It still requires a minor effort of will to think of Bulgaria as a smart, modern holiday destination. Overtones of the Iron Curtain, a jokey name for a Womble, a certain vagueness as to location – not quite the Riviera is it? But as increasingly aware numbers are discovering, the Black Sea offers warm sun, warm people and a warm welcome. And many of the most glorious beaches in Europe, if not the world. Golden Sands and Sunny Beach may sound like clunking translations but they precisely describe the literally miles and miles of clean, sparkling coastline, which includes the more northern resort of Albena. But Bulgaria was also the centre of an ancient Slavic empire – Sofia, the architecturally beautiful capital, dates back over five thousand years. The Alexander Nevsky Cathedral is rivalled only by the great Russian churches of Moscow and St Petersburg. And if the sun and sand ever palls, come back in winter for the rapidly growing but still unspoilt inland resorts with their ski-slopes and mountains.
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