Where is Dragoman and how to visit
At just 45 kilometres northwest of Sofia, close to the border with Serbia, is the small town Dragoman. Not a place often visited by tourists. Well, they all pass on the international road between Serbia and Sofia, but rarely stop in the town or see what's around. It's time to change that, as there's some cool things to see!
Trains from Sofia leave several times a day, use the Bulgarian Railway website to find the schedule. As of August 2017, the bus schedule from Sofia Sever (north) bus station is as follows:
What's to see in town
The train and bus station are right next to the center. You just have to cross a bridge that crosses the railway lines. You could have a walk on the main square and have a coffee - then just explore the little streets around. There's not too much else to do but one highlight is the Green World complex, Комплекс Зелен свят in Bulgarian. There's the Hotel Dragoman that offers comfortable rooms. Next door is the actual restaurant of Green World, and, best of all, the outdoor pool. In summer it's just perfect to have a swim, have lunch on the terrace and doze off in the shade beneath the pine trees. I genuinely enjoyed my time there. The bar serves drinks and the restaurant is right next to the pool so you can enjoy their menu with a wealth of choice. Pictures are at the bottom of this page.
Interestingly, the Toto Definitions Dictionary states that the name Dragoman means 'An interpreter and guide in the Near East; in the Ottoman Empire in the 18th and 19th centuries a translator of European languages for the Turkish and Arab authorities. Most dragomans were Greek (many reached high positions in the government).'
Then 5 kilometres northeast of town is the Dragoman Marsh. The wetlands have a rich biodiversity with about 215 bird species. Chepan Mountain, right behind the marsh, is a stark contrast to the landscape. The dry limestone presents represents many plants found in Bulgaria. In fact, the number of plant species on this mountain is huge. There are 784 species of wild vascular plants. More information for those interested in the mountain, check this report. You could climb the mountain even though I am not sure how difficult it is, here's an article describing the hike. The peak, Petrovski krast, is 1206 metres tall. Bird species such as the Long-legged buzzards fly over the mountain, looking for rodents and insects to feast on. Surely a fascinating place to visit - the mountain offers beautiful views over the marsh and the surrounding valley.
There's a lot of adventure right around Dragoman. The countryside feels wild, in the sense that there are some unpaved roads leading to unkown villages. Many hills, farms and several small rivers. If you go south of Dragoman, the landscape looks like it could be southern France. Low hills with wide fields and some churches dotting the view. Drive to Bahalin village, visit the pretty church and the Turkish fountain, which is visible on Google Maps. For the church, best is to ask around for the 'paraklis', which is a chapel. All the surrounding villages will certainly be interesting for a quick visit. You could then get to Gaber - where there's a small restaurant called Pali Lula. Or, visit Gurgulyat and Fortress Petlyuka.
You could also go northwest from Dragoman and visit Kalotina, then visit the rough landscapes around Berende and Berende Izvor. There's an old railway line all the way to Stanintsi but it is now out of use, or used for freight transport only. Also, there's Bukorovski monastery (Букоровски манастир) and the Kotlite waterfall (Водопад Котлите). Just look for these places in Google Maps.
The Aldomirovsko Marsh near Slivnitsa is interesting for those interested in the biodiversity of Bulgaria. More interesting general information on the marsh is on this Wikipedia page. Around Slivnitsa, an area rarely visited, is quite a lot to see. Check out this tourist map (Bulgarian) should you want to explore the area around Slivnitsa. It's close to Sofia, at just 32 kilometres.
Continuing your trip
Go west to Tran or Zemen - alternatively go northeast to Godech (check Razboishte monastery and Chepurlenski monastery Sveta Petka), Iskrets and Svoge. Or, head north to Berkovitsa and Varshets. Possibly, combine with Vrah Kopren mountain (Bulgarian). There are endless itineraries. Contact me if you'd like help designing one.