Varna is the third-largest city in Bulgaria and is a major tourist destination, especially during the summertime when its beautiful beaches fill up with visitors. Varna has a bunch of interesting historical sites, but it is mostly a summer destination. It’s commonly known as the “sea capital” of Bulgaria. I had a lot of fun here wandering the streets, meandering through the vast central park, and sunning myself on the beach. At night, the bars and nightlife heave with tourists and locals looking to enjoy their summer holiday. It may not be an off-the-beaten-path destination, but it’s a fun one and definitely worth a visit. If you only have time to hit one beach town, pick Varna!
Top 5 Things to See and Do in Varna
1. Primorski Park
2. Tour the churches
3. Varna Necropolis
4. Wander Kraybrezhna Aleya
5. Pobiti Kamani
Other Things to See and Do
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1. Visit the History Museum
Originally built in 1851 as the Belgian Embassy, this embassy- turned hotel-turned prison, and then turned-Museum of the Revolution (it’s had an interesting evolution!), is now an integral piece of history itself. It overlooks the ruins of the Roman baths and is covered in ivy. It rocks. It’s open daily from 10am-5pm (except Mondays, as well as Sundays in the winter).
2. Check out the Ethnographic Museum
Within a revival-era mansion lies one of the most impressive museum collections the country has to offer. There are several displays of agricultural implements and exhibits on wine-making, weaving, and fishing practices from the 19th and 20th centuries. There is also a lot of period furniture, costumes, and jewelry. Admission is 5 BGN and it’s open daily 10am-5pm, except for in the winter when it’s closed Sundays and Mondays.
3. Check out the Zoopark
This little place is home to a range of animals, including wolves, lions, monkeys, a camel, goats, a bear, and various birds. The displays aren’t super impressive and many of the animals are housed in concrete enclosures. Admission is 1.50 BGN. It’s open daily in the summer from 9am-6pm and in the winter it closes at 4:30pm.
4. Go to the Festival and Congress Center
This is one of the most prestigious cultural institutions in the entire Balkan’s region, located on the Black Sea shore (next to the Sea Garden) in the center of the city. It is quite modern-looking and much of the building is set underground. Various festivals, cinema and theater performances, exhibitions, shows, conferences, symposia, and congresses are held here. There is also a handful of restaurants and café-bars here.
5. National Astronomy Observatory
This attraction is host to many neat things including a projection of the solar system in different seasons (and from different points of the world), the Foucault Pendulum, teaching expositions, binoculars, and telescopes for use. Entrance is a mere 5 BGN.
6. Explore the Naval Museum
Varna’s history is tied to the sea, so if that interests you, consider paying a visit to the Naval Museum. The highlight here is the “Drazki,” a destroyer that torpedoed a Turkish cruiser during the Balkan War in 1912. Admission is 2 BGN. The museum is open Tuesday-Sunday from 10am-6pm and Tuesday-Saturday from 9:30am-5:30pm.
7. Go bungee jumping
If you need a thrill, you can try bungee jumping off the 100 foot high Asparuhov Most bridge. Expect to pay around 72 BGN.
8. Grab a drink at Hotel Cherno More
The top floor of this hotel offers the best view of Varna so here to watch an incredible sunset (and have yourself a refreshing drink too!).