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Visit this beautiful and inexpensive destination instead of the Mediterranean this spring

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If you want to escape the crowds this spring, get the best bang for your buck, and explore an off-the-beaten-track destination that not many Americans travel to, you should skip the Mediterranean altogether and go to Bulgaria. Straddling the coast of the Black Seat, it is as warm, if not warmer, than Greece and as rich in culture and tradition as Italy.

Aerial view of Sunny Beach, a development area in Burgas province lined with luxury resorts and villas, Black Sea coast, Bulgaria, Balkan Peninsula, Southeast Europe
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2023 will mark the first full year that Europe is open to tourism since COVID was declared a pandemic in March 2020. While this is great news for travelers, who are once again welcomed with open arms in the Old Continent, increased demand is leading to prices. increase in all sectors, especially in the southern Mediterranean.

Fortunately, this hidden gem has yet to be ruined by over-tourism or the gentrification that inevitably follows:

The Mediterranean could be off-limits to budget travelers in 2023

A US citizen with a US passport with dollar bills inside

According to new research published by the United Kingdom Which one?, a company that provides consumer advice and shopping advice, the cost of European holidays has risen by 30% since borders reopened. Whether it’s flights, vacation rentals, or daily expenses, traveling abroad has become very expensive for some, especially those still dreaming of southern Europe.

Traveling to Spain, Portugal, Italy, Greece, Cyprus or even Turkey, the average price of package holidays, usually five to seven days, is now US$1,704.13 per person. Supporting these findings, other data from the Ice Travel Group were confirmed the Spain-Turkey-Italy trio has seen the biggest increasessometimes by a “fifth or more”.

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When it comes to airfares, Skytra he added that fares for flights to Italy and Greece have increased an impressive 71% – a much higher rate than transcontinental flights between the US and Europe, which only increased by 31%. You get the picture: Southern Europe is off-limits to budget-conscious Americans who can’t afford to splurge across the pond.

So where should they go?

Is Bulgaria the most underrated sunny place in Europe?

A beach in Bulgaria on a sunny day seen from the top of a cliff, Black Sea coast, Balkan Peninsula, Southeast Europe

Located on the Balkan Peninsula, Bulgaria is one of the oldest nations in Europe and the ancestral home of the Thracians. Originally from the territory, they established a sophisticated society many centuries before the rise to power of Rome. In fact, The oldest continuously inhabited settlement in Europe is Plovdiv, the second largest urban conurbation in Bulgaria today.

The country itself is postcard-perfect, from the communist-era Brutalist architecture of Sofia, the capital and a vast concrete metropolis whose skyline is punctuated by the glittering cathedral of St. Nevski, to in the more eastern provinces bordering the Black Sea coast, better known. with cobblestone towns and moons of golden sand.

Aerial view of Nessabar, formerly the ancient Roman city of Messambria, on the Black Sea coast of Bulgaria, Balkan Peninsula, Eastern Europe

Coastal provinces enjoy high temperatures from late spring to early fall. Varna and Burgas, two of the main beach destinations that have a fairly similar character, can reach up to 75.2°F in May. Both are rapidly growing development areas full of resorts, villas and water parks available for a fraction of Western European prices.

Having been to Bulgaria twice myself, first in the spring and then in the fall, I was shocked to jump off the train in downtown Burgas in 85°F in April and even 86°F and above in Plovdiv until October, comparable weather. that of Tuscany. Trust me, shoulder season is also the perfect time to do some sightseeing:

Historic medieval walls of Sozopol on the Black Sea coast of Bulgaria, Balkan Peninsula, Eastern Europe
  • Cities are less busy and you can stroll, shop and explore their world-class museums at a slower pace
  • You have between 10 and 12 hours of daylight to make the most of an action-packed itinerary
  • The days are bright and sunny, and the nights are cool enough for you to sleep comfortably without air conditioning

The sea may not yet be warm enough for swimming, at least for some, but personally, I found it lovely and refreshing enough for an afternoon swim. Of course, the forecast is unpredictable, and in this Far East in Europe, the afternoon breeze can be quite chilly, but rest assured, Lots of sun, sand and fun await you in Bulgaria.

Unless, of course, you arrive in the dead of winter.

Bulgarian Revivalist architecture in the old town of Plovdiv, Plovdiv, Bulgaria, Southeast Europe, Balkans

Bulgaria is cheap

Apart from boasting incredible weather, sparkling blue waters, despite the misleading name of the Black Sea, and historical sites, Bulgaria will do it no break the bank. The cost of living is approximately 43% lower than in the United States. It is especially favored by digital nomads and slow travelers for the following reasons:

  • Consumer prices: 53.3% cheaper
  • Long-term rentals: 64.9% cheaper
  • Restaurants: 56.2% cheaper
  • Groceries: 59.1% cheaper
  • Purchasing power: 68.9% more
Group of young female travelers enjoying a walk in the old historic center of Plovdiv, Bulgaria
*Comparisons were made between Sofia, Bulgaria and New York, USA, the most expensive cities in their respective countries

No wonder Bulgaria is one of the most fashionable spring and summer destinations in Europe for 2023.

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

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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com