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Bulgaria - Black Sea

I am planning a trip to Bulgaria this summer, (plus Kosovo and Macedonia).

Is it worth the time and travel to go to the Black Sea ?

I like to travel for mainly culture , but do have two children coming with me.



Posted by
27347 posts

This subject came up not all that long ago, and there aren't all that many posts to the Bulgaria forum. If you skim backwards, you may be able to find the thread without too much difficulty. My vague recollection is that the response confirmed my impression that a lot of the beaches along that coast are low-end holiday spots probably not very attractive to Americans (and I assume Canadians). However, with kids in tow, a day at the beach might not be a bad thing. I took daytrips to the small coastal towns of Nessebr and Sozopol. They are undeniably touristy, but there were some very, very old little churches (some under restoration) that I certainly enjoyed seeing. I have no hesitancy in recommending a stop in one or both of those, just to walk around the historic area.

I didn't see as much of Bulgaria as I would have liked (I even missed the Rila Monastery), but Plovdiv and Veliko Trnovo were highlights for me.

If you're planning to use a rental car, check carefully to be sure you'll be able to cross the necessary borders to make this trip work. That might be an issue.

In 2015 I traveled through the Balkans by train and bus, including buses from Sofia to Nis, Serbia, and from Nis to Podgorica, Montenegro. The scenery between Nis and Podgorica was very nice. Montenegro is really lovely. Take advantage of having the car to see one or two of the national parks. You really cannot do that if you're stuck traveling by bus, as I was.

Posted by
95 posts

Hi acraven,

Thanks for the info.

I am considering hiring a private tour guide to take me to Nis for a day trip from Sofia.

Is Nis worth a visit?

Posted by
2455 posts

Nate, sounds like a great trip. I was in Bulgaria in 2016, most the time with the RS Bulgaria tour. wonderful country, wonderful tour. We stopped in Nessebar and Varna on the coast. Varna was not my favorite stop, although it did have quite a large pubic beach, as I remember. Nessbar was a very historic and interesting small town, with some lovely old and distinctive churches and an excellent archeological museum, also a couple small public beaches. It was quite touristy, more than elsewhere in Bulgaria that I experienced, probably because it is so close to Sunny Beach, just 15 minutes by public bus. I understand Sunny Beach was built as a beach resort for Russians seeking a southern exposure, and now there may be other Northern and Eastern Europeans who go there too. I decided to see what Sunny Beach was like, and went there on my own by bus. After my most horrible 15 minutes in Bulgaria, I quickly got out of town. Never saw a beach or even a pool, just an endless crowded strip of cheap tourist businesses and fences keeping me away from hotel properties. To leave, I asked someone where the bus stop was and the reply was “right over there, under the go-go girl billboard”. I suppose if you had a reservation at an upscale resort hotel, you could go right to that place, and maybe it would be nice. If you go to the Trip Advisor travel forum for Bulgaria, my experience was that 80 to 90 percent of the posts were questions about Sunny Beach!

Posted by
27347 posts

I'm honestly not sure how to respond to that question. I arrived late in the afternoon and left the next morning on a bus, so my opportunity to explore was rather limited. I hadn't planned to go there initially, so I hadn't done any research. There's the fortress, and I remember the very foreign-feeling row of exchange booths near the bus station. You'll definitely know you aren't in western Europe.

However, it's possible there are other places closer to Sofia that would be more worth your time (and the money for a private driver) if you're thinking of this as an out-and-back daytrip. ViaMichelin estimates a driving time of 2 hr. 38 min. one way.

Sorry not to be more helpful. You can Google photos Nis and see what you think.

Incidentally, I enjoyed the dips/sauces served on the side in a lot of Serbian restaurants. They cost just a bit extra and really dress up something like a chicken kebab. One of them is based on sweet red peppers.

Posted by
18507 posts

Ahhhhh, the Moors never conquered the region. What some present as evidence of any even being in the region dates to about the 10th century best as I can tell. Which is about the time Christianity took hold, so doubtful they had much to destroy. What this might be is that many in the region use the term Moor as sort of a derogatory term for Islamic which does fit with the Ottoman conquest which was late 14th century. I spent a few weeks driving and fishing the streams and rivers from Sofia to Istanbul a few years ago, my second visit to Bulgaria. Definitely a place worth seeing. If you need a good guide, let me know.

Posted by
18507 posts

I think he is confusing a sort of derogatory term for the muslims in the region. I've heard them called moors as sort of an insult. There is also some rather sketchy Black History nonsense floating around that purports to evidence the theory But it's as valid as Cleopatra was African. While all Moors are Islamic, not all Islamic are Moors (more or less).

Posted by
99 posts


Your trip for the summer sounds great! I would add Greece too, at least Halkidiki Peninsula, sicne it's close by to the area you want to visit. Kosovo and Macedonia are landlocked, but still fun during summer season. Ohrid lake in Macedonia is very busy with tourists around the world,especially in July, August and September.
I have been to the Black Sea as well, Nesebar, Sozopol, The Golden Beach and really enjoyed our time there. The prices are great, similiar to Macedonia and Kosovo, event hough Bulgaria is in the EU. We loved the food and the beaches, really proper summer vacation.
From Strumica, Macedonia, we took a bus to Sofia. And then a train to Nesebar which was a very long ride, about 8 hours, but very cheap too, around $12.
If you are traveling the Balkans, I would suggest renting a car would be the best option, especially when traveling with two children, since buses and trains are not so new and often drivers can smoke in the bus. The A/C might not work in some of the buses too.
Have a great and safe trip!

Posted by
18507 posts

FINALLY something not virus related.

Ive been to Bulgaria a couple of times. I rented a car with a driver/guide. Set me back something less than $200 a day. Its what I would do again. A bargain compared to Western Europe.