The third largest city in Bulgaria and the country’s maritime capital, Varna is a unique mix of seaside resort town, port city, and naval base. The area attracts as many visitors for its famed archaeological history and ancient Roman bath ruins as it does for its pristine beaches and lively city centre. Featuring one of the best archaeological centres in the world, a smattering of maritime museums, and plenty of prime sunbathing real estate, Varna succeeds as a culturally rich cosmopolitan city with all the appeal of a laid-back, luxurious Riviera. Here, you can combine sightseeing and culture trips with lazing on the beach and dancing the night away in a plethora of establishments.
Location: The Black Sea’s biggest seaport
Located on the Bulgarian coast of the Black Sea, Varna is the country’s third largest city and its main seaport for naval and commercial shipping. Its proximity to popular resorts like Golden Sands and St. Constantine & Helena make the area an ideal getaway for both Bulgarian and international visitors.
Business: Bulgaria’s gateway to the Black Sea
Though Varna headquarters the Varna-Devnya Industrial Complex—Bulgaria’s leading thermal power and chemical manufacturer—tourism is the city’s largest and most profitable industry. The city’s seaport is a major destination for cruise ships and tourists eager to relax at one of the many beachside resorts. With over eighty local and express bus lines, an international airport, high-speed rail system, and regular ferry rides out of the port, the city’s efficient transport system facilitates a steady flow of visitors to and from the area.
Culture: Ancient history preserved, gold found
Known internationally for its impressive archaeological finds and prehistoric settlements, Varna is a city that recaptures and displays its past with historical museums, ancient ruins, and remarkable religious sites. Visitors can behold the oldest gold finding in the world at Varna Archaeological Museum, visit the ruins of ancient thermal bathhouses, or enjoy the architecture at the Cathedral of the Assumption of the Virgin. The Aladzha Monastery, a medieval Orthodox Christian monastery built within a cave, is worth a short drive outside the city to see. For an education on the city’s maritime history, visit the National Maritime Museum, History of Varna Museum, or Naval Museum.
Activities: Ruins, gardens, and rocks
Take advantage of Varna’s numerous museums, fantastic seafood, and ballet and symphony performances at the Varna Opera. Or enjoy the city’s natural beauty: visit the Battle of Varna Museum at Sea Garden Park, stroll through the Botanical Garden eco-park, and drive to Stone Forest to see the ancient rock sculptures. If you want to get out of the city, head to nearby Balchik or the famous Golden Sands resort.