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Varna is the largest city and seaside resort on the Bulgarian Black Sea Coast and the third largest city in Bulgaria with a population of 335,949, while 417,867 live in its urban area. It is also the fourth largest city on the Black Sea.
Often referred to as the marine (or summer) capital of Bulgaria, Varna is a major tourist destination, a starting point for all the resorts in the northern Bulgarian Black Sea Coast, a business and university centre, seaport, and headquarters of the Bulgarian Navy and merchant marine. In April 2008, Varna was designated seat of the Black Sea Euro-Region (a new regional organization, not identical to the Black Sea Euroregion) by the Council of Europe.
The oldest golden jewelry in the world, belonging to the Varna culture, was discovered in the Varna Necropolis, located in the present city of Varna; it consists of jewelry dating to 4200-4600 BC.
|FOUNDED :||(by Varna Culture) 4100-4400 BCE|
|TIME ZONE :||• Time zone EET (UTC+2)|
• Summer (DST) EEST (UTC+3)
|AREA :||154.236 km2 (59.551 sq mi)|
|ELEVATION :||80 m (260 ft)|
|COORDINATES :||43°13′N 27°55′E|
|SEX RATIO :||• Male: 48.60%|
• Female: 51.40%
|ETHNIC :||Bulgarians: 284,738 (93.8%)|
Turks: 10,028 (3.6%)
Gypsies: 3,162 (1.0%)
Others: 3,378 (1.1%)
Indefinable: 2,288 (0.8%)
Undeclared: 31,276 (10.3%)
|AREA CODE :||52|
|POSTAL CODE :||9000|
|DIALING CODE :||+359 52|
|WEBSITE :||Official Website|
Varna (Bulgarian: Варна) is the third-largest city in Bulgaria after Sofia and Plovdiv. 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.
City landmarks include the Varna Archaeological Museum, exhibiting the Gold of Varna, the Roman Baths, the Battle of Varna Park Museum, the Naval Museum in the Italianate Villa Assaretodisplaying the museum ship Drazki torpedo boat, the Museum of Ethnography in an Ottoman-period compound featuring the life of local urban dwellers, fisherfolk, and peasants in the late 19th and early 20th century.
The 'Sea Garden' is the oldest and perhaps largest park in town containing an open-air theatre (venue of the International Ballet Competition, opera performances and concerts), Varna Aquarium (opened 1932), the Festa Dolphinarium (opened 1984), the Nicolaus Copernicus Observatory and Planetarium, the Museum of Natural History, a terrarium, a zoo, an alpineum, a children's amusement park with a pond, boat house and ice-skating rink, and other attractions. The National Revival Alley is decorated with bronze monuments to prominent Bulgarians, and the Cosmonauts' Alley contains trees planted by Yuri Gagarin and other Soviet and Bulgarian cosmonauts. The Garden is a national monument of landscape architecture and is said to be the largest landscaped park in the Balkans.
The waterfront promenade is lined by a string of beach clubs offering a vibrant scene of rock, hip-hop, Bulgarian and American-style pop, techno, and chalga. In October 2006, The Independent dubbed Varna "Europe's new funky-town, the good-time capital of Bulgaria". The city enjoys a nationwide reputation for its rock, hip-hop, world music, and other artists, clubs, and related events such as July Morning and international rock and hip-hop (including graffiti ) venues.
The city beaches, also known as sea baths (морски бани, morski bani), are dotted with hot (up to 55°С/131 °F) sulphuric mineral water sources (used for spas, swimming pools and public showers) and punctured by small sheltered marinas. Additionally, the 2.05 km (1.27 mi) long, 52 m (171 ft) high Asparuhov most bridge is a popular spot for bungee jumping. Outside the city are the Euxinograd palace, park and winery, the University of Sofia Botanical Garden (Ecopark Varna), the Pobiti Kamani rock phenomenon, and the medieval cave monastery, Aladzha.
Tourist shopping areas include the boutique rows along Prince Boris Blvd (with retail rents rivaling Vitosha Blvd in Sofia) and adjacent pedestrian streets, as well as the large mall and big-box cluster in the Mladost district, suitable for motorists. Two other shopping plazas, Piccadilly Park and Central Plaza, are conveniently located to serve tourists in the resorts north of the city centre, both driving and riding the public transit. ATMs and 24/7 gas stations with convenience stores abound.
Food markets, among others, include supermarket chains Piccadilly and Burleks. In stores and restaurants, credit cards are normally accepted. There is a number of farmers markets offering fresh local produce; the Kolkhozen Pazar, the largest one, also has a fresh fish market but is located in a crowded area virtually inaccessible for cars.
Like other cities in the region, Varna has its share of stray dogs, for the most part calm and friendly, flashing orange clips on the ears showing they have been castrated and vaccinated. However, urban wildlife is dominated by the ubiquitous seagulls, while brown squirrels inhabit the Sea Garden. In January and February, migrating swans winter on the sheltered beaches.
Prehistoric settlements best known for the eneolithic necropolis (mid-5th millennium BC radiocarbon dating), a key archaeological site in world prehistory, eponymous of old European Varna culture and internationally considered the world's oldest large find of gold artifacts, existed within modern city limits. In the wider region of the Varna lakes (before the 1900s, freshwater) and the adjacent karst springs and caves, over 30 prehistoric settlements have been unearthed with the earliest artifacts dating back to the Middle Paleolithic or 100,000 years ago.
Antiquity and Bulgarian conquest
The region of ancient Thrace was populated by Thracians by 1000 BC.Miletian Greeks founded the apoikia(trading post) of Odessòs towards the end of the 7th century BC (the earliest Greek archaeological material is dated 600–575 BC), or, according to Pseudo-Scymnus, in the time of Astyages (here, usually 572–570 BC is suggested), within an earlier Thracian settlement. The nameOdessos could have been pre-Greek, arguably of Greek Carian origin. A member of the Pontic Pentapolis, Odessos was a mixed community—contact zone between the Ionian Greeks and the Thracian tribes (Getae, Krobyzoi,Terizi) of the hinterland. Excavations at nearby Thracian sites have shown uninterrupted occupation from the 7th to the 4th century BC and close commercial relations with the colony. The Greek alphabet has been applied to inscriptions in Thracian since at least the 5th century BC; the city worshipped a Thracian great god whose cult survived well into the Roman period .
Odessos was included in the assessment of the Delian league of 425 BC. In 339 BC, it was unsuccessfully besieged by Philip II (priests of the Getae persuaded him to conclude a treaty) but surrendered to Alexander the Great in 335 BC, and was later ruled by his diadochus Lysimachus, against whom it rebelled in 313 BC as part of a coalition with other Pontic cities and the Getae. The Roman city,Odessus, first included into the Praefectura orae maritimae and then in 15 AD annexed to the province of Moesia (later Moesia Inferior), covered 47 hectares in present-day central Varna and had prominent public baths, Thermae, erected in the late 2nd century AD, now the largest Roman remains in Bulgaria (the building was 100 m (328.08 ft) wide, 70 m (229.66 ft) long, and 25 m (82.02 ft) high) and fourth-largest known Roman baths in Europe. Major athletic games were held every five years, possibly attended by Gordian III in 238 CE.
Odessus was an early Christian centre, as testified by ruins of ten early basilicas, a monophysite monastery, and indications that one of the Seventy Disciples, Ampliatus, follower of Saint Andrew (who, according to the Bulgarian Orthodox Church legend, preached in the city in 56 CE), served as bishop there. In 6th-century imperial documents, it was referred to as "holiest city,"sacratissima civitas. In 442 CE, a peace treaty between Theodosius II and Attila was done at Odessus. In 513, it became a focal point of the Vitalian revolt. In 536, Justinian I made it the seat of the Quaestura exercitus ruled by a prefect of Scythia or quaestor Justinianus and including Lower Moesia, Scythia, Caria, the Aegean Islands and Cyprus; later, the military camp outside Odessus was the seat of another senior Roman commander, magister militum per Thracias.
It has been suggested that the 681 AD peace treaty with the Byzantine Empirethat established the new Bulgarian state was concluded at Varna and the first Bulgarian capital south of the Danube may have been provisionally located in its vicinity—possibly in an ancient city near Lake Varna's north shore named Theodorias (Θεοδωριάς) by Justinian I—before it moved to Pliska 70 kilometres (43 miles) to the west.Asparukh fortified the Varna river lowland by a rampart against a possible Byzantine landing; the Asparuhov val (Asparukh's Wall) is still standing. Numerous 7th-century Bulgar settlements have been excavated across the city and further west; the Varna lakes north shores, of all regions, were arguably most densely populated by Bulgars. It has been suggested that Asparukh was aware of the importance of the Roman military camp (campus tribunalis) established by Justinian I outside Odessus and considered it (or its remnants) as the legitimate seat of power for both Lower Moesia and Scythia.
Control changed from Byzantine to Bulgarian hands several times during the Middle Ages. In the late 9th and the first half of the 10th century, Varna was the site of a principal scriptorium of the Preslav Literary School at a monastery endowed by Boris I who may have also used it as his monastic retreat. The scriptorium may have played a key role in the development of Cyrillic script by Bulgarian scholars under the guidance of one of Saints Cyril and Methodius' disciples. Karel Škorpil suggested that Boris I may have been interred there. The synthetic culture with Hellenistic Thracian, Roman, as well as eastern—Armenian, Syrian, Persian—traits that developed around Odessus in the 6th century under Justinian I, may have influenced the Pliska-Preslav culture of the First Bulgarian Empire, ostensibly in architecture and plastic decorative arts, but possibly also in literature, including Cyrillic scholarship. In 1201, Kaloyan took over the Varna fortress, then in Byzantine hands, on Holy Saturday using a siege tower, and secured it for the Second Bulgarian Empire.
By the late 13th century, with the Treaty of Nymphaeum of 1261, the offensive-defensive alliance between Michael VIII Palaeologus and Genoa that opened up the Black Sea to Genoese commerce, Varna had turned into a thriving commercial port city frequented by Genoese and later also by Venetian and Ragusan merchant ships. The first two maritime republics held consulates and had expatriate colonies there (Ragusan merchants remained active at the port through the 17th century operating from their colony in nearby Provadiya). The city was flanked by two fortresses with smaller commercial ports of their own, Kastritsi and Galata, within sight of each other, and was protected by two other strongholds overlooking the lakes, Maglizh and Petrich. Wheat, animal skins, honey and wax, wine, timber and other local agricultural produce for the Italian and Constantinople markets were the chief exports, and Mediterranean foods and luxury items were imported. The city introduced its own monetary standard, the Varna perper, by the mid-14th century; Bulgarian and Venetian currency exchange rate was fixed by a treaty. Fine jewelry, household ceramics, fine leather and food processing, and other crafts flourished; shipbuilding developed in the Kamchiya river mouth.
14th-century Italian portolan charts showed Varna as arguably the most important seaport between Constantinople and the Danube delta; they usually labeled the region Zagora. The city was unsuccessfully besieged by Amadeus VIof Savoy, who had captured all Bulgarian fortresses to the south of it, including Galata, in 1366. In 1386, Varna briefly became the capital of the spinoff Principality of Karvuna, then was taken over by the Ottomans in 1389 (and again in 1444), ceded temporarily to Manuel II Palaeologus in 1413 (perhaps until 1444), and sacked by Tatars in 1414.
Battle of Varna
On 10 November 1444, one of the last major battles of the Crusades in European history was fought outside the city walls. The Turks routed an army of 20,000-30,000 crusaders led by Ladislaus III of Poland (also Ulászló I of Hungary), which had assembled at the port to set sail to Constantinople. The Christian army was attacked by a superior force of 55,000 or 60,000 Ottomans led by sultan Murad II. Ladislaus III was killed in a bold attempt to capture the sultan, earning the sobriquet Warneńczyk (of Varna in Polish; he is also known as Várnai Ulászló in Hungarian or Ladislaus Varnensis in Latin). The failure of the Crusade of Varna made the fall of Constantinople to the Ottomans in 1453 all but inevitable, and Varna (with all of Bulgaria) was to remain under Ottoman domination for over four centuries. Today, there is a cenotaph of Ladislaus III in Varna.
Late Ottoman rule
A major port, agricultural, trade and shipbuilding centre for the Ottoman Empire in the 16th and 17th centuries, preserving a significant and economically active Bulgarian population, Varna was later made one of the Quadrilateral Fortresses (along with Rousse, Shumen, and Silistra) severing Dobruja from the rest of Bulgaria and containing Russia in the Russo-Turkish wars. The Russians temporarily took over in 1773 and again in 1828, following the prolonged Siege of Varna, returning it to the Ottomans two years later after the medieval fortress was razed.
In the early 19th century, many local Greeks joined the patriotic organization Filiki Eteria. Αt the outbreak of the Greek War of Independence (1821) revolutionary activity was recorded in Varna. As a result local notables that participated in the Greek national movement were executed by the Ottoman authorities, while others managed to escape to Greece and continue their struggle.
The British and French campaigning against Russia in the Crimean War (1854–1856) used Varna as headquarters and principal naval base; many soldiers died of cholera and the city was devastated by a fire. A British and a French monument mark the cemeteries where cholera victims were interred. In 1866, the first railroad in Bulgaria connected Varna with the Rousse on the Danube, linking the Ottoman capital Constantinople with Central Europe; for a few years, the Orient Express ran through that route. The port of Varna developed as a major supplier of food—notably wheat from the adjacent breadbasket Southern Dobruja—to Constantinople and a busy hub for European imports to the capital; 12 foreign consulates opened in the city. Local Bulgarians took part in the National Revival; Vasil Levski set up a secret revolutionary committee.
Third Bulgarian State
In 1878, the city, which numbered 26 thousand inhabitants, was given to Bulgaria by the Russian troops, who entered on 27 July. Varna became a front city in the First Balkan War and the First World War; its economy was badly affected by the temporary loss of its agrarian hinterland of Southern Dobruja to Romania (1913–16 and 1919–40). In the Second World War, the Red Army occupied the city in September 1944, helping cement communist rule in Bulgaria.
One of the early centres of industrial development and the Bulgarian labor movement, Varna established itself as the nation's principal port of export, a major grain producing and viticulture centre, seat of the nation's oldest institution of higher learning outside Sofia, a popular venue for international festivals and events, as well as the country's de factosummer capital with the erection of the Euxinograd royal summer palace (currently, the Bulgarian government convenes summer sessions there). Mass tourism emerged since the late 1950s. Heavy industry and trade with the Soviet Union boomed in the 1950s to the 1970s.
From 20 December 1949 to 20 October 1956 the city was renamed by the communist government Stalin after Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin.
In 1962, the 15th Chess Olympiad, also known as the World Team Championship, was here. In 1969 and 1987, Varna was the host of the World Rhythmic Gymnastics Championships. From 30 September to 4 October 1973, the 10th Olympic Congress took place in the Sports Palace.
Varna became a popular resort for Eastern Europeans, until 1989 barred from travelling to the west. One of them, the veteran German Communist Otto Braun died while on a vacation in Varna in 1974.
Varna has a humid subtropical climate (Köppen climate classification Cfa), with considerable maritime and continental influences. The summer begins in early May and lasts till early October. Temperatures in summer usually vary between 18 C and 21 degrees C in the night and 25–35 C during the day. Seawater temperature during the summer months is usually around 23–27 degrees C. In winter temperatures are about 0 degrees at night and 5-10 degrees C during the day. Snow is possible in December, January, February and rarely in March. Snow falls in winter only several times and can quickly melt. The highest temperature ever recorded was 41.0 C and the lowest -19.0 C.
Climate data for Varna
|Average high °C (°F)||6.2|
|Daily mean °C (°F)||1.9|
|Average low °C (°F)||−1.7|
The city occupies 238 km2 (92 sq mi) on verdant terraces (Varna monocline of the Moesian platform) descending from the calcareous Franga Plateau (height 356 m or 1,168 ft) on the north and Avren Plateau on the south, along the horseshoe-shaped Varna Bay of the Black Sea, the elongated Lake Varna, and two artificial waterways connecting the bay and the lake and bridged by the Asparuhov most. It is the centre of a growing conurbation stretching along the seaboard 20 km (12 mi) north and 10 km (6 mi) south (mostly residential and recreational sprawl) and along the lake 25 km (16 mi) west (mostly transportation and industrial facilities). Since antiquity, the city has been surrounded by vineyards, orchards, and forests. Commercial shipping facilities are being relocated inland into the lakes and canals, while the bay remains a recreation area; almost all the waterfront is parkland.
The urban area has in excess of 20 km (12 mi) of sand beaches and abounds in thermal mineral water sources (temperature 35–55 °C or 95–131 °F). It enjoys a mild climate influenced by the sea with long, mild, akin to Mediterranean, autumns, and sunny and hot, yet considerably cooler than Mediterranean summers moderated by breezes and regular rainfall. Although Varna receives about two thirds of the average rainfall for Bulgaria, abundant groundwater keeps its wooded hills lush throughout summer. The city is cut off from north and north-east winds by hills along the north arm of the bay, yet January and February still can be bitterly cold at times, with blizzards. Black Sea water has become cleaner after 1989 due to decreased chemical fertilizer in farming; it has low salinity, lacks large predators or poisonous species, and the tidal range is virtually imperceptible.
The city lies 470 km (292 mi) north-east of Sofia; the nearest major cities are Dobrich (45 km or 28 mi to the north), Shumen (80 km or 50 mi to the west), and Burgas (125 km or 78 mi to the south-west). Varna is accessible by air (Varna International Airport), sea (Port of Varna Cruise Terminal), railway (Central railway station), and car. Major roads include European routes E70 to Bucharest and E87 to Istanbul and Constanta, Romania; national motorways A-2 (Hemus motorway) to Sofia and A-5 (Cherno More motorway) to Burgas. There are bus lines to many Bulgarian and international cities from two bus terminals and train ferry and ro-ro services to Odessa, Ukraine, Port Kavkaz, Russia, Poti and Batumi, Georgia.
The economy is service-based, with 61% of net revenue generated in trade and tourism, 16% in manufacturing, 14% in transportation and communications, and 6% in construction. Financial services, particularly banking, insurance, investment management, and real-estate finance are booming. As of December 2008, the fallout of the global financial crisis has not yet been hard. The city is the easternmost destination of Pan-European transport corridor 8 and is connected to corridors 7 and 9 via Rousse. Major industries traditionally include transportation (Navibulgar, Port of Varna, Varna International Airport), distribution (Logistics Park Varna ),shipbuilding (see also Oceanic-Creations), ship repair, and other marine industries.
In June 2007, Eni and Gazpromdisclosed the South Stream project whereby a 900-kilometre-long (559-mile) offshore natural gas pipeline from Russia's Dzhubga with annual capacity of 63 billion metres (207 billion feet) is planned to come ashore at Varna, possibly near the Galata offshore gas field, en route to Italy and Austria.
With the nearby towns of Beloslav and Devnya, Varna forms the Varna-Devnya Industrial Complex, home to some of the largest chemical, thermal power, and manufacturing facilities in Bulgaria, including Varna Thermal Pover Plant and Sodi Devnya, the two largest cash privatization deals in the country's recent history. There are also notable facilities for radio navigation devices, household appliances, security systems, textiles, apparel, food and beverages, printing, and other industries. Some manufacturing veterans are giving way to post-industrial developments: an ECE shopping mall is taking the place of the former VAMO diesel engine works and the Varna Brewery is being replaced by a convention centre.
Tourism is of foremost importance with the suburban beachfront resorts of Golden Sands, Holiday Club Riviera, Sunny Day, Constantine and Helena, and others with a total capacity of over 60,000 beds (2005), attracting millions of visitors each year (4.74 million in 2006, 3.99 million of which international tourists ). The resorts received considerable internal and foreign investment in the late 1990s and early in the first decade of the 21st century, and are environmentally sound, being located reassuringly far from chemical and other smokestack industries. Varna is also Bulgaria's only international cruise destination (with over 30 cruises scheduled for 2007) and a major international convention and spa centre.
Real estate boomed in 2003–2008 with some of the highest prices in the nation, by fall 2007 surpassing Sofia (this still holds true in April 2009). Commercial real estate is developing major international office tower projects.
In retail, the city not only has the assortment of international big-box retailers now ubiquitous in larger Bulgarian cities, but boasts made-in-Varna national chains with locations spreading over the country such as retailer Piccadilly, restaurateur Happy, and pharmacy chain Sanita.
In 2008, there were three large shopping malls operating and another four projects in various stages of development, turning Varna into an attractive international shopping destination (Pfohe Mall, Central Plaza, Mall Varna, Grand Mall, Gallery Mall, Cherno More Park, and Varna Towers), plus a retail park under development outside town. The city has many of the finest eateries in the nation and abounds in ethnic food places.
Economically, Varna is among the best-performing and fastest-growing Bulgarian cities; unemployment, at 2.34% (2007), is over 3 times lower than the nation's rate; in 2007, median salary was the highest, on a par with Sofia and Burgas. Many Bulgarians regard Varna as a boom town; some, including from Sofia and Plovdiv, or returning from western countries, but mostly from Dobrich, Shumen, and the greater region, are relocating there.
In September 2004, FDi magazine (a Financial Times Business Ltd publication) proclaimed Varna South-eastern Europe City of the Future citing its strategic location, fast-growing economy, rich cultural heritage and higher education. In April 2007, rating agency Standard & Poor's announced that it had raised its long-term issue credit rating for Varna to BB+ from BB, declaring the city’s outlook "stable" and praising its "improved operating performance".
In December 2007 (and again in October 2008), Varna was voted "Best City in Bulgaria to Live In" by a national poll by Darik Radio, the 24 Chasa daily and the information portal darik.news.
- List of Varna City boroughs and districts
|Vladislav Varnenchik||Владислав Варненчик||Vladislav Varnenchik||48,740|
|Kaisieva Gradina (Apricot Garden)||Кайсиева градина||Vladislav Varnenchik||48,740|
|Zlatni pyasatsi (Golden Sands)||Златни пясъци||Primorski||105,340|
|Hristo Botev||Христо Ботев||Odessos||82,784|
|Zapadna promishlena zona (West Industrial Zone)||Западна промишлена зона||Mladost||87,256|
Prices in Varna
MARKET / SUPERMARKET
|Beer (domestic)||0.5 l||€0.82|
|Bottle of Wine||1 bottle||€3.90|
|Dinner (Low-range)||for 2||€13.00|
|Dinner (Mid-range)||for 2||€22.00|
|Dinner (High-range)||for 2||€35.00|
|Mac Meal or similar||1 meal||€3.60|
|Beer (Imported)||0.33 l||€1.30|
|Beer (domestic)||0.5 l||€1.05|
|Coctail drink||1 drink||€3.80|
|Men’s Haircut||1 haircut||€4.00|
|Mobile (prepaid)||1 min.||€0.16|
|Pack of Marlboro||1 pack||€2.80|
|Toilet paper||4 rolls||€1.20|
CLOTHES / SHOES
|Jeans (Levis 501 or similar)||1||€54.00|
|Dress summer (Zara, H&M)||1||€32.00|
|Sport shoes (Nike, Adidas)||1||€65.00|
|Local Transport||1 ticket||€0.50|
28 € per day
Estimated cost per 1 day including:
- meals in cheap restaurant
- public transport
- cheap hotel
96 € per day
Estimated cost per 1 day including:
- mid-range meals and drinks
Transportation - Get In
- Varna Airport (IATA: VAR), 8 km west of the city centre. Easy bus and taxi connection to city centre and resorts. There is a free shuttle bus between Varna Airport, Varna city centre and Burgas Airport.
Airlines and destinations - connections are mostly seasonal (the list is not full):
- Air Via (Berlin-Schönefeld, Berlin-Tegel, Frankfurt)
- Austrian Airlines operated by Tyrolean Airways (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)
- Jetairfly Brussels
- Thomsonfly (East Midlands, London-Gatwick, Manchester)
- Norwegian Air Shuttle (Oslo)
- Ural Airlines (Nizhny Novgorod, Samara, Yekaterinburg)
- Wizz Air (London Luton)
- Vim Airlines (Moscow)
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.
There is one direct international train always available. Night train #059 departs Kiev daily, journey time is just under 35 hours. On its way to Varna, this train also stops in Lviv (25 h) and Bucharest (8 h). 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.
There are two bus stations in Varna, one serving the local area and one for longer connections to Sofia, Veliko Tarnovo, Burgas, Plovdiv, Istanbul, Greece, Romania, Central and Western Europe. They aren't that easy to find, so take a taxi. As you approach them from the city centre, the station to the left is the local one, to the right is the long distance one.
Varna can be reached by Haemus Motorway (A2) from Sofia, E70 from Rousse(and Bucharest), E87 from Constanta, Romania, and Cherno More Motorway (A3)/E87 from Istanbul, Turkey.
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 a ferry to Ilichevsk (Odessa) in Ukraine and Poti & Batumi in Georgia. [www]
Transportation - Get Around
There is a pedestrian area and a coast area with a lot of fun for the tourists. There you can get around by foot. If you live in the tourist suburbs of Varna, you can come to the centre by bus, by trolleybus, by a rented car or by taxi. 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 leva (€0.40) per km.
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). Ticket price is 1.00 BGN. A map of all bus stops and routes can be found here.
Varna Bike Rental rents bikes for self-guided and guided sightseeing.
- BEST RATED -
- BEST VALUE -
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.
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.
The 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.
Sights & Landmarks
- 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.
- Naval Museum 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.
- 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.
- The Sea Garden is 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.
- 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.
- The 2.4 km long, 50 m high Asparuhov Most bridge is a popular spot for bungee jumping.
- Notable old Bulgarian Eastern Orthodox churches include the metropolitan Assumption of Mary Cathedral; 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.
- Aladzha Manastir (Аладжа Манастир) outside Varna is a beautiful monastery, which is dug in a giant rock. The entrance fee is quite low, and it's a very beautiful, and quite weird thing to see.
- Pobiti Kamani (Побити Камъни), literally "the rocks which got hit", also outside Varna, are a bunch of gigantic rocks, standing up, in the middle of nowhere. The rocks are said to radiate energy and a lot of hippies stop by.
- 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.
Museums & Galleries
- Varna Archaeological Museum (founded 1888)
- Naval Museum (founded 1923)
- Roman Baths
- Aladzha Monastery
- Battle of Varna Park Museum (founded 1924)
- Museum of Ethnography
- National Revival Museum
- History of Varna Museum
- History of Medicine Museum
- Health Museum (children's)
- Puppet Museum (antique puppets from Puppet Theatre shows)
- Bulgar Settlement of Phanagoria ethnographical village (mockup, with historical reenactments)
- Aquarium (founded 1912)
- Nicolaus Copernicus Observatory and Planetarium
- Naval Academy Planetarium
- Museum of Natural History
- Varna Zoo
- Dolphinarium (founded 1984)
- Boris Georgiev Art Gallery
- Georgi Velchev Gallery
- Modern Art Centre (Graffit Gallery Hotel)
- Print Gallery
- Numerous smaller fine and applied arts galleries
Things to do
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.
- Varna Green Tour (Tourist Info Center), Varna, Square St. Cyril and Methodius(Kozirkata next to the Clock Tower and opposite of the Cathedral), . 2 hours
Free Bike tour in Varna, the sea's capital of Bulgaria. Explore Varna on a Bike. You will see beautiful green part of Varna city and many landmarks such as: The Cathedral of the Assumption of the Virgin, The Sea Garden, The Aquarium, The Dolphinarium, The Roman Baths and many others. Rent a Bike and discover Varna by your own Bike tour.
- 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 11AM and 6PM (13 April - 14 October). No reservation required. Just show up at the starting point. Upon request during the rest of the year. Free.
Festivals and events
- Golden Rose Bulgarian Feature Film Festival (biennial)
- Got Flow National Hip-Hop Dance Festival (annual)
- May Arts Saloon at Radio Varna
- Bulgaria for All National Ethnic Festival (annual, minority authentic folklore)
- Dinyo Marinov National Children's Authentic Folklore Music Festival
- Morsko konche (Seahorse) children's vocal competition (annual, pop)
- Navy Day (second Sunday of August)
- Urban Folk Song Festival
- Christmas Folk Dance Competition
- Easter music festival
- Classical guitar festival
- Golden Fish fairy tale festival
- Kinohit movie marathon
- Crafts fair (August 2012)
- Dormition of the Theotokos festival, cathedral patron, Varna Day (August 15)
- Beer Fest
- Saint Nicholas Day (December 6)
- Christmas festival
- New Year's Eve concert and fireworks (Independence Square)
- Operosa Opera Festival
The beach at night tends to have the most night life in the summer. Best beach nightclubs in 2011: Extravaganza, Copa Cabana, 4 as pik (chalga), Cubo.
There are also clubs and bars in the city but some of them are closed during summer: Horizont, Cargo, Bolla bar, Planet Club.
Safety in Varna
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 the brutal beating of an Icelandic teenage girl in the summer of 2007. 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.