About Varna beaches
So much more than a beach resort, Varna is Bulgaria’s third biggest city and capital of the northern Black Sea coast. In addition to its long stretch of beach, lined by the attractive and relaxing Seaside Park, its historical remains are major attractions in their own right, encompassing the ancient, medieval and renaissance past. These include Roman thermae, and the second largest church in the country, the glorious Church of the Assumption. Varna’s appeal lies also very much in the present, with something of a reputation nationwide as a shopper’s heaven, and its boutiques and jewellery stores are buzzing year-round.
Varna’s beach is white soft sand, gently sloping for good swimming. The city’s beaches are more for gentle relaxation and sunbathing, rather than exuberant sports, although there may be some surfing when the wind is up, especially towards the southern end. A volleyball net is usually in place for informal games, around halfway up the beach, and a waterslide is popular with children.
Beyond the beach:
The vast Archaeological Museum is Bulgaria’s finest, with incredible treasures spanning Stone Age, Thracian, Classical and Mediaeval periods. Also in the city centre are the well-preserved Roman Thermae, dating back to the second century AD, with clearly labelled areas used for freezing, tepid and hot baths. The ornate Cathedral of the Assumption is Bulgaria’s second largest church, its stained-glass windows and walnut wood-carvings providing its tranquil ambience.
Varna Karting Track, a short bus ride away to Vinitza, 5km (3 miles) northeast from central Varna, has 270cc and 200cc karts, and younger kids can drive tiny motorised trucks and cars, outside Hotel Oddesos. The huge Sea Garden has an Amusement Park complete with bouncy castle and mini-golf, and nearby the Dolphinarium has daily shows with the sea creatures’ tricks and jumps. The immense exhibits of warships, submarines and helicopters in the grounds of the National Naval Museum are impressive.
North of Varna, there are easy day trips to the beach and mineral baths at Sveti Konstantin, and the busy resort of Golden Sands plus its nearby Aladzha Rock Monastery. Bird-watchers could take a trip 80km (50 miles) north to the nature reserve at Cape Kaliakra, and there is dramatic cliff-top landscape at Balchik, 36 km (22 miles) north.
Sample Bulgaria’s award-winning cuisine: The bijoux, elegant restaurant in the Grand Hotel Musala Palace was judged the best restaurant in the country in 2006, and there is the finest silver and crystal tableware to match. Taste their fine filet mignon, lamb kebab and aromatic lamb cutlet, and blend of Bulgarian and European dishes. Its small menu is outweighed by its extensive wine list with vintages from around the world.