Good food, good mood, good life: the best of Varna and the region – Part I
I originally come from Bulgaria and I always wanted to live in Varna. Because of the sea, the sun, the vibrant atmosphere, because…. you have it all there! And after I finished my studies, I moved from Sofia to Varna! And this is where my dream came true….
Varna – the Black Sea capital of Bulgaria. Everybody loves Varna! Everything you want and need is there at your fingertips – delicious food, bars and cafes on the beach, its majesty the beach, cultural events all year round, historical sites and many many nice things to discover and to do in the region.
Varna is one of the oldest cities in the world. It is located on the Black Sea and is becoming more and more attractive for tourists. There is an airport and many low-cost airlines provide direct flights to Varna every day, especially in the summer. However, if you have more time and really want to experience the best of your stay in Bulgaria, fly to Sofia and then take a bus to Varna – you will cross half of the country through Stara Planina (“Old Mountain”), the mountain that divides the country into two parts. The sceneries are stunning no matter the season. The route is quite long, but it’s worth it. (I just realized that many Bulgarians are going to blame me for what I’ve just advised, as the route is for about 6h30….but anyway..check it out and it’s up to you to decide wheater you go for it or not).
Once in Varna, you have to make up your mind what to see and what to do in this little paradise. That really depends on what you like and how much time you have. I am going to guide you through a city tour and show you the gems of it. The first thing to do – go to the city centre. It’s easily reachable no matter the location of your accommodation. Taxis are relatively cheap in Bulgaria and there are buses from and to every neighbourhood so transportation won’t be a problem. Once in the city centre, you won’t miss out the symbol of Varna – the Dormition of the Mother of God Cathedral (Катедрален храм “Успение Богородично”). It’s majestic. Take a moment to admire the massive orthodox temple. If you are interested in visiting more orthodox churches, there are two others on the way to the city centre: St. Nicolas “Свети Николай” (on the main shopping street) and St.Petka “Света Петка” (behind the Municipality of Varna).
In front of the main entrance of the cathedral, on the other side of the road, you’ll see the branch stage of the Drama Theatre “Stoyan Bachvarov”. This is where the main shopping street begins. For more information on all tourist attractions and how to get there, refer to the Tourist Information Centre, located nearby.
Let’s continue to walk through the main shopping street, it’s a walking boulevard, no cars are allowed here. There is a hidden gem that even the locals don’t know it exists – The Puppet museum. It’s the only one in the entire Balkan region. Very interesting and informative place to see with a unique collection of puppets. It will take you about 40 minutes to explore it all, trust me, you won’t be disappointed.
As I already mentioned, the church St.Nicolas is on our way on the main shopping street and we are passing by when heading to the Seaside Park. Entering inside is for free and it will take you about 10 minutes to have a look around. The tour continues and we arrive at McDonald’s or known amongst the locals as “Sevastopol” (Sevastopol or traditionally Sebastopol (Севастополь in Russian), is a city on the Crimean Peninsula on the Black Sea). This is the meeting point for everybody as it’s a crosspoint of the main spots in Varna. This is the place for me to make a break as my favourite cafe “Kramer” is at Sevastopol square. This is the best place to eat the best cakes and pancakes EVER and NEVER regret it!. Seriously, who can resist this? Not me for sure!
Next stop: the Sea Garden (Морската градина), the biggest park in the city. You can spend an entire day here, plenty of cafes, bars, restaurants and other attractions are at your disposal. During the summertime, it hosts many festivals, performances and cultural events. The Naval Museum, the Observatory, the Zoo and the Dolphinarium are situated there as well. The famous disco bar “Horizont” is there too. My favourite bar Cubo is on the beach. Loads of things to do for all the tastes, all the ages, all the tourists and locals. Be aware that if you want to visit the Dolphinarium, you might need more time as it is located at the end of the Sea Garden. You can take a bus or a taxi to go there.
When in Varna or in Bulgaria you should absolutely try the Bulgarian cuisine – it’s super delicious. In Varna you can find many restaurants with a very good reputation: BM Zaliva, Rappongi, Captain Cook – it’s a very expensive one, but the view is breathtaking, Happy at Sevastopol is a very good place to eat and the restaurant offers a big variety of cuisines. Godzilla is a local chain well-known for its big salads. If you want to go out in the evening, Cubo is a place to be (at least for me), but you can pick up a bar on the beach alley.
We come back to Sevastopol and are heading now to the Varna Archaeological Museum. It’s a massive building and it hosts the Varna Summer International Jazz Festival every year. If you are up for it, check the program online in advance. The Museum’s most important exhibit is the Gold of Varna, the oldest gold treasure in the world. The museum also has two open-air archaeological sites, the Roman baths in the Greek neighbourhood and the medieval grotto of Aladzha Monastery. I am going to provide you with more info about Aladzha Monastery in a separate post.
After this extensive tour of Varna, it’s time to visit the region. The Black sea pearl: Varna and the region – part II article is coming soon! Stay tuned!
Thanks for reading!