If you have a one-day layover in Varna, or your itinerary allows only 24 hours in the city, you will need to make a choice – to spend a lazy day at the beach or to embark on a cultural discovery trip to get to know the third biggest city in Bulgaria and its peculiarities. Here is our guide to make the most of a day in Varna.
A day in Varna starts with a coffee, which is more a ritual of appreciating your free time than sipping a favorite drink. Especially in the summer, the city has a laid back resort atmosphere with everyone taking their time and enjoying doing nothing. The pedestrianized Slivnitsa Boulevard offers a choice of both coffee shops and venues where you can start the day fresh with either a coffee or a glass of fruit juice. A pleasant option is to get your drink as takeout and enjoy it in the Sea Garden – a long strip of park area stretching between the beach and the concrete of the city.
Once you’ve fuelled up for the day, check out some culture. History buffs will be excited to know the most ancient gold crafted by humans was discovered in Varna in 1972 (by accident, as usually happens with great archaeological findings). It was part of the Varna Necropolis featuring hundreds of burial items and you can see many of them in the Archaeological Museum in the city.
41, Knyaginya Maria Luiza Str., Varna, Bulgaria, +359 52 681 030
After spending a few hours at the museum, head out to lunch and get a taste of the local culinary delights. Godzila is a food chain with two restaurants in the city, one of them at the beach and the other close to the pedestrian zone, where you can enjoy an immaculate service (poor service is an issue that many Bulgarian restaurants suffer from) and delicious food at affordable prices.
1, Knyaz Boris I Blvd, Varna, Bulgaria, +359 70 016 010
Animal lovers will enjoy the show of dolphins that takes place several times a day at the Festa Dolphinarium. The clever mammals demonstrate basketball playing, dancing, acrobatic leaps, and many more. It’s a good idea to buy your tickets in advance in the summer because the shows are quickly sold out.
Festa Dolphinarium, Varna, Bulgaria, +359 52 302 199
After the show, art aficionados can explore the local art scene, starting from the Varna City Art Gallery and continuing with private art galleries and spaces where you can meet classic and contemporary Bulgarian artists.
If you want something a little more unusual, take a look at what life used to be in Bulgaria during its Communist era by heading to Grand Mall where the Retro Museum is housed. Here you can stroll among the impressive retro car collection, and see home appliances and everyday objects from the period.
2, Akademik Andrei Saharov Str., Varna, Bulgaria, +359 88 600 1070
The party scene in Varna is versatile, especially in the summer. From the local chalga music (a mix of folk and oriental music associated with simple lyrics and a somewhat superficial lifestyle) to world EDM DJs and live performances of local bands – you can have it all and you can have it in one evening. Much of the nightlife takes place at the beach bars where you can dance the night away feeling the soft sand in your feet.