Holidays in Europe: why you should visit Bulgaria’s cheap Riviera

Each week, our holiday hero, Neil Simpson, delves into a brilliant holiday theme and does all the legwork 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 range of day trips complete with mud baths and a museum full of ancient gold, focus on the Bulgarian Riviera.

That’s what locals call the more than 80 miles of wide, often Blue Flag beaches along the coast. And while it’s not always as pretty as it sounds, largely due to the proliferation of new coastal developments, it’s hard to beat on price.

Bulgaria, the port city of Varna lures visitors with a treasury of the world’s oldest gold” class=”blkBorder img-share” style=”max-width:100%” />

Dubbed the summer capital of Bulgaria, the port city of Varna lures visitors with a treasury of the world’s oldest gold

Travel agents are now offering peak season weeks in popular resorts from just over £200 per person including flights.

Prices on arrival are equally affordable – for four years in a row Bulgaria has been ranked as the cheapest of 46 destinations in the Post’s annual Holiday Money Report. The latest survey compares the costs of eight essential vacation items, including sunscreen, bottled water and dinner for two with wine. The Portuguese Algarve bill is £44, Corfu £91 and the south of France £94. It will only cost you £28 at the Bulgarian Sunny Beach resort.

Travel agencies also recommend Bulgaria to families who do not 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, usually land at Burgas or Varna airports. Both are 30 minutes or less from most hotels.

Varna's Retro Museum (above) displays Trabants alongside 50 other vintage cars and a slew of clunky socialist-era household items

Varna’s Retro Museum (above) displays Trabants alongside 50 other vintage cars and a slew of clunky socialist-era household items

And while Bulgaria’s resort towns are known more for their nightlife than culture, there’s plenty to explore during the day.

Dubbed the summer capital of Bulgaria, the port city of Varna lures visitors with a treasury of the world’s oldest gold. The jewelry in Varna’s Archaeological Museum was discovered by a roadside digger in the 1970s and is around 6,000 years old – that’s older than Tutankhamun’s death mask in Egypt.

Varna also has the Retro Museum with Trabants alongside 50 other old cars and a bunch of chunky household items from the socialist era.

Most tour operators offer day trips to the picturesque old towns of Sozopol and Nessebar (pictured).

Most tour operators offer day trips to the picturesque old towns of Sozopol and Nessebar (pictured).

Most tour operators also offer day trips to the picturesque old towns of Sozopol and Nessebar. The Pomorie Lake Mud Baths near Burgas are another popular destination, where visitors smear themselves head-to-toe in the black mud – purported medicinal benefits include treating skin and infertility problems.

Huge shopping centers and water parks along the coast complement the entertainment offer.

Accommodations are far from limited, whether you’re looking for an absolute bargain or a boutique hotel or spa.

Beautiful: Coastal Fortress Ruins in Sozopol on the 80-mile Bulgarian Riviera

Beautiful: Coastal Fortress Ruins in Sozopol on the 80-mile Bulgarian Riviera

The former include flights, transfers and a week’s self-catering at Sunny Beach’s Viva Apartments from £222 per person in July. The complex has a pool, cafe and mini market and is less than five minutes from the sea (onthebeach.co.uk).

Trailfinders’ mid-range, family-friendly deals include flights, private transfers (just 15 minutes from Burgas Airport) and sea-view rooms at the all-inclusive Wave resort, from £749 per week in June. The massive complex has six pools, including a children’s pool and a mini aqua park, as well as an adult-only pool area for quiet moments. 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 a beanbag chair on the chic wooden pool deck. From £391 per person, including flights, for a week in September (jet2holidays.co.uk). Or travel independently and stay at the Sea Sense boutique hotel in Sozopol, where quiet double rooms with a sea view start from around £75 a night (seasense.bg).

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