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Cost Effective Summer Breaks in Bulgaria

With the credit crunch and economic crisis taking its toll on everyone’s bank balance, many people are choosing to holiday in Bulgaria because of its low cost reputation.

Bulgaria is a country that offers much to see, but resort prices are overinflated compared to those outside and if you want to taste the ‘real’ Bulgaria getting out of the resorts is the best way. If you are really looking for a budget holiday then check out self catering apartments in the coastal cities, you can still spend endless hours lounging on the beaches, but you will save a fortune by paying local prices. There is something to suite every holidaymakers taste, whether it’s shopping, sightseeing, a night on the town or a day at the zoo. Quest Bulgaria takes you out of the resorts and into the real Bulgaria.

Family Treats

The resorts are a haven in Bulgaria for kids and offer peace and relaxation for their parents; however, they can prove to be very expensive. There are some great activities outside of the resorts, guaranteed to stimulate your kids imagination. Those people holidaying in the northern resorts close to Varna should head for the Sea Garden in the city centre. Buses run from all of the resorts and cost as little as 2 lv. Most drivers speak English so ask them to let you know where to get off. Inside the Sea Garden you can explore the zoo and the reptile house, but the biggest attraction for most children is the rides. You must buy a top up card to pay for the rides, here – they work out at around 2 lv. per ride, which is substantially cheaper than those in the resorts and the more money you add to your top up card the more discounts you get. Steer clear of the Dolphinarium if you are on a budget – it’s by no means Sea World standards and is comparatively expensive for what you get to see. Bourgas also has its own Sea Garden on a smaller scale to Varna, yet nonetheless beautiful and full of family entertainment. If you walk the length of Bourgas Sea Garden you will reach the salt-pans and from here you can take a mini train ride and explore how salt is made.

Culture Vultures

There is a wealth of cultural and historic sites on your doorstep in Bulgaria and for those who want more than just a lounge on the beach head for the coastal cities to explore. Bourgas has three museums; the Regional Historical Museum, the Ethnographic Museum and the Museum of Nature and Science as well as an Art Gallery and Opera House. In August it holds its annual National Folklore Festival. It is also a beautiful city currently undergoing a makeover to restore listed buildings to their former glory. Varna centre also offers a wealth of museums including the acclaimed Museum of Archaeology, which houses the world’s oldest gold collection. Varna cathedral is also an impressive site, which dominates the town centre and is full of intriguing icons. Cultural sites in both cities cost little more than a couple of leva to visit and some are free. If you hire a car you will be able to travel further afield to some of the heritage sites outside of the cities like the Bourgas Lakes, which offer a natural environment where you can picnic, fish or just relax and enjoy the wildlife. Steer clear of Nessebar as prices here are over inflated and the real historic sites are masked by the wealth of tourist stalls. Outside of Varna you can visit the Aladja Monastery, the Stone Forest or Queen Marie’s Palace in Balchik.

Local Beaches and Nightlife

Beyond the Sea Gardens in both coastal cities there are local beaches, which are a far cry from those in the resorts. Firstly they are not kitted out with thousands of sun loungers, which cost a fortune and secondly they are surrounded by some fantastic restaurants and fast food joints, where drinks and meals are a lot cheaper than if you were to purchase the same in the resorts. You are far more likely to meet people on these beaches than those in the resorts; most of the sun worshippers will be young Bulgarians and they are very friendly and conversant in English. The area around the city beaches also consists of some of the best nightclubs and bars so when the sun goes down its worth heading off into the local city clubland. In Varna there are many clubs on Boulevard Slivnitsa as well as on the beach. The beauty of the real Bulgarian clubland is that it is far cheaper than that of the resorts and you are far likely to meet a more interesting crowd of party goers.

Shopping

Don’t pay over inflated prices for items you covet in the resorts! They are all available at far lower prices in the cities along with a far wider selection. You can pick up all manner of fake designer goods in both cities along with the genuine article should you prefer. Souvenirs are also available along with unique Bulgarian items like Rose Oil and hand painted pottery. Both cities have their share of shopping malls, but prices in the malls are often higher than in the town centres because the stores represented here tend to be part of international chains – that said, it doesn’t matter where you go in both cities shoes, handbags and jewellery are exceptionally cheap and well worth stoking up on.

A summer break in one of the coastal cities will not only save you a fortune but will provide a diverse range of activities and is a sure way to taste what Bulgaria is really all about.