Visit Bulgaria’s seaside cities (with map)
Bulgaria has become quite famous in Europe for its seaside, where you can stay at a 4 or 5-star all-inclusive hotel for an affordable price. However, if you visit Bulgaria’s seaside you shouldn’t spend all the time at your resort. There is much to see on the Bulgarian coast, from old settlements to natural wonders. Keep reading to discover the most beautiful places to see when you visit Bulgaria’s seaside!
One of the most beautiful Capes of Europe, Cape Kaliakra had great importance in history for Thracians, Romans, Byzantines, and Bulgarians. As a result, on the narrow piece of land, you can find the ruins of the old settlements: fortified walls, water-main, baths, and homes. You can also discover various interesting artifacts inside the small archaeological museum on this narrow piece of land.
Since 1941, Cape Kaliakra has been a protected area, where you can often spot cormorants and even dolphins. Situated on a major bird migration route, many rare migratory birds can be spotted here in spring and autumn.
Cape Kaliakra also offers beautiful views of the sea crashing into its steep cliffs. In this majestic setting, you can test your skills on one of the three championship golf courses.
Another place of historic importance on the Bulgarian coast is Balchik. Besides enjoying a summer holiday by the sea, here you can visit the Botanical Gardens of Balchik, with over 600 species of flora.
Inside the terraced Botanical Gardens, you will also find the small chapel of Sveta Bogoroditsa, a greenhouse with huge, impressive cacti, a waterfall and an old wooden mill. However, among the top things to do in Balchik is visiting Queen Marie’s Summer Palace, inside the labyrinth-like gardens.
You can also enjoy tastings of Bulgarian sweets, grape and various fruit wines at the Queen’s Winery House, also inside the Botanical Gardens.
Varna is the largest Bulgarian city on the Black Sea’s coast. According to its population, it’s also the third-largest city in Bulgaria, after Sofia and Plovdiv. For this reason, the seaside resort is often called the Sea Capital or Summer Capital of Bulgaria.
The city of Varna is an important touristic and educational center, winning the title of European Youth Capital in 2017. Besides its cultural life rich in events, Varna also has an interesting series of museums for its visitors: the 2000 sqm Archeological Museum, the Naval Museum, the History Museum, the Renaissance Museum, the Ethnographic Museum, and the Natural History Museum. While more interesting for a smaller niche, you might also consider visiting the Doll Museum and the Medical History Museum, too. And make sure you don’t skip the Varna Necropolis, with the largest gold thesaurus in the world!
Not far from Varna, you can find Pobiti Kamani or The Stone Desert. Covering an area of 13 sqkm, Bulgaria’s only desert consists of sand dunes and groups of natural rock formations, hard on the outside, but hollow and filled with sand on the inside. These rocks can reach heights of up to 7 m and diameters of up to 3 m. A unique phenomenon in Bulgaria, Pobiti Kamani should be on your list when you visit Bulgaria’s seaside!
Nessebar or the Pearl of the Black Sea is split into two parts — the new and the ancient, by a narrow artificial isthmus. The ancient site of Nessebar is located on a small peninsula, looking like a rustic version of Montenegro’s Sveti Stefan.
Nessebar has a rich history and a high number of perfectly-maintained and inhabited historic buildings. For this reason, the town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1983.
While the peninsula isn’t large, it is the home of forty churches. They are from the times Nessebar has found itself under the ruling of the Byzantines, the Ottomans, and, finally, the Bulgarians.
Ancient Nessebar is one of my favorite places to go when I visit Bulgaria’s seaside!
Around 18 km south from Nessebar, there is the modern city of Pomorie. In the past, Pomorie had similar buildings to Nessebar. Today, only a small part of them can still be seen today, as most burned in a great fire in 1906.
Not to worry, Pomorie has something else that makes it one of the must-see places when you visit Bulgaria’s seaside! It is a popular location for rare bird-spotting and for its… mud treatments.
Not far from the city, there is Pomorie Lake, with a 70% salt concentration (4 times higher than that of the Black Sea). The mud from this lake has been used for baths since the time of the Romans. Its properties seem to help against various joint pains.
As mentioned, Pomorie is a popular destination for bird-spotters, with around 200 bird species gathering around the lake. Among them, there are also the endangered species of the pygmy cormorant and the Dalmatian pelican. The latter is the largest of the pelican species and it has curly feathers.
Burgas is the fourth largest city of Bulgaria, after Varna. It is surrounded by the Burgas wetlands. The area is protected for its biodiversity, with rare and endangered species of mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, and fish.
The high number of wide beaches makes Burgas a favorite touristic destination in summer. After getting the perfect tan, you can visit the open-air museums of Develtum (ancient Thracian city) and Beglik-Tash (prehistoric rock sanctuary).
Burgas also attracts tourists with its various annual exhibitions and international festivals. One of the not-so-common ones is the Sand Fest: a festival of sand sculptures. This festival gathers artists from Europe, North America, Asia, and Australia, who make over 200 compositions, with sculptures of over 8 meters in height. The event takes places every year in Park Ezero, and in 2019 it will reach its 12th edition.
Advancing south along the coast of Bulgaria, we reach Sozopol. Situated on a peninsula in the Black Sea, the town is only 35 km away from Burgas.
Much like Nessebar, Sozopol is a well-preserved old town with beautiful architecture. One of the oldest towns on the Black Sea’s coast, it was founded by the Greeks in the 7th century BC. Over time, it found itself under the ruling of the Romans, the Byzantines, the Ottomans, and, of course, the Bulgarians.
If you’re planning a vacation at the end of summer, don’t miss the Apollonia Art and Film Festival. The event takes place every year, in the beginning of September.
Sinemorets is probably the smallest inhabited settlement among the places to see when you visit Bulgaria’s seaside. It is actually a village in the Burgas region, close to the border with Turkey.
The village and sea resort of Sinemorits is actually located inside the Strandzha Nature Park. Strandzha is the largest protected area in Bulgaria (1,161 sqkm). The Nature Park is the home of 66 mammal species, 269 bird species, 24 reptile species, 10 amphibian species, and 111 fish species. Stranszha Nature Park also has archaeological importance, with traces of human habitation from the Neolithic.
If you are looking for a more tranquil holiday spot, in the middle of nature, Sozopol and Strandzha Nature Park are the best places to explore when you visit Bulgaria’s seaside!