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Sozopol: Bulgaria's hidden gem

The Black Sea resort of Sozopol is the oldest settlement in Bulgaria that is transforming into a thriving resort without being overly-commercialised.

Located about 20 miles south of Burgas it makes for a cheap getaway but it is thankfully free from larger louts and pushy street sellers that similarly-priced destinations might attract.

Locals can be spotted selling delicious green fig jam but you have to approach them rather than being hassled to buy.

A three-course meal for two with wine and coffee can be easily had for under £40 in the old town where some of the fortress walls are still visible.

It can be rewarding experience to lose oneself in the old town, admiring the Bulgarian architecture with stone and wood houses and Greek monuments.

Close to the library the Archaeological Museum holds a collection of ancient ceramics and artefacts uncovered nearby.

Ruins are visible scattered throughout the area and tales of vampires still keep their bite. Medieval skeletons with iron rods placed where their hearts once were have been unearthed. Bulgarian archaeologists think that one of them most likely belonged to a nobleman named Krivich who lived in the 14th century.

But if historical sites and folklore isn't your bag then there are plenty of small shops, restaurants and cafes.

For those looking for a lively crowd, the Maakata Teknaa beach bar is worth a visit. With an eclectic mix of music, a vast range of cocktails (Bloody Mary for vampires) and no apparent closing time it can be easy to lose track of time.

At the other side of town is the new marina area where you'll spot magnificent yachts alongside traditional fishing boats. From here you can take a boat trip for a couple of hours, sitting back with a drink and taking in the the splendour of the town from the sea. If you're lucky you might spot a few dolphins.

We stayed at the ornate Hotel Pelican in the grounds of the Duni Royal Resort that overlooks the bay of Sozopol.

The all-inclusive five-star hotel boasts four pools, a private beach and restaurants serving Bulgarian and Italian meals. This is a family friendly hotel that is secluded and secure with access restricted to guests only.

It is packed with activities and sports facilities with ten tennis courts, table tennis, archery, darts, beach football, volleyball and wind surfing available.

Excursions from the hotel to Nessebur (by hydrofoil), Burgas and Istanbul are all possible. For those seeking some off-road action you can ride in a military-style jeep around the stunning Strandzha Mountains and sample local produce along the way.

A trip from Hotel Pelican into town (six miles) requires a taxi at around £9 but this is more than worth it given the location of the hotel to the beach.

Sozopol is the perfect mix of old and new and makes for an ideal location for couples and families. A museum town full of cultural treats with sandy beaches and harbour-side restaurants at an affordable price.

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