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Is Varna, Bulgaria Worth Visiting? A Complete 2023 Travel Guide

  • Post last modified:October 25, 2023
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When we decided to visit the Balkans, we found that so many places were underrated, while some didn't really live up to the hype. So is Varna, Bulgaria worth visiting? We heard mixed opinions, so we decided to head there to see for ourselves.


With just one weekend, we got a good taste of what this Bulgarian coastal town had to offer. We honestly fell in love with Varna, and found it to be due to the people we met, and overall vibe of the entire city.


In this guide we're going to go over all of the top things to do in Varna, and everything you need to know for visiting. Then you can let us know- is Varna, Bulgaria worth visiting or would you prefer another destination. Let's see!

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Where is Varna Located?

Varna is located in the north east part of Bulgaria along the Black Sea. Bulgaria is in the south east of Europe, and it shares borders with Greece to the South, Macedonia to the south west, Serbia to the north west, Romania to the north, and Turkey to the south east.

where is Varna Bulgaria located

Varna is located off the north east coast of Bulgaria.


How to Get to Varna, Bulgaria

Now that you know where Varna is, let's get you there! 


What is the Closest Airport to Varna?

Varna actually has the third largest airport in the country (even though it's still pretty small!), which is located just 9 km away from the city center. 


Cities that fly direct into Varna include Berlin, Brno, Brussels, Cologne, Dortmund, Eindhoven, Frankfurt, Geneva, Hamburg, Istanbul, Karlsruhe, Larnaca, Liverpool, London, Memminghen, Nuremberg, Prague, Sofia, Tel Aviv, and Vienna. 

Flight Tip: Using Skyscanner you can check the calendar to see which are the cheapest dates for flying to Varna, or you can check to see if it's cheaper to fly to Sofia first.

Search for a flight to Varna or Sofia:

How Do I Get From Varna Airport to the City?

In order to get from Varna Airport to the city you have to take bus #409, which is just a 15-20 minute ride to the center, and a half hour to the main beach area of Varna. Tickets are just 3 Lev, and the buses run very frequently. 


Uber is not available in Bulgaria, but there are also taxis outside the airport that can take you to the city as well.


The Train Between Varna and Sofia

The Train between Varna and Sofia takes about 7 1/2-8 hours, and runs a few times a day, one of them being an overnight train. The bus is actually a little bit faster (a little over 6 hours), and is about the same price. 


We like the train option if your'e going overnight, but the bus is also good if you are traveling during the day, and has more frequent departures.

 

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Entry Requirements for Bulgaria

Now that you know how to get to Varna, let's jump into the requirements for entering the country of Bulgaria.

 

Visa Entry Requirements for Bulgaria

Bulgaria allows foreigners to travel in the country for a period of up to 90 days within a 180-day period. Bulgaria isn't part of the Schengen Zone yet, so you won't have to worry about expiring your time in Europe while visiting Bulgaria.


Covid Entry Requirements for Bulgaria

All requirements to enter Bulgaria in regards to Covid-19 have now been lifted. Also, masks are not required for entering any establishments nor for public transportation.


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Local Adjustments for Bulgaria

Whenever traveling to a new destination there are things that you may need to adjust to, which may differ from your home country. Here are a few of the "local adjustments" to have in mind while traveling to Varna, Bulgaria.


What Language is Mostly Spoken in Bulgaria

The official language in Varna is Bulgarian, which is a Slavic language. The language of Bulgarian is written in Cyrillic, which is the same alphabet used by other nearby countries such as Russia, Ukraine, Serbia, and Macedonia.


Local Currency in Bulgaria

The currency used in Bulgaria is the Bulgarian Lev. Currently (March 2023) 1 USD or Euro is equal to 1.83 Bulgarian Lev, and 1 British Pound is equal to 2.21 Lev.


Can I Use Euros in Bulgaria?

While Bulgaria doesn't use the Euro, there are some places in Varna that will accept Euros if it's the only thing that you have on you. We suggest taking some of the local currency from an ATM so that you have plenty of Bulgarian Lev on you. Many restaurants and hotels will take credit cards, but there are some that will only accept cash. It is also great to have extra cash on you for street vendors, tipping, or other small expenses.


Is Varna, Bulgaria Expensive?

Bulgaria in general is a very cheap country compared to other European countries. We found Varna to be very affordable, even along the more popular beach area.


Outlets Used in Bulgaria

Bulgaria uses the same outlets as the rest of Europe, which are for plug types C & F. The standard voltage in Bulgaria is 230 V with a standard frequency of 50 Hz.


If you are coming from the Americas, you will need to get a travel converter (not just an adapter) so that your electronics won't blow out.


Is the Water Safe to Drink in Varna, Bulgaria?

The water is completely safe to drink in Varna. We suggest bringing a refillable water bottle with you to fill up at fountains. We use vacuum-sealed ones so that they can hold the temperature.


Tipping in Bulgaria

The tipping culture in Bulgaria is very similar to most other European countries. While tips are not required, it is standard to leave an extra 10% for a tip in a restaurant, and to do so in cash (you cannot add it onto the credit card). If you feel you've received excellent service, you could of course leave a little extra.

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Is Varna, Bulgaria Worth Visiting? Things to Do in Varna

Now that you know the basics, let's see if Varna, Bulgaria is worth visiting! Here are the best things to do in Varna.

Don't have time to read the whole article and want to save it for later? Just pin it!

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is Varna Bulgaria worth visiting Pin
is Varna Bulgaria worth visiting Pin

Things to Do in Varna, Bulgaria #1: Enjoy the Beaches

One of the reason Bulgarians flock to Varna during the summer is because of it's vast beaches that it offers.


While the beaches themselves aren't as picturesque as those in Albania, Croatia, or Greece, they are certainly a great place to relax, or to party.


We actually spent out Friday at the beach with our laptops in hand to work while having a bite to eat. The moment we walked up the bartender poured us a shot and said "welcome to Bulgaria. You can still have fun while working!". Honestly, the energy of the place was the best work atmosphere we could have asked for. We continue to eat and drink all day long with house music playing, and the ocean breeze hitting our faces.

beach in Varna, is Varna Bulgaria worth visiting
Beach in Varna, is Varna Bulgaria worth visiting

One of the main things to do in Varna is to visit the beach.


Things to Do in Varna, Bulgaria #2: Explore the Center

Singing fountains, is Varna Bulgaria worth visiting
city center of Varna, is Varna Bulgaria worth visiting
is Varna Bulgaria worth visiting

The city center of Varna is one of the top areas to explore.

Just like any other major city, Varna also has plenty of things to see when it comes to history and architecture. Here are a few things that you should check out:

  • Dormition of the Theotokos Cathedral: an elaborate cathedral in the heart of Varna
Cathedral in Varna, is Varna Bulgaria worth visiting
  • Varna Opera: Theater for opera, ballet, and orchestra shows
Varna Opera, is Varna Bulgaria worth visiting
  • Archaelogical Museum
Varna archaeological museum, is Varna Bulgaria worth visiting
  • The Navy Club
The Navy Club, is Varna Bulgaria worth visiting
  • Singing Fountains: large fountains in Independence square that are lit up at 8:30 pm

  • Roman Baths of Varna: Ancient baths that are now in ruins.

Our absolute favorite experience in Varna was at the Roman baths. This is because when we showed up we saw a ton of people setting up tables inside. We found out that there was a wine festival, where you could try wine from vineyards all over Bulgaria for just $5! 


At the festival we met a ton of locals and ended up partying all night long with them. It's definitely the reason why we loved Varna so much, and answers your question "Is Varna Bulgaria worth visiting"- well, yes, it is! If you happen to plan on visiting in July, definitely try to see if it's there again!

Varna Roman baths, is Varna Bulgaria worth visiting
Varna Roman baths, is Varna Bulgaria worth visiting
Varna Roman baths, is Varna Bulgaria worth visiting

Things to Do in Varna, Bulgaria #3: Stroll Through Varna's Sea Garden

Parallel to the coast is a long park called the Sea Garden. Also known as Primorski Park, this area is full of manicured gardens, street dancers, museums, and even fitness classes! The Sea Garden is an absolute must, and one of the best things to do in Varna, Bulgaria.

Sea Garden, is Varna Bulgaria worth visiting

The Sea Garden is the biggest park in Bulgaria.

Things to Do in Varna, Bulgaria #4: Walk Up to the Monument of the Bulgarian- Soviet Friendship

Another one of the spots we really loved in Varna was the Monument of Bulgarian- Soviet Friendship. Built to honor the Soviet soldiers, this spectacular stone monument has hundreds of stairs leading up to it.


We used our drone here, and really loved it as a photo spot.

Friendship Monument in Varna, is Varna Bulgaria worth Visiting

This monument is one of the top things to see in Varna.

Things to Do in Varna, Bulgaria #5: Discover a Shipwreck

This is another one of those for the photography lovers out there. Put the Sunken Ship into Google maps, and you'll find a super cool shipwreck right in Varna!


Things to Do in Varna, Bulgaria #6: Visit the Observation Deck Galata

Want some of the best views in Varna? Head up to the Observation deck and you'll have panoramic views of the city, sea, and everything in between.


Things to Do in Varna, Bulgaria #7: Take in the Views from Cherno More Hotel

Want another great place for views of Varna? Well, head to the Cherno More Hotel. This hotel and casino has a restaurant on the top where you can enjoy the panoramas of Varna with a drink in hand.


Things to Do in Varna, Bulgaria #8: Admire the Art

Varna is full of fun art! Roam around the city and you'll find that artists have hidden pockets where they let our their creativity. Browse around and see what colorful pieces you can find!

art in Varna, is Varna Bulgaria worth visiting
art in Varna, is Varna Bulgaria worth visiting
art in Varna, is Varna Bulgaria worth visiting

Varna is full of vibrant art.

Things to Do in Varna, Bulgaria #9: Check Out the Aladzha Monastery

The Aladzha Monastery is a Medieval Orthodox Monastery in a cave that is located 17 km outside the center of Varna. It is open 10-5 from Wednesday- Sunday, and it opens at 9 on Thursdays. We suggest doing this as a day trip paired with Balchik and Cape Kaliakra, which we'll cover a little further in the article.


Things to Do in Varna, Bulgaria #10: Explore the Kamani Rock Formations

Also known as the stone fortress, the Pobiti Kamani Rock Formations are simply. incredible, especially for the wild stories behind them (but we'll leave that for you to learn when you go).


The area is full of stone column-like formations, and there are two different parts that you can get tickets to enter and search for the special rocks. Check out one of our favorites below! 


stone forest in Varna, is Varna Bulgaria worth visiting
Stone forest, is Varna Bulgaria worth visiting
stone forest, is Varna Bulgaria worth visiting

Things to Do in Varna, Bulgaria #11: Go to the Ovech Fortress

This Byzantine Fortress dates back to the 3rd century, and is just 45 minutes outside the city of Varna. We definitely recommend coming here on a day trip, and combining it with the Kamani Rock Formations.


Things to Do in Varna, Bulgaria #12: Take a Trip to Balchik

Just a 40 minute drive up the coast from Varna is the perfect day trip. Balchik is a small town that has a palace and botanical gardens, which you could easily spend a couple of hours exploring.


Another thing we loved about Balchik is the restaurant we ate at for lunch, Bistro Kestena. Everything from the food to the service was simply incredible. We had a ton of local dishes, one of our favorite being the caviar dip which was recommended by our amazing server. 


Another thing that we loved about this restaurant is that after a terrible fire destroying the restaurant, the entire town came together to rebuild the place since they all loved it so much.


food in Balchik
Food in Balchik, is Varna Bulgaria worth visiting
Food in Balchik, is Varna Bulgaria worth visiting
Food in Balchik, is Varna Bulgaria worth visiting

Don't miss out on Bistro Kestena when you visit Balchik!


Things to Do in Varna, Bulgaria #13: Head Up to Cape Kaliakra

Head a little bit further up the coast from Balchik (an hour from Varna) and you'll come across another beautiful spot that is a great day trip from Varna (we'd suggest combining it with Balchik).

 

Cape Kaliakra, is Varna Bulgaria worth visiting
Cape Kaliakra, is Varna Bulgaria worth visiting
Cape Kaliakra, is Varna Bulgaria worth visiting
Cape Kaliakra, is Varna Bulgaria worth visiting
Cape Kaliakra, is Varna Bulgaria worth visiting
Cape Kaliakra, is Varna Bulgaria worth visiting

Cape Kaliakra is perched up on cliffs allowing you to have a nice walk and enjoy the views of the Bulgarian Coast,


Cape Kaliakra, is Varna Bulgaria worth visiting
Cape Kaliakra, is Varna Bulgaria worth visiting
Cape Kaliakra, is Varna Bulgaria worth visiting

Cape Kaliakra is one of the best day trips from Varna.

There is also a gorgeous restaurant there! We suggest going for an early dinner and enjoying the colors of the sunset over the deep clue waters.


Cape Kaliakra, is Varna Bulgaria worth visiting
Cape Kaliakra, is Varna Bulgaria worth visiting
Cape Kaliakra, is Varna Bulgaria worth visiting

 

Things to Do in Varna, Bulgaria #14: Do a Day Trip to Nessebar

When we first had Nessebar on our list, we showed up and planned on spending an hour or two. We parked the car right outside the perimeter of the city and did a nice walk around the town along the seaside. We decided to get a bit to eat and had amazing seafood.


On the way back to the car we noticed a small street that had some souvenirs. All of the sudden we walked down the street and discovered an entire town of charming alleys! We quickly fell in love with the quaint streets, local shops, and overall vibe of Nessebar. Fast forward 6 hours later we discovered ruins, went to shops, visited churched, and had an incredible dinner while the sun set. 


Nessebar, day trip from Varna, Bulgaria
Nessebar, day trip from Varna, Bulgaria
Nessebar, day trip from Varna, Bulgaria
Nessebar, day trip from Varna, Bulgaria

Nessebar haÈ™ become one of our favorite places in Bulgaria.

Nessebar îs just an hour and a half down the coast from Varna, making it the perfect day trip! Want even more? They are also known for their foam parties!

Nessebar, day trip from Varna, Bulgaria

Nessebar îs the perfect day trip from Varna.


Food & Drink

We absolutely loved the food in Bulgaria, and found the cuisine to be a blend of Mediterranean and Balkan cuisine. They have a lot of flaky pastries, sharp cheeses, and wine. 


Here are a few of the dishes that we suggest you to try while in Varna, Bulgaria:


  • Banitsa: a cheese filled pastry that's very popular for breakfast
  • Shopska Salad: staple salad in the Balkans with tomato, cucumber, and cheese
  • Tarator: a cold yogurt-based soup with cucumber and dill
  • Sarmi: stuffed cabbage
  • Moussaka: similar to Greek Moussaka, but instead of eggplant they use potatoes
  • Seafood: after all, you are on the coast!
Food in Balchik, is Varna Bulgaria worth visiting


Here are a couple of the restaurants and bars that we enjoyed:

  • Marche: This beautiful restaurant is located right by the beach, and is great for brunch or lunch. Everything we had was unbelievably good!
  • Monte: A bakery located in the city center that had banitsa so great we kept going back
  • Brick Bar: This bar is a local favorite
best restaurants in Varna, is Varna Bulgaria worth visiting
best restaurants in Varna, is Varna Bulgaria worth visiting
best restaurants in Varna, is Varna Bulgaria worth visiting

Marche is our favorite restaurant in Varna.

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Getting Around Varna, Bulgaria

We had rented a car, and found that for visiting all of the great places around Varna, it was super ideal. Inside the city itself we didn't need our car much, if at all. Parking can be quite difficult, and get pricey. It's also important to park in lots, so our suggestion is to only drive when you plan on doing day trips.

sunflower fields in Bulgaria

While driving on the outskirts of Varna you can find sunflower fields!

Inside the the we actually used a scooter to get from one place to another. We loved this option because it allows you to drive right through the Sea Garden, along the beach, and through the busy streets of the city center. All you have to do is download the app and add your credit card, and you can grab any scooter lying around!


If a scooter isn't your thing there are also public buses , as well as taxis (there is no Uber in Bulgaria).


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Renting a Car in Varna

Renting a car in Varna is super easy and affordable. We suggest booking in advance. especially if you plan on visiting in the summer time, when cars are in higher demand.


Here is a site we often use for our car rentals:


Where to Stay in Varna, Bulgaria

We stayed in the city center of Varna, and found that it was a great area to be based in. Another great area to stay is near the Sea Garden, as it is close to both the city center and the beaches of Varna.


Look for a place to stay in Varna:

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Is It Safe in Varna, Bulgaria?

As soon as we started our Balkan road trip, our car rental company in Romania warned us about the coast of Bulgaria. As we continued traveling through the Balkans we got many of the same comments to be extra careful throughout the coast of Bulgaria, as it is very dangerous.


Varna, Burgas, and other coastal towns have a bad reputation for people stealing cars, so we definitely were a bit afraid to visit, considering our car was broken into in Macedonia, the neighboring country.


Our experience in Varna was that we actually felt very safe though, and found that the locals were so helpful, and sweet. We really feel like Varna is super tourist friendly, but like anywhere, you should definitely keep an eye on your belongings. As for cars, we highly suggest making sure that your accommodation has private parking, and to always leave your vehicle in private parking lots just to be safe.


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Is Varna, Bulgaria Worth Visiting? Some Other Things to Know About Visiting

Now that you know almost all you need to know for visiting, here are a few other things to keep in mind when traveling to Varna, Bulgaria.


Weather in Varna, Bulgaria

Varna experiences all four seasons, with hot and sunny summers, and cold, snowy winters.


The Best Time to Visit

We went to visit Varna in the summer, and think it was definitely the best time to visit. This is when you can really enjoy the beach and nightlife that Varna has to offer, and meet both locals and foreigners alike. 

The best time to visit Varna, is Varna Bulgaria worth visiting

The best time to visit Varna is in the summer so you can enjoy the beach and nightlife.

Packing For a Trip to Varna, Bulgaria

Now that you know almost everything you need to know for visiting Varna, Bulgaria, here is a list of the things that you should consider packing:

  • Reusable Water Bottle (we use this water bottle from Cafago because it holds the temperature)
  • Travel Adapter (we use Tessan travel adapters as they are affordable and reliable)
  • Zippered Bag or Backpack (to secure your belongings)
  • Lock (if you stay in a hostel)
  • Power Bank (we use Anker power banks, as they are super long lasting and sturdy)
  • Sunscreen 
  • Bathing Suit
  • Flip flops (our personal favorites are Havaianas)
  • Sneakers 
  • Drone (We use the Mavic Mini Pro 3 because it's super light and doesn't sacrifice quality)
sunset in Neesebar

Is Varna, Bulgaria Worth Visiting?

So now that you know all of the info, the real question is- is Varna, Bulgaria worth visiting? In our opinion, we absolutely loved our time there. The vibes were incredible everywhere we went, and we loved the people, food, and parties. 


We think Varna, Bulgaria is worth visiting for at least a few days, and then leaving a couple of extra days to do some day trips.


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So, now that you know everything- what do you think? Is Varna, Bulgaria worth visiting? We think it's definitely worth spending a weekend, so that you can experience a fun beach getaway, and have time to visit the highlights of the city.


Are you planning on visiting other cities in the area? We have a ton of Balkan travel guides that we're publishing every week! Make sure to subscribe to our newsletter to stay up to date with our most recent articles, and so that you can receive exclusive deals on our products and services.


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