The resort town in Bulgaria, thanks to the warm sea and mild climate, has earned such names as «the queen of the Black Sea» and «the pearl of the coast.» However, Varna attracts tourists not only with gorgeous beaches, but also with an interesting history, as well as numerous attractions.
Who and why goes to Varna
You will love this resort town if you like not only to lie on the beach, but also to learn something new. Here you can visit the ethnographic museum and the museum of the history of Varna to get acquainted with the traditions, culture and way of life of the local population.
Wonderful performances are staged at the Varna Opera House — a visit to it will allow you to spend an evening pleasantly and profitably.
It is also worth a look at the Abritus archaeological reserve, where you can look at the ancient ruins, and the Varna necropolis — the place of ancient burials. And such cultural and architectural monuments as the Cathedral of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the Orthodox Aladzha Monastery will appeal not only to deeply religious people, but also to connoisseurs of beauty.
Bulgaria is famous for its wonderful nature, and Varna is no exception. You should definitely look at the famous Stone Forest valley, which is a real mystery of nature.
The Varna Aquarium is a place where you can see various marine life, and exotic plants await you in the local botanical garden. Seaside Park and Kamchia Nature Reserve are beautiful corners of nature where you can calmly take a walk after a busy day.
Cultural attractions and museums
Archaeological Reserve «Abritus»
Not far from Varna there is an open-air archaeological reserve with an area of 100 hectares. Here are the ruins of the ancient Roman city of Abritus, which was founded in the 1st century AD. There is a museum in the reserve, the collection of which consists of artifacts found during excavations. The exposition consists of 5 departments illustrating the development of mankind.
The necropolis is an ancient tomb that was accidentally discovered in the industrial area of Varna in 1972.
It is assumed that its origin dates back to the 5th century BC. During the excavations, about 3,000 gold items were found, as well as more than 600 ceramic items, tools that the deceased might need in the afterlife, various talismans and idols.
The Cathedral of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary was built in the 19th century after the liberation of Bulgaria from the rule of the Turks. Both ordinary peasants and townspeople, as well as noble persons, and even the highest church hierarchs, participated in raising money for the construction of the temple.
The cathedral is made in an eclectic style, which combines Gothic details, elements of Russian architecture and fragments of Byzantine decoration. The building is crowned with golden domes, which are visible from different points of Varna.
The museum was founded in 1974. Its exposition tells about the culture and life of the people who lived in the Varna region, and covers the time period from the second half of the 19th to the middle of the 20th century.
Here you can learn about the traditional crafts for this region: growing grapes, beekeeping and fishing, as well as see household items and tools of the local population.
Varna Opera House
One of the most beautiful buildings in the city, made in the Empire style, houses the Varna Opera House. Its opening took place in 1947, and 52 years later the opera was merged with the Varna Philharmonic.
There are performances of not only classical works, but also modern musicals, as well as performances for children. The theater toured a lot and took part in various pan-European competitions and festivals.
The rock Orthodox monastery, located in the vicinity of Varna, was built in the 12th century, but after the Ottoman conquest in the 14th century, it fell into ruins.
The monastery was never restored and is currently not functioning. But here you can walk through the ruins, see the partially preserved wall paintings and admire the sea view from the windows of the cells. The ruins of Aladzha are a cultural monument and part of the historical and archaeological museum.
Museum of the History of Varna
The Museum of History is located in a building that was originally used for the needs of the Belgian consulate, and then served as a hotel and prison, becoming a museum only in the 60s.
Here are photographs of ancient streets and houses, architectural samples and objects from the Evksinograd Palace. There are rooms with a recreated atmosphere of a hotel, a photo studio, a lawyer’s office and craft shops.
Museum workers are especially proud of the exhibited piano. It was purchased in the mid-20s of the last century, and it was on it that the works that opened the first international music festival in Varna were played.
Nature and parks
The Varna Aquarium is located in an original building with a facade decorated with bas-reliefs of the inhabitants of the underwater world.
In the central hall of the aquarium, a collection of river and marine inhabitants is presented to the attention of visitors, other halls demonstrate the flora and fauna of the Black Sea and the World Ocean. Here you can learn about the features of life and migration of fish on the Black Sea coast and look at various types of shells, mussels and algae.
Valley «Stone Forest»
A quaint valley with “stone trees” is located 18 km from Varna and has a length of 700 m. Here you will see many columns, which are made of calcareous sandstone and are covered with a pattern of cracks and depressions, and filled with sand inside.
The origin of the «stone trees» is unknown. Tourists come here to enjoy the unique atmosphere of this place and take beautiful photos.
The park on the seashore is a favorite place for walks and recreation for both residents of Varna and tourists. On a sunny day, it is pleasant to walk along the shady alleys lined with flower beds, fountains, sculptures and monuments. In addition, there are many entertainment facilities on the territory of the Seaside Park: a terrarium, a dolphinarium, a zoo, a planetarium, various museums and a sports complex. Children here can ride bicycles, swings and carousels.
The reserve, opened in 1951 in the vicinity of Varna, was created to preserve forests in the lower reaches of the Kamchia River.
Here you can find about 245 plant species, in particular, the core, which is endemic to Bulgaria. There are 39 species of fish in the river itself, as well as several varieties of turtles. Birds nest and breed in Kamchia, some of them are very rare: Hobbies, Black Storks and Lesser Spotted Eagles.
This lake is one of the largest and deepest on the coast of Bulgaria. It is connected to the Black Sea by an artificial channel. This is an estuary lake, so the water in it is salty, and the degree of mineralization varies depending on the season: it rises in summer and autumn, and falls in spring.
On Varna Lake you can take a boat trip or walk along the shore on foot and stop for a picnic. You can also go fishing and return with a catch of sea fish.
Botanical garden «Ecopark»
The University Botanical Garden was opened in Varna in 1977. It preserves various plant species that are subject to extinction.
The area of the garden is 40 hectares, where you can meet more than 300 representatives of exotic flora. The garden is famous for its rich collection of irises — there are about 250 species of them. There is also a rose garden, maritime pine, tulip and iron trees, and evergreen oak.
This palace on the Black Sea coast serves as the summer residence of the royal family of Bulgaria. It was built in the 19th century and is small in size, but it is able to charm anyone with its elegance and special atmosphere.
Tourists can see the reception rooms, dining room, music room, bedrooms and lounges. Particularly noteworthy are the antique furniture made of mahogany and walnut, massive chandeliers and an old sundial, which were presented to the owners of the castle by Queen Victoria. Around the palace is a green park with palm trees and cedars and a small lake.
In the very center of Varna, next to residential buildings, there are ancient Roman baths, which are the object of the archaeological museum. They were built in the 2nd century and were used until the end of the 3rd century. It is believed that these are the largest baths of those that were on the Balkan Peninsula, and the fourth largest in the Roman Empire.
From the remaining ruins, one can estimate the size of this structure. The baths include lobbies, toilets, hot and cold douche rooms, changing rooms, sports and meeting rooms, a boiler room and other facilities.
Not far from the city is the ancient fortress of Ovech. This fortification was owned by the Byzantines, Romans, Thracians, Bulgarians and Turks.
Tourists who visit the fortress are advised to see the metropolitan church, the tower with the Devil’s path, knight’s dungeons, monastic holes and a well, the depth of which is 79 m. You can walk around the fortress at any time of the year.
Festival and Congress Center
The center was built in 1986 and since then represents Bulgaria in international organizations. The complex has exhibition areas, various halls and pavilions equipped with modern technology.
The Varna Festival and Congress Center hosts conferences, seminars, symposiums and concerts. Cultural events of international and national importance are also held here, and film screenings are held every day.
The planetarium is located in the very center of the Seaside Park. At the entrance to the building there is a monument to N. Copernicus. The diameter of the dome of the planetarium is 10.5 meters, and with the help of special equipment, it displays about 5,500 stars, various planets and their movement in orbits.
In the tower at the planetarium there is a Foucault pendulum, which clearly demonstrates the rotation of the Earth around its axis. This is the only structure of its kind on the entire Balkan Peninsula.