Blagoevgrad is one of the best towns for living in Bulgaria, though it is not very big. We have lived there and have visited it as tourists as well. Our experience shows that Blagoevgrad is appropriate for young people who want to have fun and get a glimpse of the history of the region. In a 3-4-day stay you can visit several bars and night clubs, some ethno-restaurants, plenty of shops and last but not the least you can attend the natural and historical sightseeingin the town and in the area.
Transport to and in Blagoevgrad
Blagoevgrad is easy to reach. We travelled by bus with organized group of students from Sofia but the public transport is also a good solution,doesn’t matter if you travel from Sofia or from Petrich. Blagoevgrad is located by main road E-79 which is the reason why publiccoaches and rail transport are so regular. Taking off on the main bus or railway station in the town you can take bus number 2 which will lead you to the centre or take a taxi for about ‘ 2-3 to the farthest part of the town. It is useful to know that the only bus line that does round the town is number 2. The other four lines pass through Blagoevgrad but go to the nearby villages. Nonetheless everything can be reached on foot in maximum half an hour.
For optimal combination between price, location and quality you can stay in two hotels that are close to both the main station and the centre of the town. The first is hotel ‘Bali’ ‘ you will see it just before you reach the main station by bus or by train. There you can find accommodation for about ‘ 10-15 per night with breakfast (bad and breakfast) and use the indoor mineral swimming pool. The other offer is for hotel ‘Fenix'(Fhoenix) ‘ about 700 m away from the main station and about 15 minutes on foot to the central trade street. The price is also acceptable ‘ about ‘ 15 per night with breakfast. Its advantage is the close location to the centre and the easy-to-find place ‘ you should walk straight on the street which starts just opposite the bus station.
Food and entertainment
One of the favorite places of the local people to eat is a restaurant located opposite hotel ‘Fenix'(Fhoenix) ‘ it has asummer garden and offers traditional dishes from the region. Another not so expensive and not so wellknown among the tourists restaurant is ‘Pekin’ (Beijing) ‘ aChina restaurant hidden in a small street near the American University. Restaurant ‘Rusalka'(Mermaid) is anotheroption for those who search the cooling breeze of Bistrica riverin the summer or romantic atmosphere in the winter. It is located between the main trade street and the river. Many other restaurants, cafes and bars can be found in the street starting from the Largo mall. You should not miss visiting the only piano bar in Blagoevgrad, again on the main street, or some of the disco clubs ‘ ‘Underground’, ‘Graffiti’, ‘Juliany’, ‘The Face’, etc.
Sightseeing and museums
The most interesting sightseeing and museums in Blagoevgradthat are worth visiting are: the oldneighbourhood ‘Varosha’, the church ‘VavedenieBogorodichno’, the Regional history museum and the House-museumof GeorgiIzmirliev-Makedoncheto.
Don’t miss to walk around the oldneighbourhood of Blagoevgrad’ ‘Varosha’ which is situated next to the center of the town.It impresses with its unique architecture in the Renaissance style. There you can stroll among craft workshops andOld-bulgarian houses.
The Regional history museum is also part of ‘Varosha’. It has a rich collection of nearly 116 000 exhibition items which presents development in the Pirin Mountain region. The main sections are called Ethnography, Archeology, Bulgaria from 15th to 20th century, Nature, Art and New history. Going to the History museum you can also see the House-museum of Georgi Izmirliev-“Makedoncheto” which is part of the Regional history museum. The house itself is important as the birth place of the eminent Bulgarian revolutionary. The museum represents the authentic atmosphere of his lifetime and important documents about his activity.
Opening hours of the History museum: Monday-Friday: 09:00 am-18:00 pm; Saturday-Sunday: 09:30 am-18:00 pm; admission: adults ‘ ‘ 1.00; students ‘ ‘ 0.50).Opening hours of the House-museum: Monday-Friday: 09:00 am-18:00 pm; Saturday-Sunday: 09:30 am-18:00 pm). Admission: adults ‘ ‘ 0.50 ; students ‘ ‘ 0.25. It is opened from 15thApril to 15th October.
You can also visit the church ‘VavedenieBogorodichno’ with its unique tower and architecture. The bell tower is unusually positioned on the side of the churchand it resembles those of the Rila Monastery.The church has been proclaimed a national monument of culture.
If you have enough free time you can walk around Bachinovo Park. It is situated in the valley of Bistritsa river, at only 200 m west from the oldneighbourhood’Varosha’. There are a lot of restaurants, playgrounds, aqua park ‘Blagoevgrad’and indoor swimming pool along the alleyof the park. At the end of theBachinovo Park there is an artificial lake with depth 2-4m where you can drive water wheels in the shape of swan.
Aqua park ‘Blagoevgrad’ – opening hours in the summer: 8:00 am-8:00 pm;admission: children:’ 1.00; adults: ‘ 1.50; 2 adults+2 children: ‘5.00).
We suggest you to go for a walk in another park in the town – ‘Lovendom’ which isrenovated earlier this year. It is situated in the eastern part of Blagoevgrad, next to the centre.
There is also a zoo in the town so if you are with your children or just love animals you can visit it every day. The zoo is situated in the town’s garden.
Opening hours: 8:30 am-8:00 pm; admission: adults ‘ ‘ 0.50; children 7+ ‘ ‘ 0.25; every Thursday ‘ free admission).
You can also visit the orthodox memorial cross ‘Memory and Faith’ which is located in the area called ‘Zaeva Polyana’ on the hill above ‘Varosha’. The cross was built in 2013 and stands as a guardian symbol above the town. The panoramic viewwhich opens from the area towards Blagoevgrad is stunning and worth to be seen.
Nearby in the area
It is a great opportunity to visit the Rila Monastery, the Stob Pyramids and ski-centre ‘Bodrost’ which are nearby in the area of Blagoevgrad.
The first place to visit isthe monastery of Saint Ivan of Rila or better known as Rila Monastery which is one of the most important historical, architectural and cultural monuments in Bulgaria. It is situated in the southwestern part of Rila Mountainin the deep valley of the Rilska river at an elevation of 1147 m above sea level. It is located about 41 km away from Blagoevgrad.The monastery is part of the hundred national sites and is included in the listof UNESCO World Heritage. It is one of the most important tourist sites in Bulgaria. This is a functioning monastery.
There are coach and car parks outside the two monastery gates. Accommodation is also available. You can visit it every day between 7:00 am-8:00 pm. Admission about the Church-History Museum which you can visit there: adults – ‘ 4.00; students ‘ ‘ 0.50.
On your way back to Blagoevgrad are the sandstone pyramids of Stob which we suggest you to visit in the summer because December, Januaryand February are not good times to visit the pyramids since the trail is usually muddy or covered with snow.They are located near the village of Stob, only 25 km away from Blagoevgrad. The pyramids are among the most popular natural attractions for tourists in Bulgaria so don’t miss to visit them. They are 30-40 meters thick and 6-12 meters high, colored in rusty-brown, reddish and dark yellow.Because of their location the pyramids are especiallybeautiful if you view them at sunset or at moonlight.
Opening hours:March ‘ October:8.30 am ‘ 6.30 pm (opened every day); November ‘ February:8.30 am ‘ 5.00 pm (closed Saturday and Sunday);admission: adults ‘ ‘ 1.00; students ‘ ‘ 0.50.
If you come to Blagoevgrad in the winter you can practice skiing in a small ski centre ‘Bodrost’. It is situated in Kartala site, only 30 km away from Blagoevgrad, in the southwestern part of the Rila Mountainat approximately 1300 m height. It is a starting point to many hiking routes in Rila Mountain. It alsooffers perfect conditions for skiing if you are beginners.
The ski zone ‘Kartala’ welcomes all keen skiers on a perfectly maintained and snowy ski runs from December to April.
Blagoevgrad is a town worth visiting for its beautiful nature and sights. It offers little bit of everything and we hope that our tips will help you choose where to go and what to do when you visit the town.
...(download the rest of the essay above)