Summer is fast approaching, and now that Europe’s border restrictions have been lifted and Americans can once again enter the continent hassle-free, we expect the continent’s beaches to be packed with sunseekers come July.
Being blighted by overtourism is not the only concern Europe’s coastal destinations have: other than dealing with crowding, they are facing inevitable price surges, driven by both years-long gentrification and the surge in demand for travel.
Whether it’s Spain or the recently-Euroized Croatia, the cost of living has risen dramatically, but this lesser-known Eastern country remains a safe bet for a budget European summer:
Europe’s Most Underrated Sunny Destination
Although it is often exclusively associated with ski holidays and off-path cultural expeditions, very few people know Bulgaria is in fact one of the best sunny spots in Southeastern Europe.
No, it does not straddle the Mediterranean basin, but it has access nonetheless, and temperatures soar to balmy levels over summer:
Bulgaria has a 235-mile coastline on the Black Sea, which despite the misleading name, is anything but dark and gloomy: its waters may not be crystal-clear as those surrounding the Greek and Croatian islands, but they are a beautiful, serene bright blue, and surprisingly warm over the peak tourist season.
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The country’s leading summer destinations are the cities of Varna and Burgas, both served by international airports and boasting a fast-growing resort scene that could soon rival Western Europe’s.
If you’re skipping Ibiza, Santorini, and the like and heading to Bulgaria and the gorgeous Black Sea region instead, you should consider Sunny Beach specifically.
The Most Developed Resort Town In The Black Sea Region
While Burgas and Varna are both well-developed resort destinations, with Varna in particular hosting an enviable number of attractions, from waterparks to cultural museums, Sunny Beach is Bulgaria’s trendiest and most pristine coastal strip.
As the Black Sea’s busiest seaside resort, sitting only 22 miles north of Burgas and 58 miles south of Varna, it’s where the country’s best hotels and guesthouses are located, with hugely-affordable weekly prices for accommodation.
Packed with beach clubs, and aquaparks, and with numerous swimming spots to pick from, it’s easy to see why it’s been dubbed the most developed resort town in the Black Sea Region.
Rates for the all-inclusive Tarsis Club & Aquapark, only 800 meters from the golden-sand beach, are USD $716 for an upcoming week-long June stay on Booking.com, while prices for less luxurious, three-star hotels on the beachfront range between only USD $183 to USD $407.
As Nicky Kelvin of Points Guy UK articulated, Bulgaria is a great value destination taking into account its vast tourist offer, which includes the ‘rugged’ Balkan mountain range, perfect for trekking, the stunning Black Sea coast, and a ‘Dionysian’ nightlife.
Bulgaria Has Some Amazing Ancient Heritage
Other than merely sand, sun, and fun, the Bulgarian Black Sea province is famous for its Ancient Greco-Roman and medieval heritage. A short 10-minute drive South of Sunny Beach will get you to Nessebar, a small Byzantine-era town resting on a scenic promontory.
The main points of interest in Nessebar are the centuries-old fortifications, the ruined 5th-century Church of St. Sofia, and the landmark 11th-century Church of St. Stephen, housing some of the best-preserved medieval frescoes found anywhere in Bulgaria.
Sozopol is yet another historic gem worth exploring, what with its defensive walls lining the coast and picture-perfect, cobbled-street Old Town. Much like Nessebar, it is dotted with Greek-era and Byzantine monuments.
No Travel Restrictions In Place
Bulgaria has been open for tourism restriction-free since April 2022.
Irrespective of where you’re coming from and regardless of vaccination status, you’ll be welcome with open arms, so long as you satisfy other basic requirements, such as observing visa restrictions and showing proof of outbound or return travel and sufficient funds to cover your stay.
Americans, Canadians, Brits, Australian, and New Zealand citizens do not need a visa to travel to Bulgaria as long as the visit does not exceed 90 days within any 180-day period.
Despite being part of the European Union, Bulgaria is not yet a member of the border-free Schengen Zone. This means any time spent in Bulgaria does not count towards your 90-day Schengen limit, and vice-versa.
Additionally, you should expect border checks traveling between Bulgaria and other EU and Schengen countries.
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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com
Saturday 20th of May 2023
Looks so inviting!
Saturday 20th of May 2023
Maybe for Americans but a lot of people from other countries know about it