Europeans have long known Bulgaria for its seaside and ski resorts, but for the American traveler, it is still a bit of a terra incognita. Apart from being a popular summer and winter holiday destination, it also has plenty to offer to history buffs, culture aficionados, and outdoor enthusiasts. Small historic towns and picturesque alpine villages with period architecture, medieval monasteries with vivid frescoes, and nature reserves are all waiting to be discovered.
Even before the Romans, these lands were inhabited by the ancient Thracians who have given the world Orpheus and Spartacus, and archaeological sites and historic monuments from former civilizations dot the countryside. It was the Thracians, too, who first started producing wine and used it in their religious rituals and the vinicultural traditions in these lands are alive and prospering today. The Balkan, Rhodope, Pirin, and Rila Mountains offer numerous opportunities for walking, hiking, and mountain biking and some of the rivers are popular for rafting and kayaking.