In the last two blog posts we recommended some fun things to do when visiting Bulgaria in winter. However, spring is perhaps one of the best times to visit our beautiful country. And although March can be somewhat unpredictable, you most certainly won’t lack activities and destinations to choose from. Here are our top 5 suggestions on what to do when visiting Bulgaria in March.
1. Gift a martenitsa
Every year on March 1-st, Bulgarians celebrate Baba Marta, which translates to Granny March. This is a centuries-old tradition where we send off winter and welcome spring by exchanging and wearing a martenitsa.
What is martenitsa, you ask. Well, it’s a decorative piece of red and white threads, symbolizing health and happiness. It’s a lucky charm against evil spirits. Martenitsa comes in a variety of shapes and sizes: bracelets, necklaces, tassels, etc. According to tradition you would wear the martenitsa until you see the first signs of spring – a stork or spring blossoms. Then you tie the martenitsa on a blossoming tree wishing for health and luck throughout the year.
2. Visit Shipka Peak in the Balkan Mountains
On March 3-rd Bulgaria celebrates its Liberation Day. This is our most important national holiday and a day of pride and remembrance. Parades are held everywhere throughout the country. However, the festivities on Shipka Peak are perhaps the most memorable and moving. After all, this was where the decisive battle for the freedom of Bulgaria took place in 1877. About 7500 Bulgarian volunteers with little weapons, stones, and trees held the pass against an overwhelming Ottoman force for months.
Traditionally thousands of Bulgarians, including state officials gather here on March 3-rd. To be on time for the celebrations, you should get there early in the morning, as the road will be closed to vehicles later in the day. Of course, if you are up for it, you can also hike to the peak. Be warned though, it’s quite a steep trail. Entrance to the museum at the top is free on this day and you can take pictures with people dressed in military uniforms from the past.
3. Kayaking on Dushantsi Dam, near the town of Koprivshtitsa
Kayaking is probably not the first thing that comes to mind when considering what to do in Bulgaria in March. Bear with us though. Provided you are well equipped and with an experienced kayak guide it is not only quite safe, but a lot of fun.
There might not be too many natural lakes in Bulgaria; however, there is an abundance of sweet water reservoirs spread throughout the country. Some are in gorgeous locations. Among our favorite ones to visit in early spring is Dushantsi Dam. It is huddled between two mountain ranges and there is nothing like kayaking on its calm waters while enjoying a breathtaking view of the snow-covered Balkan Mountain ridge.
In addition, Dushantsi Dam is located very close to Koprivshtitsa – a charming small town with well-preserved 18-th and 19-th century architecture in central Bulgaria with an abundance of history and things to see that is certainly worth a visit any time of year. And ff you are still not sold on our suggestion to go kayaking in the area, check out our Koprivshtitsa Sightseeing and Hiking Tour from Sofia.
4. Go rafting
For those who are looking for something a little more extreme or just want to get outside their comfort zone, you should head out for some rafting. The Struma River in south-west Bulgaria is perfect for this.
Particularly in March, when the snow from surrounding mountains has started to melt, rafting down the Struma Rivel is an absolute thrill. So long as you join a reliable local rafting organizer and are not afraid to dip in some cold water, you will have the time of your life. We would be happy to make some recommendations, so do not hesitate to get in touch.
5. Birdwatching in Protected Area PODA
Bulgaria is a major birdwatching destination. The vast range of different habitats ensures a diverse roster of beautiful and enigmatic birds. After all, you can observe over 70% of all bird species in Europe here.
There are different hotspots for birdlife and there are certain times of year that are better if birdwatching is your main reason for visiting. One such hotspot is Protected Area PODA on the Black Sea coast, at the edge of the city of Burgas. Although it’s only 1 sq. km in size, here you will find 1/4 of the bird diversity of Europe represented. Even if you are just a casual birdwatcher or have never tried birdwatching before, we are certain you will find a visit with our friends from the Bulgarian Society for the Protection of Birds at the Nature Protection Center not only illuminating but quite fascinating in March.
So those are our top 5 suggestions of things to do when visiting Bulgaria in March. If you need help with planning, we’re happy to oblige! Take a look at our tailor-made example itineraries or contact us to help you craft your individual guided or self-guided trip around our beautiful country. You can also reach out any time if you have any questions at all about traveling to Bulgaria.