No, we hadn’t either until earlier this year. Bulgaria seems to be a fairly new package holiday destination on offer at the moment. Should you have Bulgaria on your radar when looking to book a holiday? I think you should.
This holiday took us by surprise a little bit. We were so busy being parents to two munchkins, rather than just the one munchkin that we sort of forgot may half term was just around the corner. Our initial reaction was, it’s ok… lets just take it easy for a week… we don’t need to go away… it would be a good opportunity to go and see our parents…….
Five minutes later my husband was on the phone to Thomas Cook, high off our package holiday experience with Mallorca looking for the best deal possible for May half term!
We didn’t have to look long until it was clear a package holiday to Sunny Beach in Bulgaria, with flights from Gatwick, transfers and half board at a three star hotel was going to be the best deal costing us around £1400 for the week.
The prospect of going to Bulgaria was also a little bit exciting as we had never been before. We had been on holiday to Turkey on an all inclusive, which we enjoyed and had previously been to it’s enchanting northern neighbour Romania, which we loved!
Unfortunately, this holiday wasn’t all plain sailing. There were issues as soon as we got to the airport as our flight had been cancelled – let chaos ensue. We were then delayed for over 24hours. However, Thomas Cook put us up in the Hilton for the night with lunch, dinner and breakfast included and we were given vouchers to spend at the airport. I mean, it was a bit annoying we had missed an entire day of our holiday – and a day is quite a lot when you’re only there for one week. And the waiting around with a 4 month old and three year old wasn’t the funnest thing i’ve ever done, but it could have been a lot worse. Because we were on a package holiday all our transfers were rearranged and our nights accommodation was sorted for us. We didn’t pay anything. If I had booked it all separately, which I have done on many an occasion to keep costs down, we would have lost our transfer, no vouchers to spend on food and would have been sleeping on the airport floor.
One thing I would say is the vouchers only covered food and nothing in the way of nappies and wipes or supplies for the baby. We still had our bags with us and I always slightly over pack on these things in my hand luggage anyway, but it’s maybe something to think about if you are caught in a bit of a situation like this.
There were also issues at the hotel. Five out of the six nights we were there, there was no hot water after 5 o’clock and the last night the water was like ice coming out of the taps. Big problem when travelling with children and have spent all day every day at the beach.
I did speak to Thomas Cook with regards to our experiences, and I was compensated. Even though this holiday wasn’t as smooth as our previous one, it hasn’t put us off. All the problems were sorted; we just had to wait.
What’s Bulgaria like?
The weather was glorious. May half term runs from the end of May to first week of June and we were in 28 degree heat. It was perfect for the beach and the pool, albeit the pool was a little on the cold side for the munchkins. The evenings were pleasant and the nights comfortable.
The Sunny Beach resort sits on a piece of long sandy coast line that belongs to the Black Sea. The waters are clean and beautifully blue with a sprinkling of fish playing in-between your toes at the waters edge and the sand is a little coarse and yellow – perfect for building sand castles.
The beach is where we spent the majority of our holiday. Our little girl loves the water and the sand with the same exuberance and is happy to spend her days here playing and exploring. We too are partial to a bit of beach time. Once upon a time it was a chance to sit in the sun and read a good book. Now it’s the place we enjoy making sandcastles and watching our fingers and toes turn pruney in the sea.
We didn’t do any excursions, even though every other shop in Sunny Beach offered boat cruises, traditional dinner dances and 4×4 experiences to name a few. Instead we did a day trip to Nessebar on the local bus.
Nessebar is an ancient city with three millennia of history running through it. It’s a gorgeous place to take a packed lunch and explore the small streets and shops if you’re trying to keep costs down or splash out on a lovely sea facing restaurant, which are in abundance as the city sits on it’s own island. The bus ride is around 20 to 30 minutes each way and is 1 lev. The bus can get crammed though, making it feel a little bit like your travelling in a cattle cart. In hot weather this can be just a little bit uncomfortable, but the journey doesn’t last long. I’d say it is walkable, but would take a good hour if not more. However, if you have the time and the kids can do it, it might be a lovely addition to the day walking along the Sunny Beach coast line.
We also spent many hours in the day and evening walking the fun filled, restaurant ready, shopping extravaganza that is Sunny Beach promenade. We loved it. A lot of the shops were a bit samey, but we didn’t tire of it and our little girl loved looking around them. There were also lots of massive bouncy castle set-ups for children and the whole place was very child friendly.
We even had a fish spa for £5! We tried to get the little one to have a go, but she didn’t like the idea of fish eating your feet. I have no idea why….
And thats another thing about Bulgaria, it’s pretty darn cheap, meaning if you choose a self-catered holiday or B&B option, it’s not going to cost an arm and a leg as eating out is relatively inexpensive.
Our three star hotel was good. The communal areas were lovely, although the room was a little rough around the edges, but clean and perfectly serviceable. The half board element was amazing. The food was great, the restaurant impressive and the free beer and wine that you helped yourself to very welcomed!
If you are wanting an easy holiday, that’s cheap, on the beach, with good weather and has lots to do, Sunny Beach is the place for you!