A combination of economic factors has led to a weakening of the pound, and this means that our annual summer holiday is costing more than ever. Don’t resign yourself to having to pay more though, there are still some very good value for money destinations in Europe and the one country which consistently tops the “best value” lists is Bulgaria. So should we all be looking further east to stretch our holiday cash?
Beach Holidays in Bulgaria
Bulgaria’s Black Sea coast has over 200 miles of sandy beaches, so there’s plenty of space for visitors. The most popular resort with British holidaymakers is Sunny Beach, and further up the coast is the resort of Varna which is popular with Bulgarian families. Temperatures compare favourably to the Mediterranean resorts, with 25C – 30C in July and August. The nearby airport of Burgas serves the Black Sea resorts, and most tour operators fly to Burgas from UK regional airports. Once you’re there, you’ll be surprised how cheap everything is; expect to pay less than a pound for a pint of local beer, and less than £20 for a three course meal for two including a bottle of wine.
Skiing in Bulgaria
Winter on the Black Sea coast is cold and rainy, so most winter visitors to Bulgaria are making the most of the country’s excellent skiing. Bansko is the country’s main ski resort at the foot of the Pirin mountains, in the western part of the country. Fly to Sofia or Plovdiv and drive up to the resort. When you get there you’ll find that all aspects of skiing, such as lift passes, equipment hire and ski schools or classes, are significantly cheaper than resorts in the Alps, often as little as half the price. Eating out and nightlife is cheap too. The best time to go skiing in Bulgaria is February or March, when the skiing is at its best and the slopes are fairly quiet.
Bulgaria – The Basics
Bulgaria is part of the EU, and as such you can fly there from the UK without needing visas. Although part of the EU, much of Bulgaria’s infrastructure isn’t up to UK standards, so avoid drinking tap water and consider having a vaccination against hepatitis A before you travel. EHIC cards are accepted in Bulgaria but remember that although healthcare provision in large cities is of a reasonable standard, this might not be the case in smaller resorts or rural areas. The Bulgarian currency is the Lev, and you’ll get around 2.25 Lev to the pound Sterling. Buy your currency in advance before leaving home to make sure you get the best value on your exchange rates. In larger resorts you’ll find lots of dishes you are familiar with in restaurants, away from the main tourist spots the local food is based around pork, beans and vegetables, with fruit, yoghurt and honey for dessert. Don’t miss the national dish of shopska salad, similar to Greek salad and made with tomato, cucumber, raw onion, peppers and a white brined cheese. Delicious.