There’s no secret why Bulgaria has come to prominence over the last few years – it’s the best value beach holiday destination in Europe. Here are ten tips on what Bulgaria offers the holidaymaker, year round.
Beaches: You might not expect to find places with English names like Sunny Beach and Golden Sands, but these 1960s resorts have been brought right up to date while living up to their names. Sunny Beach is big and brash – Golden Sands is better for a more relaxed holiday.
Beaches plus: You don’t have to stay in a purpose-built resort to enjoy the beach. Nessebar, just a few miles from Sunny Beach, is a “living museum” town of cobbled streets and historic buildings reached by causeway from its beach hotels. Sozopol is another old town with a busy modern quarter.
Spa and wellness: Many of the new hotels that have sprung up in beach resorts offer beauty treatments and therapies. Aromatherapy and thalassotherapy, using sea water, are among the options.
Skiing: The resorts of Pamporovo and Borovets are especially good for beginners and a lot of money has been spent to improve accommodation standards, ski schools and ski lifts. The resort of Bansko is also good for intermediate and expert grades too, and is the most extensive with 40 miles of marked pistes.
Mountain activities: Bansko is a year-round resort with lots going on in the summer too. Try kayaking, mountain biking, rafting or trekking to the peak of Mount Vihren, at nearly 3,000 metres above sea level.
Cruising: Embark at the port of Varna to discover the Black Sea, stopping at places including Sozopol and Nessebar. Longer cruises visit Romania and Turkey.
History:A tour of the interior opens your eyes to a land of medieval towns and Orthodox monasteries. Don’t miss ancient Plovdiv (Bulgaria’s second city), the former capital of Veliko Tarnovo, and Rila monastery.
Wine: Many vineyards welcome visitors, where you can sample little-known and under-rated vintages such as Lyaskovets and Haskovo.
Country pleasures: Villages have come back to life after the collectivisation policy of the Communists. Farmhouse accommodation is starting to develop – and the food is delicious.
Culture capital: Sofia is a surprisingly diverse city, with ancient mosques and synagogues among its Orthodox cathedral and churches. It is close to Mount Vitosha, for a day or half-day glimpse of nature.
Bulgaria is not just a great choice for sun and sand but a place of history and culture, where people have re-discovered their traditions after the dismal years of Communism.
With availability of low cost flights to Bulgaria from all over Europe, holidays in Bulgaria remain affordable and a great alternative to the more traditional European holiday centres.