If you haven`t given a chance to the Balkans until now, Sozopol is the first reason to do it.
That is one of the most ancient cities in Bulgaria. Its age is around 6000 years old. But that is not the reason I strongly recommend you to visit it. Here is why:
Guys, the Balkans are your perfect choice for holiday if you are thinking about your budget! Now, after Spain, my next choice for beach holiday is moving to Bulgaria, Black sea. That is my third summer vacation, so I am definitely focussed on my budget.
Let`s start with the flight tickets. I bought mine in March for 120 EUR. In late June, the tickets dropped to 50 EUR. So you can easily fly to Sofia, using Ryanair, Transavia or Wizz Air on the price of a dinner in Amsterdam. From Sofia, you can take a bus to Sozopol or rent a car.
Next – the accommodation and food costs. The accommodations are relatively cheap (around 35 EUR for a double room, however, you can get it cheaper if you book in advance, or higher if you want some perks), but you certainly will be nicely surprised by the food costs, drinks and parking and of course the quality of the food.
2. Sozopol is one of the most charming places on the Balkans
It is believed that the Black Sea was named after the terrible, sudden heavy storms that forced the ships to stay in the harbor. Sozopol was a natural shelter for sailors, as the sea here is mostly calm and the weather is wonderful.
This place simply got my heart. It has a special spirit coming from the preserved local feel. Walking around more than 200 ancient houses, built 17-19th century, I felt like going back into time, while I was passing women selling jam, corn, hand made clothes, hats, socks from their own houses. When visiting the archaeological museum, I learned that the lower floor of those houses is originally built for stores to keep nets and other fishing inventory. Now, they are transformed into small shops, coffees, galleries or hotels.
3. The hospitality of the locals
Yep, they are very hospitable. If you need anything in a restaurant, they will do everything possible to get it for you, even to go buy it from the competitors. I got help and extra help for everything I needed to arrange, from sightseeings to simple errands like hair dresser, navigating me in the city etc. People were just nice, relaxed and chatty.
4. Not overcrowded town with variety of activities
Sozopol gives you peaceful feeling, but in the same time full of life place. There is a cute town center with cable streets, where you can taste good ice creams and cakes. Special attention to the cakes here! They are absolutely amazing, and so many different kinds, that it is hard to choose.
Then the beach, lined with restaurants and bars, mostly offering traditional Bulgarian cuisine, and also cater for fast food appetite. The streets and beaches are not overcrowded both at night and day.
Here is the list of activities I did during my 6 day holiday:
Boat trip. You can easily take a 1 hour boat trip. It will give you breathtaking views (because of the rocks around the peninsula), that are visible better from the boat and it is really relaxing. You can also take a boat trip on Ropotamo river, which coastline is sandy and form enormous dunes where you can see the rare water lilies.
Ravadinovo castle. There is no historical value of this castle, but if you a fan of fairy tales and want to see stunning views – this place will take you on a magical tour in the old world of legends. It is set beautifully on a lake with amazing gardens around, and it will take you around 2-3 hours to see it all. You can visit the art gallery there, spend some time horse riding, try an escape room, drink a cup of coffee with stunning view and of course take many many pictures (exactly like I did). I definitely recommend you to see that!
Museum (in my case – on a rainy day). I had 1 stormy day so I used to learn something new about the history of this ancient city. The archaeological museum of Sozopol is small but very well organized. You can spend like 30-40 min there. It will give you great insights on the history and development of Sozopol, about its first name – Apollonia, how it became an independent city-state and then later the first democratic state of the territory of Bulgaria.
Shopping: I love the rose oil products, that are 100% natural, without parabens and among the best rose oil worldwide. I recommend you to take some of those products, at extremely low prices, compared to the expensive brands from other countries. I bought a soap, eye serum, and lip balm. You can take a look also at the leather coats, they are at reasonable prices.
I recommend visiting the ancient churches in Sozopol. It is worth visiting: the church St Georgi (330 a.C.), St. Zoslim (19th century), deep down in the ground Virgin Mary (15th century), St. Cyril and Methodius, which attracts many tourists because of the relics of St. John the Baptist lies there.
In case you have some more time you can also try:
A day trip to Nessebar. You can take a boat to Nessebar for around 15 EUR, 45 min. You will walk around Nessebar, and come back. It is definitely worth seeing, however, I would rather spend few days there.
Aquapark Neptun. If you like Aquaparks, then right next to Ravadinovo castle, you will find aquapark Neptun. The entrance is 18 EUR for adults for the whole day, there are also prices for half day and kids. It is a good idea if you want a change from the beach view.
If you go there in late August or September, you can also visit the famous Apollonia festivals, however, I have to warn you – the city will be packed.
That is my second story in more than few words! I haven`t been to the Bulgarian sea side for years, but because I work in the travel industry I know all about it. Sozopol is one of the favorite destinations for Russian, German and Scandinavian tourists and after I saw it, mine as well. You will find beautiful views on a rainy or sunny day and always something to do without being in overcrowded place. Let me know your impression of Sozopol, or whether you are planning to visit it soon.
Till next time