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Varna – Bulgaria’s maritime capital

Bulgaria’s maritime capital, Varna is by far the most interesting and cosmopolitan town on the Black Sea coast. A combination of port city, naval base and seaside resort, it’s an appealing place to while away a few days, packed with history yet thoroughly modern, with an enormous park to amble round and a lengthy beach to lounge on. In the city centre you’ll find Bulgaria’s largest Roman baths complex and its finest archaeological museum where the oldest golden treasure ever found is on display. The lively nightlife scene adds to the city’s welcoming atmosphere.
Varna makes for an ideal base for day trips to nearby beach resorts such as Sveti Konstantin and Golden Sands (Zlatni Pyasâtsi), and the charming town of Balchik.
The land where the today’s city raises has been inhabited by some of the world's greatest ccivilizations. Artifacts from the earliest inhabitants date back from the year 5 000 BC – the years when the golden treasure has been buried. Today many buildings and works of art remind are reminders of Varna’s  multi cultural past.
Among the most visited sights are the remnants of the Roman Spa and Bath Complex from the 2nd century AD and situated in the city center.
One of the symbols of the city is the imposing Holy Virgin Cathedral, built in line with the  Russian Orthodox tradition in 1866.
Another architectural highlight that catches the eye in the heart of the city is the Drama Theatre building now housing both the drama theatre and the opera.
The Sea Garden Park, stretching along the coastline for  about 8-9km, is a perfect place to relax and unwind. Constructed in the beginning of the 19th century the sea garden features multitude of outdoor activity options among which mini-golf, playgrounds, fountains, a dolphinarium, a zoo.
Varna’s fine sandy beach is welcoming especially on the hot summer days, when you can enjoy a refreshing drink in one of the many bars and restaurants. There are also plenty of beach entertainment suggestions for those who enjoy their active days on the beach: kite-surfing lessons, windsurfing, jet ski to name a few.
In order to optimize your walk in Varna’s city centre and enjoy  its laid back atmosphere while covering the significant landmarks we have some suggestions  for  walking tour routes that you may find quite useful to consider:

Varna Highlights Tour Route 1:
1. The Archaeological Museum
2. The Holy Virgin Cathedral
3. The Clock Tower
4. Theatre and Opera House
5. The Aquarium
6. The Dolphinarium
7. The 'Pobiti Kamani' Natural Phenomenon

Varna Highlights Tour Route 2:
1. The Archaeological Museum
2. The Holy Virgin Cathedral
3. The Theatre
4. The Clock Tower
5. The remnants of the Roman Spa and Baths
6. The Sea Garden Park
7. The Aladja Monastery

Varna Cultural Calendar:
•Trifon Zarezan, Day of the Vine-growers and wine-makers - 14.February 
•Varna Summer International Theatre Festival - June
•International Ballet Competition – June and July
•Varna Summer Jazz Festival – August
•Varna Summer International Music Festival - June and July 
•Varna International Folklore Festival - August
•Week of the Sea – August
•Day of Varna - 15. August
•International Tournament of Rhythmic Gymnastics for the "Tsaritsa Margarita" prize - September 
•Golden Dolphin International Puppet Festival - October
•St. Nicola’s Day (Patron of Varna and the sea) - 6. December

Varna is a great base for exploring the less populated but amazingly beautiful North Bulgaria’s Black Sea coast where you can spot dolphins and seals. If you decide to travel south from Varna following the scenic route to the other big coastal city Burgas, you will reach the charming town of Nessebar perched on a tiny peninsula in the sea.
The following are our selected one-day trips from Varna that can make your stay in Bulgaria’s maritime capital even more amusing and diverse:

Ideas for One-day trips from Varna

One day trip to the coastal town of Balchik
We will travel north following the Black Sea coast to the town of Balchik, a small, pretty town and fishing port huddled below white-chalk cliffs, it’s a low-key holiday spot that feels like a world away from the busy big cities. We will visit the main attraction here - the palace, with its lovely botanical gardens (the biggest of their kind on the Balkan Peninsula), a couple of kilometres down the coast.
The palace was completed in 1926 by King Ferdinand of Romania for his English wife, Queen Marie (Balchik was then part of Romania). It's a relatively modest seaside villa, although the architecture - a blend of Bulgarian, Gothic and Islamic styles topped with a minaret - is unique.
The half-dozen or so rooms on show contain original furnishings, while behind the palace are the extensive botanical gardens. Around 600 different species of flora are featured throughout a series of themed gardens.
Also within the complex are a watermill, a classical-style nymphaeum and the tiny Chapel of Sveta Bogoroditsa, where Queen Maria loved to watch the sunset and where her heart was buried.
Balchik appeals to everybody with its laid back, artistic atmosphere and freshness, with its ancient spirit, reflected in its steep pebbled streets and houses made of stone and adobe.
For lunch we will enjoy some fresh sea food at a mussels farm a small drive up the ciast.
Among the specialties here is the Mussel soup and Mussels in shells prepared according to traditional recipe passed from generation to generation in the local fishermen families.
In the afternoon we can either enjoy a couple of relaxing hours on the beach or get back to Balchik to for a cup of aromatic tea under the cooling shade of the lush vegetation in the gardens.
Later, we will visit the Art Gallery of Balchik, which also houses the town's museum. The coastal alley, which is about 4km long, is also a nice place for a stroll before we head back to Varna.
The tour includes qualified guide, lunch and transportation with a modern mini- bus or a car.

One – day excursion to Cape Kaliakra
We will spend the day exploring the beauties of the Bulgarian Black Sea cost North from the city of Vrana.
First we will head toward the Cape Kaliakra. A minor road leads to the red cliffs of the cape rising 60 meters above the sea. Built up in the Hellenic era, the Kaliakra fortress was at its heyday in the 14th century when it became a stronghold of the Bulgarian nobleman Balik. During the Turkish invasion it fell under siege during which all citizens were murdered. According to a local legend forty girls – the sole survivors of the Turkish attack, tied their long plaits of hair together and jumped off cape Kalikara to their deaths, to avoid being captured by the victorious Ottoman troops. Today the cape is a peaceful nature reserve where hooded cormorants and pink starlings nest. If you are lucky you can spot seals sunbathing on the cliffs or the Black Sea dolphins’ fins raising above the water! The area around Cape Kaliakra is also a good spot to take breath-taking pictures of the sea and the spectacular cliffs of the coastline.
For lunch we will enjoy some fresh sea food at a mussels farm a small drive up the ciast.
Among the specialties here is the Mussel soup and Mussels in shells prepared according to traditional recipe passed from generation to generation in the local fishermen families.
Afterwards we will head further North towards the Shabla and Durankulak lakes. We will pass by numerous little coastal villages and endless sunflowers fields. The Durankulak lake, with semi-salty water and swamp flora, is surrounded by steppe vegetation. It gives shelter to a number of migrating birds, some of which registered in the Red Book of the endangered animal species of Bulgaria. On the big island in the Durankulak Lake are the temple of Kibela - the oldest prehistoric necropolis in continental Europe and the remains of a ancient settlement (existed from 5400 to 4100 B.C). The Lake of Shabla is situated 2 km away of the town of Shabla, directly on the seashore, and is a wonderful place for fishing and recreation. It is the nesting site for more than 100,000 wild geese.
In the late afternoon we will get back to Varna.
The tour includes qualified guide, lunch and transportation with a modern mini- bus or a car.

One day trip to Madara Horseman and the Shumen Plateau
We will spend the day in the North-East part of Bulgaria and explore the cultural and natural delights it has to offer. We will travel to the town of Shumen passing by small pretty villages. Afterwards we will visit the ancient Madara Horseman relief and climb to the top of the Shumen Plateau – a natural and archeological reserve.
Our first stop will be the Madara Horseman relief. The figure of the horseman is still covered with mystery. It depicts a triumphant ruler in a symbolic hunting scene. The origins and the motive for the creation of the carving are yet to be revealed while according to some theories it is older than the nearby inscriptions from the 7-8th century BC and represents a Thracian god. The Madara Horseman is the only rock relief in Europe that has been included in the  UNESCO’s World Heritage List since 1979 due to the fact that it is a significant example of the  technical progress of its creators and their spiritually enhanced culture.
The whole area where the relief is carved bears a special atmosphere, which is the reason why various tribes have inhabited the area and built their holy places here. in the In the surrounding cliffs, there are caves  which were once inhabited by monks who created the biggest rock monastery on the Balkans.
We will take up the challenge to climb the 672-steps to the top of the Shumen Plateau from which a spectacular view towards the rolling hills and endless green fields of North Bulgaria is reveled. Here we will also explore the remains of an ancient Roman villa and an archaic pagan temple, as well as medieval fortress.
 For lunch we will enjoy some delicious local dishes in a traditional restaurant in the town of Shumen.
The afternoon we will devote to the town of Shumen. We will stroll down the ancient part of town adorned by beautiful architecture from the Bulgarian Enlightenment period after which we will have some free time to explore the modern part of town on our own. 
The last stop on our agenda for today is the colourful Tombul Mosque in Shumen. Built in the middle of the 18th century the “Sheriff Halil Pasha” Mosque also called the  Tombul Mosque is the biggest one in Bulgaria and second in size on the Balkan Peninsula. It is interesting for its unusual architecture and particularly for the unusual shape of its prayer-hall. Today the mosque is also a cultural monument.
 We will return to Varna in the late afternoon.
The tour includes the services of a qualified guide, lunch and transportation with a modern mini-bus or a car.

One day trip to the Old town of Nessebar
Today we will explore the pearl of the Bulgarian South Black Sea coast - the ancient town of Nessebar, picturesquely perched on a tiny peninsula in the sea. It is one of the oldest in Europe UNESCO classified monuments. The unique location of Nessebar has attracted the attention of many ancient civilizations which explains why the town has existed as an important maritime centre for more than 9000 years. We will take in the romantic atmosphere while walking along the narrow cobbled streets lined with authentic houses, inviting restaurants and tiny art galleries.
We will have lunch enjoying the beautiful sea panorama after which we will enjoy some free time to stroll around the Old town of Nessebar and take in its artistic atmosphere.
In the late afternoon we will return to Varna.
The tour includes the services of a qualified guide, lunch and transportation with a luxury bus or car.

If you like the suggested program, ideas, services and this is really your kind of holiday please send us your request for further details! We will be happy to answer any questions you may have and give you our professional advice. Thank you!

Highlights

  • Explore Bulgaria’s most exciting city on the Black Sea coast where you will both satisfy your cultural appetite and indulge in the laid-back beach atmosphere you long for!

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What Is Included

  • 2 nights 4 - star hotel accommodation on a twin-share or double basis in a standard room
  • 2 Breakfasts
  • Walking sightseeing tour of Varna with a professional guide in the requested language
  • All local taxes
  • The prices are quoted in €, per person
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