The Bulgarian Black Sea coast is mostly known for its party resorts in its southern section, but a curious traveler will find that there’s much more beyond beaches and bars to explore here. If you enjoy nature walks, quirky rock formations, and bird-watching, follow our guide (from north to south) to the best natural spots along the coast.
The Tyulenovo Rocks have been attracting landscape photographers and rock climbers for years. Its Stone Arch is remarkably reminiscent of the collapsed Blue Window in Malta. There are no sandy beaches around, but the spot is a favorite of those who enjoy jumping into the sea from high cliffs, with a special cliff-jumping festival organized every August.
Shablenska Tuzla is a salt-water lake separated from the sea by a sandbar. In the summer, it almost completely dries out, thus exposing the healing mud on its bottom. The lake is freely accessible, and anyone can apply mud on their skin and then walk around 100 m (30 ft) to the sea to wash it off and spend the rest of the day on the sandy beach.
Scientists still find it hard to explain how these stone columns turned out poking from the ground like this. A local legend explains that it was several giants who placed the columns, since people could think of no other explanation. To reach the Stone Forest, known as Pobiti Kamani in Bulgarian, you should drive a few miles inland from the seaside city of Varna.
Kamchia Reserve is a great place to go not far from Varna if you are a fan of kayaking or boating. The last part of the Kamchia River, where it flows into the Black Sea, is lined with a dense forest of trees and hanging lianas. A peculiar phenomenon happens here – the forest gets regularly flooded because of the changing levels of the river, and this fact makes its flora and fauna unique. Join a kayaking or boat tour, and end up sunbathing on the beautiful sandy beach.
Irakli is one of the last beaches where wild camping is practiced in Bulgaria. You can pitch your tent right on the sand, or seek out a shady spot in the forest above it. Irakli Beach has been at the center of political disputes in recent years, and occasionally you can come across eco-activists. There is a beach with umbrellas and sunbeds right next to Irakli called Vaya Beach, where showers and a shop are also available.
Pomorie Lake is one of the best-kept secrets along the Bulgarian coast. Start your visit at the Salt Museum to learn how salt has been extracted from the lake for centuries, with the craft being passed down from father to son. You can still witness the old-time process outside the museum. Then follow the people in black to the healing mud pools, where you can try the miraculous effect of the Pomorie Lake mud on your skin for free. If you want to indulge in a luxurious spa experience, check the spa centers of the specialized hotels just across the street. Right next to the Salt Museum, you will find the Pomorie Lake Visitor Center. Here, you can learn about the rich bird life at the lake and get a bike to circumnavigate it.
The estuary of the Veleka River is one of the most scenic spots on the Bulgarian Black Sea Coast located near the village of Sinemorets and almost unknown to foreigners. For the best view, climb the hill nearby and see from above how the river water and sea water, different in color, twist and twirl without mingling for some time. You can also take boat and nature tours in the estuary itself.