- Bulgaria's Black Sea resorts cheaper than hotspots in Italy, Spain and Turkey
- Researchers found cheapest destination using 'imaginary shopping basket'
- Cheap prices are driven by low exchange rates and country's high inflation
- Its most popular resort of Sunny Beach copies those of Spain and Greece
Bulgaria might not be the first hotspot that springs to mind for a summer holiday – but that could change after it was named Europe's cheapest destination yesterday.
The former Soviet state has gained the most from the strong pound, which has cut the cost of visiting the continent.
Resorts on its Black Sea coast offer the best value in terms of a meal out, buying a cup of coffee and essentials such as sun cream and a cold drink, according to a study.
Affordable: Bulgaria has been named Europe's cheapest destination, with Black Sea resorts like Sunny Beach (pictured) offering the best value in terms of a meal out and other holiday activities
Hotspot: Bulgaria's most popular resort of Sunny Beach is a carbon copy of those of Spain and Greece
It is one of 13 European hotspots out of 14 where your cash will go far further this summer, largely thanks to rock-bottom exchange rates and higher inflation in some countries.
Research into an imaginary shopping basket of ten typical holiday purchases showed a total price of £37.39 for Bulgaria, which is down by 13.6 per cent from last summer.
There was a bigger fall of 22 per cent for the Algarve in Portugal, taking the total cost to £44.02, helping it beat Spain's Costa del Sol to become the second cheapest destination.
Only in Turkey, where inflation is 7.6 per cent – compared to virtually zero in Britain and the eurozone – will Britons find the cost of a day out much more expensive.
The figures, compiled for the annual Post Office Holiday Costs Barometer, show the spending basket in Turkey is up by 21.4 per cent on last year, at £65.70.
Bulgaria's most popular resort of Sunny Beach is a carbon copy of those of Spain and Greece.
Described by travel agents as 'lively', it has a wide sandy beach, high-rise hotels, bars, restaurants and water parks. It also has a long summer season from May to September and boasts around 300 days of sunshine year – more than Miami Beach in Florida.
Peak-season return flights to Burgas airport cost £400 a head. Once there, a three-course meal for two with wine comes in at £19.60, and a cup of coffee at 78p.
The country, whose currency is the lev, also has some popular ski resorts. The research is good news for travellers to the Algarve, which offers good-value restaurants, with a three-course meal for two including wine costing just £16.42, while a coffee will set you back 52p.
At the other end of the scale, Sorrento in southern Italy is the dearest resort. Its basket costs £101.60 – almost three times Bulgaria's.
Holiday: Bulgaria (pictured) is one of 13 European hotspots out of 14 where your cash will go far further this summer, largely thanks to rock-bottom exchange rates and higher inflation in some countries
There, a cup of coffee comes in at £1.49, while the three-course meal for two was a much dearer £52.24. Andrew Brown, of Post Office Travel Money, said: 'Meal prices can have a big impact on the holiday budget and make a big dent in holiday finances for people who plan to eat out every night.
'In the Algarve, a three-course meal costs less than half the price in other resorts. Be aware of what to expect before facing the bill.'