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CNN's top 10 destinations for 2011 includes Bulgaria

29 December 10

Perhaps surprisingly, Bulgaria has appeared on the list of CNN's top 10 destinations for 2011.

CNN sought out recommendations from three travel experts: Robert Reid, US travel editor for Lonely Planet; Pauline Frommer, creator of Pauline Frommer's guidebooks; and Martin Rapp, senior vice president of leisure sales at Altour.

Perhaps UNsurprisingly - considering that next year marks the 10th anniversary of the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center - the top destination was listed as New York.

New Zealand, the host of the 2011 World Cup, comes second, then the Peruvian Amazon, then Barcelona and Norway.

The first shock is that Albania occupies sixth place.
"The real rising destination is Gjirokastra, a city whose historic center is a UNESCO World Heritage site," Reid writes. "With picturesque beaches, good food and a number of heritage sites, Albania won't be off the beaten track for much longer," Lonely Planet says in its review.

Japan comes in seventh place and then - perhaps another surprise - Guatemala - in eighth place.

You may rub your eyes but you are not mistaken when you read that Bulgaria is in ninth place.

"I love doing road trips in Bulgaria. It begs for it. It's beautiful, and there's not much traffic. It feels very safe," said Reid, who rode around the country last year in a Soviet-era 1972 Moskovich.

Reid particularly recommends visiting Veliko Turnovo and Plovdiv.