Varna is the third-largest city in Bulgaria and the largest one on the Black Sea Coast. The city is a perfect summer destination because of its nice beaches and a great place to visit all year round as it’s also home to numerous attractions and sites.
Wondering what you can see & do in Varna? I’m here to help! I recently explored Varna with Varna City Card and gathered this list of things to do when you visit Varna for a (long) weekend. So, without any further ado, here’s how to spend your time in the sea capital of Bulgaria:
What to see & do in Varna, Bulgaria
Head to the beaches
Obvious, I know, but to be honest, Varna has some very nice city beaches.
Even if you have limited time in Varna, you can’t miss checking out the beaches that are just next to the city center. However, if you have more time in the Sea capital, make sure to explore some of the beaches near Varna as well.
Beaches to check out in Varna: Central beach, South beach
Beaches to check out near Varna: Pasha Dere, Kabakum beach, Shkorpilovtsi
Sail on the Black Sea
When I visited Varna recently, I finished the weekend sailing on the Black Sea with a bottle of champagne and a view of the sunset. I highly recommend doing a sailing trip yourself when visiting Varna. With a good company, it could be a lot of fun.
I did the sailing tour with the Pinta Varna Ship. With Varna City Card, you can get from -25% to -45% discount. Nice, a?
Check out the Roman Baths
Probably, Varna’s biggest attraction, the Roman Thermae were constructed in 2 century AD and is the fourth largest in Europe (biggest on the Balkans). Once upon a time, they were the center of public life in the city.
An interesting fact is that the Roman Thermae Baths are so far the largest ancient building discovered in Bulgaria.
With Varna City Card, you get FREE admission to the baths. Otherwise, the entry fee is 4 BGN.
Visit the museums
As in any other big city, there are many museums in Varna too. Here are some that you can visit for free with Varna City Card:
- Archaeological Museum – here you can see the Gold of Varna, the oldest gold treasure in the world, dating back to 4600 – 4200 BC.
- History of Varna Museum – learn about the history of Varna and how the city has transformed through the years. I must say that the lady working in the museum was a great guide, very entertaining!
- Boris Georgiev Art Gallery – if you’re into art, here you can admire some of the best Bulgarian painter’s work.
- Retro Museum – wanna see how Bulgaria looked like during the Socialism? The Retro Museum is the place to see that.
- Puppet Museum – the only one of its kind in Bulgaria. More than 140 theatre puppets used on stage at Varna Puppet Theater are showcased in the museum.
Temporary exhibit in the Art Gallery by Robert Baramov
Fest on the seafood
For the best mussels EVER go to Stariq Chinar restaurant at the seaport! Here’s the restaurant on Google maps.
I also recommend the restaurants from the BM chain (great seafood dishes) & La Casa (fresh and delicious salads, big portions.
Take a stroll through Varna’s Sea Garden & Seaport
Varna’s Sea Garden is an 850 decares park along the seaside line. It’s one of the best places for gatherings, walks, and some outdoor activities. Here, you can also find the Naval Museum, The Dolphinarium, and The Aquarium.
The street below the park that runs parallel through the coastline is filled with cafes, restaurants & clubs.
Port of Varna is the largest seaport complex in Bulgaria. It’s another popular spot for walks, meetings & it’s filled with restaurants.
Explore the surroundings:
Aladzha is a medieval cave monastery complex dating back to the 12th century. The monastery was inhabited by hermit monks during the XII-XIV centuries.
Aladzha caves are hewn on two levels to a height of almost 40 meters. The complex includes two small nearby catacombs.
You get FREE entry to the monastery with Varna City Card.
You can reach Aldzha Monastery from Varna either by renting a car or by joining a tour.
The Stone Forest
Pobiti Kamani (stones beat into the ground) aka the Stone Forest is one of the two naturally formed deserts in Europe (along with the Tabernas desert in Spain) and the only one known in Eastern Europe. It consists of sand dunes and several groups of natural rock formations as high as 10 meters.
There are several theories about the origin of the desert. One of them suggests that the place has been a sea bottom 50 million years ago.
Varna City Card grants you a FREE entry to the Stone Forest too.
The Northern Black Sea Coast
After visiting Bulgaria’s Northern Black Sea Coast earlier this year, this region became one of my favorites in the country. This area is astonishing and deserves at least 3 days on its own, but if you’re located in Varna and don’t have that much time to spare than definitely take a day trip to the North!
Make sure to visit Cape Kaliakra, the rocky arch in Tyulenovo, and Bolata bay.
Explore more of Bulgaria: Places to visit near Sofia: Koprivshtitsa Weekend in Stara Zagora: What to see & What to do How to spend the perfect day trip to Plovdiv
Nightlife in Varna
Wanna taste the nightlife in Varna – you have plenty of options to choose from!
Depending on your music preference, you can find a bar or a club where you can dance until the morning. Luckily, I visited Varna with my friend Marina. She used to live in Varna, so she knows all the best places. Here are her recommendations and the places that we visited together while exploring Varna:
- Menthol – Right on the beach, this bar hosts live music and DJ’s. Oh, and you can have some great shots there, lol.
- Cubo – Situated next to Menthol, also hosting live music and DJ’s.
- Studio 21 – This one is not on the beach, but it’s nice too. Here, you can also find live music.
Bungee jumping and wakeboarding
All that sounds cool, but you’re looking for something more exciting to do while in Varna? No worries?
If you’re looking for adventure, why not jumping from the 52 meters high Asparuhovo bridge or try wakeboarding?
You can get a discount for both activities with your Varna City Card – 15% OFF for the bungee jump & -25% OFF for the wake park.
How to get around Varna?
Varna is a very walkable city. If you’re staying somewhere within the center, then most of the attractions and museums will be close to you. Otherwise, you can get around the city by bus or taxi.
If you want to take one of those day trips, then I recommend you to either join an organized tour or get a rental car. Public transportation outside the city is available, but limited.
With Varna City Card, you can have a 10% discount for the car rental company, Top Rent A Car.
How to get to Varna?
There are several ways to get to the northern seaside. The most convenient would be to travel by car so you can stop wherever you want on the way.
Traveling Bulgaria by car is the best way to explore the country and make your own schedule. If you don’t have a car or want to rent one, then here are your options:
Getting to Varna by plane
If you’re already in Sofia, you can easily fly between the two cities with Bulgaria Air. You can also check Ryanair (Brussel) and Wizz Air for affordable tickets from many European destinations including Berlin, Vienna, London, Hamburg, Paris, and even Tel-Aviv.
Getting to Varna by bus & train
If you’re in Sofia (applies to other cities too), you can take a direct bus to Varna. Expect to travel between 6 to 8 hours.
You can check the bus schedule from Sofia here.
You can also take a train to Varna (the night sleeper train is recommended – make sure to book it in advance if you’re visiting in summer).
The train takes around 8 hours from Sofia. You can check the train schedule here.
Hopefully, this article can help you plan your perfect weekend trip to Varna and that you find great ideas of what to see and do in the sea capital of Bulgaria. If you have visited Varna already and have a suggestion of what else to be included in this list, let me know in the comments section below.
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Disclosure: Please note that some of the links in this post are affiliate links, which means I will receive a small commission if you make a booking after clicking. It comes at no extra cost to you but it helps me with the running of this site! As always, opinions are my own. Thank you!
Disclosure: I want to thank Varna City Card for having me as a guest in the Sea capital. As always, opinions are my own.