Varna Mini Guide
Varna - What's its Story?
Varna is a large city and port on the Black Sea coast of Bulgaria. It’s often referred to as the country’s summer capital as a lot of Sofia
decamps to the cooler coastal resort in the summer. It’s famed for its mineral springs and spas that bubble up on the beaches warming the sea water.
History and Background
Varna is an old city with evidence pointing to occupation in the 6th century BC. It was developed by the Thracians as a port and to use the mineral springs found here. Bulgaria officially became a state in 681 with Varna forming an important constituent of the fledgling country. The city was the site of the decisive Battle of Varna which paved the way for the fall of Constantinople in 1453. In modern times it has used its golden beaches and mineral springs to develop the tourist industry.
How you can get to Varna
Varna Airport is 5 miles out of the city but with easy access by shuttle bus or road. The resorts to the north and south of the city are serviced by frequent local buses and shuttle services.
Is There Much to see in Varna?
The first place to visit in the city is the Varna Archaeological Museum which has exhibits detailing the history of the city including the world famous Varna Treasure, the oldest gold treasure discovered in Europe. The Roman Baths, developed when the city became part of the empire, is an interesting excursion as is the museum and monument to the Battle of Varna which changed the face of central Europe and the course of history for centuries.
Where can I go in my Hire Car?
Outside of the city to the north and south along the coast are the modern tourist resorts with the biggest being Golden sands. Further afield is Balchik which has an exquisite palace and a tranquil botanical garden. A longer trip to Cape Kaliakra will treat you to the longest cape in Bulgaria with stunning views as well as the photo opportunity of the unusual red cliffs. The area is steeped in history and legend and an information booth near the cape tells you all about the cape.
What to do in the city
For an entertaining day out visit the Varna Dolphinarium in the Sea Garden. The dolphins are well cared for and provide a fun performance for visitors. If you choose to spend the day at the beach, don’t be surprised to find the sea unusually warm (and a little smelly!) as hot sulphur springs bubble out near the waterline. The adventurous can join the mad by bungee jumping from Asparuhor Most Bridge whilst others can drink the day away at the beach clubs.
Shopping and Browsing
Shopping in Varna is confined to several malls built to take tourist euros and the much better old town boutiques and craft shops tucked away down small alleys and lanes. There, you’ll get better value for your money as well as better quality.
The best restaurant in the city is Sea Paradise fish restaurant which serves superb meals in a beachside setting. If your tastes aren’t so high-brow then there are plenty of delicious kebab outlets. For an evening drink the city quietens down too much and the action shifts to the beach bars and clubs on the shore.
Special Events and Festivals
Pride of place in the festival season is the Havarna Rock Festival featuring top acts from around the world. Of a more refined taste is the International Ballet Competition held annually. The key religious festival is that of the Domition of the Theotokos with street processions. On New Year’s Eve there is a big outdoor party and fireworks at midnight to welcome in the New Year.