It’s one of Europe’s newest beach destinations for summer 2023 – and it’s not in the Mediterranean | Popgen Tech


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We know summers in Europe are almost exclusively associated with scenic drives along France Côte d’AzurItaly’s street corner gelaterias and art galleries, and leisurely afternoon strolls in Spain’s ocher small towns – as some might call them, the quintessential Mediterranean starter pack. But what if we told you one of the trendiest beach destinations on the continent right now is, in fact, not located in the famous basin?

Panoramic view of Golden Sands beach in the Black Sea coast of Bulgaria, Southeast Europe

We haven’t even seen the first snow of the season yet, but our hearts and minds are already set on the warmer months to come. Now that pandemic-related restrictions have been lifted and normal tourism has resumed, demand for travel to Europe has soared, especially over the summer holidays – and is set to reach new historic highs next year.

Interestingly, there is a slow wave of a coastal attraction emerge as a much more attractive alternative:

Meet Bulgaria’s beautiful Black Sea coast

Seafront restaurant in the Black Sea coast of Bulgaria during sunset, Southeast Europe

In case you weren’t aware, the Eastern European nation of Bulgaria does have a coast, and quite an extensive one at that, running for 378km from its southernmost point, where it meets Turkey, to the north, bordering the fellow Balkan country of Romania – and contrary to popular belief, the Southern Mediterranean is not the only warm ocean in Europe.

The Black Sea can reach temperatures of up to 82.4°F (28°C) in the summer, and despite its quirky name, it couldn’t be a prettier shade of blue. It may not be crystal clear like the Adriatic branch of the Mediterranean or a clear blue like the French Riviera, but it is just so hot if not warmerand its calm waters are incredibly nice to swim in.

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Iconic windmill in the Nessebar peninsula, old historic city of Messambria on the Black Sea coast, Bulgaria

The Bulgarian coast is also dotted with UNESCO-listed monuments and historical ruins, such as the insular Nessebar, referred to as the ‘Pearl of the Black Sea’. Nessebar dates back more than three millennia, and its collection of ancient landmarks, Romanesque churches and well-preserved city walls, which fully surround the islet, are truly a sight to behold.

On top of that, white and golden sand beaches covers 130 km of coastline, with Varna and Burgas provinces, the latter of which includes Nessebar and its adjacent Sunny Beach, listed as the leading resort complexes in the country. On average, tourists can expect highs of 30 degrees from May to August in the Black Sea region.

A recently rediscovered hidden treasure

Young woman seen from behind looking at the sea from a pier, wearing a floral dress and a white hat, Sunny Beach, Bulgaria

Bulgaria’s coastal jewels remained hidden from foreigners for decades due to the years the nation spent as a Communist regime and obscure satellite state for the Soviets. International tourism really began to flourish in the early nineties with the country’s democratization and reopening to the outside world, in a move that ushered in rapid ‘Europeanisation’.

After the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of the Soviet Union, Bulgaria began to tilt westward, having succeeded in joining NATO and, more recently, in 2007, the European Union. While in the past domestic visitors accounted for the bulk of tourism revenue, now the balance has shifted dramatically.

Drone view of the Varna coastline, Varna Province in the Black Chair Coast of Bulgaria, South East Europe

In 2019, before Covid, 70% of Black Sea resort guests were foreigners, mostly from Germany and Eastern Europe, proving that Bulgaria is a sunny hotspot, is growing. In the first ten months of this year, passenger traffic at the airports of Varna and Burgas increased by 59% (combined), as reported by Germany’s Fraport Group.

Individually, Varna is increasing by 43% annually, with 1.3 million tourists recorded between January and October; Burgas takes the lead, which was up 74% (1.63 million arrivals). This may not seem like much, but we have to take into account the fierce competition that Bulgaria faces on the Mediterranean front and the fact that it not a first choice for a majority of travelers.

Is it because it’s cheap?

Sunny Beach, a resort strip on the Black Sea coast of Bulgaria, Southeastern Europe

Of course, Bulgaria’s affordability as a destination can be partly to blame for its astronomical rise in recent years: on average, the cost of living is 44.32% lower than in the United Statesmaking it a safe haven for budget travelers, especially digital nomads who want to save money while traipsing around Europe, while still getting luxuries they wouldn’t find elsewhere.

Booking ahead of time, holidaymakers can find week-long accommodation in five-star, all-inclusive hotels for as little as BGN 2,866.00, or only USD 1,565.94 – some high-end Sicilian resorts will charge this per night. If you want to grab a real bargain and also avoid the crazy summer crowds, you better hurry: Bulgaria’s Black Sea coast won’t stay ‘off the beaten track’ for long.

View, Of, A, Restaurant, Table, With, Red, Sunshade, In, Sozopol,

Its surprising growth rates alone are proof enough that the Black Sea is becoming more popular with each passing year. It will certainly be no different in 2023, now that Bulgaria has removed all entry requirements related to Covid, allowing travelers to cross the border freely without presenting vaccine certificates or undergoing tests.

Bulgaria is geographically diverse

Modern holiday homes in Bansko covered by snow, Bulgaria, Eastern Europe

Bulgaria is not a place people would normally associate with sandy beaches and warm weather, as it is part of the South Slavic world, located in the Far East of Europe, and home to alpine peaks and packed ski stations. However, a surprising fact that many do not know is that cultural and geographically diversemore than any of its neighbors.

To the west, near the borders with Serbia and North Macedonia, the landscape is dominated by mountain ranges and deep valleys, often covered with snow in winter. In Central-South Bulgaria, the weather remains pleasant all year round, like that of Tuscany; as for the coast, it usually enjoys cool to mild winters and scorching summers.

Young female tourist takes a photo of the Philippopolis Roman Theater in Plovdiv, Bulgaria, Southeast Europe, Balkans

There are no direct American flights to Bulgaria, but once in Europe for their extended summer vacation, Americans can easily travel to Varna or Burgas using any major European city as a transit hub. Non-stop routes are available from Frankfurt, Dublin, London, Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Stockholm, Brussels, and dozens of other airports during peak season.

Traveler alert: Don’t forget travel insurance for your next trip!

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