If you are looking for a summer sunshine break that isn't going to break the bank then consider booking a Bulgaria holiday.
The Black Sea nation remains a relatively well-kept secret when it comes to great-value family holidays that feature all the trappings of the more popular sunshine resorts: miles of Blue Flag accredited clean sand, lovely warm waters, a good choice of restaurants and bars, accommodation for a range of budgets, and plenty of history and culture to keep the entire party happy.
Holidays in Bulgaria can be spent lounging on the golden sands at the edge of the Black Sea in one of the bustling resorts along the coast. Or you can use your break in Bulgaria to head inland and seek out culture in the capital Sofia - or perhaps you fancy strapping on your skis and whooshing down the country's mountains? It's all there for you to create your holiday memories.
Bulgaria really is a jewel of Europe that keeps its dazzle concealed. That's why you can still find bargain breaks to this special country, which shares it southern border with Greece. From wooded hillsides that tumble down to golden sands, and from soaring mountains to impressive cityscapes: Bulgaria is a real beauty.
If you're flying to Bulgaria to enjoy part of the 400 kilometres of coastline in one of the Black Sea resorts, you'll land at either Bourgas Airport (BOJ) in the south, or Varna Airport (VAR), which is further north.
Popular resorts around Bourgas include Sunny Beach, the biggest resort on the Black Sea, the ancient peninsular city and resort of Nessebar, Elenite, Pomorie, Sozopol, and Duni.
From Varna you can reach the resorts of Golden Sands, Albena, St. Konstantin, and the city and seaside resort of Varna itself.
You'll need to fly into Sofia (SOF) if you are visiting the beguiling capital, while skiers and other adventure enthusiasts should start their holidays in Bulgaria at Plovdiv (PDV), where a world of skiing, biking, hiking and caving awaits. The on- and off-piste action can be found in the ski resorts of Borovets, Pamporovo and elsewhere in the Bansko Mountains.
Wherever you are, make sure you dive headfirst into the local culture: try Bulgarian dishes, which have Turkish, Slavic and Greek influences; taste the local tipple; and be mesmerised by traditional dancing and music. Traditional roots are strong here and cultural festivals are frequent and not to be missed.
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Along the coast you'll experience weather similar to Mediterranean destinations: summer sunshine with daily averages in the high twenties and sometimes pushing past 30C. Unlike Med resorts, winter can be rather cold and can drop into minus figures. Inland, summer daily temperatures can reach 30C in Sofia, while winter temperatures around the mountains and the capital drop down to allow for winter sports. Winter is quite dry inland too.
Salon des Arts; May: The nation's capital, Sofia, is the place to be in May when a programme of cultural events begins with a huge folklore concert at the National Palace of Culture. Other events include ballet, theatre, art and film.
Rose Festival; June: Did you know that Bulgaria is one of the world's biggest producers of rose oil? Smell the sweet flowers at this annual festival to celebrate the “liquid gold” that is the oil of the roses. The festival is held in Kazanluk, some two and a half hours from Bourgas and three hours from Sofia.
Kavarna Rock Fest; July: Rock out with your air guitar during this music event at Bulgaria's rock capital, Kavarna, just north of Varna. You might not know the names on the bill, but if you love rock music you won't care.
Varna Summer International Jazz Festival; July: Tap along to a mellower beat at this popular annual event in the seaside city resort of Varna. Global artists from the jazz scene come to the Black Sea to play every summer .
Spirit of Burgas; August: Held in Bourgas (also known as Burgas), this huge music festival brings international stars to the Bulgarian seaside. Artists have included The Prodigy, Groove Armada and Tinie Tempah.
Best of Bulgaria holidays for...
Romance: Stroll hand in hand through the vineyards of Melnik on a guided tour. Learn all about the wine making process before finishing off your visit with a tipple or two.
Active types: Get your boots at the ready and hit the hiking trails of Vitosha Mountain, near the capital Sofia.
Kids & teens: Treat the kids to a fun-filled day at Action Aquapark in Sunny Beach. Older children can enjoy zipping down the kamikaze and giant slide, while tots can splash around in shallow pools.