Pick up your hire car at Sofia Airport and discover one of Europe's up-and-coming capital cities with some of the continent's finest winter sports facilities on its doorstep.
"With our swanky shopping malls, five-star hotels and vibrant bar and club scene, Sofia is a modern, cosmopolitan capital to rival any in Western Europe."
Sofia has the buzz of a destination on the rise, but there's also plenty to remind you of its rich history, from Turkish mosques to Communist monuments.
The new-found wealth that European Union membership brings can be felt throughout the city - trendy boutiques and deluxe hotels are popping up everywhere. Yet its cultural heritage hasn't been sacrificed to modernity.
Sofia's residents are quintessentially European. When the sun is shining, they'll be out walking the streets, eating ice cream and chatting outside coffee houses.
While the weather in Sofia is positively Mediterranean in summer months, winters are bitterly cold. But don't let that put you off - with the mountains on your doorstep and plenty of seasonal snowfall, the Bulgarian capital is a great place to go for a ski holiday.
If your stomach is rumbling first thing in the morning, grab a banitsa, a yoghurt- or cheese-filled pastry.
The pin-up of the chess world, the former women's world champion Antoaneta Stefanova perfected her moves in Sofia.
In 2009, Bulgaria was ranked second in a value-for-money ski resorts survey conducted by the Post Office.
"(An) often overlooked highlight... dynamic, cosmopolitan Sofia, with its lovely parks, sociable alfresco bars and fascinating museums." - Lonely Planet
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It's pretty hard to miss the golden domes of Sofia's gigantic cathedral - on a sunny day you can see them sparkle from anywhere in the city.
Park on St Alexander Nevsky Square, or at the National Palace of Culture.
Another of the city's landmarks, Bulgaria's 750-seat national theatre is a grand building fronted by lavish fountains and a pleasant green space.
Park on Knyaz Aleksandar I Street, or at the National Palace of Culture.
A pleasant retreat from the hustle and bustle and a popular spot with chess players.
Off-street parking is available, or at the National Palace of Culture.
Completed by the Ottomans in 1576, the Banya Bashi is one of the oldest mosques in Europe. It's built over thermal baths, so you can see steam rising from vents around the walls.
You can park at the National Palace of Culture.
One of the biggest exhibition centres in Europe, the NDK, as it's known locally, is set in a lavish leisure park with spectacular Mount Vitosha as its backdrop.
On-site parking is available.
The biggest ski resort in Bulgaria lies just 70km from Sofia and boasts cross-country and snowboarding runs as well as jump facilities. Borovets has twice hosted Alpine World Cup events, an indication of the quality of its slopes.
Follow Route 82 all the way from Sofia to Borovets - the journey will take no longer than an hour and a half.
Bulgaria's most modern ski resort has enjoyed multi-million Euro investment in recent years, and it has one of the country's longest ski seasons, lasting from December to May.
Follow the E80, then exit onto Route 8 towards Ihtiman/Kostenets. Turn right at Route 842 then pick up Route 84 to Bansko. By car, the journey will take around two and a half hours.
The beautiful mountain resort of Chepelare boasts the longest ski run in Bulgaria. It's the perfect destination for families, as there's a child-friendly beginners' piste right in the centre of town.
It takes over two and a half hours to reach Chepelare. Follow the E80, then exit toward Pamporovo. Take the ramp onto Route 805 and continue onto Route 86.
Bulgaria's second city is one of the oldest metropolises in Europe. History buffs will no doubt take great pleasure strolling around Plovdiv's Roman amphitheatre, Ottoman mosque and old town centre.
Head southeast on Route 6004 and continue onto Route 8. Merge into the A1/E80 and exit onto Route 64 towards Plodiv. It will take an hour and a half to reach by car.
" The first thing you'll notice when driving in Sofia is that there are lots of old cars that look like they belong in museums! But driving here is easy. Be prepared for a few traffic jams, particularly during rush hour around the National Palace of Culture. Parking can sometimes be a problem. You have to use tickets in the "Blue Zone", which can be purchased from the people wearing bright green jackets hanging around the parking lots and should be marked with a pen and displayed clearly on the dashboard. "