Bulgaria may not be the first place people think of to visit for a holiday. While the conversion doesn’t sound great (1USD equals roughly 1.50 Bulgarian Lev), the prices in Bulgaria are cheap.Like 8-Lev-for-a-delicious-dinner-cheap.

And, there are some great places to visit, too.

Windsurfers hang together in the Black Sea, just off the coast of Varna, Bulgaria.

I’ve spent time at two spots on the Black Sea. First there wasย Sunny Beach, a haven for European partiers in the summer. And then, I went up the coast to the far quieter (and far more charming) town of Varna.

Less crowded and more family-friendly than Sunny Beach, Varna is a more peaceful option for beach-goers.

Located on the Black Sea, Varna has what Sunny Beach does not — a quaint city that mixes history and present day together. Plus, there are far less touts promoting the nighttime discos and foam parties.

The town is known for its beach, which spans 8 km. Depending on what visitors are looking for in a beach, there are different areas. Families should head to the beach with the water park; revelers might like the beaches with clubs plunked down on the sand; and for those just looking to chill, there’s another section perfect for sunning and relaxing. Not a fan of the sand and surf? There is a thermal pool to enjoy, too.

The main beaches aren't without character. Some areas even include cement walls complete with graffiti.

Aside from the actual sea, there are the attractions nearby the water. For an afternoon outside, check out Primorski Park, which runs parallel to the water. It’s got open-air cafes and restaurants to sit and enjoy the scenery.

An old car is parked along Primorski Park.

The promenade leading down to the water can easily soak up an entire day. Wander the pedestrian streets, explore the little shops and boutiques, grab a coffee. And, definitely check out the restaurants offering cuisine from around the world (think sushi, Italian, tapas and more!). The area is gorgeous with its old and colorful buildings mixed with modern shops below.

Colorful buildings line the promenade down to the water.

For those who want more than a beach, spend time wandering the tree-lined streets of the city. There are museums to check out, like the expansive Archeological Museum; ย churches to explore; and traditional Bulgarian meals to be had.

A church displays religious art outside its doors.

Where to stay

In terms of lodging, there are plenty of hostels and hotels to check out. I stayed at two — the hot, hot Flag Hostel, which I checked out of, and Yo Ho, which I enjoyed. Keep in mind, in the dead of summer, most hostels without air-conditioning are sweltering.

Worth mentioning

In Bulgaria, shaking the head up and down means “no.” Shaking the head side-to-side means “yes.” Practice.

Also, try anything with rose in it — rose water, rose Raki, rose sunblock. The country is known for its rose products and these items can be found in many places.

Getting there

Depending on where you are coming from, there are both buses and trains to whisk you off to this escape from Bulgaria, Turkey and more. There’s even a ferry that runs in the summer.

Have you been to Bulgaria?

 

37 comments

    1. Angela, Bulgaria is a lovely country! The culture, the people, the food … it is a place I would happily return to visit! The beach isn’t so bad either! ๐Ÿ˜‰

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  1. WOWOWOW!!!! Those pics are gorgeous!! I can’t even believe I was there with you, although I totally was. I’ll never forget that ambulance, the graffitti, oh, everything. Such fond memories, my friend!

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  2. Yes, been to Bulgaria. Twice. Nessebar – lovely; Sunny Beach – not so much. Only passed through Varna, though. Looks like I should explore more of it, the architecture especially looks very interesting.

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  3. Those street art adds a whole ‘nother dimension to this place. And I love how the residents seem to have embraced it. Or, at least they don’t seem to mind it being around.

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    1. I found it really interesting. Back home, art like that is a sign to stay out … but, there, it’s a totally different story. I think it’s a cool juxtaposition. ๐Ÿ™‚

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  4. We never made it to the beaches in Bulgaria – stayed inland! Wish we had though! Well done on including the tip about shaking the head – very confusing if you’re not aware of that!!

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    1. All the more reason to plan a return trip to Bulgaria!! I figured that tip was kinda necessary. I didn’t find it so much in Varna, but in the smaller town I visited, it was noticeable in shops, etc. that weren’t near more tourist places.

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  5. I always seem to find your posts at the perfect time… we are in Bulgaria now! We probably won’t go to Varna this trip (as it is cold, cold cold!) but we plan to eventually… some fabulous shots!

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  6. I was trying to remember which beach town in Bulgaria it was that I visited and when I googled pics of Varna it brought me here. I traveled there from NJ to meet a Bulgarian woman I was dating when I was only 18. Varna was one of the last stops during my 2 week stay in Bulgaria. It really is a beautiful country and Varna is a fine example. I would love to go back some day!

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