The Black sea Coast of Bulgaria has been a budget holiday favourite for decades. First with the countries behind the Iron Curtain, and now with the countries from the cold north. Along this stretch of coast is a good cross section of Europe with styling urban cities, cheapo package holiday resorts, old fishing villages and ancient ruins.
I arrived in Varna with the intention of moving on after a day and ended up spending a few days here. It is a good sized city with stately old buildings that are a bit run down. Varna is a port city that is close to the beach, so it has a part work,part play feel to it. Varna is a candidate city for the European Capital of Culture in 2019, so you may hear more about it in the future.
Varna’s Drama Theatre
Market – Varna
Most people who fly to Varna are coming for the beach resorts. There are two popular resorts nearby called Golden Sands and Sunny Beach. I have seen those names many times in British travel agent windows, so I knew that they were going to be package holiday beaches, but I wanted to check it out for myself.
I was intending to go to Golden Sands but it was a cold and drizzly day – not a good beach day – so I opted to spend my day hiding from the rain in cafes instead.
Espresso Time – Varna.
With a name like Sunny Beach it has to be dodgy, but I kind of liked it actually. Sunny Beach is all resort hotels and seaside tackiness, but it doesn’t pretend to be anything else. As an Australian I find European beach resorts fascinating. I mean look at this beach!
Sunny Beach – Bulgaria
There is not a spare piece of beach for all the umbrellas. The sand itself is very good quality, but I don’t come to Europe for the beaches. I come for the old towns.
Next to Sunny Beach is Nessebar. You can walk right along Sunny Beach until you get to a peninsula where Nessebar is situated. This old fishing town is a World Heritage listed site and is filled with old ruins and lovely cobbled side streets. The crowds are quite scary when you first arrive, but as you wander deeper into the town the crowds thin out.
Christ Pantocrator Church – Nessebar
South of Sunny Beach and Nessebar is the port city of Burgas. There is another airport here with low cost flights around Europe, and it is also a handy place to base yourself for visiting villages along the coast.
Along the main shopping street of Burgas.
South of Burgas is the ancient town of Sozopol, which like Nessebar is filled with old ruins and winding little streets. It is also surrounded by some decent beaches that aren’t as crowded as the resort towns.
Looking to the beach at Sozopol.
Getting to the Black Sea Coast
Low cost airlines and European charter flights fly to Varna and Burgas. Trains are also a good option, with both cities being connected to Sofia.