Varna (Bulgarian: Варна) is the third-largest city in Bulgaria after Sofia and Plovdiv. Commonly referred to as the marine (or summer) capital of Bulgaria, Varna is a major tourist destination, business and university centre, seaport, and headquarters of the Bulgarian Navy and merchant marine.
- Varna Airport (IATA: VAR), 8 km west of the city centre. Easy bus and taxi connection to city centre and resorts. There is a free shuttle bus between Varna Airport, Varna city centre and Burgas Airport.
Airlines and destinations - connections are mostly seasonal (the list is not full):
- Air Via (Berlin-Schönefeld, Berlin-Tegel, Frankfurt)
- Austrian Airlines operated by Tyrolean Airways (Vienna)
- Balkan Holidays Air (Birmingham, Bristol, East Midlands, Gatwick, Glasgow, Luton, Manchester, Newcastle)
- Bulgaria Air (Amsterdam, Berlin-Schönefeld, Berlin-Tegel, Cologne/Bonn, Dublin, London-Gatwick, Madrid, Milan-Malpensa, Sofia, Vienna)
- Bulgarian Air Charter (Berlin-Schönefeld, Berlin-Tegel, Cologne/Bonn, Frankfurt)
- Jetairfly Brussels
- Thomsonfly (East Midlands, London-Gatwick, Manchester)
- Norwegian Air Shuttle (Oslo)
- Ural Airlines (Nizhny Novgorod, Samara, Yekaterinburg)
- Wizz Air (London Luton)
- Vim Airlines (Moscow)
The central train station is located within walking distance from city centre and cruise terminal, there is a bus and taxi connection to airport, bus stations, and resorts. Daily services are available from Sofia, Plovdiv, and Rousse.
There is one direct international train always available. Night train #059 departs Kiev daily, journey time is just under 35 hours. On its way to Varna, this train also stops in Lviv (25 h) and Bucharest (8 h). During the summer seasons several more destinations are added. Which cities have a direct connection varies from year to year but expect Moscow, Saint Petersburg and Minsk from the east and Prague and Warsaw among others to be on the list.
There are two bus stations in Varna, one serving the local area and one for longer connections to Sofia, Veliko Tarnovo, Burgas, Plovdiv, Istanbul, Greece, Romania, Central and Western Europe. They aren't that easy to find, so take a taxi. As you approach them from the city centre, the station to the left is the local one, to the right is the long distance one.
Varna is Bulgaria's only cruise destination. Cruise terminal is located near city centre, close to train station, walking distance to Sea Garden and beaches. Bus and taxi connection to city centre, bus stations, airport, and resorts. There are ferry lines (buses only) to Ukraine and Georgia.
There is a pedestrian area and a coast area with a lot of fun for the tourists. There you can get around by foot. If you live in the tourist suburbs of Varna, you can come to the centre by bus, by trolleybus, by a rented car or by taxi. Be careful with taxis: you may pay 10 times the right price, so check for the fare per kilometer - look at the small square paper plate located in the lower corner of the rear doors' windows. Good taxi companies are, OK Trans (OK Транс), Varna (Варна), Evro (Евро),Triumph (Триумф Такси), Alpha taxi (Алфа такси). Typical price is around 0.79 leva (€0.40) per km.
Bus and trolleybus transportation is available all around the city through the services of the private Transtriumf (Транстриумф) and the public GT Varna (Градски Транспорт - Варна). Ticket price is 1.00 BGN. A map of all bus stops and routes can be found here.
Varna Bike Rental rents bikes for self-guided and guided sightseeing.
- Varna Archaeological Museum has constantly carried out archaeological investigations and excavations on various sites all over Northeast Bulgaria. They now compose the Museum exhibition, more than 100 000 objects – monuments of past epochs from Varna, the Region and Northeast Bulgaria. The most important of them (one tenth of the whole Museum collection) are represented in the Museum exhibition halls. The Museum's arguably most celebrated exhibit is the Gold of Varna, the oldest gold treasure in the world, excavated in 1972 and dating to 4600-4200 BCE, which occupies three separate exhibition halls. The museum also manages two open-air archaeological sites, the large Roman baths in the city centre and the medieval grotto of Aladzha Monastery at Golden Sands Nature Park.
- Naval Museum one of the symbols of Varna. Situated in the southern part of the sea garden.Beautiful museum building was constructed in 1890.The most valuable exhibit is the destroyer "Drazki" placed there in 1957, known for torpedoing the Turkish cruiser "Hamidie" on November 12, 1912 during Balkan war. This is the only ship of its type to be preserved until today.
- Museum of Ethnography The exposition of the Ethnographic Museum - Varna is sutuated in a revival house of so-called "symmetrical type houses" built in 1860. The museum shows the rich diversity in culture and lifestyle of the population of Varna end of the second half of the XIX and early XX century.
- Battle of Varna Park Museum "Varnenchik" is memorial complex located in a unique park in an area of 30 acres. Located in the western part of Varna at the battlefield place dating back to 10.11.1444, where in the name of liberation of the Balkans and southeastern Europe perished Polish-Hungarian king Władysław III of Varna (Varnenchik). In the exposition are the armor and weapons,paintings,flags and sculptures of the era.
- The Sea Garden is the oldest and perhaps largest park.It is associated with the name of the Czech Anton Novak. At the request of municipality in 1894 K.Shkorpil invited the landscape engineer in Varna. There is a long alley of the Bulgarian revival with busts of the most honorable figures of the era.Perfect place for a pleasant walk, bicycle ride or outdoor sports. It contains also zoo and terrarium. The waterfront promenade underneath is lined by a string of beach clubs offering a vibrant (albeit noisy) scene of rock, hip-hop, American-style pop, house, and chalga (Bulgarian pop folk). The city beaches, also known as sea baths are dotted with hot sulphuric mineral springs and punctured by small sheltered marinas. The Garden is a national monument of landscape architecture.
- Varna Aquarium The aquarium's exhibition focuses on the Black Sea's flora and fauna which includes over 140 fish species, but also features freshwater fish, Mediterranean fish, exotic species from faraway areas of the World Ocean, mussels and algae.
- Varna Dolphinarium the only dolphinarium on the Balkan Peninsula, one of the most entertaining attractions of city. Built in 1984 and has 1134 seats.
- The 2.4 km long, 50 m high Asparuhov Most bridge is a popular spot for bungee jumping.
- Notable old Bulgarian Eastern Orthodox churches include the metropolitan Assumption of Mary Cathedral; the early 17th-century Theotokos Panagia; the St. Athanasius (former Greek metropolitan cathedral); the seamens' church of St. Nicholas the Miracle Worker; the Archangel Michael's chapel; and the St. Constantine and Helena church of the 16th century suburban monastery of the same name.
- Varna's centre was rebuilt in late 19th and the earlier half of the 20th century by the nascent Bulgarian middle class in Western style, with local interpretations of Neo-Renaissance, Neo-Baroque, Neoclassicism, Art Nouveau and Art Deco.
- Aladzha Manastir (Аладжа Манастир) outside Varna is a beautiful monastery, which is dug in a giant rock. The entrance fee is quite low, and it's a very beautiful, and quite weird thing to see.
- Pobiti Kamani (Побити Камъни), literally "the rocks which got hit", also outside Varna, are a bunch of gigantic rocks, standing up, in the middle of nowhere. The rocks are said to radiate energy and a lot of hippies stop by.
- The Monument of Bulgarian-Soviet Friendship - Varna's largest - overlooks the city from Turna hill. A concrete behemoth built in 1978 with the help of 27 000 volunteers, it has mostly been abandoned since 1989's regime change. Two flagpoles were erected at the base of the hill in 2009 and today they fly the two largest flags in Europe. There are no shops or services available at the site but it's still quite popular with the locals. It's located within the city, accessible by car and offers one of the best overlooks of Varna.
There is a large tourist place where you can enjoy whatever entertainment that can be bought for money. There is something for every taste. But, you can also have nice walks in Varna.
- Varna Green Tour (Tourist Info Center), Varna, Square St. Cyril and Methodius (Kozirkata next to the Clock Tower and opposite of the Cathedral), ☎ +359 879461347. 2 hours
Free Bike tour in Varna, the sea's capital of Bulgaria. Explore Varna on a Bike. You will see beautiful green part of Varna city and many landmarks such as: The Cathedral of the Assumption of the Virgin, The Sea Garden, The Aquarium, The Dolphinarium, The Roman Baths and many others. Rent a Bike and discover Varna by your own Bike tour.
- Free Varna Tour (The free English-language sightseeing walking tour of Bulgaria’s sea capital), Corner of Hristo Botev Blvd and Vladislav Varnenchik Blvd (In front of the Cathedral), ☎ +359 887699875. The free English-language sightseeing walking tour of the sea capital of Bulgaria - Varna. Every day at 11AM and 6PM (13 April - 14 October). No reservation required. Just show up at the starting point. Upon request during the rest of the year. Free.
University of Economics and College of Tourism
Technical University and Varna College
Medical University and Medical College
Chernorizets Hrabar Varna Free University
New Bulgarian University Local Centre
University of Shumen Teacher Centre (graduate)
- Ship repair yards
- Cargo port, East and West
- Chemical plants near the Varna lake
There are a couple of large shopping malls (Grand Mall, Pfohe Mall, Central Plaza, Mall of Varna, Varna Towers) turning Varna into an attractive international shopping destination. There are also several international big-box retailers (Metro, Kaufland, Carrefour) on the outskirts and traditional downtown shopping streets with boutiques and gift shops. Plenty of tourist stuff in the resorts sold in small stalls.
There are many good restaurants at very descent prices comparing other EU countries.
Alba - a variety of traditional and international dishes at very nice prices. In summer you can choose between sitting inside or the outside garden. Located just across Archaeological Museum in a yellow-green painted house.
The Happy Bar and Grill, a Bulgarian restaurant chain, based in Varna. Tasty kebabs.
La Pastaria offering traditional Italian food, home made pasta and pizza. Dragoman street 45
BM - a nice restaurant offering mainly traditional cuisine as well as sea food. Located at the end of sea garden near to the Port of Varna.
The beach at night tends to have the most night life in the summer. Best beach nightclubs in 2011: Extravaganza, Copa Cabana, 4 as pik (chalga), Cubo.
There are also clubs and bars in the city but some of them are closed during summer: Horizont, Cargo, Bolla bar, Planet Club.
There is a number of hotels in the city ranging from 5 to 2 stars. North of Varna, along a continuous 20-km-long strip, are the beachfront resorts of Euxinograd, Constatine and Helena, Sunny Day, Chaika, Riviera, and Golden Sands, with a total of more than 60,000 hotel beds, plus several villa communities offering private lodgings.
- Flag Varna Hostel. 10 minutes' walk from the beach and the bars. Nikolay, the manager, speaks good English and Spanish. Mostly Rumanian students are living there, and they are like a family. Shared kitchen & bathrooms. Double rooms are 60lev (50lev if you bargain). From €10 dormitory.
- Motivi Hotel. This is a family-run hotel providing comfortable B&B accommodation. It is in the seaside resort of St. St. Constantine and Helena and has direct public transport connection to the centre of Varna (15 minutes away).
- X Hostel Varna, 16th Street 19, Euxinograd (Bus 8, 9, 11, 109, 309 or 409 to bus stop Marek where you find signposts.), ☎ +359 (0) 885049084, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Party hostel. It's a short bus drive out of the city, close to the beach and mineral baths. Easy access to Golden Sands where they organize parties and pub crawls every night (foam, beach and playboy parties). Note that 110 people got an X tattooed on them.
- Yo Ho Hostel, Rusie 23. Nice decoration. 48lev double room.
- Alekta Hotel is in the northern part of the Sea Garden, on the outskirts of the town, 200 m from the sea and about a 20 minute walk from the town center, which can also be reached by regular bus services or by taxi.
- Amfora Hotel. Is situated 8 km north of Varna in St. Konstantin. The hotel is nice and not far from the coast (about 15 min).
- Aqua Hotel Varna, ul. "Devnya" 12, ☎ +359 52639090. This modern business hotel is situated in the city centre near the railway station. It also has six conference rooms suitable for all kinds of business events.
- Ellinis Hotel built in 2005 is on the main road connecting Varna with the sea resorts "St. Konstantin and Helena" and "Golden Sands", 12 km from the airport, 1500 m from the beach, and 5 minutes away from the city center. All rooms have balconies with sea views.
- SesBreath apartment, 21 Petar Enchev st, ☎ +359 898424022. 2 nice bedrooms with a lounge, dining room, kitchen and shower room about 50m far from the central beach.
- Hotel Divesta is in the center of Varna, close to the main bus station.
Varna is in general a fairly safe place, though special caution should be taken in regards to the mafia. There have been several cases of tourists being assaulted by the mafia for improper behavior, such as the brutal beating of an Icelandic teenage girl in the summer of 2007. Try not to give anyone who might be driving a black sports car, wearing a suit with glasses a bad eye. Common sense, courtesy and respect is always the best thing you can pursue.
Stay away from people offering money change on the street they are all cheaters. They usually are located in the area of the Cathedral(kozirkata) and also it's a typical place for pickpocketers so be careful.
If you are driving a car be careful where you stop because if you violate the parking restrictions, your car may be removed by the authorities and you will need to pay a penalty fee, not to mention losing a lot of time.
Outside the city are the Euxinograd palace, park and winery, the Ecopark Varna Botanical Garden, the Pobiti Kamani rock phenomenon, the cave monastery Aladzha, and the Kamchiya biosphere reserve (UNESCO-protected)
- Golden Sands Resort is 17 km north from downtown Varna.
- Sveti Konstantin and Helena is 10 km north from downtown Varna - it is a small, but peaceful and very green resort. Many nice hotels offer mineral water SPA services, due to the abundance of hot mineral springs all over the area.
- Albena - 30 km north from Varna. An old style resort, with an architecture from the Communist times. Peaceful area though. Since the whole resort is owned by a single private company, it is one of the very few places on Bulgaria's Black Sea coast that does not suffer from overbuilding.
- The town of Balchik features a small palace and a beautiful botanical garden; 40 km away (north)
- Many wild beaches south of town (Pasha Dere, Shkorpilovtsi, Karadere, Irakli)
- The town of Kavarna (Каварна) is 60 km away north. It holds the Kavarna Rock Fest in early July, the largest rock event in the Balkans and Black Sea region.
- Cape Kaliakra - the longest cape in Bulgaria. Stunning views to the sea and the red cliffs. A place with rich history and many legends. Worth visiting. 80 km away, north.
- The high rocky coast near the small Kamen Bryag (Камен бряг, literally: Rocky Coast) village has been popular among Bulgarian hippies; 82 km away (north)