The last destination of my big trip this summer was Varna, Bulgaria. After 6 weeks of traveling through Eastern Europe, we planned to end the trip with a few days of R&R at the beach on the Black Sea. While this wasn’t my first trip to Bulgaria (I visited Sofia and the Rila Monastery this April), it was my first time on the Black Sea.
After heavily sightseeing for 6 weeks, taking a few days to sit on the beach with a book was absolute heaven! Normally in blog posts, I try to mention places to visit and things to see. The truth? I didn’t really do any sightseeing in Varna. There’s a lot of history there (dating back thousands of years), as well as sea/naval history too. It’s meant to be a big party destination (especially clubbing), but I never really went out properly.
I poked my nose around the cathedral, the stunning Dormition of the Mother of God Cathedral (the second largest cathedral in Bulgaria). I enjoyed the parks and the main squares in the center.
Besides that, most of my exploration of Varna consisted of the walk from my hostel to the beach and vice versa. Preferably with a large serving of ice cream.
Varna has a huge stretch of beach that’s open to the public. It’s completely free too, as long as you’re not using umbrellas or lounge chairs. But they don’t cost much if you do want to rent one—it cost 5 lev (~£2.25 // $3.00) for the day. The beach also felt pretty safe (in terms of theft), although I didn’t bring a purse or a wallet, just a bit of cash, my phone, and my camera.
There’s a fantastic bar on the beach, called Cubo, that does very cheap drinks. I had a delicious cider (on multiple occasions) that only cost 2.5 lev! (~£1.10 // $1.50). I highly recommend stopping here when you’re having a busy and stressful day of lying on the beach.
Varna is on the Black Sea in Bulgaria, and is a popular beach/resort destination. I can imagine it’s pretty quiet (if not completely dead) during the low winter season. The official language in Bulgaria is Bulgarian, although most people in restaurants/bars will speak some English (at least enough to get by). The currency is Bulgarian lev (BGN). Varna has a population of about 335,000 people, while Bulgaria as a whole has a population of roughly 7.1 million. It was hot in Varna (90-100˚F // 32-38˚C) when I visited in August, but it got relatively cooler in the evenings and being at the beach (and being able to swim in the ocean) meant the heat didn’t bother me that much.
Mostly everything in Varna was within walking distance. It took about 20 minutes leisurely walking (usually stopping on the way to get ice cream) from my hostel to the beach. The bus station is about a 30-minute walk away from the center (the beach). I took Pegasus bus to Varna from Bucharest. I recommend booking this in advance if you can, as it’s a small minibus and with limited times, it might fill up quickly. Varna has its own (small) airport, which can be reached by bus from the city center.
Where I Stayed
I stayed in a private room at YoHo Hostel for my 3 nights in Varna. The room was nice, and came with a fan (!!!), which was much appreciated for the summer heat. The bathrooms were a bit strange, as each toilet cubicle was also a shower, which I didn’t like. It meant there were sometimes long waits (when everyone was showering), and that the floor was almost always wet. There were lots of common areas, like a (beer) garden, common room, balcony, and a small kitchen. The hostel did a basic free breakfast, which was nice. It was a great value for the price—especially since we were in a private room. It did seem a bit worn though, and a bit on the small side for how many people were staying there. I’d stay here again, as the private room was really nice!
So often when I travel, I go super fast and end up exhausted. So it was especially nice to slow down and relax in Varna! This was one of the first “beach” places I’ve visited, with the sole purpose of hanging out and relaxing. I’d happily go back to this popular Black Sea beach destination again.
Have you ever been to a beach destination? What was it like?