Varna is commonly referred to as the marine (or summer) capital of Bulgaria, Varna is a major tourist destination, business and university centre, seaport, and headquarters of the Bulgarian Navy and merchant marine.
- Taxi are abundant.
- Bus 409 runs between the airport and the city center for 1 лв. There is a ticket machine aboard, which however can handle a 10-лв bill at most, if you are lucky. So, better to change a small amount of cash at the airport or withdraw an amount which secures you a 10-лв bill.
Airlines and destinations—connections are mostly seasonal (the list is not full):
- Air Via (Berlin-Schönefeld, Berlin-Tegel, Frankfurt)
- Austrian Airlines (Vienna)
- Balkan Holidays Air (Birmingham, Bristol, East Midlands, Gatwick, Glasgow, Luton, Manchester, Newcastle)
- Bulgaria Air (Amsterdam, Berlin-Schönefeld, Berlin-Tegel, Cologne/Bonn, Dublin, London Gatwick, Madrid, Milan-Malpensa, Sofia, Vienna)
- Bulgarian Air Charter (Berlin-Schönefeld, Berlin-Tegel, Cologne/Bonn, Frankfurt)
- Easyjet (London Gatwick)
- TUI fly (Brussels)
- Thomsonfly (East Midlands, London Gatwick, Manchester)
- Norwegian Air Shuttle (Oslo)
- Ural Airlines (Nizhny Novgorod, Samara, Yekaterinburg)
- Wizz Air (London Luton)
The central train station is located within walking distance from city centre and cruise terminal, there is a bus and taxi connection to airport, bus stations, and resorts. Daily services are available from Sofia, Plovdiv, and Rousse. From Sofia you have some daily direct trains which take little more than 7 hours.
There is one direct international train always available. Night train #059 departs Kyiv daily, journey time is just under 35 hours. On its way to Varna, this train also stops in Lviv (25 hr) and Bucharest (8 hr). During the summer seasons several more destinations are added. Which cities have a direct connection varies from year to year but expect Moscow, Saint Petersburg and Minsk from the east and Prague and Warsaw among others to be on the list.
- Central Bus Station (Автогара Варна), 158 бул. Владислав Варненчик, ☏ . 24/7. Serving long-distant connections to Sofia, Veliko Tarnovo, Burgas, Plovdiv, Istanbul, Greece, Romania, Central and Western Europe.
Varna is Bulgaria's only cruise destination. Cruise terminal is located near city centre, close to train station, walking distance to Sea Garden and beaches. Bus and taxi connection to city centre, bus stations, airport, and resorts. There are ferry lines (buses only) to Ukraine and Georgia.
There is a pedestrian area and a coast area with a lot of fun for the tourists. There you can get around by foot. Most of the center is walkable and the rest is not of much interest, except for the airport, bus station and Golden Sands beach.
By public transport
Bus and trolleybus transportation is available all around the city through the services of the private Transtriumf (Транстриумф) and the public GT Varna (Градски Транспорт - Варна). The ticket price depends on duration: 1 лв for 1 hr, 1.50 лв for 1½ hr, and 1.80 лв for 2 hr, with an unlimited number of transfers on all lines. 1-hr tickets are sufficient for most destinations, and some ticket machines will not offer much else. A 24-hr ticket is 4 лв. A map of bus stops, routes and current bus positions can be found on BusRouter and Easyway, which also has a route planner. Also, Varna Tourism site has information on transport.
There seem to exist two bus 409 operators, private and public ones. For the private ones the ticket must be bought from the conductor in the bus, and these tickets are not valid in other buses. However, the ticket from the machine in the 409 from the airport seems to be valid in other buses. This confusing fact is also relevant for Golden Sands, where some 409 go. Furthermore, the time tracking at bus stops does not work for 409, it is not even displayed. So, it is best to avoid 409 inside the center and rely on bus 9 for example going to Golden Sands (1 лв).
Openstreetmap.org has bus routes of Varna and can therefore be used in apps like OsmAnd or Mapy.cz.
Be careful with taxis; you may pay 10 times the right price, so check for the fare per kilometer—look at the small square paper plate located in the lower corner of the rear doors' windows. Good taxi companies are, OK Trans (OK Транс), Varna (Варна), Evro (Евро), Triumph (Триумф Такси), Alpha taxi (Алфа такси). Typical price is around 0.79 лв/km.
By bicycle tour
Several companies offer bikes for guided sightseeing.
- 1 Varna Archaeological Museum. has constantly carried out archaeological investigations and excavations on various sites all over Northeast Bulgaria. They now compose the Museum exhibition, more than 100.000 objects – monuments of past epochs from Varna, the Region and Northeast Bulgaria. The most important of them (one tenth of the whole Museum collection) are represented in the Museum exhibition halls. The Museum's arguably most celebrated exhibit is the Gold of Varna, the oldest gold treasure in the world, excavated in 1972 and dating to 4600-4200 BCE, which occupies three separate exhibition halls. The museum also manages two open-air archaeological sites, the large Roman baths in the city centre and the medieval grotto of Aladzha Monastery at Golden Sands Nature Park.
- 2 . one of the symbols of Varna. Situated in the southern part of the sea garden.Beautiful museum building was constructed in 1890.The most valuable exhibit is the destroyer "Drazki" placed there in 1957, known for torpedoing the Turkish cruiser "Hamidie" on November 12, 1912 during Balkan war. This is the only ship of its type to be preserved until today.
- 3 Museum of Ethnography. The exposition of the Ethnographic Museum - Varna is sutuated in a revival house of so-called "symmetrical type houses" built in 1860. The museum shows the rich diversity in culture and lifestyle of the population of Varna end of the second half of the XIX and early XX century.
- Battle of Varna Park Museum "Varnenchik" is memorial complex located in a unique park in an area of 30 acres. Located in the western part of Varna at the battlefield place dating back to 10.11.1444, where in the name of liberation of the Balkans and southeastern Europe perished Polish-Hungarian king Władysław III of Varna (Varnenchik). In the exposition are the armor and weapons, paintings, flags and sculptures of the era.
- 4 Sea Garden. The oldest and perhaps largest park.It is associated with the name of the Czech Anton Novak. At the request of municipality in 1894 K.Shkorpil invited the landscape engineer in Varna. There is a long alley of the Bulgarian revival with busts of the most honorable figures of the era. Perfect place for a pleasant walk, bicycle ride or outdoor sports. It contains also zoo and terrarium. The waterfront promenade underneath is lined by a string of beach clubs offering a vibrant (albeit noisy) scene of rock, hip-hop, American-style pop, house, and chalga (Bulgarian pop folk). The city beaches, also known as sea baths are dotted with hot sulphuric mineral springs and punctured by small sheltered marinas. The Garden is a national monument of landscape architecture.
- 5 Varna Aquarium. The aquarium's exhibition focuses on the Black Sea's flora and fauna which includes over 140 fish species, but also features freshwater fish, Mediterranean fish, exotic species from faraway areas of the World Ocean, mussels and algae.
- Varna Dolphinarium the only dolphinarium on the Balkan Peninsula, one of the most entertaining attractions of city. Built in 1984 and has 1134 seats.
- Nicolaus Copernicus Observatory and Planetarium,
- The 2.4 km long, 50 m high Asparuhov Most bridge is a popular spot for bungee jumping.
- 6 Assumption of Mary Cathedral. The metropolitan Assumption of Mary Cathedral is the most famous cathedral of Varna and one of the symbols of the city.
- Other notable old Bulgarian Eastern Orthodox churches include the early 17th-century Theotokos Panagia; the St. Athanasius (former Greek metropolitan cathedral); the seamens' church of St. Nicholas the Miracle Worker; the Archangel Michael's chapel; and the St. Constantine and Helena church of the 16th century suburban monastery of the same name.
- Varna's centre was rebuilt in late 19th and the earlier half of the 20th century by the nascent Bulgarian middle class in Western style, with local interpretations of Neo-Renaissance, Neo-Baroque, Neoclassicism, Art Nouveau and Art Deco.
- 7 Aladzha Monastery (Аладжа Манастир) (17 km (11 mi) north of central Varna). The remnants of a medieval monastery that was established in several caves on the side of a cliff. Nowadays, it's in the middle of the Golden Sands (Zlatni Pyasatsi) Nature Park, the smallest nature park in Bulgaria. The entrance fee is quite low, and it's a very beautiful, and quite weird thing to see.
- 8 Pobiti Kamani (Побити камъни) (18 km (11 mi) west of Varna, right by the side of I-2, the main road that was superseded by the A2 highway). The name means literally "stones stuck upright [into the ground]". A natural formation of rock columns of unclear geological origin, up to 7 m (23 ft) high, resembling a stone forest. It's a protected natural area, considered to be the only desert-type biome in Bulgaria.
- The Monument of Bulgarian-Soviet Friendship - Varna's largest - overlooks the city from Turna hill. A concrete behemoth built in 1978 with the help of 27 000 volunteers, it has mostly been abandoned since 1989's regime change. Two flagpoles were erected at the base of the hill in 2009 and today they fly the two largest flags in Europe. There are no shops or services available at the site but it's still quite popular with the locals. It's located within the city, accessible by car and offers one of the best overlooks of Varna.
There is a large tourist place where you can enjoy whatever entertainment that can be bought for money. There is something for every taste. But, you can also have nice walks in Varna.
- Free Varna Tour (The free English-language sightseeing walking tour of Bulgaria’s sea capital), Corner of Hristo Botev Blvd and Vladislav Varnenchik Blvd (In front of the Cathedral), ☏ . The free English-language sightseeing walking tour of the sea capital of Bulgaria - Varna. Every day at 11:00 and 18:00 (13 Apr–14 Oct). No reservation required. Just show up at the starting point. Upon request during the rest of the year. "Free".
- Football: PFC Cherno More play soccer in First League, Bulgaria's top tier. Their home ground is Stadion Ticha (capacity 8250) 1 km northeast of city centre. Their local rivals Sparak Varna are in the Second League.
- University of Economics and College of Tourism
- Naval Academy
- Technical University and Varna College
- Medical University and Medical College
- Chernorizets Hrabar Varna Free University
- New Bulgarian University Local Centre
- University of Shumen Teacher Centre (graduate)
- Ship repair yards
- Cargo port, East and West
- Chemical plants near the Varna lake
There are a couple of large shopping malls (Grand Mall, Pfohe Mall, Central Plaza, Mall of Varna, Varna Towers) turning Varna into an attractive international shopping destination. There are also several international big-box retailers (Metro, Kaufland, Carrefour) on the outskirts and traditional downtown shopping streets with boutiques and gift shops. Plenty of tourist stuff in the resorts sold in small stalls.
There are many good restaurants at very descent prices comparing other EU countries.
Near the beach
- 1 Nord, 9002 Primorski. In front of the beach
- 2 Morski valk, ul. "Odrin" 21, 9000 Center, Varna, Bulgaria. Temporarily closed as of May 2022
- 3 Arrest Bar Billiard, bul. "Primorski" №5.
In the city centre
- 4 Korean cuisine "Kimbap", ul. "Dragoman" 28.
- 5 Restorant Trifon Zarezan, ul. "Sheynovo" 14. Bulgarian cuisine
- 6 The Social Teahouse, ul. "Preslav" 53.
Around the Primorkski-Park
Some blocks from the city centre around the Boteva Gradina
- 9 Chinese restaurant Asia, ul. "Veliko Hristov" 37.
- Alba – A variety of traditional and international dishes at very nice prices. In summer you can choose between sitting inside or the outside garden. Located just across Archaeological Museum in a yellow-green painted house. (updated May 2022)
- Sundogs – Also described as a pub by many, Sundogs is the go-to spot for many foreigners that live in Varna for its urban atmosphere and great food.
- Godzilla – A family friendly place, known for its pizzas.
- Happy Bar and Grill – A Bulgarian restaurant chain, based in Varna. Tasty kebabs.
- La Pastaria – Offering traditional Italian food, home made pasta and pizza. (Dragoman Street 45)
- BM – A nice restaurant offering mainly traditional cuisine as well as sea food. Located at the end of sea garden near to the Port of Varna.
- Massa Kitchen – Great atmosphere with a wide range of food options
- Staria Chinar – Traditional and Black Sea food, with many locations in the city
The beach at night tends to have the most night life in the summer.
There are also clubs and bars in the city but some of them are closed during summer: e.g. Cubo, Horizont, Planet Club.
There is a number of hotels in the city ranging from 2 to 5 stars.
North of Varna, along a continuous 20-km-long strip, are the beachfront resorts of Euxinograd, Constatine and Helena, Sunny Day, Chaika, Riviera, and Golden Sands, with a total of more than 60,000 hotel beds, plus several villa communities offering private lodgings.
- Motivi Hotel. This is a family-run hotel providing comfortable B&B accommodation. It is in the seaside resort of St. Constantine and Helena and has direct public transport connection to the centre of Varna (15 min away).
- 1 Yo Ho Hostel, Rusie 23. Nice decoration. 48 лв (double room).
- Alekta Hotel – In the northern part of the Sea Garden, on the outskirts of the town, 200 m from the sea and about a 20-min walk from the town center, which can also be reached by regular bus services or by taxi.
- 2 Amfora Hotel (in St. Konstantin, 8 km north of Varna), ☏ , email@example.com. Check-in: 14:00, check-out: 12:00. The hotel is nice and not far from the coast (about 15 min).
- Aqua Hotel Varna, ul. "Devnya" 12 (near the railway station), ☏ . This modern business hotel has six conference rooms suitable for all kinds of business events.
- Ellinis Hotel, ☏ . Built in 2005, the hotel is on the main road connecting Varna with the sea resorts "St. Konstantin and Helena" and "Golden Sands", 12 km from the airport, 1,500 m from the beach, and 5 min away from the city center. All rooms have balconies with sea views. Single: 29–40 лв, double: 40–50 лв.
- Petar Enchev Apartment. 2 nice bedrooms with a lounge, dining room, kitchen and shower room about 50 m far from the central beach. 88 лв.
- Hotel Divesta – In the center of Varna, close to the main bus station.
- Boutique Splendid, Str. Bratia Shkorpil 30, ☏ , fax: , firstname.lastname@example.org. This hotel is in the middle of the town, opposite a grand cathedral. Single: 85–101 лв, Double: 94–122 лв.
Varna is in general a fairly safe place, though special caution should be taken in regards to the mafia. There have been several cases of tourists being assaulted by the mafia for improper behavior, such as an Icelandic teenage girl in 2017. Try not to give anyone who might be driving a black sports car, wearing a suit with glasses a bad eye. Common sense, courtesy and respect is always the best thing you can pursue.
Stay away from people offering money change on the street they are all cheaters. They usually are located in the area of the cathedral (kozirkata) and also it's a typical place for pickpocketers so be careful.
If you are driving a car be careful where you stop because if you violate the parking restrictions, your car may be removed by the authorities and you will need to pay a penalty fee, not to mention losing a lot of time.
As of Sept 2021, Varna has 4G from A1, Telenor and Vivacom. 5G has reached the beach strip but not the city.
Outside the city are the Euxinograd palace, park and winery, the Ecopark Varna Botanical Garden, the Pobiti Kamani rock phenomenon, the cave monastery Aladzha, and the Kamchiya biosphere reserve (UNESCO-protected)
There are many wild beaches south of town like Pasha Dere, Shkorpilovtsi, Karadere, and Irakli.
- Golden Sands Resort – 17 km north from downtown Varna. Similar to Ballermann and Lloret de Mar—restaurants are more expensive but some good hotel bargains can be found if you like beach.
- Sveti Konstantin and Helena – 10 km north from downtown Varna. It is a small, but peaceful and very green resort. Many nice hotels offer mineral water SPA services, due to the abundance of hot mineral springs all over the area.
- Albena – 30 km north from Varna. An old style resort, with an architecture from the Communist times. Peaceful area though. Since the whole resort is owned by a single private company, it is one of the very few places on Bulgaria's Black Sea coast that does not suffer from overbuilding.
- Balchik – 40 km north. The town features a small palace and a beautiful botanical garden. A few kilometres further along the coast you can find a semi-warm hot spring, and 1 km further the Tuzlata Mud Baths, similar procedure as the Dead Sea—the water is salty but not that salty though. There is a serviced area (M-Su 09:00-15:30, 6/3 лв), but the pools can also be accessed from their southern side walking along the beach.
- Kavarna (Каварна) – 60 km north. The town holds the Kavarna Rock Fest in early July, the largest rock event in the Balkans and Black Sea region.
- Cape Kaliakra – 80 km north. The longest cape in Bulgaria. Stunning views to the sea and the red cliffs. A place with rich history and many legends. Worth visiting.
- Kamen Bryag (Камен бряг, literally: Rocky Coast) – 82 km north. The high rocky coast near the small village has been popular among Bulgarian hippies.
|Routes through Varna|
|Ruse ← Shumen ←||W E||→ Black Sea → Samsun|
|Durankulak ← Balchik ←||N S||→ Sunny Beach → Burgas|