Bulgaria ranked on a fifth place in Lonely Planet’s top ten countries for next year

Where in the world should you go next year? Our in-house travel experts, including Lonely Planet cofounder Tony Wheeler, have chosen their top 10 countries for next year based on scores for topicality, excitement, value for money and…that special X-factor. Here they are, in order of rank on the patented ‘Best in Travel’ scale:

1. Albania:

Not so long ago, when the Balkans were considered an ‘only for the brave’ travel destination, only the bravest of the brave trickled into Albania. Since backpackers started coming to elusive Albania in the 1990s, tales have been told in ‘keep it to yourself’ whispers of azure beaches, confrontingly good cuisine, heritage sites, nightlife, affordable adventures and the possibility of old-style unplanned journeys complete with open-armed locals for whom travellers are still a novelty. Sick to death of being dismissed with blinged-up crime-boss clich?s, Albania has announced ‘A New Mediterranean Love’ via its tourist board. The jig is almost up – Albania won’t be off the beaten track for much longer.

2. Brazil:

Famous for samba, football and cinematic scenery, Brazil has always been known for celebration (Carnaval being the most obvious manifestation of this national joie de vivre). Yet, Brazil rings in 2011 with even more cause for jubilation. Winning the bids to host both the 2014 FIFA World Cup and the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil is undertaking a flurry of new projects, with billions of dollars earmarked for infrastructure (there’s even discussion of building a high-speed rail line between Rio and S?o Paulo). Despite the strong Brazilian real, travellers should benefit from the addition of thousands of new hotel rooms, while increased competition from low-cost airline carriers (including Azul, established by the Brazilian-born founder of JetBlue) should make travel across this vast country more affordable.

3. Cape Verde:

Cape Verdeans might have known about the wider world forever, but it seems that the wider world is only just opening its eyes to Cape Verde. On the surface this is hardly a surprise; the country appears to be nothing but a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it dot of dust floating off the coast of Africa, but the islands have recently started catching sideways glances from European winter-sun tourists. This growing international interest is bringing enormous changes to an archipelago that looks and feels as if it were born from a Caribbean mother and an African father. But what is it that these tourists come for? When someone first mentioned trying to attract foreign visitors to their ‘dot of dust’ most Cape Verdeans must have laughingly thought ‘What can we offer a tourist here?’. The answer turned out to be quite a lot. Soaring mountains terraced in greens, a volcano with its head in the clouds, world-class watersports and sizzling, saucy festivals – but it was the sun that clinched the deal. With almost more days of sunshine than there are days in the year and with soft sandy beaches to boot, someone only had to say the words ‘winter sun’ and the islands were being marketed as the ‘New Canary Islands’.

4. Panama:

For Panama, the world economic crisis offered a perfect excuse to hit the reset button. After an unchecked growth spurt created a clutter of casinos, gated communities and glass towers in the name of Trump, the investment slump has forced a return to basics. For travellers, there’s a return to the authentic – local heartland festivals, jungle treks and lodgings in sand-floor huts in the independent Comarca de Kuna Yala. With plenty of the country still pristine, true adventure is only a boat or bus fare away. In 2011 Panama City gets greener, with the anticipated unveiling of the B?oMuseo, an innovative Frank Gehry-designed space celebrating ecological diversity. Panama City’s new Cinta Costera (Coastal Belt) creates a green stripe of waterfront paths that finishes in Casco Viejo, a stunning historic neighbourhood remade after decades of neglect. Like elsewhere, climate change and habitat destruction are taking their toll here. Panama’s inch-long golden frogs, victims of a worldwide epidemic, are fast disappearing. But the Dari?n Gap, considered one of the world’s wildest places, still remains roadless. Countless Panamanian islands persist without name or a sole inhabitant. Costa Rica eat your heart out.

5. Bulgaria:

For those who looked, Bulgaria has always had its moments – in its biggest cities, on its snow-capped peaks and great-value ski fields, on its golden-sand beaches and in ancient Black Sea port towns. Yet, over the years, with history’s contribution, Bulgaria has got lost amid its more famous neighbours. From the south, the Ottoman soldiers of present-day Turkey ran Bulgaria for 500 years. Legendary toga-clad Greeks to the south mocked Bulgaria’s strong wines (before adopting the same). More recently, the Romanians claimed the share of fame via distinguishing Latin bloodlines and Transylvania’s mystic, fangy appeal. Bulgaria sometimes feels like the odd guy out in this corner of Europe. But things are changing. Now proudly part of the 21st-century EU, Bulgaria has enjoyed more attention – and self confidence. Its ski slopes are de facto destinations for Europeans looking for cheaper alternatives, empty patches of lovely Black Sea beaches can still be found, and its quietly brilliant wine industry is flourishing. Whatever happens, Bulgarians will take it in their stride. As one local song goes, ‘We win, we lose…either way we get drunk, we’re Bulgarians!’ That oughta be on a T-shirt.

6. Vanuatu:

For those in search of authentic experiences, Vanuatu is hard to beat. From mighty mountains and thunderous waterfalls to remote villages, from huge lagoons to tropical islets, there’s so much on offer, far from the crowds. Don’t expect ritzy resorts and Cancun-style nightlife; with a good choice of family-run guesthouses in traditional villages and a smattering of comfortable, romantic hideaways, it’s tailor-made for ecotourists. With 83 islands, you’re spoilt for choice. Vanuatu has recently seen an increased number of direct flights from Australia, New Zealand, New Caledonia, Fiji and the Solomon Islands – go now, before the secret’s out.

7. Italy:

Italy is a beguiling, beautiful, charismatic mess. The press might be largely owned by Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, stories of corruption, bribery and sex scandals might be everyday news, and the economy might be in the doldrums, but this is still one of the world’s most magnificent places to be. The food is delicious, sunshine is plentiful, scenery and towns are sublime, and there is millennia-worth of art to look at. There are 44 Unesco World Heritage Sites here, more than in any other country. That Italy is celebrating only 150 years as a country in 2011 (it was unified in 1861) highlights how clearly it still feels like a collection of regions. Local people hail from their region; their nationality comes second. Each region has a pronounced character and qualities worthy of the small nations they once were, which makes it particularly rewarding to explore Italy bit by bit.

8. Tanzania:

It’s true, Tanzania is a place of great marvels – Serengeti, Ngorongoro, Kilimanjaro, Zanzibar… The names slip off the tongue like a roll call of Africa’s most alluring destinations. But that’s not all. It also has great herds of elephants in Ruaha, treeclimbing lions around Lake Manyara, chimpanzee sanctuaries in Gombe and Mahale and packs of wild dogs in Selous. There are also sunsets on the Rufiji River, when the water boils with hippos and crocodiles. In fact, the country has the whole panoply of east Africa’s wildlife – including such rarities as the red colobus monkey, black rhino, hawksbill and leatherback turtles and Pemba flying foxes – concentrated in an unrivalled collection of parks and reserves. So you think you’ve seen it all? We’re betting Tanzania still has a surprise or two for you.

9. Syria:

Heard the one about Bashar al-Assad and the US Ambassador? Well it’s no joke. After five years of cold-shoulder treatment relations have thawed and Syria is officially off the naughty step. There’s a definite upwardly-mobile attitude taking over the streets, thanks in part to the state-controlled economy slowly being overhauled and the noose of the ‘Axis of Evil’ tag no longer hanging around the nation’s neck. Savvy tourists can lord it up like a pasha, staying in lovingly restored Ottoman palaces and sipping cappuccino after shopping it up in the souq. But with all this modernisation it’s good to see some things are still the same. Out east the Bedouin still herd their scraggly sheep and welcome strangers into goat-hair tents for tea. Aleppo and Damascus’ Old Cities remain mazes where the best maps won’t work, and the countryside is still a vast open-air museum, strewn with the abandoned playgrounds of fallen empires. With hospitality still a national obsession, the attitude to visitors hasn’t changed
either.

10. Japan:

Japan has an ill-deserved reputation as an expensive destination where the English language is in short supply. But US$100 cuts of Kobe beef and the occasional Lost in Translation moment aside, Japan is surprisingly affordable and user-friendly. Before you go, stop by your local travel agency and purchase a Japan Rail Pass, which grants you unlimited access to the country’s sophisticated transport network. While Tokyo was ultimately unsuccessful in its bid for the 2016 Summer Olympics, the campaign resulted in increased English signage across the country. So, if Japan has been on your travel wishlist for a while, make this the year that you fi nally see the birthplace of sushi, sake and sumo.

by Lonely Planet.com

Top quality rose oil is produced in Bulgaria
20.04.2012

Top quality rose oil is produced in Bulgaria

A month before the 2012 Rose Festival in Bulgaria we decided to present to your attention an article about the famous Bulgarian rose oil which local people produce from Rosa damascena.
Rose oil (attar of roses) is an indispensable ingredient in virtually all fine perfumes made by most famous producers like Christian Dior, Givenchy, Lancôme, Bulgari, Chanel.... Modern cosmetics is unthinkable without rose oil. It is a very expensive product. Grams of rose oil are as valuable as grams of gold. Much like coffee, which is of best quality and finest aroma when grown in particular areas, it is the Bulgarian-grown rose which is the most aromatic one. Every beginner in the fragrance industry knows that the top quality rose oil is produced in Bulgaria.

Skiing or Snowboarding
19.04.2012

Skiing or Snowboarding

Winter sports are growing in popularity and many people are now having a go at skiing or snowboarding. Once considered to be an expensive pastime, it is now possible to go on a winter sports holiday for a relatively cheaper price. France, Austria, Switzerland and Italy are still popular, but other countries, like Slovenia, Bulgaria, Poland and Romania, are now offering excellent facilities at a cheaper price.

No matter where you choose to go, the most important consideration is which discipline you want to pursue. Both are exhilarating, both offer the chance to experience high speeds and whichever you try, you can guarantee you will fall down a lot when you start out.

Bulgaria Top Destination for Hunting Red Deer
17.10.2011

Bulgaria Top Destination for Hunting Red Deer

Bulgaria has emerged as one of the most popular global destinations for the hunting of red deer among "hunting tourists," according to the State Forestry Agency.

Bulgaria- a leading health tourism destination?
11.10.2011

Bulgaria- a leading health tourism destination?

In 2013 the European Union will apply a new directive, that patients, who have received medical service in other European countries, will have the chance to get their expenses refunded.

Smolyan should become a centre of eco tourism in Bulgaria
30.09.2011

Smolyan should become a centre of eco tourism in Bulgaria

The Ambassador of USA in Bulgaria James Warlick said that Smolyan city (only 10km away from Pamporovo) should become a centre of Eco tourism in Bulgaria.

Qatar Airways to launch more flights to Bulgaria
19.09.2011

Qatar Airways to launch more flights to Bulgaria

Qatar Airways plans to increase the frequency of flights from Bulgaria's capital city Sofia to Qatar's capital Doha and to launch new routes to the country within a year, the air carrier's chief executive Akbar al-Baker said on September 15 2011.

2011 Burgas Sand Fest
05.07.2011

2011 Burgas Sand Fest

Sand Sculptures Festival 2011 started in the city of Bourgas, at the Black Sea coast, from July 02. Last year it attracted 70,000 visitors.

Rally Bulgaria 2011 starts in Borovets on July 08
05.07.2011

Rally Bulgaria 2011 starts in Borovets on July 08

The competition will take place from July 8th to 10th in Borovets and this year it will be the 6th round of the Europe Rally Championship for 2011. The Rally will have a total length of 781, 58 km and the length of the special stages will be 257, 76 km.

Bulgarian monasteries are top sites for foreign tourists
27.06.2011

Bulgarian monasteries are top sites for foreign tourists

Rila monastery, Bachkovo and Troyan monasteries are the sites that attract the most foreign tourists in Bulgaria, Nikolai Mindov, chairperson of Association of Bulgarian Tour Guides told Focus news agency.

A Cross forest- the Rhodope Jerusalem- a
17.06.2011

A Cross forest- the Rhodope Jerusalem- a "must- see" sight near Pamporovo!

If you happen to be in Pamporovo in summer, don't miss to visit the nearby (only 40km away) Cross forest.

Elevation Music Festival
07.06.2011

Elevation Music Festival

On June 24 and 25, 2011 the first Elevation music festival will be held near Bansko- in Razlog Valley, Bulgaria.

Kazanlak Rose Festival
02.06.2011

Kazanlak Rose Festival

Every year, during the first weekend of June, local community in Kazanlak organizes the annual Rose Festival.

Russians and Romanians visit Sozopol to see the holy remains of St. John the Baptist
24.03.2011

Russians and Romanians visit Sozopol to see the holy remains of St. John the Baptist

There is a rise in the tourists who come from Russia, Romania and Ukraine to visit Sozopol in order to see the holy remains of St. John the Baptist, representatives of the tourist business commented, "Your day" daily reported.

Bulgaria may become a leading SPA destination for German tourists
23.03.2011

Bulgaria may become a leading SPA destination for German tourists

There is a high possibility for Bulgaria to become a leading destination for SPA tourism, as it has been discussed between the Bulgarian Deputy Minister of Economy, Energy and Tourism Ivo Marinov and representatives of the General Union of the State Health Insurance Funds in Germany on the international tourist fair ITB Berlin.

Seven real- time web cameras from Borovets!
28.02.2011

Seven real- time web cameras from Borovets!

Now you can check seven real- time web-cams from Borovets!