10 COOLEST Places to Live in Bulgaria (Updated 2023)
Full of ancient history, a whole lot of culture and monuments galore, Bulgaria is a surprising mix of everything from skiing in mountains to having a mud bath on a beach.
But since it’s not the obvious choice for the digital nomad, it’s kind of tricky to know just where you should be basing yourself in this Eastern European country.
That’s where we come in. We’ve done the hard work for you and found you some truly awesome places to live in this undiscovered gem.
Hold tight: the best places to live in Bulgaria await!
Staying Safe in Bulgaria
Bulgaria is a pretty safe country and, in fact, one of the most peaceful and safe countries in the world. It’s a nation of friendly people and low levels of violent crime.
However, not everybody in Bulgaria is friendly. Pickpockets and other unsavoury characters take advantage of distracted, unsuspecting tourists in busy, touristed areas.
That’s like many places in the world, however, and the easiest way to avoid being a victim of petty theft is to blend in as much as possible; look and act less like a tourist, you’ll be less of a target.
No matter how safe the destination is, you always MUST travel with insurance, and World Nomads is our favorite. Fill out the form below to get a quote so you can keep you (and your stuff!) protected!
“Sophia is the capital of Bulgaria and a clear winner of a destination for expats, nomads, tourists and backpackers alike.“
Monthly cost of living in Sophia
cost of rent
A buzzing city that’s a little bit of a melting pot that makes Bulgaria what it is, Sophia is a brilliant injection of Bulgarian people, culture and history.
It was once an important Roman city and boasted its own famous mineral baths; but aside from the Romans, there’s a ton of historic architecture and stunning parks to stroll around.
Sophia has more than 90 neighbourhoods to choose from, but we reckon you should head over to Student Town (or Studentski Grad) which is, as you may imagine, bursting at the seams with students.
Cue cheap accommodation and great nightlife. Alternatively, a heritage neighbourhood like Boyana, is a great choice for history lovers.
Pros of Sophia
So much to do here
Great food and drink to try out
Lots of history to learn about
Cons of Sophia
Known for a few scams
Might be too big for some
Traffic can be bad
One of the main symbols of Sophia is the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral. Built after the liberation of Bulgaria, it’s a beautiful building topped with golden domes; you can hear the bells chime from 12 kilometres away.
Another impressive sight is the Sophia history museum – formerly where the mineral baths were found. When it comes to eating around the city, the Bulgarian capital boasts a lot of cafes and cool hangouts to indulge in.
Ones that locals particularly love is called Before & After, a restaurant built at the turn of the 20th century that’ll make you feel like you’re stepping back in time; sometimes there’s even spontaneous tango dancing there.
Digital Nomad Tip
SoHo (as in, Sophia Holistic Coworking Company) is a very hip place. You’ll feel right at home getting some work done here; otherwise, betahaus is a nice option – the first in Sophia and a great space for freelancers.
“Get to know Bulgaria’s Black Sea Coast in the lively and urban Burgas: the second-largest city on the shore.“
Monthly cost of living in Burgas
cost of rent in Burgas
A seaside town, Burgas has a lot to do that involves soaking up the atmosphere and physicality of the water.
These involve chilling out beside lakes, hitting up the beach, and getting involved in one of its popping summer festivals. Of course, the town gets busy in summer, being one of the largest ports on the Black Sea.
Choose to live near the seaside park for a slice of life on the water’s edge, which is also a good place for people who panic if there’s not a zillion places to eat and drink nearby (there are loads).
Pros of Burgas
Cool place by the sea
Interesting natural mud stuff to do
Good transport connections
Cons of Burgas
The most expensive place for rent on our list
It will be difficult if you don't speak Bulgarian
Very touristed in the summer
If you’re looking for things to do in the area, you can hit up Atanasovsko Lake; there are pools of mud and lye here for a natural body scrub.
But for more of a conventional waterside activity, hit up Burgas Beach – a long stretch of white sand lined with beach bars and restaurants nestled along the Sea Garden of Burgas.
You can learn about the history of the city at the archaeology museum, complete with information about the Thracians – the ancient civilisation who called this part of the world home.
There’s also Markeli Fortress to visit; formerly set along the border between Byzantium and Bulgaria.
Digital Nomad Tip
BurgasLab is a great location in the centre of town if you need a place to work. It’s run by a group of people who provide a workspace as well as a whole lot of events to get involved with, too.
“One of the most ancient cities in Bulgaria, Varna is the sort of place you should go to at least once in your life.“
Monthly cost of living in Varna
cost of rent
Varna is a sun-soaked city on the Black Sea that’s gorgeous to visit – so why not live there? An idyllic city that’s home to (what’s thought to be) the oldest gold treasure in the world, the Varna Necropolis; the gold here dates back to 4,560 BC and points to the city’s very ancient roots.
If you live near a place where you can get some great cuisine, there’s Galata; it’s a super friendly neighbourhood that also happens to be close to the beach. There’s also the centre of Varna, where you’ll find a lot of historic structures and a pedestrianised zone that’s good for a stroll.
Pros of Varna
Life by the sea
Tons of history going on
Cons of Varna
Not good if you want a modern metropolis
Gets busy in the summer months
Also very, very hot in summer
The town isn’t all ancient history, however. You can stroll around and marvel at the pretty Ottoman mansions left over from Turkish rule and then spend the afternoon on the beach; it’s a sandy coastline where you can while away the hours sipping a beer. Come summer, DJs play funky beats on this beach.
In order to get a better understanding of the more recent history of Bulgaria, you can head to the Retro Museum. It sounds cool and it is; visitors can expect to see Communist-era cars and old household appliances in an exploration of what life was like in the People’s Republic of Bulgaria.
Digital Nomad Tip
For a place to work, you should check out the spacious Innovator Coworking Space Varna. A really dynamic place, it offers up a fresh, friendly approach to coworking – and right near the Roman baths and cathedral, too. Great wi-fi.
“For those nomads who simply can’t live without mountain slopes, there’s the Bulgarian ski resort of Bansko.“
Monthly cost of living in Bansko
cost of rent in Bansko
One of the most popular mountain towns in the country, Bansko is located at the foot of the Pirin Mountains. Here you’ll find fresh air, a calm atmosphere and a whole load of activities to get involved with.
People who like to stay active, or keen skiers, will love the fact that living here is basically living life outdoors. So that you’re not cut off from the action in Bansko, we would suggest living in near to the centre of town – but just far away enough so that you don’t feel surrounded by crowds.
Somewhere like Novyat Grad, just to the south of the centre, is a good option: close to amenities and everything you need for a nice stay.
Pros of Bansko
Affordable for a ski resort
Outdoors stuff to do all year round
Fresh mountain air
Cons of Bansko
Super, super busy with tourists in winter
A bit of over-development going on
Not that interesting if you're not into skiing
If you’re in Bansko for the skiing, take note: it’s got pistes that range from altitudes from 900 metres all the way to 2,600 metres. It’s become something of a magnet for other Europeans looking for a ski holiday that isn’t the Alps.
Away from the apres-ski madness, there’s actually a charming cobbled old town to discover here. It’s lined with pretty National Revival-style mansions from the 19th-century, which hide an interesting history: they come with their own escape routes so that the owners could get a headway on any invading Turks.
Digital Nomad Tip
Bansko boasts multiple co-working spaces. Coworking Bansko is bright and friendly, and they have two locations one of which is near the gondola, so you can hit the slopes after an early morning of furious email-sending and writing.
“Set amongst seven hills, the ancient city of Plovdiv is an enticing place to find yourself.“
Monthly cost of living in Plovdiv
cost of rent in Plovdiv
Plovdiv – Bulgaria’s second-largest city – may be popular as a weekend destination, but living here could really open up the place and show you another side.
This is a laid-back place with a cool, creative atmosphere; wander the streets of the Old Town and discover the museums housed in the colourful old buildings lining its cobbled streets.
Head to Trakia for an affordable place to live – especially if you’re a fan of Communist apartment blocks from the 1970s and ’80s.
Now this area is a very local place to be, complete with cafes, families out for a stroll and plenty of bike lanes running through it.
Pros of Plovdiv
Great city parks to wander
Burgeoning digital nomad scene
Cons of Plovdiv
Freezing in winter; not that warm in summer
Some areas aren't nice
Taxis can be sketchy in Plovdiv
Step into the Kapana art district for a healthy dose of cool. Here you will be able to enjoy art galleries, stumble across festivals and stop off for craft beers along the way.
In the evenings the park of Tsar Simeon Garden comes alive with singing fountains that light up in the night – yes, really – making for a quirky place for people to gather and meet up.
Plovdiv’s ancient Roman amphitheatre is located on the top of one of its seven hills and is an awesome place to catch a concert; next door to the amphitheatre is a stunner of a mosque.
Digital Nomad Tip
Cat and Mouse Coworking Space is a creative place to work amidst stylishly decorated interiors. Elsewhere you could go to Otsreshta: think black and white tiled floors, cool coffee bar and plenty of other digital nomads to get to know.
#6 Veliko Tarnovo
“With its fortified walls and cobbled lanes, the small city of Veliko Tarnovo is a picturesque place to base yourself in the heart of Bulgaria.“
Monthly cost of living in Veliko Tarnovo
cost of rent in Veliko Tarnovo
Veliko Tarnovo is a beautiful, romantic city. One of the oldest in Bulgaria, dating back to the Second Bulgarian Empire, it’s here that you will find a whole lot of wonderfully well-preserved buildings on a postcard-perfect backdrop of green tree covered hills.
For somewhere, why not try out the neighbourhood of GK Varusha South. It’s close to the river, as well as co-working spaces, and the town itself – but not so close to town. It’s a nice balance. The nearby town of Troyan is filled with monuments and surrounded by nature; a nice, peaceful location.
Pros of Veliko Tarnovo
Backpackers and expats to meet
Very charming storybook aesthetics
Student town with decent nightlife
Cons of Veliko Tarnovo
Quite a small city
Soon run out of things to do
Hilly; hard to get around by bike
Take in the beauty of the city at the Stambolov Bridge, built in 1892; it crosses the Yantra River, which encircles the town, and also happens to be the most popular Instagram spot in Veliko Tarnovo.
In the Old Town it’s not just about the buildings themselves; nowadays you’ll find street art daubed on the walls of some of them, bringing life to the crumbling old edifices. There’s also a modern side of town, Tarnovo, is home to the second-largest university in the country.
Digital Nomad Tip
Go to Freedom21 for a coworking opportunity. This is a great place to meet new people; it features fast wi-fi and a great view from the balcony.
“Blagoevgrad is a buzzing university town that’s busy with students across the world.”
Monthly cost of living in Blagoevgrad
cost of rent in Blagoevgrad
Dating back to the first year of the Ottoman domination of Bulgaria, Blagoevgrad is a warm and friendly town with a population of over 16,000 students.
Located just a hundred kilometres south of Sophia, it’s a relatively multicultural space, complete with grand squares and a multitude of attractions – minus the tourist crowds.
Basing yourself amongst the busy-ness of the student area is a very good idea. Here you will be able to get cheap accommodation, get to meet up with an array of international students, as well as enjoy a fun and also quite affordable nightlife.
Pros of Blagoevgrad
Locals are friendly and open
Comparatively more affordable
Cons of Blagoevgrad
The town is quite spread out
It's not the most beautiful town
Small historic centre
The town has many leafy parks, friendly neighbourhoods and a small but very interesting historic quarter. There are so many more endearing qualities about Blagoevgrad that make it less of a place to come and snap photos for your travelogue, more a place you’d like to stick around for a while.
In town, the Museum of History, in the old quarter, as well as the Stoyan Sotirov Art Gallery, as well as the Stanislav Art Gallery will give you more of an insider’s look into what makes this town tick.
The surrounding area of Blagoevgrad offers exciting trips into the mountains as well as picturesque lakes and flowing rivers.
Digital Nomad Tip
For a place to work, head to Co-mad. Situated in a specially built space, it’s set on the banks of the river and even has big windows that look out onto it for a good place to work and daydream. MacLabLife is a good spot, too.
#8 Stara Zagora
“The city of Stara Zagora is an underrated gem of a city that boasts as much historical value as it does a hip dining scene.“
Monthly cost of living in Stara Zagora
cost of rent in Stara Zagora
Stara Zagora claims to be one of the oldest cities in the world. With its amazingly well preserved Roman forum (complete with mosaics) and ancient neolithic dwellings combined with imposing brutalist monuments from the Communist era, there is definitely something about this city.
For somewhere to live in Stara Zagora, check out Slaveiko for a good central location that’s also a safe neighbourhood.
Otherwise Stara Zagora’s centre itself has charming streets laid out grid style and boasts a surprisingly good number of affordable housing options.
Pros of Stara Zagora
Genuinely ancient history to learn about
Cool restaurants to try out
Cons of Stara Zagora
Can get pretty quiet
Not very pretty
You'll need some Bulgarian to get by
Visit the old mosque, which has now been turned into a museum – and for good reason; excavations beneath the building have revealed ancient finds that show this building has been in use for millennia.
To learn even more about the region’s history, you can visit the Regional Museum of History. Alternatively, head to the house of Geo Milev where you can learn about the life and works of the Bulgarian poet and revolutionary.
But when you’ve had enough of all that, take yourself to Zagorka Brewery where you can taste some homegrown beer.
Digital Nomad Tip
Candy Cafe is run by friendly locals who will help you out even if you don’t speak that much Bulgarian. There’s also a nice little cafe called Life, good food, good atmosphere, strong wi-fi.
“The town of Ruse is a rising haunt for expats drawn there by its cosmopolitan atmosphere and beautiful buildings.“
Monthly cost of living in Ruse
cost of rent
Known as “Little Vienna”, Ruse is situated on the south bank of the Danube – right opposite the Romanian of Giurgiu.
People definitely come for the architecture in Ruse: there are so many stunning examples of Neo-Baroque and Neo-Rococo buildings here that you really could be in Vienna. A smaller version of it, obviously.
Stay in the Student Zone (Studentski Grad) for an affordable are in Ruse. Here is where you will find not only cheap rent, but also a whole lot of budget-friendly cafes and bars as well as a selection of city parks, such as Youth Park, which make for a decent breath of fresh air on a summer afternoon.
Pros of Ruse
Well placed for day trips (e.g. to Bucharest)
Cons of Ruse
Heavily touristed in summer
Not a lot of digital nomads here
Pretty chilly in winter
Given its situation between Europe and the great steppes of Central Asia, the town of Ruse has a deep history – like much of Bulgaria – steeped in various invading cultures leaving their mark on the land.
Archaeological finds at Ruse have evidenced people dwelling here since as early as 5,000 BC. A great city to walk around, Ruse is a sight for sore eyes – particularly around Liberty Square with its ornate buildings.
There’s also the Profit Yielding Building, designed by a Viennese architect (that explains everything), now an upmarket shopping centre complete with an art gallery, public library, theatre and casino.
Digital Nomad Tip
Freestyle Cafe boasts palette-style seating, a bright airy space and a central location (plus good wi-fi). There’s also Sofa Coffee Time, a cool hang-out that serves up a great cup of coffee; the evening brings jazz and good food.
“With UNESCO World Heritage Sites, beautiful mountain scenery and a whole lot of roses, Kazanlak is the ideal all-rounder for the discerning nomad.“
Monthly cost of living in Kazanlak
cost of rent in Kazanlak
This town in central Bulgaria is nestled at the foot of the Stara Planina Mountains. Although the mountains are stunning, Kazanlak has another claim to fame. Kazanlak is known for its roses.
That’s right, roses. In fact, this town is the centre of Bulgaria’s rose oil industry, allegedly producing over a third of the world’s rose oil.
We would say that the nicest place to live in Kazanlak is the area around Park Rose Garden. Here not only will you be close to the park itself, but you’ll also be within walking distance of pleasant cafes and the riverside, which makes for a chilled stroll indeed.
Pros of Kazanlak
Amazing rose festival every spring
Ancient history to learn about
Cons of Kazanlak
The actual city is not that pretty
You will definitely need some Bulgarian
No coworking spaces
During the spring, Kazanlak blooms with the smell and sight of – you guessed it – roses, which naturally draws visitors from far and wide across the globe. But it’s not all smelling flowers at Kazanlak.
There is actually a whole lot of history here, with ornately decorated Thracian tombs and ancient burial mounds from the 4th century BC.
Interestingly the more modern side of this city has a busy mosque and is home to a large Turkish and Pomak (Slavic Muslim) community; Kazanlak is the most multicultural city in Bulgaria. Actually.
Digital Nomad Tip
For wi-fi and a coffee, go to Cafe Screen: nice locals, streetside seating in summer, but quiet enough that you can get work done. Another good place is Coffee Stop which is friendly, has a nice atmosphere and serves up good joe.
Final Thoughts on the Best Places to live in all of Bulgaria
There you have it, folks – the top digital nomad destinations in Bulgaria.
With historic towns, beachside destinations, mountain retreats and towns that bustle with international students and multicultural communities, the variation on offer in Bulgaria is pretty awesome.
Keen skiers might want to head straight to Bansko and never look back, whereas if you’re all about the sea we’d recommend Burgas; for lively areas, student haunts abound in Blagoevgrad and the capital of Sophia.
You could even stop off at a few different places to get a real all-round feel for Bulgaria.
We’re pretty jealous of your choices right now!
Cost of living in Sophia
Cost of living in Burgas
Cost of living in Varna
Cost of living in Bansko
Cost of living in Plovdiv
Cost of living in Veliko Tarnovo
Cost of living in Blagoevgrad
Cost of living in Stara Zagora
Cost of living in Ruse
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