bulgaria and one of few in Europe. The Stone Desert consists of many natural rock formations with height of about five to seven meters, and sand dunes. The area of the formations, which is about 13 square km, is a natural landmark since 1937. There are two main theories explaining the Pobiti kamani’s origin – organic (as a result of the coral activity) or abiotic (due to the desertification of the rocks in the region and the formation of limestone concentrations). The flora, including cacti, phlox, acacia and mountain rose, in the region makes this place even more attractive to tourists.
The Seven Rila Lakes
Situated in the northeastern part of Rila Mountain, the Seven Rila Lakes is a group of glacial lakes around 2100 to 2500 meters above the sea level. The specific feature of each lake is the reason for their names. For example, Salzata – The Tear, which is the highest lake (2535 meters above the sea level), was named after its clear waters that allow people to see the bottom of the lake. Okoto – The Eye – the deepest lake in Bulgaria – got its name because of its oval shape. Babreka – The Kidney -- has the steepest shores while Bliznaka – The Twin -- takes the largest area (9.1 ha) of all lakes. The other three lakes, Trilistnika – The Trefoil – has low shores and irregular shape, Ribnoto ezero – The Fish Lake – is the shallowest of all, and Dolnoto ezero – The Low Lake – as its name suggests – is the first you’ll encounter on your way up. The Seven Rila Lakes are among the most popular tourist attractions in the country, visited by Bulgarians and foreigners alike.
The Stone Mushrooms
The Stone Mushrooms are located between the towns of Haskovo and Kardzhali and the locals call them ‘Mantarkaya,’ or mushroom rock in Turkish. These rocks are up to three meters high, have a pinkish hue and are covered in black, blue and green spots. The Stone Mushrooms, declared a natural attraction in 1974, are home to several interesting kinds of birds, such as the Egyptian vulture, the short-toed eagle, black-eared wheatear and the red-rumped swallow.
One of the most famous karst caves in Bulgaria, Prohodna is a geological phenomenon located near Lovech at 250 meters above the sea level. Declared a natural attraction since 1962, this cave is easily accessible during all seasons of the year. Several famous movies (the Bulgarian “Vreme razdelno” and ‘Boris l’, the French “Vercingétorix: La Légende du druide roi” and the American “The Way Back”) have been filmed in Prohodna Cave. Also known as ‘Bozhiite ochi,’ or ‘The Eyes of God,’ Prohodna Cave is one of the very few caves in Bulgaria where you can go bungee jumping.
The Melnik Earth Pyramids
Situated in Southwestern Bulgaria and just an hour away from Blagoevgrad, these pyramids are located near Melnik, which is the smallest town in Bulgaria. The Melnik Earth Pyramids are 100 meters high and were formed due to erosion and the weariness of the bedrocks. The Melnik Earth Pyramids are among the most popular tourist attractions in Bulgaria, especially because of their proximity to Melnik – a town known for its beautiful landscape, traditional architecture, and delicious food and wine.
The Popinolashki Waterfall is situated in Pirin Mountains, 18 kilometers away from the spa town of Sandanski and about an hour away from Blagoevgrad. The crystal waters of the Popinolashki Waterfall fall from a height of 12 meters. In the summer, you can enjoy the warm weather and do some sunbathing there, have a picnic nearby or go for a walk in the nature.
The Belogradchik Rocks
Located on the western slopes of Stara Planina, the fantastically shaped sandstone and conglomerate rock formations have different colors – mainly in the hues of red and yellow. When you visit the Belogradchik Rocks, you will be amazed by their strange shapes, which inspired many interesting legends. Only in the area of Belogradchik you can find the endangered Bulgarian plant Hieracium belogradcense, a form of grass which can reach 90 centimeters in height.
According to our research, there are around 345 natural attractions in Bulgaria, and we have tried to select 10 of the most famous ones. If you are spending the summer in Bulgaria, make sure to travel around the country and explore its beautiful nature – you’d be surprised by the diversity and beauty that it has to offer.