Score: 49

Resort developers are snatching up large swaths of Bulgaria's coastline, increasingly regarded by price-conscious Europeans as an affordable alternative to Spain and Greece. They have left in their wake a built landscape that "does not adequately reflect the area's cultural resources and heritage." Nevertheless, travelers who venture far enough off the beaten path find pockets of "untouched natural areas." Nesebur's well-preserved Old Town is worth a visit.

Here is a representative sampling of additional anonymous comments from the panelists. They are not necessarily the views of the National Geographic Society:

"A mixture of highly developed tourist resorts and untouched natural areas. The coastline outside the three main resort zones retains a remote atmosphere, and significant attempts are being made to protect the region's cultural and architectural heritage in places like the Old Town of Nesebur and the Aladja Monastery near Varna."

"Fly-by-night real estate developers ravaged Bulgaria's coast.  The aesthetic of golf courses and cookie cutter condos is sad.  The location is beautiful, but I am not hopeful that it will develop sustainably."

"Water quality appears adequate, but there is some heavy industry at places along the shore. Much of the coast is quite attractive, especially in the south, but high-rise development is becoming intense."

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