- Maritsa Basin
The Maritsa Basin is easily defined as the southern part of the country situated between the Balkan Mountain Range/ Stara Planina, and the borders Bulgaria shares with Greece and Turkey. The Maritsa River drains the region and flows south into the Aegean Sea.
At the eastern end of the region, Stara Zagora serves as the central hub for the train system connecting the region with all Bulgarian cities, as well as Eastern and Western Europe. The city of Stara Zagora is a prime tourist destination offering leafy boulevards, sidewalk cafes, opera, theater, galleries, museums, the Thracian Forum Ruins, a 940 acre park, shopping and more.
The proximity to the mountain forests are one of the Stara Zagora region's most valuable natural resources offering ideal opportunities for photography and sport such as hiking and hunting. With a number of thermal mineral springs throughout the region, there are a large number of spas and health centers to facilitate the use of the healing waters such as Pavel Banya and Starozagorski Mineralni Bani. The eastern part of the region hosts the world famous Valley of the Roses.
The western end of the region is marked by Bulgaria’s second largest city of Plovdiv, situated on the banks of the Maritsa River about 150 km South-East of the capital Sofia. Situated on six unique hills called "tepeta", Plovdiv’s large and modern city is combined with a magnificent old town full of churches, museums, mosques and some of the best preserved Roman ruins. Classical concerts take place at the Plovdiv Philharmonic Orchestra's concert hall in January when the winter festival of Symphony Music is held. The Opera is near the concert hall.
Other things not to miss in this part of Bulgaria include a visit to the revered Rila Monastery and hike around the wilderness of the Rila Mountains from Borovets to Maliovitsa.
HOW TO GET THERE
The closest international airport to this region is near the capital Sofia. Pernik is located 30 km South-West from Sofia and provides convenient road and rail connections to Sofia, Blagoevgrad, Kulata and Kyustendil. Bus and train networks are extensive around all of the regions and relatively cheap. Sofia has the largest of 4 international airports in Bulgaria.
In addition to Bulgarian Air, many of the major carriers fly to Sofia including British Airways, Air France, Alitalia, KLM, Turkish Airlines, Lufthansa, Malev and Olympic Airways.
Flights can be found from over 20 UK airports including Gatwick, Heathrow, Stansted, City Airport, Bristol, Southampton, Birmingham, Newcastle, Leeds, Manchester, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Dublin and Belfast.