Have you heard the news? We’re going to Bulgaria and Romania. With the Black Sea coast, Bucharest and Bran Castle all on the itinerary, we’re hitting some of travel’s most buzz-worthy destinations. (Look for the Black Sea region shout out in our Travel Trend Report.)
Bulgaria and Romania are famous for storybook medieval churches, communist-era architecture and Dracula-inspired hotspots, but those are just three of the many (many) reasons to visit. Having long been popular getaways for in-the-know Europeans, these Black Sea countries have become increasingly popular since entering the European Union. Despite being in the spotlight, they still possess strong local cultures and an off-the-beaten-path appeal. We think they’re worth experiencing for yourself. Here’s why:
1. The Black Sea Coast (aka the “Bulgarian Riviera”)
Three words: white sandy beaches. The Bulgarian coastline is quickly becoming synonymous with world-class waterfront resorts and sunny, relaxing shorelines. To truly experience the coast, we included a stay in Varna, Bulgaria’s cosmopolitan maritime capital; and a visit to Balchik, a quaint fishing port boasting stunning botanical gardens.
Decorated by medieval Saxon villages, old city walls, fortified churches and the breathtaking Carpathian Mountains, Transylvania possesses a rare Old World ambiance that draws visitors from all around the globe. And, whether you’re into the Dracula lore or not, no traveler should leave the region without a visit to Bran Castle—the literary vampire’s legendary home.
3. Sibiu: “Capital of Culture”
Traditionally, vampires have been Transylvania’s claim to fame, but slowly and steadily, the region is gaining popularity for its culturally rich cities. Take Sibiu for example. It was recently designated the European Union’s “Capital of Culture.” With charming cobblestone streets, vibrant city squares, impressive Gothic architecture and a vast collection of contemporary Romanian art, it’s not hard to see how Sibiu earned the title.
4. Great Pours
Love a good glass of wine? Romania and Bulgaria are among the world’s top wine producers. In fact, Bulgaria has been perfecting the art since Thracian times. Today, the Black Sea coast accounts for many of the country’s vineyards, producing such popular styles as Dimyat, Riesling and Muscat Ottonel.
5. More Bang for Your Buck
Low exchange rates for the Bulgarian lev and Romanian leu mean your dollar will go further in these regions. Luxurious, centrally located hotels, amazing meals and lots of trips to the local markets will all be within your means (and for a great value, too).