Golden coastline scythes into the distance, edging into clusters of trees until it's entirely swallowed up by the forest. Further along, spectacular cliffs plunge fiercely into the crystal clear waters. Introducing Albena, of Bulgaria. Isn't she beautiful? And she's very happy to meet you.
At a glance
Located on the North Black Sea coast and stretching 35km north of Varna and 12km from Balchik, this Bulgarian beauty is a holiday behemoth that is capable of entertaining anyone during their stay - no matter the duration. We'll start our approach on the beach strip, which measures 3.5km long and 150 metres wide. Impressive statistics indeed - even more so when you throw in an average summer temperature of 28 degrees celsius. Even the seawater near the shore rarely dips below 25 degrees during the warmer months, making it ridiculously easy for you to take a dip.
But Albena also has some impressive facilities to boast about, with 40 hotels of various categories on offer. You'll find views of the beach with its fine sand, and also of the park area with its green trees and undulating landscape - the surrounding scenery is what really makes a holiday here.
As one would expect from a major tourist resort, Albena is well-equipped to deal with the holiday rush. Much of what is installed here is designed to ensure the comfort of visitors. How about spending an invigorating afternoon playing volleyball? Maybe your friends value a kick-around? Bring a ball along to the football court and you can enjoy just that. There are even opportunities to try sports you've probably never attempted before, such as water skiing and triathlon.
Convenience-wise, you can be sure everything is within easy reach of your location, no matter where you're standing in the resort. Shops, restaurants, bars, pharmacies, a post office, banks, ATMs, rent-a-cars, a medical centre - all of these are but a walk away.
Albena is a great destination for everyone - groups of friends on stag dos and hen nights, couples seeking an exciting getaway, solo visitors on a beach extravaganza seeking new friends. It's especially great for families, with plenty to entertain the kids and enough universal activities to make sure the adults don't get bored either. There are even child care services that allow the grown-ups to make a little time for themselves.
To eat and drink
A vast selection of restaurants and eateries can be found in Albena, catering for the most diverse tastes imaginable. Delicious cuisine, traditional Bulgarian specialities, spectacular wines and a rich entertainment programme of live performances over your meals is what awaits. Throughout the resort, service is excellent and the munchables exquisite.
Since you're in Bulgaria, you should probably take time to visit the traditional Bulgarian Fiesta restaurant. Not only does this venue serve up great dishes originating from the country, it also allows you to experience the incredible religious rite Fire Dancing, which has its roots in the local culture.
Other places worth visiting include Teks-Meks!, the first Mexican restaurant in Bulgaria, and Green Apple, which is the only eatery here that advertises a completely healthy menu.
For nightlife, however, you want to head directly for Karaoke Bar Karibi to get the party started. The singing might not be for everyone at first, but once you've had a bit to drink, you won't be able to keep off the floor. Disco Kom and G-Point provide much of the dance action once you're tipsy enough to show off some moves.
Things to do
As we alluded to above, Albena boasts numerous activities that will help you while away the hours in this sun-soaked paradise, should you get tired of the beach. The first that are worth drawing attention to are the water sports centres that can be found at regular intervals along the coast. Whatever you fancy trying - windsurfing, waterskiing, diving - you will find somewhere that will help open your eyes to a whole new world of enjoyment.
For those who prefer something altogether more relaxing, there are three well-respected spa centres that are happy to pamper you to your heart's desire. Exotic rehabilitation, renowned beauty procedures, prophylactic treatments, modern hemodialysis - you name it, you can have it.
If you find yourself itching to get out and about, exploring the local sights and history, you'll be pleased to learn that there are plenty of opportunities and excursions to nearby locations of importance. The Aladzha Monastery and the Madara Horseman, Cape Kaliakra and Yaylata Archaeological reserve - these are but four of the incredible sights you might like to take in during your stay in Adena. If you fancy being even more cultural, time your visit to coincide with one of the many local festivals, which include The Festival of Horo (beginning of June), the Morning Star International Art Festival (first half of June), Albena Fashion Fiesta (June) and the Cheerleading Contest (July).
Buses are very regular and reliable. Even into the early hours of the morning, they can be seen catering to the occasional drunk tourist who has had one drink of Rakia too many. If your hotel is near the beach, you likely won't need to use these, but you may want to take the attractive little train if you fancy exploring the town.
The train has two separate lines - make sure you take the right one for your desired destination. Car rental companies are common if you want to explore the surrounding villages, such as Tyulenovo and Kamen Bryag, under your own speed.
In a nutshell
Albena boasts a plethora of activities for everyone young and old, and while it's a predominantly touristy area, that doesn't mean there isn't plenty of opportunity to get out and about, exploring some of Bulgaria's unique culture. During your time here, you may encounter a plethora of new experiences. Or you may simply stretch out on the beach, building up that tan and immersing yourself in a good book. The beauty is - it's your choice.