On the same list with two other destinations recommended by Virgin Money for family travel, we find Bulgaria in 2013. The country is recommended for its low costs yet high quality experiences, in particular for the tour of the Rhodope Mountains.
Of course, Virgin Money doesn’t forget the country’s popular skiing resorts, which attract thousands of tourists from all over Europe and the world, with world-class amenities and services, at a fraction of the cost. But there’s much more to recommend Bulgaria as a year-round destination.
With the Vitosha mountain right at its doors, the capital, Sofia (София), claims to be the ideal destination for families looking for a good place to ski in the winter, or for those who enjoy hiking expeditions in the summer. The capital is a strange mix of European and Communist-style architecture, but it is charming, nevertheless, and fortunately has managed to preserve many medieval treasures, and some of the most beautiful Orthodox churches in this part of the world. One of these churches, Hagia Sophia (named so because during the Ottoman rule it was used as a mosque), gave its name to the city in the 14th century. For a breathtaking religious art experience, see the St. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral.
And then, there’s Varna (Варна) – for families who’d rather enjoy a day at the beach. Here you can take a leisurely stroll in the Sea Garden, or visit the local archaeological museum, to discover some of Bulgaria’s precious treasures. 18 km westwards from Varna you’ll discover a curious natural phenomena, called the Stone Forest, by the locals, or the “petrified forest.” Whatever you choose to call it, they are close to Bulgaria’s premier seaside resort, and a must if you are in the area.
There’s much more that recommends Bulgaria on any top 2013 list. It is also on our list of must see countries this year:
Why don’t you skip Varna for the Rose Valley (Розова долина, Rozova dolina), just south of the Balkans? Do it, at least in the first week of June, and head right to the foot of the Balkans, where Kazanlak will be celebrating its rose festival. Not cool enough? Well, ask your posh spouse, because when she learns that the Bulgarian rose oil sells from the price of gold, the Rose Valley will suddenly make sense. Also, just for your information, nothing smells better – no damn brand perfume on this planet. I’m still puzzled to see Bulgarian girls buying Chanel, when they have the nectar of the gods right at home.