Bulgaria has become quite popular with its beaches, however, not many people think of visiting a big city while on a beach holiday. Well, Varna is a city that offers a bit from both worlds to its visitors. Regardless of whether you are coming on a day trip or staying for a weekend – Varna has a lot of activities available to make your stay worth a while. Below I will share with you a plan for a day journey around the City Center which will also leave you plenty of time to spend on the beach.
Day Plan – Must See Sights
Of course, the biggest and can’t miss building in the city is the Cathedral “Dormition of the Mother of God”. It is the second largest Orthodox cathedral in Bulgaria after the one in Sofia. Even if you are not a religious fanatic, it is worth paying a visit just to admire the beauty of the structure of the building and the multitude of paintings on the inside. There is also a small park around the Cathedral where you can sit and admire the facade or simply read a book and relax.
If you have started your journey at the Cathedral, it is a good option to enter the vast pedestrian zone of Varna and go down to the Opera Building. If you are planning on staying in Varna for a while, it is a good option to check for any upcoming plays in the Opera – they are always listed on the outside. The Opera House was recently renovated and is great on the inside too. The seats are made so that even if you sit way in the back you will still be able to see the stage fully.
In the square of the Opera are also the singing fountains and if you are coming in the summer you will most likely see them on. Wait for an exact hour in order to hear music play combined with the fountain’s “dance”. There are a lot of food options around the square if you are looking to eat fast food or taste the famous Bulgarian banitsa – offered in all bakeries.
Going through the pedestrian zone, you will pass a lot of shops and boutiques. Further down, you will reach the Sevastopol Square and famous hotel “Black Sea”. This is a main meeting point for the citizens of Varna and if you look North-West you will see the Municipality Building which is greatly decorated during the winter festivities. At Sevastopol square, you will find a few restaurants which have originated in Varna and offer a wide variety of food ranging from traditional Bulgarian cuisine to sushi.
The Sea Garden
From here, you can go East (towards the Sea) through the so called “Main Entrance” of the Sea Garden. You have the option to go further down to the beach and have a drink or sunbathe (while having a drink) or to stay in the Sea Garden and go towards the Summer Theater. The Sea Garden is one of the largest landscaped parks on the Balkans and offers its visitors some peace and quiet from the bustling sounds of the city. It is worth it to spend a few hours just browsing around its vast alleys and hidden roads. For the purpose of this journey, we will stop at the Summer Theater – a very picturesque place covered in foliage. Do visit a play in there if you have the chance!
By the time you reach the Summer Theater, you will have an open view of the main alley of the Sea Garden which is especially beautiful between May and July as it has all flowers blooming. You will also be able to see the Pantheon – a monument built for the fighters against the Capitalism between 1923-1944.
Going back towards the city from the Summer Theater, you can have a glimpse of the University of Economics Building which was recently renovated and painted in bright colors. Going up the street, you will reach the so called “Red Square” which in the past had an open-air cinema which projected Soviet movies thus the name of the square. However, now there is just a small park and various fast food options. If you take a left on the intersection you will go towards the Municipal Building and from there to the Archaeological Museum.
The Archaeological Museum
The Archaeological Museum holds the oldest gold treasure in the world, dated 4600-4200 BCE. It is definitely worth seeing as you will nowhere else find such magnificent creations from gold. There are plenty of exhibits in the museum so allow for at least an hour and a half in there. Between the museum and the Municipality you will find another fountain which is lit up in bright colors at night. There are also benches if you need some rest.
So far, your journey is looking like this:
Things to avoid
As a local in Varna, it is my duty to warn you about a couple of things. The first is to beware of pickpockets if you are using the public transport as they work very quickly. Always keep you belonging close when you find yourself in a large group of people.
Normally, the Sea Garden is quite well lit up at night, however, there are a lot of exhibitionists wandering around at night so try to avoid going away from the main alleys after dark.
If you are an animal lover like me, I would recommend not visiting the zoo in Varna. It is poorly maintained and will most likely make you sad to watch the animals.
And if you ever find yourself doubting anything – do not be afraid to stop a local and ask him a question. Most of the citizens speak English, Russian and German and will gladly direct you to anything you need or answer your questions.
The Sea Shore
If you haven’t spent a lot of time taking photos or just looking around throughout the above journey, you will now have time to go to the beach through the Sea Garden and enjoy the rest of the day relaxing by the water. The coast of Varna offers a wide variety of bars, restaurants and clubs (for the party animal in you).
If you are not the “laying on the beach type”, you can stroll down the the beach and admire the horizon or you can visit the Port of Varna which is a great place to watch the sunset and offers a view towards the Asparuhovo Bridge – connection one of the districts with the city. You can also have a walk towards the Lighthouse and from there you will see the Asparuhovo district with its beach.
By now you should be a bit tired from walking around all day – the perfect ending of the day would be to have dinner at the Port – it has a few nice restaurants and watch the sunset.
If you have visited Varna, please share in the comments what you liked most about it or if you are planning to visit, fee free to ask me any questions you might have about the city.