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The Climate of Bulgaria.

Marked by four distinct seasons, Bulgaria enjoys a generally favourable climate that is one of the country's best features. Summers are typically hot and dry, but rarely oppressive, with moderate relative humidity. Winters are cold but not bitterly so.

Sofia's climate is one of its main attributes with average daytime highs of 28c in July and August and 3c from December to February. The Black Sea moderates temperatures in the east of the country, with average temperatures of 27c and more than 300 hours of sunshine per annum, Mediterranean influences temper the harsher winter continental climate of the interior. The country's half-dozen mountain groups also play a significant part in determining regional variances. Rainfall is highest in the mountains and in winter there are excellent snow conditions for winter sports.

Weather forecast from Bulgarian National Institute of Meteorology and Hydrology www.meteo.bg

Area Profiles

BULGARIAN HORIZONS can give you advice on areas.

THE CAPITAL

SOFIA & SURROUNDING AREAS for apartments in bulgaria

Sofia dates back to the fourth century BC and has a wealth of different architectural styles that include Roman Greek, Byzantine, Turkish and Bulgarian. Sofia is the highest capital in Europe and has benefited greatly from the on going Beautiful Bulgaria Project, which is restoring historical buildings and areas, it is only an hour to Mt Vitosha with it's excellent hiking and skiing spots.

Sofia has 36 official museums and several art galleries, it is chock-a-block with churches and also has a mosque and synagogue, the city has a few large park areas, a large assortment of restaurants, cafes and fast food places, live music clubs and trendy bars, cinema, national opera house, Sofia also offers a range of shopping. Most of Sofia's sights are within short walking distance once in the centre Sofia has extensive public transport including buses, trolleybus and tram networks and taxis are inexpensive.

Surrounding Sofia is Vitosha National Park including Mt Vitosha which is a popular ski resort in the winter, in the summer it attracts hikers, wild herb and berry pickers and sight seers, there are dozens of clearly marked hiking trails in the dense forest and plenty of cafes, restaurants and hotels.

Also to be found in Vitosha National Park is Aleko, which attracts picnickers, hikers, and mountain bikers, Aleko provides access to the principal pistes. Zlatni Mostove (Golden Bridges) is a series of huge boulders, which glaciers have dumped along the river many centuries ago. Dragalevtsi village with it's two person chair lift and a Monastery and Simeonovo where you can take a Gondola to the mountains.

Kyustental with its mineral springs and Lake Iskar, which is a huge artificial dam, which supplies the water source for Sofia. You can also hire canoes, sail boards and paddle boats here. Both are in the surrounding areas of Sofia.

THE MOUNTAINS RESORTS

4 IMPRESSIVE MOUNTAIN RANGES

Rila, Pirin, Rhodope, Stara Planina & Stredna.

Which offer some of Europe's finest highland scenery and valleys that harbour the kind of bucolic villages, which have all but disappeared in Western Europe. Ideal for Skiing, Snowboarding, Hiking, Mountain Biking and Bird watching. Popular Ski Resorts at Borovets, Bansko & Pamporovo or leave the bustle of Sofia and go to within one hour to Mount Vitosha.

Bulgaria is characterized by a series of dramatic mountain chains, which together offer some of the most exciting and varied hiking opportunities in Europe. The Pirin Mountains in the southwest are the wildest, most picturesque range in Bulgaria with 45 peaks over 2590m, deep karstic massifs and numerous glacial lakes. The walk from Melnik over the mountains to Rozhen Monastery takes you through a strange landscape of pyramid shaped rock formations. Immediately to the north, magnificent coniferous forests and alpine scenery abloom with wildflowers characterize the Rila Mountains all year; Mt Musala, at 2925m above sea level, stands as the highest peak in the Balkan Peninsula. Both these ranges abut the Rhodopes, arguably the loveliest range in Bulgaria, with a mixture of pine forests, crags, highland meadows and villages of stone houses. The Trigrad Gorge is spectacular and is the site of the stupendous Devil's Throat (Dyavolsko Garlo) cave. All three ranges are crisscrossed by well-maintained, well-marked paths, with a network of mountain huts or hizhi proving basic but cosy accommodation. Snow is thick on the ground from late November to mid-March.

BANSKO

The newest Bulgarian winter resort situated in southwestern Bulgaria at the foothills of one of the most beautiful Bulgarian mountains Pirin, which is a national reserve, including in the World Heritage list. Bansko is one of the shiniest jewels in Bulgaria's tourism crown, with top notch skiing, superb hiking and provides an interesting combination between the virgin nature of Pirin Mountain and the atmosphere of the ancient Bulgarian small town. The skiing conditions are excellent. The Pirin Mountains have a predominately Alpine character with three peaks towering above 2,900m. However the slopes offer runs and tracks for all types of skiers and snowboarders, from novice to the experts, while the ski runs are maintained in excellent condition. The town itself attracts visitors by its 150 cultural monuments including many from the Bulgarian National Revival period, and the permanent ethnographic and Bansko School of icon painting exhibitions.

Unlike many Bulgarian towns, its modernized centre co-exists easily with the older quarters, a maze of cobbled lanes where the timber-framed stone houses hide behind thick walls with stout double doors, built to withstand a siege. There are also over one hundred mehanas (local taverns), offering traditional cuisine. It remains an agricultural town, with goats and donkey-drawn carts sharing the roads with four-by-fours.

BOROVETS

Set amidst the majestic forest-clad Rila Mountains, once a hunting ground for Bulgarian Kings, Borovets is now internationally renowned and Bulgaria's number one ski resort. There are lots of bars and cafes, and many clubs making après-ski a real attraction. Situated at 1350m above the sea level on the northern slopes of Rila Mountain among age-old pinewoods, Borovets is located at the foot of peak Moussala (2925m) - the highest one on the Balkan Peninsula. Borovets is easily accessible, being 73km from Sofia and 126km from Plovdiv.

PAMPOROVO

The sunniest mountain resort in Europe boasting no less than 270 sunny days a year on average. Pamporovo is high among the Rhodope Mountains in southern Bulgaria, set amongst magnificent pine forests. It is tailor made for skiing and snowboarding, with quality hotels, good selection of bars, restaurants and entertainment. Bulgarias historic second city, Plovdiv lies 80Km to the north.

BLACK SEA COAST

"Think Bulgaria and what comes to mind? Cheap skiing holidays, cheap wine, Olympic shot-putters, er…The Wombles…that's about it. Now mass-market operator JMC has decides four of it's Black Sea resorts are just the ticket for low-budget family deals and has dedicated a whole new brochure to bucket-and -spade holidays, Bulgarian-style bulgaria properties Bulgaria properties for sale Black sea properties .

The Country's 230 miles of white sandy beaches, line in places with concrete hotel blocks, were once the equivalent of the Spanish Costas for Soviet citizens, but perhaps a new generation of British holidaymakers will soon be enjoying red wine at £1.20 a bottle and Big Macs for 30p. (And as Bulgaria is one of the former eastern bloc countries that hopes to join the EU, euros will do nicely)

But why Bulgaria, and why now? The drive up market in traditional resorts such as Spain and Mallorca is encouraging low-budget holidaymakers to look elsewhere, and Bulgaria represents excellent value for money, says Charlotte Murgatroyd of JMC. Blue Flag beaches, improved standards and Western -style buffet meals in hotels have been rewarded by steady growth in British visitors for the last two years ." (Bucket-and-spade brigade hit Bulgaria, The Observer, Hilly Janes, Sunday September 22, 2002)

SUNNY BEACH

Situated on the southern Black Sea coast, near the town of Bourgas, and about 30 km from Bourgas Airport. A well-established coastal resort. 7km of gently shelving golden sand, with a good choice of shops, bars, restaurants, discos, nightclubs and casino. The gorgeous coastline has been awarded the European Blue Flag for its clean water and beaches.

VARNA

Is the liveliest and most popular place along the coast, is home to an outstanding museum of Thracian artefacts and Romanera funerary sculpture.

NESSEBAR

A UNESCO World Heritage Site. The historic town of Nessebar is situated a few kilometres from Sunny Beach with history dating back some 2,500 years and linked with many ancient civilizations. The magnificent old quarter is under preservation order as a living museum town, having narrow cobbled streets and gabled houses, a harbour and the remains of many churches.

POMERIE

Situated on a rocky peninsula the town was founded in lV century BC and is near to a salt lake which was considered sacred by the ancient Thracians because of its healing powers. The town once rivalled Nessebur, but a fire in 1906 destroyed some of the antiquity and architecture.

GOLDEN SANDS

Is famous as the Pearl of the Bulgarian Black Sea Coast, enjoying stunning scenery set in the 'Zlatni Piasaci' (Golden Sands) National Park. Its fine, golden sand beach stretches the whole length of the resort, 3 km long and up to 100m wide at some points. The resort is so compact that it is possible to walk everywhere, although there is also a mini train connecting one end to the other. Golden Sands offers healing mineral springs, water sports, cultural shows, festival and nightlife.

ALBENA

Situated in a picturesque, bay surrounded by a woodland hillside next to the natural preserve 'Baltata'. There are wide beaches of fine golden sand shelving gently into the sea. 20 minutes outside of Albena boasts the beautiful Botanical Gardens with over 3000 varieties of plants and flowers.

ELENITE

Situated 12 km north of Sunny Beach and on the southern Black Sea Coast. Famous for its natural beauty and 4km of sandy beach, this large purpose built resort has a spacious feel with a safe and clean environment.

ST KONSTANTIN

Situated near the major port of Varna and about 17 km from Varna airport, the picturesque resort is one of the oldest on the Black Sea coast. Oak, beech and pine tree and small, sheltered sandy beaches with lots of rocky coves and inlets.

SOZOPOL

Situated on a small rocky peninsula on the southern Black Sea coast, about 70km south of Sunny Beach and 45km from Bourgas airport. A beautiful ancient seaside town, narrow cobbled streets, historic churches, traditional houses dating back to the 18th and 19th century. Sozopol has a busy, thriving modern quarter with many restaurants, cafes and bars. The Ropotamo Nature Reserve is close by with extensive marshes and the largest sand dunes in Bulgaria, the Reserve boasts 200 species of birds, reptiles i.e. Snakes and Turtles and the rare Sand Lily.

PRIMORSKO

Famous for its curving ten kilometres sandy beach situated on the southern Black Sea Coast, 50 km from the city of Bourgas and 15 km from the town of Sozopol.

OBZOR

North of Sunny Beach a small resort where you can now see evidence of investment. Known to the Greeks as Heliopolis, or City of the Sun, the town's heyday came in the Roman period, when, under the name of Navlohos it became a fortified trading settlement. The broken columns of the Temple of Jupiter can still be seen in the large park to the left of Obzor's main square, but its principal asset nowadays is the beach. Obzor is popular with Bulgarians and East Europeans, and is well served with family run cafes and restaurant.

SVETI VLAS

North of Sunny Beach, picturesque area, small resort with luxury villas, apartments and hotels, ideal holiday destination. Close to all the attractions of Sunny Beach and Nessebar. More apartments are being built.

SHABLA

Flat rural area close to the Romanian border, the beaches are rocky, there are no major tourist resorts close by. An ideal place to get away from it all. Abundance of wild flowers and birds.

BALCHIK

Occupies a succession of sandy cliffs and hills, houses run down both side of the valley towards the sea. There is a small harbour, Balchik lacks a really good beach, although there is a small man made sandy area. The closest large tourist resort is Albena with its beautiful sandy beach, which is a short drive away. The summer palace of Queen Marie of Romania and the botanical gardens with over 3000 varieties of plants and flowers attracts many visitors.

CHERNOMORETS

A small beach resort with a neatly manicured park, close to Sozopol and a short drive from Burgas.

DYUNI

Has a marvellous sandy beach that extends southwards for 3Km protecting an inland marsh and reeds. Lake Alepu, a lagoon surrounded by dunes and sand lilies. Close to the Ropotamo River and Nature Reserve,

CENTRAL BULGARIA

TRYAVNA

40km southwest of Veliko Tarnova is already one of the highlights of central Bulgaria. When the work by the Beautiful Bulgaria Project has finished in a few years time there are indications that this Town could be one of the top attractions in the country. The Old Town is full of tree-lined, cobblestone streets, Bulgarian National Revival period homes and quaint stone bridges.

VELIKO TARNOVO

One of the most picturesque towns in Bulgaria, and is also known as the City of the Tsars. This ancient city is perched above the Yantra River, partly lined with traditional houses and above the town is the ruined citadel .

BLAGOEVGRAD

100km south of Sofia, sophisticated and cosmopolitan, home to over 16,000 students who study at the American University of Bulgaria. The town has some of the nicest cafes and trendiest nightclubs. There is a lack of budget hotels in the area.

VALLEY OF THE ROSES

Situated between the Sredna Gora and Balkan ranges. Lined by a string of historic market towns and home of Bulgaria's renowned rose harvest in late May. The town of Kazanluk has a Museum of Rose Production and the Valley of Kazanluk has countless archaeological and historic treasure, Roman, Thracian and Ottoman.

PLOVIDIV

Founded in 342 BC and the second largest city, and home to arguably the finest collection of 19th century architecture in the Balkans. Old Plovidiv has cobbled, hilly streets with dozens of National Revival style houses, and blackened fortress walls dating from Byzantine times. Plovidiv has Roman ruin including Amphitheatre, Stadium and Forum.

NORTHERN BULGARIA

DANUBIAN PLAIN

Is a more undulating region and is agriculturally rich area with maize fields, sunflower and vineyards. The area stretches from the northern slopes of the Balkan Range to the Danube River.

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