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About city Gallery Where to stay

Varna is the third largest city in Bulgaria and home to around half a million people. Situated on the shores of the Black Sea, it is sometimes called the capital of Bulgarian ports. It’s an important tourist and cultural centre, and a modern and cosmopolitan city. A wide variety of museums, bars, cafés, restaurants, discos and shops will help travellers – both young and old – to not only learn about the splendid, thousand-year--old history of the city, but also to have fun.

Even though most people associate Varna with holidays, the Golden Sands Resort and the sea, it’s also a centre for business and science, a sea port and the headquarters of the Bulgarian Navy.

Sailboat in Varna
Photo taken by 123rf.com.  Sailboat in Varna

The more curious of city visitors never miss the fact that that the world’s oldest gold treasure was found near the port of Varna in 1972 – over 3,000 golden artefacts, weighing in at 6 kilograms, were discovered in an ancient cemetery. It was soon established that the treasure dates as far back as 4500 BC. You can now see it in the Varna Archaeological Museum.

It is thought that Varna was built by Ancient Greeks who moved into the region around 1000 BC. Later the city – together with the entire region – fell into the hands of Roman emperors. The ancient bath complexes, or 'thermae', symbolise the three-century-long reign of the Roman Empire.

Cathedral in the city center of Varna
Photo taken by 123rf.com.  Cathedral in the city center of Varna

When it was occupied by the Turks in the 14th century, Varna retained its importance; as Bulgaria was forced to surrender to the Ottomans, its national identity survived through folklore, various celebrations and church paintings, which is why it’s now among the most colourful regions of the Black Sea, with its curious mixture of Greek, Roman, Slavonic, Turkish and Balkan cultures.

Once they land here, most travellers head straight to the sea. This city often becomes a stopover for tourists on their way to other nearby cities and resorts.

Sandy beach, Varna
Photo taken by 123rf.com.  Sandy beach, Varna

One of the most beautiful cities on the Bulgarian coast – Balchik – is located only 40 kilometres from Varna. It’s a former Greek city, built by the colonists on limestone cliffs 2,500 years ago. Mineral water springs - a real Bulgarian treasure – are still active in the canyons of this city. Just like Bulgarian roses, these springs are a true symbol of the country.

The Balchik Botanical Garden, located just  one-and-a-half kilometres from the city centre, has around 600 unique plant species from around the world and scores of cobblestone paths, which used to be covered in carpets. Queen Marie of Romania fell head over heels in love with Balchik and built her residence here, called the Quiet Nest.

The Cape Kaliakra of Balchik, known for the ruins of its medieval fortress, is surrounded by all sorts of legends and fanciful stories. It was built on steep, 70 metre-high cliffs. One of its caves now houses an archaeological museum and a restaurant.

Coming back from your travels within the region, you’ll find the streets of Varna brimming with people; during the period between May and October, this city hosts the Varna International Summer Festival. First held in 1926, this festival soon became an entire series of events stretching over the whole season, including  street performances, opera, biennials, an international ballet contest, and choral, jazz and folk concerts are all part of it.

Where to stay

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