Each week, our holiday hero, Neil Simpson, takes an in-depth look at a brilliant holiday topic, doing all the groundwork so you don’t have to. This week: bargains on the Bulgarian Riviera.
For a vacation that ticks the boxes of low prices and short transfers, plus a series of day trips that include mud baths and a museum full of ancient gold, you’d do well to focus on the Riviera Bulgarian.
That’s what locals call more than 80 miles of wide, often Blue Flag beaches along the coast. And while it’s not always as pretty as it looks, mostly due to the sprawl of new shoreline development, it’s hard to beat the price.
The port city of Varna, dubbed the summer capital of Bulgaria, lures visitors with a treasure trove of the oldest gold in the world
Travel agents are now offering weeks during high season at popular seaside resorts from as little as £200 pp including flights.
Prices are just as reasonable when you arrive – for four consecutive years Bulgaria has been ranked the cheapest of 46 destinations in the Post Office’s annual Holiday Money Report. The latest survey includes a comparison of the cost of eight holiday essentials, such as sunscreen, bottled water and dinner for two with wine. On the Algarve in Portugal the bill is £44, on Corfu it’s £91 and in the south of France it’s £94. In the resort town of Sunny Beach in Bulgaria, it will only cost you £28.
Travel agents also recommend Bulgaria to families who don’t want long transfers to their accommodation but want high temperatures – the average in August is 30°C.
Airlines such as Tui and Jet2, as well as low-cost airlines such as Wizz Air, normally land at Burgas or Varna airports. Both are 30 minutes or less from most hotels.
Varna’s Retro Museum (above) has Trabants among 50 other vintage cars and a host of clunky socialist-era household objects
And while Bulgaria’s seaside resorts are more famous for their nightlife than their culture, there’s plenty to explore during the day.
The port city of Varna, nicknamed the summer capital of Bulgaria, attracts visitors with a treasure of the oldest gold in the world. Discovered by a navvy in the 1970s, the jewels in the Varna Archaeological Museum date back around 6,000 years, older than Tutankhamun’s death mask in Egypt.
Varna also has the Retro Museum, with Trabants among 50 other vintage cars and a host of bulky socialist-era household objects.
Most tour operators offer day trips to the picturesque old towns of Sozopol and Nessebar (photo)
Most tour operators also offer day trips to the picturesque old towns of Sozopol and Nessebar. Another popular destination is the mud baths at Lake Pomorie, near Burgas, where visitors soak themselves in the black mud from head to toe – claims for its medical benefits include treating skin problems and infertility .
Huge shopping malls and water parks along the coast add to the entertainment options.
Accommodation is far from limited, whether you’re looking for an absolute bargain or a boutique hotel or spa.
Magnificent: Ruins of the coastal fortress at Sozopol on the 80-mile Bulgarian Riviera
The former include flights, transfers and a week of dining at Viva Apartments in Sunny Beach from £222 pp in July. The complex has a swimming pool, cafe and mini market and is less than five minutes from the sea (onthebeach.co.uk).
Mid-range family deals from Trailfinders include flights, private transfers (just 15 minutes from Burgas Airport) and sea view rooms at the all-inclusive Wave Resort from £749 pp for weekends. weeks in June. The sprawling resort has six pools, including a kids’ pool and mini water park, plus an adults-only pool for quiet times. There’s also a gym, spa, and private beach (trailfinders.com)
New for 2022 is the Sunny Beach Club, part of Jet2’s stylish Vibe collection. Check in, then relax in a cabana or sink into an ottoman on the elegant wooden pool deck. From £391 pp including flights for a week in September (jet2holidays.co.uk). Or travel independently and stay at the Sea Sense boutique hotel in Sozopol, where serene double rooms with sea views start at around £75 a night (seasense.bg).