Bulgaria's beach and ski resorts are expanding quickly as a result. The main cities have shrugged off their weary Communist-era image and have become vibrant and attractive, with well-kept boulevards, varied shopping and lively nightlife. Spectacular mountains occupy half the country's territory and the swathe of golden beaches along the 370km- (232-mile-) long Black Sea bring in hordes of tourists from around the world.
Visitors can stay in towns and villages that have aimed to preserve the authentic Bulgarian spirit and hospitality. Bulgaria is especially proud of its rich folklore traditions, and folk dances, music, national costumes and traditional rituals play an important part in the life of Bulgarians.