The Most-Breathtaking Balkan Peninsula Cities

A large swath of Europe’s landscape is occupied by the Balkan Peninsula, one of the continent’s oldest and largest settlements. Natural wonders and historic landmarks dot the territory, merging with unique culture, making it a popular destination with people from around the globe. From untainted beaches to towering mountains, luxurious resorts to ancient buildings, tempting dishes to homemade brews–the Balkans will draw you in, surprise you, excite you, and ante up abounding and unforgettable hospitality. From Albania to Macedonia and breathtaking Serbia, a journey across the Balkans offers a unique angle on Europe.

9. Bitola | Macedonia

Bitola is the second largest city in Macedonia yet the atmosphere feels so much more small-town than anything large. Sophisticated and charming, central Bitola is an easy place to get around, the food is fresh, uncomplicated, and tasty, and the locals have an easy, friendly way about them. Bitola has a handful of attractions to engage you easily for a few days. Sirok Sokak Street is the main artery, a lively backdrop of bars, restaurants, and shops lining the pedestrian-only, broad lane. Café culture is full-blown, creating endless opportunity for people-watching. Macedonian’s, along with the rest of the Balkans, love chatting over coffee, showcasing a social and relaxed way of life. Historical sites also abound, from fetching mosques to the imminent Clock Tower visible from all across the center of the city. The 15th century enclosed Bazaar, imposing Church of Sveti Dimitrij, and views from Bitola’s towering position at the base of Pelister Peak, the city is filled with appeal.

8. Belgrade | Serbia

Belgrade is Serbia’s most celebrated capital where layers of history, abundant cultural points, and a party almost each and every night has given the city an appealing reputation. Proud, outspoken, and adventurous, Belgrade is one of Europe’s most lively capitals, and though it’s more gritty than pretty, the rolling city hills showcase immense charm. Slowly, things are changing from good to better with plenty of gentrification happening citywide, seamlessly pairing with Hapsburg leftovers, art nouveau mastery, and socialist quarters, all dramatically contrasting with relics from the Ottoman empire. In Belgrade, the renowned Danube meets the Sava River where parkland unfolds alongside chaotic urban sprawl. A new world is evolving while keeping the old within its clutches. Quirky sidewalk kiosks, magnificent coffeehouses, and restaurants passed through generations flank Knez Mihailova, a vibrant pedestrian avenue lined by historic buildings leading to Kalemegdan Citadel, the city’s crown jewel.

7. Kotor | Montenegro

Magic seems to carve through every crevice of Kotor, Montenegro on the stunning Adriatic Coast. Enfolded in the Bay of Kotor’s south side, the city is enveloped by panoramic mountain scenery. Charm and authenticity are more than evident here, even with swaths of people spilling into the city during the later summer months, flocking to Kotor’s medieval and divine Old Town. Tucked between Kotor’s unpredictable bay and lofty mountains, the town of Kotor is ideally at one with its comely backdrop. History here began in the 9th century, evident in old buildings wedged together in one perfect assembly. At night, Kotor’s walls are spectacularly illuminated, seemingly protecting the treasures within–labyrinthine lanes of marble, small family-run shops, drool-worthy restaurants, and animated bars set around clandestine colonnades. Marina’s are crowded with the yachts of the super elite in warm weather but there’s no real downside–decent swimming conditions are lacking–any true history, romance, or architectural enthusiasts will have a hard time finding the heart to leave.

6. Split | Croatia

Croatia’s second biggest city, Split is one of the most profound of all European cities showcasing abounding ancient ruins. Traditionally one of the main ports for visiting the Dalmatian Islands, it’s become more of a destination than merely a gateway. Split has blossomed, and beautifully so, offering very much to fill the curious mind. Planning in the city has been fruitful with plenty of new, elegant hotels and trendy restaurants and with Krka National Park and the Mosor Mountains close by, the list of possible endeavors is plentiful. As the Riva (seafront) gets an old look updated by marble, the journey into Split is even more impressive and the atmosphere along the old walls immeasurable. Authentic Dalmatian life is at its best here, and always lively, it perfectly balances tradition with vicissitude. The UNESCO World Heritage Site Diocletian’s Palace is one of the most dramatic of Roman testaments and more than enough to wow even those who have “seen it all.”

5. Ohrid | Republic of Macedonia

Ohrid is one of those must-see places, a traveling cliche but a truth nonetheless. If in Macedonia, it is the place to go. Sitting on the sidelines of dramatic Lake Ohrid, Europe’s deepest, oldest, and most endearing lakes, it’s one of the Balkans’ most prominent summer resorts. Glorious Ohrid is Macedonia’s crowning jewel, stunning historic churches lining a rolling hill in the ethereal Old Quarter topped by ancient St. Jovan Kaneo, and with close by Gali_ica National Park and the not-so-distant and fairly isolated beaches on the lake’s east side, there’s not much to complain about. Most of Macedonia seems to make their way to the lake between mid-July and mid-August. From that point, nightlife is utterly chaotic and prices skyrocket–best to visit outside of the festive season. May and June, or late summer and early Fall are excellent, and far more quiet, times to visit.

4. Plovdiv | Bulgaria

Plovdiv is an explorer’s utopia–smaller than Bulgaria’s capital city Sofia but just as interesting. Delve into the ancient Philippopolis amphitheater–this Roman relic is a 2nd century marvel, only stumbled upon in 1968. Plovdiv is considered one of the oldest cities in Europe to have been constantly inhabited–the enormity of this fact is hard to swallow until a walk through the gorgeous amphitheater. The center is entirely charming, with cloisters of houses each topped with unique roof lines and architectural details so pleasing to observe and with just the perfect amount of eye-catching steeples for a small town. Cobblestone streets wind through Plovdiv, diverting to beatnik cafes, high caliber museums, and art galleries, captivating until the sun sets and another kind of entertainment comes alive. The nightlife in Plovdiv is excellent with a good choice of lively bars and clubs catering to the university town that also boasts some of the best Bulgarian, Thracian, Byzantine, and Roman antiquities in Europe.

3. Prizren | Kosovo

Prizren is Kosovo’s cultural capital and a top choice to strike out and explore one of the world’s most newly formed nations. Under the Ottoman Empire, Kosovo was thriving, and today, architectural details remain from the Ottoman period. Scenic Prizren is a shining star with plenty of infectious post-independence elation and eagerness. In August, Dokufest sees the city come entirely alive and fill up with film-industry people from around the world. The international short film and documentary festival takes over the town with parties, exhibitions, and screenings. When on route from Albania to Pristina, the enchanting mosque and church-laden old town deserves a few hours of your time. The old town is one of the most impressively preserved in the Balkans, with a horde of buildings dating back to the 14th century. Check out an art exhibit in the old Pristzen hammam, explore the remains of the Serbian Quarter, see a panoramic view of Prizren from Roman-era city castle, and don’t miss the Shadervan, the city’s old stone piazza and social gathering point.

2. Bled | Slovenia

Lake Bled steals the show in Slovenia with seemingly glowing aquamarine water, waterfront homes nestled along the riverbanks, and a 17th century castle smack dab in the middle of it all on its very own island. Idyllic it is, scenic and relaxing, and on almost every postcard you’ll find in the country. Blue skies seem to crack open above the lake, shining down on calm waters and illuminating all that’s naturally perfect in the surrounding area. Walk the two-kilometer path encircling Lake Bled and you’ll what it means to take the “perfect walk.” If romance is in the cards, Lake Bled is a great choice but it’s also an exciting destination for canyoneering, cycling, hiking, and boating so bring your adventurous side along. As with any fantastic lake, Bled is swarming with tourists come summer–they come from far and wide. A fall or spring visit is just as picturesque and although the water temperature isn’t quite as soothing all of Lake Bled’s finest points stay strong.

1. Tirana | Albania

A possibly unforeseen addition to the list, Tirana makes the cut as a quirky and vibrant portal into Albania and a city with some of Europe’s most beautiful beaches. One of the most unusual capitals on the continent, Albania’s isolation from the rest of the globe for more than 50 years has created a city unlike any other. Spirited and dynamic, Tirana is Albania’s thumping heart, this diminutive part of the country has high aspirations that have coalesced into an animated scene of unabashed fun and bold consumerism. Since its communist period, Tirana has undergone an evolution of massive proportions, with a transformed city center and bold, vibrantly painted buildings, pedestrian-only boulevards, and public piazzas. Sweeping avenues are flanked with Ottoman empire relics and pieces of its communist and Italian past, from flagrant socialist murals to exquisite cupolas while traffic congests the streets in a stifling way, meeting headlong with pedestrians in a kind of controlled chaos that’s dazzling to watch.

The 12 Most Unique Hostels For Your Next Adventure

Hostels were once regarded as shady, filth ridden places that most people agreed should be avoided at all costs. While this may still true of some places out there, thanks to the internet gifting us all with access to immense amounts of information, including hotel reviews and visitor testimonies, lodgings around the world have been forced to step up their competitive game. Staying in a clean, comfortable and centrally located room no longer means forking out hundreds of dollars a night or greatly compromising on quality. It also means that tons of creative, one of a kind accommodations have come out of the woodwork, offering visitors an experience that is so much more than just a bunk-bed dorm and shared facilities. So for those on a budget and looking for a truly unique stay, here are 12 of the world’s most amazing budget hostel accommodations:

12. Hostel Old Plovdiv – Plovdiv, Bulgaria

You can let your old soul shine through and reminisce about days gone by in this boutique-style hostel furnished almost exclusively with antiques. Housed in a historic building in an ancient part of Plovdiv, Bulgaria, the property exudes an old-world vibe that is in keeping with its surroundings, and provides a truly unique home base as you explore this beautiful city. While the hostel maintains character from top to bottom, architecture to décor, the hosts make sure to offer a wide variety of amenities for the convenience of their guests, including free breakfast, WiFi and parking, as well as a host of organized adventure and culture-based daytime excursions.

Photo by: Hostel Old Plovdiv
Photo by: Hostel Old Plovdiv 

11. Dawson City River Hostel – Yukon, Canada

For those of you who are looking to explore the Canadian North and for whom the idea of “unique” translates to “rustic”—and we do truly mean rustic, not just exposed beams and wood trim—Canada’s northernmost hostel is the place for you. Located on the western side of the Yukon River, overlooking the city of Dawson, the region is not connected to the city power grid or water supply, allowing owner Dieter Reinmuth to stay true to his vision of providing a true northern-living experience. This place will bring out your adventurous side as you disconnect from those newfangled notions of electricity and technology, and immerse yourself in the nature of simplistic cabins, outdoor cooking and fire-wood heated bathing facilities. Visitors also have access to bikes, canoes, and heaps of information on what to explore in the area, making it a must-visit for anyone looking to broaden their horizons and/or break out of their modern-living comfort zone.

Photo by: Dawson City River Hostel
Photo by: Dawson City River Hostel

10. Capsule Ryokan – Kyoto, Japan

In true Japanese-style efficiency, the Capsule Ryokan in Kyoto offers the very traditional style of hostel bunk beds with a very unique twist. Each bunk can actually be enclosed “capsule style” and transformed into your very own quarters, complete with personal air conditioning, a wall-mounted flat screen TV and a storage locker. The hostel also offers traditional Japanese-style private rooms, a common lounge area and a refreshing dose of culture—daily kimono fittings!

Photo by: Capsule Ryokan Kyoto
Photo by: Capsule Ryokan Kyoto

9. City Hostel Seattle – Washington, USA

This artistic paradise is unique not only in concept but in its very décor –each room is one of a kind, decorated by a different local artist. The fact that it’s housed in the historic Lorraine Hotel (popular celebrity haunt of the 1930s) and offers free movies in its in-house movie theater only adds to its super eclectic vibe. This, along with its free breakfast, extremely helpful staff and a central location has earned it a place as one of the best-rated budget accommodations in the city of Seattle.

Photo by: Hung On The World
Photo by: Hung On The World

8. Ottawa Jail Hostel – Ontario, Canada

If you’ve ever had a hankering to spend the night in the slammer (you know, without all of those pesky legal and ethical hurdles), take a trip to Canada’s capital city and live your dream! The Ottawa Jail Hostel is a 150 year old converted prison in heart of the city, and provides accommodation in cells themselves (dorm-style) and in former officers’ quarters (private rooms, usually for families). The hostel also offers a variety of freebies; WiFi, breakfast and daily jail tours are all included, as well as the priceless feature of awesome hosts, who, on their website state, “If you are lucky, you can also meet a ghost…free of charge! No need to thank us.” Free ghosts AND a touch of sass? Sold.

Photo by: Deano World Travels
Photo by: Deano World Travels

7. Clayzy House – Ko Lanta, Thailand

Attention all free-spirited, adventure-seeking, eco-conscious music and art lovers (yep, that’s right), because the Clayzy House hostel community on Thailand’s west coast just might become your second home. Built entirely by hand from local materials such as mud, bamboo and driftwood, the hostel provides both tree house style and dorm accommodations and exudes a laid-back, artsy vibe for travelers who love nature and don’t mind “roughing it” (floors are made of mud and washroom facilities are shared.) The place also offers frequent open mic nights, seemingly endless floor-to-ceiling artwork and a pristine location that is just steps from the beach. Additionally, the on-site bar, common area slung with hammocks and steady stream of reggae and rock music have helped solidify the hostel’s reputation as having one of the best shared accommodation atmospheres in the world, with many past lodgers admitting they stayed much longer than initially planned.

Photo by: Lanta Clayzy House
Photo by: Lanta Clayzy House

6. Tulia House Backpackers – Mombasa, Kenya

While much of this hostel on Mombasa’s coast fits the bill for standard budget accommodation, with both private and dorm-style rooms, it offers one truly unique (and extremely cool) opportunity—the chance to spend an African-style night. Visitors have the option to forego typical bunk bed dorms and stay in a traditionally constructed building that is complete a sand floor and curtained exterior walls, and sleep on a suspended Funzi hammock (linens and a mosquito net are provided for comfort). The hostel also has a stellar social scene, with outdoor movie nights, poolside BBQs, beer pong tournaments and speedboat excursions to nearby beach bars.

Photo by: Afriken Travel
Photo by: Afriken Travel

5. Fauzi Azar Inn – Nazareth, Israel

Housed in a 200-year-old mansion in the heart of Nazareth’s Old City, The Fauzi Azar Inn provides a stunning home base for travelers interested in exploring Galilee. The inn offers uniquely decorated dorms and private rooms and is centrally located within walking distance to all major sites, including the souq (open air market), the Basilica of Annunciation and the White Mosque. The hostel building itself is also a sight to behold, featuring a hand-painted ceiling and marble floors, and the hospitality and endless efforts of the hosts are unparalleled, offering visitors free breakfast, free daily walking tours and free cake!

Photo by: Five Holles
Photo by: Five Holles

4. Mushroom Point – Sihanoukville, Cambodia

Exactly as the name implies, both the communal dorm and the private rooms in this small hostel are straw huts shaped to look like mushrooms, earning it a place as one of the most creative hostels out there. Another distinguishing feature is that there is not one bunk bed to be seen across the entire property, with sleeping facilities equipped with rattan-made round beds (big enough for two) draped in mosquito netting. The few bungalows on the property each offer private bathrooms and small patios, and the place as a whole boasts top-rated food, beautiful gardens and a prime location just minutes from the beach.

Photo by: Down From the Door
Photo by: Down From the Door

3. Kadir’s Tree Houses – Olympos, Turkey

Have you ever considered switching lives with a sometimes-drunk, extremely well-fed squirrel living in a forest? If so, here is your chance. In all seriousness, Kadir’s is a one of a kind budget accommodation found in a truly stunning location in Turkey’s Antalya region, just minutes from Olympos beach. The hostel offers the choice between bungalows (air conditioned and standard) and its most unique feature: traditionally-built tree house dorms. The property also has 2 bars, a seafood restaurant and a snack bar, as well as an extremely lively social scene. Breakfast and dinner are also included, proving that despite all of the recent positive publicity and rapid expansion to Kadir’s, travelers remain the number one priority.

Photo by: Kadir’s Tree Houses
Photo by: Kadir’s Tree Houses

2. Jumbo Stay – Stockholm, Sweden

For you long-range flyers perpetually wondering if you will EVER be able to sleep comfortably on a plane, wonder no more. The answer is still obviously “no,” but you can definitely pretend in Sweden’s Jumbo Stay. The hostel-hotel offers accommodation in a converted Boeing 747, ranging from dormitory style quads to a converted cockpit suite with panoramic views. It’s also conveniently located at the city’s Arlanda Airport, making it extremely handy for travelers who want a cool place to stay as they pass through.

Photo by: Jumbo Stay
Photo by: Jumbo Stay

1. Chateau Bahia – Quebec, Canada

If you’ve been meaning to satisfy your childhood dream of living in a fairy tale castle but just can’t seem to remember where you put that spare 2 billion dollars, your troubles are behind you. This wooden castle, which took 18 years to construct, offers both dorm-style and private rooms, and comes complete with a banquet room, 4 towers and 7 turrets. Your stay includes free breakfast and—for an added fee—a nightly candlelit dinner in the banquet hall, as well as a slew of activities both in the castle and in the surrounding forests of the Gaspé Peninsula. For those who consider themselves handy and have at least 2 weeks to spare, the hostel also offers free stays for anyone willing to help with additional construction.

Photo by: Chateau Bahia
Photo by: Chateau Bahia


Underrated Escapes: 9 Reasons to Visit Plovdiv, Bulgaria

Stepping into Plovdiv is to step back in time – ancient cobbled streets, boho cafes, and galleries galore – but don’t let the old charm fool you; this city is built upon layers of history and boasts a dynamic night life scene, an active artist community, a rich culture, and plenty of delicious and unique food.  One of the oldest cities in Europe, this small, pedestrian friendly city is great for walking to soak up the Greek and Roman historical sites.  Mild winters and hot summers mean that Plovdiv can be on your itinerary any time of year.  Many travelers often see Plovdiv as merely a convenient stopover point on their European trips or sadly bypass this beautiful city in favor of the larger and more bustling Sofia, but this gem of a city is worth its own visit with plenty to see and do.  Often underrated, here is why you should check out this cultural hotspot:

City Overview

The city of Plovdiv is the second largest city in Bulgaria with a population of over 300 thousand people.  Found on the banks of the Maritsa River on the large plain between the Rhodope Mountains and the Balkan Range, on a clear day you can see both mountain ranges from the city center.  Plovdiv’s history goes back over 6000 years – once a Thracian city before becoming Greek then Roman.  In the middle ages, this city went back and forth between the Byzantine and Bulgarian Empires, and then fell under Ottoman rule.  Plovdiv was liberated by Russia in 1878, became part of Eastern Rumelia, but then became part of Bulgaria.  Although Plovdiv never gets very cold, the best time to visit is spring through fall to give you the most time outdoors to wander this ancient city’s streets.  In Bulgaria, you will be using the Bulgarian lev as currency.

Roman Amphitheater

Getting Around

Plovdiv has a prime location that makes it an international transport hub – the upside of which means that there are plenty of options to get into the city.  Plovdiv has an international airport, a train station, and 3 bus stations, so getting into the city is no problem.  Once you are there, taxis and buses will help you get around (there are around 29 main and 10 extra bus lines).  If you are traveling in a small group, taxis are your cheapest option – just keep a careful eye out to spot fake taxis that will trick their customers with accelerated counters.  With such a small downtown area and safe streets, you will most likely be walking to get around.  Make the most of it by giving yourself the time to wander to your daily destinations so that you can savor the strolls down the beautiful cobbled streets.  Stop for coffee, pop into a coffee shop that smells good, or sit down on a bench and watch the locals.

Cobbled Street Plovdiv

Arts and Culture

There are many places to explore the arts and culture scene in Plovdiv.  Found in a local nineteenth century house, the Ethnographic Museum is a great place to learn about the traditions and lives of Bulgarian people from the Plovdiv region, and you can see exhibits on farming, crafts, traditions, and folklore.  Visit the Bachkavo Monasastery (about 30 kilometers from Plovdiv) and the Djumaya Mosque to learn some of the religious history and culture of the area.  A great place to learn and explore the arts scene of Plovdiv is at the Cultural Center-Museum TrakArt near Stambolov Square.  Here, you will have a chance to see incredible Roman mosaics, ceramics, and ancient glass bowls.  Try the guided tour for an informative experience and take all the photos you want!  For some more recent history, consider checking out the Plovdiv Regional Historical Museum where you can learn about the rich social history of the 19th century.  Plovdiv is home to the International Fair Plovdiv, the theatrical festival A Stage on a Crossroad, and the TV festival The Golden Chest, so check the schedule when you are in town.

meunierd /
meunierd /

Food and Drink

Eating and drinking in Plovdiv is cheap in comparison to the western world, which means that you can enjoy your fill of the high quality, delicious local food that is readily available when you are in town.  Local food and drink is mostly made up of stewed meats, soups, fresh salads, cheeses, and wine.  For the budget conscious, head to the main street where you can grab a bowl of delicious soup at Supa Bar for around 3 leva, or try tapas and wine at Vino Culture, and get a real taste for the local food at Grazhdanski Klubb (Citizens’ Club).  If you have a bit more money to spend, head to Hebros Hotel Restaurant, Elea Restaurant, Hemingway, or Megdana.  Vegetarians or vegans can enjoy Veggic, and dessert lovers can flock to Afreddo Gelateria (which also has great coffee!) or Sweet House Kolakov to finish off their meals.  Take advantage of the delicious local wine by trying the Wine Diversion tour, and try to catch the annual Young Wine Parade in late November where you can sample and learn about local area wines.

Ju1978 /
Ju1978 /


Being an ancient city with a rich history, many of the attractions of Plovdiv are exploring the old buildings.  For a one of a kind souvenir, try the Old Plovdiv Retro Photo, where you will dress up in traditional Bulgarian Folk costumes (or ancient Roman costumes!) and have your photo taken to document your trip.  Explore the Roman ruins in Plovdiv Old town, including the Plovdiv Roman Theatre.  If you have a morning or afternoon free, consider checking out the nearby Assenova krepost (Asen’s Fortress).  You will have to hire a driver or take a bus to Asenovgrad, then walk uphill (about 3 kilometers) to the old fortress where you’ll get some jaw dropping panoramic views of the area.  Keen to learn more about the Soviet history of the city?  Check out the Alyosha Soviet Army Memorial atop one of the seven hills of Plovdiv, where you can learn about Plovdiv history while soaking up the view of the city.

church of Holy Virgin of Petrich


When the sun goes down, there is no shortage of options in Plovdiv if you’re not quite ready to call it a day.  If you’re in town in the summer, head to The King’s Stables – an outdoor venue where you can grab some food, drinks, and relax to the sounds of live local music.  If you are in the mood for dancing, try Secrets folk & more club, Club Pasha, Plazma, Planeta Payner, or Galaxy Live Club – all great spots for clubbing until the sun comes up.  Dying to impress the locals with your karaoke skills?  Stop by Marmalad Bar and Diner on Friday nights to show off your pipes.  If you don’t want to settle on a place and simply wish to see where the night takes you, head to the Kapana neighborhood just north of the Dzhumaya mosque where there is a large concentration of pavement cafés where you can grab some cocktails, make some new friends, and just go with the flow.

Plovdiv at Night


Since Plovdiv is such a small city, wherever you choose to stay will be a prime spot from which to explore the entire city. This old city has plenty of budget, mid-range, and luxury options that will keep you comfortable and safe when you are in town.  Book well in advance and keep your eyes open to get the best deal.  The top budget friendly options are Hostel Old Plovdiv, The Crib, My Guest Rooms Plovdiv, and Bike Hostel Plovdiv, where you can opt for dorm rooms to save cash and meet other travelers from all over the world as an added bonus.  Mid range options that give you more privacy but don’t break the bank are Hotel Ego, Landmark Creek Hotel, Hotel Nord, and Hotel Leipzig.  If you are feeling fancy, splurge and treat yourself at Hotel Imperial, Park Hotel, Sankt Peterburg Park Hotel, or Novotel Plovdiv for some deluxe options.

Plovdiv Bulgaria


Because downtown Plovdiv is so pedestrian friendly, the best way to explore the local shopping scene is to hit the ground running and meander through the wide streets that are studded with shops and cafés to keep you caffeinated and energized on your shopping sprees.  With few international brands, you will step away from mainstream shopping and experience the local stores and styles for footwear and fashion on Knyaz Alexander I street.  If you are looking for craft shops, local jewelry, or unique fashion, head to Otets Paisiy Street, Saborna Street, and the Kapana district for some good spots to get your shop on.  If you are looking for a special antique to take home and commemorate your trip for years to come, go to Old Town where you can find ancient paintings, furniture, books, and even weapons at one of the many antique stores.  Make sure you try out your haggling skills – prices at antique stores aren’t fixed.  Finally, for large scale malls – check out the Shopping Center Grand, Market Center, or the Galeria Mall.

Bulgarian arts and gifts

Sports and Recreation

Plovdiv has much to offer in the world of sports and recreation.  The Plovdiv Sports complex is a great place to check out a football (soccer) game at the Stadium, or simply enjoy the grounds and hit the tennis courts, swimming pools, and playgrounds.  Join the locals for a run along the Maritsa River to stay healthy on vacation.  Check the schedule for the international boxing tournament Strandzha to see if you can catch a match when you are in town.  If you are in the city for an extended period of time, consider a longer trip to the nearby Rhodope Mountains where you can explore Thracian temple-tombs, hit the slopes for skiing or snowboarding at the world class ski resort Pamporovo, go for a hike in the hills, check out the National Rila Park, or head to Spa Hotel Devin for a relaxing and luxurious spa and wellness experience.

Pamporovo Ski Resort

Lonely Planet’s Top 10 Cities to Visit in 2015

The ever popular publisher of travel guides has come out with their ‘Best of Travel 2015’ guide which lists the best of the best for the next year of travel in all sorts of categories from best budget travel to best family travel experiences. If you’ve been planning ahead for next year’s vacations here is the list of the best cities to visit in 2015 to get your imagination running wild. All cities were reportedly chosen for their “topicality, unique experiences and ‘wow’ factor”.

10. Toronto, Canada

The only Canadian city making this list, Toronto is the shining star of the province of Ontario. It’s a vibrant city and its people aren’t shy about telling you why. The city offers something for everyone with an amazing arts, culture and culinary scene, major sports teams, music, festivals and even history. One of the best things about this city is discovering its many hidden gems.


9. Chennai, India

Chennai, the ‘Gateway to South India’ is often overlooked by tourists for the more obvious major cities like Delhi and Mumbai but Chennai has come up on more than one ‘must visit’ list. Arts and culture play a significant role in the city and it’s actually home to the oldest museum and art gallery in the country. With beaches, temples and history galore, Chennai is the perfect place to experience Indian culture at its finest.

Kapaleeshwar Tample, Chennai India

8. Vienna, Austria

Often praised for its beautiful architecture and intriguing culinary scene, Vienna enters this list in 8th place with some exciting events happening in the coming year. The incredibly popular Eurovision Song Contest takes place in Vienna in 2015 and is also celebrating its 60th anniversary, while Vienna’s iconic Ringstraße boulevard also celebrates a milestone 150th anniversary. With so many milestones, 2015 is going to be an exciting time for this European hotspot.

Vienna, Austria

7. Salisbury, U.K.

Somewhat surprisingly, Salisbury is the only city in the U.K. to appear on this list, but we’re not surprised this city got the nod. It’s a place that’s been described as ‘quintessentially English’ and 2015 will be a big celebration with the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta, house in the iconic Salisbury Cathedral which is a must see in itself. If you’re planning a euro-trip this coming year, make sure Salisbury is more than just a short stop on your way to Stonehenge.

Salisbury Cathedral, England

6. Plovdiv, Bulgaria

One of Europe’s hidden gems, Plovdiv is a modern city with old world charm. From the remarkable ruins of the Roman theatre to countless museums and galleries, this city covers history and the arts extensively. It’s also said to have a nightlife scene that rivals the capital city of Sofia. Plovdiv is also set to be the European Capital of Culture for 2019 so over the next few years we’re sure to see this city’s popularity skyrocket.

Plovdiv, Bulgaria

5. Valletta, Malta

2015 marks the 450th anniversary of the Great Siege of Malta so celebrations of this ancient city’s history will be at the forefront over the coming year. Of course the city is still a sight to behold regardless of these celebrations with its artfully restored 17th century buildings including an open-air theatre. Every vista in this tiny capital is worthy of a postcard making it a respectable addition to your own must visit list.

Valletta, Malta

4. Zermatt, Switzerland

There’s one mountain synonymous with Zermatt and the Swiss Alps overall and that is Matterhorn. In 2015, this famous peak celebrates 150 years since the first ascent. This southern Swiss city draws countless hikers, mountaineers and skiers from across the globe but even if you’re not the outdoorsy type Zermatt’s beautiful views of the Alps are more than worth the trip on their own.

Zermatt, Switzerland

3. Milan, Italy

This Italian city is most recognized for lavish extravagance, wealth and high end Italian fashion, but in 2015 that all takes a back seat as the city holds Expo 2015. The next world’s fair will be taking over Milan with a theme of “Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life” which is sure to focus on food of all varieties. The world’s fair has been credited with introducing such items as hamburgers, ice cream cones and cotton candy to the world so make the trip to Milan find out what we’ll be eating in 50 years!

Milan, Italy

2. El Chaltén, Argentina

Argentina’s newest city celebrates its 30th birthday in 2015. El Chaltén has quickly become the trekking capital of the country as it sits surrounded by the ice and snow covered Monte Fitz Roy and Cerro Torre. While still more of a town (or even a village) than a city, as more and more tourists add Argentina to their South American travels, we know this destination is bound to take off.

El Chaltén, Argentina

1. Washington, D.C., USA

The only American city to make this list comes in at first place and while we’re sure the controversial debates are on-going, we think Lonely Planet was on the money with this pick. Chosen for its many recognized museums and monuments, including the famous Smithsonian, this American city is quite possibly one of the most historically significant in the country. It’s a city that’s been on the rise for years and now boasts amazing nightlife, including a vibrant LGBTQ scene and incredible culinary offerings. To top it off, 2015 marks the 150th anniversary of the assassination of Abraham Lincoln so history will be at the forefront over the coming year.

Washington DC