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Bulgaria: The Best Value Destination On The Planet?

Tsarevets, Veliko Tarnovo
In a somewhat hazy state of mind this morning, I began to write this post. My haziness is a result of flying from Istanbul to New York City yesterday, a 10-hour flight that, despite being as comfortable as possible for a 10-hour flight, has left me quite exhausted.

Anyway, I shall push forward with this post because, as I fell in and out of sleep during that lengthy flight yesterday, I couldn’t stop thinking about Bulgaria. And I decided that I must write a post about this interesting country nestled at the bottom of Southeastern Europe.

More specifically, I wanted to write about how, after my recent visit to Veliko Tarnovo, a small town in the center of the country, I became convinced that Bulgaria is one of the best value travel destinations on the planet.

It’s certainly at the top of my list.

During the five nights/six days that I stayed in Bulgaria, I spent a total of $210 USD. That’s about $35 USD per day, including all accommodation, food, activities, transportation and any other expenses I encountered.

And while there are plenty of countries where you could spend a lot less money per day, let’s take a quick look at what that $210 got me in the end…

I spent two nights at a very nice boutique hotel in the center of Veliko Tarnovo’s Old City, with a perfect view of the Yantra River from my room and a huge breakfast included in the price, followed by three nights at the highly-rated Hostel Mostel, where dorm rooms cost $12/night and include breakfast, a light dinner and evening beer.

I ate all of my other meals at the most popular local restaurants in the city (the restaurant Shtastliveca was so good I ate there four times), paid the entrance fee for the Tsarevets Castle, had coffee and cake most afternoons at Cafe Stratilat, took taxis across the city, made some random purchases in a few shops and even went out to the pub at night a couple of times.

Bulgarian leva

Cafe Stratilat, Veliko Tarnovo

Basically, I didn’t hold back at all in terms of spending money. And every time I handed over some cash, I couldn’t believe what I was receiving in return. This was especially true when it came to meals as Bulgarian food surprised me with it’s endless variety of fresh salads and wonderful Balkan-style main dishes that could be enjoyed for just a few dollars.

In addition, the fact that the Bulgarian people are extremely warm and welcoming towards foreigners just increases its attractiveness as a travel destination (speaking of attractiveness, Bulgarians have to be some of the most attractive people on the planet!). Everywhere I went I found it so remarkably easy to strike up a conversation with locals, whether it was the waitress at the restaurant, a taxi driver, the staff inside of a shop or strangers I encountered while wandering the streets.

And this was only a tiny part of the country I visited. Still left to be explored is Sofia, Plovdiv, Pleven, Varna, Burgas and many other towns, which can be found scattered among the mountains, national parks, historical sights and the Black Sea coastline that make up this country.

Luckily, I’ll be headed back to the region once my current month of hectic traveling is over and I’ll therefore have a chance to explore more of Bulgaria soon enough.

Tsarevets Castle, Veliko Tarnovo

Old City, Veliko Tarnovo, Bulgaria

WHAT COUNTRY OFFERS THE BEST VALUE?

Of course, as I mentioned before, this is not the only country on the planet that offers such good value for your money. Bulgaria just happens to be near the top of my list (maybe even at the very top) after my recent experiences.

So, in order to help each other out, I thought it would be useful for all of us to share the country/region that we each think offers a great value for travelers.

Please share your thoughts in the comments below and let’s see what we end up with!

I’m actually quite curious myself as I’m always looking for new places to visit and I’m confident you’ll have a few good ideas…

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122 Responses to Bulgaria: The Best Value Destination On The Planet?

  1. Louise says:

    Very good review, I enjoyed reading it and agree Bulgaria is excellent value for money, the people are lovely, the scenery is gorgeous and I always feel very happy and content when I am there. The clean air in the mountains and by the sea always induces me into the most relaxing slumber, I wake up feeling chilled and happy. The views from Obzor cliffs on the black Sea are just breath taking and spectacular, the beaches away from the bigger resorts are peaceful and unspoilt, the towns are idyllic. When you return you must visit Sozopol, Nessebur, Obzor and anywhere along the coast. I have travelled a lot and Bulgaria is my favourite destination, so much so I plan to move there as soon as I can and live in the beautiful Balkan country! It makes me laugh when I read the about ‘All the Bulgarians’ coming here, invading our cold, angry little country. Anyone who has been and anyone who goes to Bulgaria will know instantly no one is going to leave there for the UK in a hurry! For me it is paradise on earth.

  2. Lorraine Thomson says:

    Yes Marisol! You must come to Bulgaria!You will be in for a very nice surprise. It is a beautiful country from Belogradchik in the North, to Borovets and Lake Iskar in the South-eastish, but my favourite area is Veliko Tarnovo and all around. There is a lot to see and do, fabulous food, wines, and all at fantastic prices. Lovely people also. Just been there for Christmas (10 days) and had amazing weather. Blue skies and sun the whole time and not too cold! Summers are HOT.

  3. marisol marrero says:

    Thank you for your blog it was nice to read about a country that I should know about but dearly have no clue where to start..my father is bulgarian and he lives in sofia…thats is all I know..hopefully this year I will try to visit the country that is missing in my life.havent seen my dad since I was three years old and im hoping o take my kids so they can learn about a culture that runs in our blood…thank you again.

  4. Martin says:

    Hello , I’m Martin from Stara Zagora our town don’t have so much to show as castles or statues – because of historical reasons they are destroyed but that what no one can’t take from our city are memories ,traditions more then 3000 years even before the glory of ancient Egypt… just imagine that the historians are not 100% sure but this is one of the most oldest cities in the world and still resisting on the force of the nature and time :)
    If you dig only 5 meters deep you’ll find a whole new world beneath you :)

    Just for information about Bulgarians – our journey starts before more than 14000 years , we are the only nation that almost capture China and the Great Wall is built to stop us .. around 10000 B.C. a tribe of the Bulgarians moved to the south somewhere around Israel after that they cross to Egypt after that they go north to Kazakhstan after that to Europe around 2000-2500 B.C. . Our solar calendar is the oldest before mayans and its accurate to 1 – 2seconds from todays :) There are more than 14 countries we know who contain Bulgar in their name . I cut the story would otherwise have to write a book :) I hope you will come back soon :)

  5. Victor says:

    Quite an amusing statement, Michael. You obviously haven’t traveled to Asia. Although I enjoyed your simile, I would have to disagree that Bulgaria is the only place on the Earth that treats foreigners better than their own countrymen. Try visiting China, India, Bangladesh, etc. And I might say that you are over-exaggerating by generalizing the characteristics of an entire nation based on a pack of almonds you bought on the street.
    And I also enjoyed your ignorance of the historical development of the European continent. It is true that the Bulgarian nation was fragmented during the invasion of the Ottomans (btw referring to the Ottomans as Turks is politically incorrect), but you also have to acknowledge the political development of Europe during the Middle Ages. At the time, the continent was divided among numerous small kingdoms- take a look at the history of Germany, France, Italy and let me know which of these countries existed as a unified nation in the 13th century. And by the way, had it not been for the fierce resistance of the Bulgarians the Ottoman army would have conquered half of the continent.

  6. david shaw says:

    michael if your going to leave your nasty comments like that please spell. correctly… bulgarians dont want to be reminded off that… with the turks.. i live here and the bulgarians are very good strong willed very nice people..its a very cheap loveble country. which my family and i feel so grateful to be living here among very nice people.After all michael this sort off thing will happen in your country. please dont tell me it does not as it will do ( i just wonder which country you live in.) people should come to bulgaria and enjoy your stay as its cheap and pictuesque..god bless bulgaria….

  7. Georgia says:

    Hello Earl,

    Greetings from one Bulgarian that lives far away from Bulgaria. I am happy to read your positive review. Honestly I think the smaller towns of Bulgaria /and even villages/ have a lot to offer to tourists. You should try and visit the town of Gabrovo and the region around it. It is roughly 1 hour away from Veliko Tarnovo and you can even take a taxi or a bus line between the 2 towns for very cheap.

    As a comparison for new destinations- I live in Alaska and work in the tourist industry. A great place to live or see but a little pricey. However if you research it right you could actually have a very cheap stay up here as well, except the air plane ticket would be the most expensive. If you ever end up in Alaska make sure to use hostels for very cheap stay or bnb places if you want an average priced stay with good food in the morning. Otherwise renting a car and camping around in the summer would be the best choice. Winter time everything is 50% off and the hotels have some GREAT rates, it is true that it is COLD up here but believe me the Northern Lights are worth any kind of temperatures and it is very pretty with the snow around here.

    Anyways,

    Have a good week !

  8. Peter Denchev says:

    Hi Michael,
    Your commentary makes me think of you as an young man without enough experience yet. As a Bulgarian I would say that your observations sound quite probable to me, but your interpretation is sadly biased. From your posting I deduce: (a) you have been in BG more than one time (your broken Bulgarian), so you have had some business there (a girl?); (b) the business have been a failure (your words are soaked with negative emotions). Petty stories as yours with the almonds are very annoying and you’ll remember it for long time. But they are not uncommon elsewhere. If you are a French I would like to tell you my story from a couple months ago in Paris – I caught a hand in my wallet pocket. It belonged to a 20-tish year old French guy (not to a Bulgarian gypsy). At the end one advice: never judge for a nation from its ancient or medieval history. Your story about the three sons is historically incorrect, but this is not important. If France or Germany happened to be on the Balkans, they would not have any chances against the Turks either. If you are German, I would like to remember you that 2.5 centuries after the three brothers Germans killed each other like pigs for 30 years and left huge areas almost uninhabited. And I would not like to go in details for the Holocaust that was just 2-3 generations ago. In conclusion: Bulgarians are NOT saints, but they are NOT villains either. They are somewhat more provincial and with a bit less self-confidence in comparison with some other European nations.

  9. Jane says:

    Hey,
    I have read the article, and Im glad you’ve liked it here. When you decide to come again, dont hesitate to write, I will gladly make a map of sights worth seeing :)

    Take care and keep travelling :)
    Jane

  10. Todor Marinov says:

    Hey,
    Very nice review – Veliko Turnovo is my native city and I am glad you enjoyed it!
    And getting to know more local people will further reinforce your positive feel of Bulgaria!

    I hope more people get to know what a nice place Bulgaria is!

  11. Anna says:

    Er, Michael Brunig, there are deceitful people everywhere. That is by no means the defining character trait of the Bulgarian or any other people. “…deep seated habit of thievery that this is all their offspring knows” – that is an incredibly offensive statement to make about anyone, let alone a whole nation. I am not sure when and why you were in Bulgaria, but you sound like a sad individual.
    I, and obviously many others, have found Bulgaria to be a lovely place to visit.

  12. Michael Brunig says:

    Funny they are probably the only country in thevworld that treats outsiders better than their own fellow countrymen. Their is such distrust and backstabbing that they WILL NEVER get ahead unless they start an educatuon campaign with young children which will take 20 years to begin to see fruits. Reminds me of a certain bird species that always steals sticks from their neighbors nest while the other is away doing something. The growth of the colony suffrs as they have such a deep seated habit of thievery that this is all their offspring knows. Another issue is honesty. It is so common practice that there are even tv commercial that make light of it. I remember buying almonds in a little cup in Varna at the market to go a few layers down to find the lityle old Baba had filled the bottom with bittet apricot seeds. When confronted she blatantly lied having any knowledge, trying to save face. I said in broken Bulgarian that all of the contry has a problem with this. At that point, when she saw that a foreigner could expose her before her people she smiled and said not to let it known outside of the country. The sickness runs deep but I don’t give up hope because there is a small percent of faithful people their who want to do what is right. They are the dim light that says darkness has not fully enveloped this nation. If that ever does happen they will fall back into oppression again untill they finally get it right. Remember the Turks were able to take over and rule them because the three sons who inherited the kingdom were busy fighting amongst eachother.

  13. Katya says:

    Hey, Earl, thank you for being so open and honest to us!
    Great to read it. Enjoy next time even more and please help our strays in any way.
    Curtsy.

  14. Marcel Pyoos says:

    Visited Bulgaria for the first and (unfortunately) only time in 2006 with my wife. We spent 10 days with great friends from Bulgaria, who offered us the opportunity to explore their amazing country with them as our guides. From Sofia to the Black Sea and back, it was awesome and amazing. We only had about $700 spending money that we took in cash – but on the 9th day we still had just over half of it left, which we blew on a full day shopping spree. Incredible if one considers that we ate lunch and dinner at restaurants every singly day, with copious amounts of alcohol. I’m glad it is still so cost effective as a holiday destination and I hope that I am blessed to one day return for a second visit. Miss the shop-ska salad, rakia and those tiny croissants filled with chocolate cream every single day!

  15. Nico says:

    Bulgaria is indeed one of the most beautiful country on earth, and I am not saying that because my Bulgarian girlfriend will give me a dirty beating if I don’t press enter to this message that I defenetly wrote myself.
    God bless Bulgaria

  16. Pingback: Bulgaria: The Best Value Destination On The Planet? | ~WithLoveFromBG~

  17. Gerry says:

    I love your post and would be happy to help you map out your return to Bulgaria. Check out my blog ~WithLoveFromBG~ to stay connected to Bulgaria as you travel the world. ;)

  18. Zhivko says:

    Finally a few good words about Bulgaria! :) Thank you.
    If you come again and have any questins or feel like you could use some advice on where to go and what to do, feel free to send me an e-mail, I would be more than happy to help.
    Take care.

  19. Galin says:

    Hello Earl,
    I am from Bulgaria(Stara Zagora).I am glad to read this comment for Bulgaria.Bulgaria is really beautiful country.I recommend you to visit the waterfall ‘Raiskoto praskalo’-highest waterfall in the Balkans. :)

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