Summer in Europe is mostly associated with romantic vespa rides into an Amalfi sunset, hopping around Greece’s rugged islands, lounging by a pebbly beach in balmy Croatia, or even living it up in France’s glitzy Saint-Tropez, but these are not only dreamy sunny getaways across the pond.

Yes, a majority of the continent’s sunniest destinations do lie within the Mediterranean basin, but the world-famous Med is not the only subtropical spot across the pond: believe it or not, it gets just as warm, if not warmer, in Bulgaria.

This not-so-obvious, fascinating-all-the-same summer gem is bounded by azure waters and boasts an invaluable ancient heritage, and these are 5 reasons why it should be on your travel radar:

It Is Just As Warm As The Med

A Young Woman Who Is Also A Mother And Her Daughter Resting On A Beach In Bulgaria, On The Shores Of The Black Sea, Eastern Balkans, South Eastern Europe

Bulgaria may be tucked away in Eastern Europe, but that doesn’t mean it is always freezing cold.

Though the country does see temperatures plummet over winter, it experiences temperatures as high as 90°F between July and August, the peak travel months.

Visiting Bulgaria in summer, you definitely shouldn’t pack that woolen coat of yours, much less extra layers of clothing, as the coldest it gets overnight is a still-pleasant 64°F, and according to TUI, a Britain-based travel agency, there is between 10 to 12 sunshine hours per day.

Precipitation is also low, meaning it rarely ever rains, and the warmer climate is your perfect excuse to try the country’s traditional cucumber, garlic, and fresh yogurt-based cold tarator soup, or then just go for some creamy pistachio gelato down at Sofia’s well-frequented Vitosha Boulevard.

Bulgaria Offers Sea Access

Harbor In Nessebar, An Ancient Greco Roman City On A Promontory On The Black Sea, Off The Coast Of Bulgaria, South Eastern Europe

It’s summer in Europe, and you’re unlikely to want to go for a dip in the nearest body of water nearby, and while Bulgaria’s capital Sofia is not coastal, being located in the Western fringes of the country, to the East, the country does offer sea access.

The Bulgarian Black Sea Coast runs along 235 miles, with both pebbly and golden sand beaches that are only interrupted by quaint, scenic coastal villages, heritage sites dating back thousands of years, and unspoiled nature reserves.

Some of the best-known attractions on the Bulgarian coast include the coastal ports of Burgas and Varna, which also boast some cultural value as they were settled in times immemorial, the walled citadel of Nessebar, the Dubrovnik of the Black Sea, and the magnificent Cape Kaliakra.

An Affordable Resort City

Beach Resorts In Sunny Beach, Bulgaria, South Eastern Europe

Forget about overpriced Saint-Tropez and Ibiza: if it’s a good time you’re chasing, cheap beer, and sociable locals, you should know Bulgaria has its own coastal resort, and it’s aptly called Sunny Beach, as it is sunny, indeed, and it has a long strip of sand bounded by bright-blue waters.

You might have noticed by now the Black Sea is ‘black’ in all but name: it is in fact a beautiful blue, and the average water temperature is a soupy 78°F, about as hot as, if not hotter than certain parts of the Mediterranean.

Needless to say, Sunny Beach is the place to be if the sea is what draws you in, as it houses the coastal nightlife, all of the most luxurious, best-rated resorts, and a number of water-based activities, such as boat and kayaking tours, and the highly-popular, family-friendly Action Aquapark.

It Is Cheaper Than Other European Countries

Young Woman Seen From Behind As She Gazes At The Ocean From A Pier, Wearing A Flowery Dress And A White Hat, Sunny Beach, Bulgaria

Compared to the average Southern European country, Bulgaria is a lot cheaper to visit: wages are much lower than in France or Italy, for instance, with the minimum wage being the lowest in the whole of the European Union, so consumer prices reflect the local purchasing power, and the euro isn’t in use.

The lev is worth half a dollar, so your tourist money will effectively double if you’re converting dollars into the Bulgarian currency, and the good news is, both hotels and food are already pretty cheap: you should plan on spending $69 per day during your vacation.

This July, beachfront three-star hotels in Sunny Beach are advertising single rooms from only $72 per adult, per night, breakfast included, while an all-inclusive stay at the landmark Helena Sands, in the upscale Slantchev Briag leisure zone, is an acceptable $194.

One Of The Safest Countries on the Continent

Woman Waving The Bulgarian Flag In Central Sofia, Bulgaria, Eastern Europe

Finally, you may be wondering how safe Bulgaria is seeing we don’t hear an awful lot about this country, and most people would just vaguely place it somewhere in Eastern Europe without giving it too much thought.

As it turns out, Bulgaria is one of the safest countries in the continent, as confirmed by Washington officials themselves, as it features on their list of low-risk destinations, alongside Croatia, Montenegro, and other far more popular sunny hotspots.

In reality, it is safer than Italy, France and Spain even, as all three Mediterranean giants appear on the moderately risky list, and despite being part of Europe’s Eastern flank, Bulgaria is in the European Union and NATO, which protects it from aggressive regional superpowers like Russia.

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