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By Monika Metodieva
Over the past few years, Bulgaria’s Sunny Beach has become a popular destination amongst Brits. The weather is amazing, the alcohol is cheap and the parties last long into the humid night. However, it is now one of the most crowded and touristy places on the Black Sea coast.
What most people aren’t aware of is the remarkable beauty hidden away in Bulgaria. Here are all the hidden treasures this country has to offer, that are perfect for a summer holiday.
Silistar Beach – situated next to the border with Turkey, five kilometres from Sinemorets, this is what many consider one of the most beautiful beaches in Bulgaria. It is left completely wild, untouched by the modern world. The turquoise waters are surrounded by nothing but peace, quiet, and stunning views. This beach is also popular by the name ‘The Pirate Beach’, legends say it used to be a haunt for pirates.
If you want to escape the busy beaches of Sunny Beach, Irakli Beach – close to Nesebar, is one of the beaches with the most crystal clear water. This can only be surpassed by the view of the Vaya river, that flows into the sea. This magical place is surrounded by a deep forest where you can put out a tent, sleep under the stars and become one with nature.
Another piece of paradise is Bolata bay – an hour and a half from Varna airport, it is part of UNESCO’s ‘Most Beautiful Bays in the World Club’. You can not only sunbathe there, but you can climb the surrounding rocks and observe the mesmerizing view of Cape Kaliakra which is a historic place, source of many legends.
If you are interested in rock climbing, or you are an adrenaline junkie, Tyulenovo – 80km away from Varna, is the place for all adventure seekers. People rock climb to the top just so they can jump into the pristine waters of the Black Sea. The area is unaffected by urbanization and if you’re lucky you might even see some dolphins swimming around.
However, if you still want the party vibe of Sunny Beach but without the gaudy, ‘club 18-30’ holiday vibe, Camping ‘Gradina’ – 30km south of Burgas is the place for you. Local Ivo Karakashev describes it as “the best place you can go for partying in Bulgaria”. You can stay in your own tent or you can rent a luxurious bungalow. Places like ‘Dirty Gradina’ or ‘Bash Bar’ combine great music, cheap prices, stunning design and incredible cocktails. Everything you need on a summer night.
If you are not a beach person but still want to escape from the hustle and bustle of the busy city, the clear air and views of the mountains will take your breath away (both literally and metaphorically) and will transfer you in another world of serenity.
A day of walking around the glacier Seven Rila Lakes would be perfect to avoid the summer heat. Locals describe it as a ‘piece of heaven’. However, it takes around seven or eight hours to walk through all of the lakes and go back down (the highest one is 2535m), so take some food, a couple of great friends and enjoy! The scenery speaks for itself.
Seven Rila Lakes
Another option is Raysko Praskalo, or ‘Heavenly Sprinkler’. This is the highest waterfall in Bulgaria and the Balkans (125m), it takes about four hours of walking to get to it, but when you get to the top the view is absolutely captivating. You can have lunch at the Ray Hut, recharge and admire the view.
Zornitza Family Estate Relais & Châteaux is perfect if you are looking for a luxurious vacation amongst nature. It is located near Melnik, where you can go for a day trip to visit the Melnik Pyramids and the Rozhen Monastery, a cultural monument of Bulgaria. The complex offers wine tastings, spa facilities and an eco farm with homegrown fruits, vegetables and herbs, which you can try in the restaurant. Similar to this, Eco Village Omaya – a few kilometres from the border with Greece, offers a luxurious fairytale in houses made from stone, clay and wood. Reality and magic will blend together as the houses look like something straight out of ‘Lord of The Rings’. You can relax or do different activities like go fishing, or mushroom picking in the nearby forest – which the staff will prepare for you to eat later on.
If you want to immerse in the history of Bulgaria, Fortress Tsarevets is the place to go. Bulgaria is full of historical landmarks, as we have a lot of history (the country was founded back in the year 681). This, however, is one of the most impressive ones. It is the Second Bulgarian Empire’s primary fortress and strongest bulwark from 1185. At night there is an audiovisual show called The Sound and Light with lasers, lights, music and church bells that narrates key moments from the Bulgarian history such as the fall of Tarnovo to the Ottoman empire.
Sunny Beach has a certain charm amongst tourists and young party animals but there are so many places that are not only cheaper but offer amazing experiences that you will forever cherish. Everyone enjoys a cocktail or seven, but swimming next to dolphins in crystal water surrounded by the amazing gifts of nature is hard to beat.