Bulgaria has changed swiftly since casting off the yoke off communism, though in the villages and even in Sofia you may find a horse and cart on the road.
Bulgaria has a temperate climate, with cold damp winters and hot dry summers. April to mid-June is an excellent time to visit; the days are long, the weather is good, and the waves of summer visitors are yet to arrive.
Summer (mid-June to early September) is the peak tourist season and unless you visit the mountains, the temperatures can be very high. The Black Sea beaches are popular but can get very crowded.
September is perhaps one of the best months to see Bulgaria. The autumn is glorious and the tourist hordes have returned home. The ski season begins in mid-December and can last until April, Bansko being the winter resort with the longest season due to its higher altitude.
History of Bulgaria
History abounds, with Thracians, Persians, Celts (Gauls) and Macedonians all fighting for dominance. Rome conquered the area in 45 AD, but after the Roman Empire collapsed in the West, Bulgaria and the surrounding lands were settled by Slavs, and the Bulgars went on to found the First Bulgarian Empire in 681.
The Eastern Roman Empire (Byzantines) ended it in 1018 and reclaimed its former lands. Rebellion in 1185 led to the Second Bulgarian Empire until 1396 when the Ottomans took over for nearly 500 years.
Ottoman-Russian conflict in 1877-78 ended with the formation of free Bulgaria. The First Balkan War started in 1912 when countries formerly under Ottoman rule joined to attack the Ottoman Empire but unhappy with the result, Bulgaria turned on its former allies leading to the Second Balkan War and more new maps.
The Balkan Wars were brutal and saw many atrocities committed. Such atrocities were thought to be consigned to the early 20th century but the breakup of Yugoslavia in the 1990s showed that the propensity for ethnic cleansing hasn't gone away. This extension of the Balkan Wars was probably its last act, though Russia as it doubles down on its disastrous 2022 war in Ukraine has tried creating provocations in Kosovo.
Bulgaria allied with Germany in both World Wars, and after WW2 became a Communist puppet state under the Soviet Union. With the end of the Soviets and Communism in 1989, Bulgaria became a democratic, market-led economy.
Mismanagement under Soviet rule has set Bulgaria back decades as it struggles with corruption and population decline, despite it being in the European Union. Arguably being part of the European Union with its open borders has been the reason for such a drastic population decline and brain drain.