The Must-See Attractions in Burgas, Bulgaria

Burgas | © Tsvetan Bondzhov/Flickr
Burgas | © Tsvetan Bondzhov/Flickr
Photo of Mark Nayler
6 August 2021

Burgas is the fourth-largest city in Bulgaria, and occupies the Black Sea’s westernmost point. From pink saltwater Lake Atanasovsko to the expansive Sea Garden, Burgas is full of surprises. Other attractions include a mysterious island steeped in pirate legends, and three lakes inhabited by over 260 species of birds. Read our guide and discover what to do while visiting this coastal city in Bulgaria.

Soak in Lake Atanasovsko

Natural Feature
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RG621E Boy sitting in Atanasovsko Lake, Burgas, Bulgaria
© RooM the Agency / Alamy Stock Photo
Cameras at the ready. Lake Atanasovsko is one of the most picturesque lagoons in Bulgaria, favoured for its bright pink hue. This tinge is created by the super saline waters that make up the Burgas Saltworks. You’ll spot locals in their bathing suits taking a dip here – the mud is said to have skin-healing properties. Slather yourself with black mud, then dash across to the Black Sea – conveniently located a few hundred metres away – to wash it off. It’s also a popular bird-watching site – 316 out of a total of 423 bird species found in Bulgaria can be spotted here.

Try local food at Restto

Restaurant, Bulgarian, $$$
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Restto seats diners in a vintage interior, decorated with works by Bulgarian artist Georgi Andonov, or out on one of Burgas’ main streets. Its speciality is fish and seafood dishes paired with rarely-seen sides: try vine-wrapped trout accompanied by zucchini cooked three ways, or turbot teamed with fennel gratin and stewed celery. The mussels in tomato and garlic sauce is a great starter, especially when accompanied by warm, home-made bread. Take cash, as cards aren’t accepted.

Explore the Aquae Calidae ruins

Ruins
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2FMHX7R Burgas, Bulgaria. Aquae Calidae, restored ottoman bathroom of Suleiman the Magnificent. The ancient city of Terme (Thermopolis). Museum Akve Kalide
© Dimitar Chobanov / Alamy Stock Photo

2,000 years of history are on display at Aquae Calidae, a complex of well-preserved ruins set in a landscaped recreation area. Footbridges and glass floors enable you to study the remains of Roman walls and baths built on thermal springs, which made Aquae Calidae one of antiquity’s major spa destinations. Inside, you can see a detailed recreation of Suleiman the Magnificent’s opulent 16th-century bathroom, and watch a 3D film tracing the site’s history, from the Thracian era to the Middle Ages.

Dive off Burgas Pier

Bridge
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2BB3W3B Beautiful view from the terrace to the beach and bridge in Burgas, Bulgaria
© agefotostock / Alamy Stock Photo
Burgas’ original steel-and-wood pier was built in 1936, but the current concrete structure replaced it in the 1980s. It stretches almost 300m (984ft) out into the Black Sea, culminating in a 22m- (72ft-) high viewing platform looking out towards St Anastasia Island. Celebrations are held here on Epiphany (6th January), during which a priest throws a crucifix into the freezing waters, prompting warm-blooded participants to dive in after it – it’s said that whoever finds it first will enjoy health and success throughout the year.

Stroll through the Sea Garden

Park
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RK0YG0 Sea garden,circle road,Burgas,Bulgaria
© Todor Stoyanov / Alamy Stock Photo
Running along the entirety of Burgas’ Black Sea shoreline, the Sea Garden is a maritime park spread over 72,000sqm. Wander shaded boulevards flanked by trees and flowers from all over the world, or hop on the mini-train, to discover attractions such as an open-air theatre, reptile house, swimming pool, former casino and hobbit-style cottage. When it’s time for refreshments, head to the Mill for traditional Bulgarian cuisine, or to the Baywatch Bar for sunset cocktails looking out to sea.

Marvel at the Sand Festival

Museum
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EDNHER Bulgaria hosts the 2014 International Sand Sculptures Festival in the Bulgarian town of Burgas for the seventh time. More than 50 artists from all over the world have made pieces for the festival. Featuring: Atmosphere Where: Burgas, Bulgaria When: 05 Ju
© WENN Rights Ltd / Alamy Stock Photo
The Sand Festival in Burgas is held in the Sea Garden – in the park next to the Equestrian Centre – every year between July and October. It’s the only festival of its kind in the Balkans. Bulgarian and international artists carve statues up to 8m (26ft) tall from a huge heap of water-proofed sand, guided by themes such as Cinema Heroes, Cartoon Characters and Myths and Monsters. Scale plastic models of previous festivals’ sculptures are on display in the park’s Flora Exhibition Centre.

Take a boat to St Anastasia Island

Natural Feature
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G17X9C Saint Anastasia Island in Burgas bay, Black Sea, Bulgaria. Summer coastal landscape with fishermen in wooden boat
© Eugene Sergeev / Alamy Stock Photo
St Anastasia Island is located 1.5km (0.9mi) off the coast of Burgas and is steeped in piratical legend. Its key attractions are a 15th-century church and convent, and a hilltop garden where tea and herbs are grown for its small hotel. The religious buildings were converted into a prison in the 1920s, and thereafter served as a museum dedicated to the 43 convicts who escaped in 1925. Golden treasure is said to be buried within the island’s volcanic rocks, jealously guarded by the ghost of a pirate.

Go bird watching at Poda

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KCF369 Poda Burgas, Bulgaria. 4th Oct, 2017. Bird watchers were treated to sunshine and a rare sighting two king fisher during their visit to the Poda Birding center. Credit: Clifford Norton/Alamy Live News
© Clifford Norton / Alamy Stock Photo
The nature conservation site Poda is situated a 10-minute drive south of Burgas, on the Black Sea’s westernmost extremity. Over 260 species of bird have been sighted here, including the Black Sea’s only breeding populations of spoonbills, glossy ibis, little egrets and great white, purple, night and grey herons. Winged travellers that use the Poda as a pitstop on the Via Pontica migration route include white storks, pelicans and various types of raptor. Knowledgeable guides lead walks around the reserve, pointing out birds along the way.

Get creative at the Ethnographic Museum

Museum
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Located at the southern end of the Sea Garden, the Ethnographic Museum occupies a townhouse built in 1873 for a prominent local community leader. Explore a typical Bulgarian home from that time period, and admire the second floor display of costumes and accessories worn by those that settled in Burgas throughout the centuries. Test your skills at drawing on silks and making pottery in the summer workshops.

Sip cabernet sauvignon at the DiVes Estate Winery

Winery
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A9GRAC wine growing (Vitis spec.), Bulgaria, Aug 04.
© blickwinkel / Alamy Stock Photo
The DiVes winery occupies a hill overlooking the village of Aheloy, a 30-minute drive north of Burgas. It produces whites, reds and a rosé from pamid, a grape indigenous to Bulgaria, as well as from merlot, cabernet sauvignon, muscat and sauvignon blanc varieties. Sample these young wines with Bulgarian fish dishes, salami, fruits and cheeses on a terrace overlooking the Black Sea, or in two modern tasting rooms with floor-to-ceiling windows. The tours also include a visit to the winery’s fragrant lavender groves.

This article was originally written by Maria Angelova and has since been updated.

These recommendations were updated on August 6, 2021 to keep your travel plans fresh.

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