There are over 5,000 Brits registered as permanently living in Bulgaria. This is a relatively small market but one that is certainly on the up and an emerging star.
There is a wide choice from beach homes on the Black Sea, ski lodges in the various mountain resorts to rural country homes in stunning countryside.
Property prices and the cost of living are amazingly cheap. Most estate agents will have properties starting from as little as €10,000.
Bulgaria is a small country just to the north of Greece and Turkey whilst the Black Sea laps the shores to the east. It has a typically continental climate with four distinct seasons, cold winters and hot summers.
There is easy access with several airlines servicing the country’s four main international airports. Varna and Burgas serve the Black Sea whilst Sofia and Plovdiv support the country’s growing winter sports industry. It is these two areas that attract the most interest.
The Black Sea Resorts
The Bulgarian Riviera has 380km of coastline running from Romania in the north to Turkey in the south with about 130km of fine sandy beaches.
The northern Black Sea Coast is centered around the ancient city of Varna which is Bulgaria’s third largest city after Sofia and Plovdiv. It is towns like this that you will get to experience the real Bulgaria. Varna and its villages to the south are popular choices for Brits attracted by the restaurants, cafes, bars, great shopping as well as the history, architecture and local culture.
To the north of the city lie the two resorts of Albena and Golden Sands which are just a few kilometers apart. Albena is well maintained and good tourist facilities though it is one of Bulgaria’s more expensive areas.
Golden Sands is Bulgaria’s first and largest international resort. It occupies more
than 1,800 hectares of forest and boasts a stunning 4 km strip of soft, golden beach that is safe for swimming.
Inland from Albena lies the stylish and upmarket Rogachevo. Nearby, Obrochiste is another interesting option.
Further north, we come to the seaside town of Balchik which has become a highly favoured destination for property hunters. There is a new marina and three golf courses nearby. Whitewashed cottages and craggy cliffs provide inspiring landscapes and incredible sea views. Despite being popular with Bulgarian and British home buyers, it retains a cosy village feel. It does not attract too many tourists partly due the lack of a really good beach.
A little further to the north, Kavarna hosts the stunning Gary Player designed Signature golf course. The nearby cliffs of Cape Kaliakra provide one of the Black Sea’s prettiest and remote beach resorts as well as access to the Kaliakra National Park.
Inland from Varna, there are a number of attractive and popular villages such as Avren which has spectacular views over rolling countryside.
There are a number of very popular villages south along the coast road worth exploring with good access back into the city around Kamchia and Obzor.
North of Burgas, Sunny Beach has probably seen the greatest amount of development and renovation than any part of the Bulgarian coast. It is a larger and much livelier counterpart to the northern resort of Golden Sands. It has a long 8 km stretch of clean, safe beach as well as glorious summer weather though the season only tends to last from April to September.
Just to the south of Sunny Beach lies the small and medieval town of Nessebar. It is beautiful with cobbled streets and red slate roofs but it is very busy, over-touristy and traffic in the summer can be a problem.
Just to the north of Sunny Beach is the quieter and more modern string of new developments overlooking the bay at Sveti Vlas.
South of Burgas you will find the historic town of Sozopol which enjoys a stunning location.
The coast line south of Burgas is popular for its beaches, coves and wooded reserves and is among the nicest along the Black Sea. The roads here are quiet and until recently there was very little development. Some of the most popular villages to look at here are Primorski, Kiten, Lozenets and Tsarevo. The beaches at Kavatsi and Dyuni are pristine and surrounded by pine woods.
The Mountain Resorts
The capital city of Sofia lies in the west of the country and sits at the foot of the Vitosha Mountain. It is a bustling city of some 2 million people with a real mixture of old eastern culture and an emerging western one it is trying to adopt.
The winter sports resorts in the area have been subject to some of the most intensive development and now rivals anywhere in Europe. The area will no doubt host a future winter Olympics.
To the south of Sofia lies the popular ski resorts of Borovets and Bansko.
Borovets is Bulgaria’s oldest ski resort and easily accessible from Sofia. It is not, as yet, on the same scale of Bansko though there are major plans to build a more luxurious and larger-scale development.
Bansko is the biggest and most modern Bulgarian Ski Resort in Bulgaria. Once a small and attractive village of stone houses located in the Pirin National Park. The old town is the most sought after area but very affordable options exist nearby such as the Panorama and Belvedere resorts.
The historic old town of Razlog is popular and developing a dual-season appeal due to the emergence of first class golfing facilities at the Ian Woosnam designed course at Pirin Golf and Country club. Cornelia is an option here and is still only ten minutes from Bansko.
Bulgaria’s historic second biggest city of Plovdiv is a major industrial city and centre of Bulgaria’s wine production and also hosts the largest wine fair in Eastern Europe. Despite the industry, it is an attractive and vibrant place with many parks and gardens, the Maritza River, hot springs, museums and archaeological monuments.
Pamporovo ski resort is about 75 km south of Plovdiv. Its main attractions are the good ski facilities, stunning natural beauty along with very picturesque villages with old stone houses. Its highest peaks are slightly less alpine than Bankso’s Pirin Mountains. This reduces the ski season slightly to around 3 months though there are plenty of year-round tourism opportunities.
By and large, rural Bulgaria is relatively poor and this is reflected in the bargain prices of property and a low cost of living. In addition, English doesn’t tend to be widely spoken. There are beautiful and diverse towns and villages in the Stara Planina (Balkan Mountains) of which Veliko Turnovo is the most stunning. This has become very popular for Brits seeking rural Bulgaria.
Veliko Turnovo is also known as the City of Kings and is the jewel of the crown in the Stara Planina Mountains. The citadel of Tsaravets forms the focal point of the city with medieval houses and cobbled streets perched on cliffs overlooking the winding Yantra River. There is an abundance of restaurants, cafes and bars.
The area south of Veliko Turnovo is made up of the foothills of the Balkans and is particularly picturesque. The area has kept its unspoilt countryside and resembles Tuscany.
There are many smaller towns in the area which have become popular such as Arbanassi, Elena, Gabrovo, Dryanovo and Tryavna. These are picturesque charming historical mountain towns.
Other rural retreats include the Danube Plain which covers the north of the country from the Balkans to the Danube River.
The Rousse region and the nature park of Roussenski Lom in the central part of the plain are both popular. The Medieval Town of Cherven is particularly stunning. Other villages worth checking out are Nisovo, Krasen, Bojichen and Ivanavo.
Ruse is a modern city of 120,000 people and is one of the most important cultural and economical centres in Bulgaria. It is located in the north of the country on the River Danube, which forms the border with Romania and is only 60km from Bucharest.