Bulgaria sits at the crossroads of Europe and Asia, right in the belly of the Balkans and is a cultural melting pot with Greek, Slavic, Ottoman and Persian influences. It has a rich heritage of traditional dance, music, costumes and crafts and its capital, Sofia, at the foot of the Vitosha mountain dates back to the 5th century B.C. Bulgaria has a wide outlet on the Black Sea and borders Greece, Serbia, Romania, Turkey and Macedonia.
The natural landscape of Bulgaria is diverse, consisting of lowlands, plains, foothills and plateaus, river valleys, basins, and mountains of varying elevations. About 70% of the country’s territory is hilly land and 30% is mountainous. In the central part of the country lies the Balkan Mountain Range, where the highest peak is Botev (2,376 m) and from south to north its western area is crossed by the Iskar River, which forms a picturesque gorge more than 70 km long.
South of Sofia lie the Rila, Pirin and Rhodope Mountains. The Rila Mountains are the highest in Bulgaria and indeed the entire Balkans, with its highest peak, Mount Musala, standing at an impressive 2,925m. The highest peak in the Pirin Mountains is Mount Vihren (2,914m) and in the Rhodope Mountains it is Golyam Perelik (2,191m)
Eye-catching mountain lakes, sunny beaches, gorgeous rose valleys, vast forests, curative hot springs and deep chilly caves help make Bulgaria an attractive alternative to traditional European tourist destinations. Bulgaria is the second most biologically diverse country in Europe and three national parks have been established in the country: Pirin National Park (UNESCO natural heritage site), Rila National Park, and the Central Balkans National Park. There are also 11 nature reserves – Belasitsa, Balgarka, Vratsa Balkan, Golden Sands, Persina, Rila Monastery, Rusenski Lom, Sinite Kamani, Strandzha and the Shumen Plateau.