Things to Do in Varna for a Day

Visiting the City

Varna is neither the biggest nor the shiniest city you can pay a visit to, but it certainly has unique charm and a lot to offer – cultural heritage, tourist attractions, beautiful parks and beaches and a lot more and last but not least, crazy night life.

During the summer, the city has many guests from different nationalities and different backgrounds. The reason behind this diversity is that every single person can find something interesting in Varna to suit his or her personality. This is why I always recommend to foreigners just like yourself, to come and pay a visit and stay for at least a day. If you are one of the many who are accommodated in Golden Sands or any other Black Sea resort for that matter, renting a car is going to be your best option for a day trip to Varna or a full several days of traveling along the Black Sea coast.

Bear with me and I’ll tell you all about how you could spend a very enjoyable day in the center of Varna, and where you should stop by and why.

Where You Should Start From

A good place for the start of a daytrip is the Dormition of the Mother of God Cathedral or the place right across the square called “Kozirkata” which in Bulgarian means visor. The locals give this name because the shape of the roof resembles the visor of a hat. The curious ones can visit the Tourist Information centre located in the building.

Dormition of the Mother of God Cathedral - Varna

Dormition of the Mother of God Cathedral

The Visor

The Visor

Why should I visit the Cathedral?

  • It is the second largest cathedral in Bulgaria
  • It’s one of the town’s symbols

Pros

  • As in every temple you get to see beautiful iconostasis and other sorts of religious art
  • Become a witness of some Christian orthodox customs

Cons

  • Sometimes there are a lot of beggars around the Cathedral, which can be awkward for some people

Continuing down to the main pedestrian street you’ll see the building of the Varna’s opera house. Many theatrical plays with foreign guest actors are also taking place in the opera. If you are interested in this kind of art better check their web site http://www.dramavarna.com/ – unfortunately at the moment it is available only in Bulgarian. Close to the opera we can easily find a lot of coffeehouses and snack bars. I personally prefer the the doner kebab stands in the vicinity or the bakery close to one of them, where everyone can have a quick snack for a reasonable price. One of the things I will recommend is to try kebab with a cold beer or the traditional Bulgarian Banitza from the bakery with Ayran (basically yogurt with water and salt) or Boza which is made from wheat or millet.

The opera house

The Opera House

The Bakery

The Bakery

Having finished the tasty snack I can continue my walk to Preslav str. and Knyaz Boriz I boulevard while at the same time taking a quick look at the numerous shop offers. One of the landmarks situated close to the boulevard is Grand Hotel London.

Grand Hotel London

Grand Hotel London

Why should I visit Grand Hotel London?

Foremost – the architecture. The building itself is 100 years old and very well preserved, not only from outside but also from inside. The vintage furniture is also very interesting. The Award winning restaurant with a 5-star service and the hotel’s cafe are the perfect place for a business meeting or just an afternoon cup of tea with an old friend.

Pros

  • Nice atmosphere and service
  • Good location
  • Unique place by its own

Cons

  • Could be a bit pricey or demanding for someone, but considering the things mentioned above I think it’s absolutely justified

After the coffee at Grand Hotel London it is time to proceed to the next landmark in the list. Further down the boulevard is the St. Nicholas’s church. The reason this temple is so important for the locals is because St. Nicholas is considered the protector of all sailors and as you’ve probably guessed it there are plenty of seafarers in Varna. Legend has it that the funds for the building were donated by a wealthy merchant who made a vow to build a temple as he was praying for his life during a heavy storm in the Black Sea.

St. Nicholas’s church

St. Nicholas’s church

Why should I consider a visit to St. Nicholas’s church?

  • It’s part of the cultural heritage of the city and with the age of 150 years it is actually older than the Dormition of the Mother of God Cathedral
  • Уou can see beautiful iconostasis and wall-paintings which are unique hand-made pieces of art

Pros

  • It absolutely free
  • You can become a witness to a Christian Orthodox wedding or a baptism

Cons

  • I really can’t think of something

As I mentioned before Varna can offer something for everyone. Let’s say you’ve had enough culture activities for today and besides this it is very hot and humid outside and you are dying for a cold drink. In this case I can recommend one of my favourite pubs in Varna. Its name is “Shtaigata” meaning “The Crate” in Bulgarian. There is a large neon sign “The house of Glarus” above the building. Glarus is the name of the craft beer they serve in the pub (together with many more) which is made in one village close to Varna and if you like beer, like most people do, I strongly advise you to try it. Someone may ask why is this beer so special. Since it is made close to the city the transportation time is just a few minutes thus the beer is always fresh without the need of adding preservatives. Basically this is probably the purest beer you can try.

Тhe house of Glarus

Тhe House of Glarus

Why should I visit bar “Shtaigata”?

  • One of the few places you can try the local draft beer
  • Being something like a pub means of course you can watch your favourite game while enjoying a cold beer

Pros

  • Affordable prices – Large beer is 3lv. ≈ 1.5 euro and a decent meal can cost you from 5 to 10 lv. depending on your taste
  • Nice staff
  • Good cuisine
  • Casual Atmosphere just a few steps from the main street

Cons

  • It’s not a small bar, but sometimes (usually Friday or Saturday night) it can be hard to find a free place.

After the refreshing drink or a nice meal it is time to carry on with our itinerary towards the entrance of the Sea Garden where at the left is standing Varna’s Festival and Congress Centre. Having in mind the fact that this building was made almost 30 years ago I can say it still looks modern. Other not very well known fact is that one of the few organs in Bulgaria is housed there.

Why should I visit The Festival and Congress Centre in Varna?

As the name implies a lot of events are taking place especially in the summer – music festivals, theatrical plays, cinema, congresses and conferences. There is also a nice book shop combined with a coffeehouse, where you can spend a lazy afternoon reading some of your favourite books enjoying the summer sun. The coffee bar in front of it, Bar De Rouge, is a great place to stop and have a cappuccino or drink beer.

Festival and congress centre

Festival and Congress Centre

Pros

  • This is probably the only place in Bulgaria where you can visit many international film festivals and watch movies from all around the world
  • There is also a bar and very good restaurant in the centre

Cons

  • As in most of the enterprises owned by the state, sometimes it can be a problem to find a worker speaking English, so better check their website

Let’s recap – until now we have become a little more familiar with the local cuisine and culture and saw a bunch of different shops during our walk down the boulevards. So what else can my city offer you? Just a few steps from the Sea Garden’s entrance lays Varna’s Astronomical observatory “Nicolaus Copernicus”

Why should I visit Varna’s astronomical observatory?

Astronomical observatory

Astronomical Observatory

The “Planetarium” as many of the locals called it can be a pleasant attraction for you and for your children also. The main show represents the cosmos around the Planet Earth and the movement of the Sun and the stars through the course of the year. So in other words you can spend some quality family time together plus the youngsters are getting the benefit of learning something for our solar system.

Pros

  • Sometimes the Planetarium holds special presentations which can be quite interesting
  • Cheap tickets – The most expensive ticket is 4 lv. You can also rent the entire hall for 100 lv. per hour

Cons

  • Most of the shows are in Bulgarian. So before going there check the current schedule at their website but since it is only in Bulgarian this link will be more helpful
  • The observatory is working only on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday until 17:00 hrs

Now it’s time to go to the beach. What I’m going to do there is entirely up to me. The first thing that comes to mind is sunbathing. I personally prefer the time after 5 p.m because the chance to get sunburn is a lot smaller, the sea water is 2 or 3 degrees warmer compared to the temperatures in the morning or midday and the sand is pleasantly warm but not hot like in the afternoon. The coastal alley also has a lot of restaurants and beach bars. Some of them are “Cuba”, “Menthol”, “Palm beach” and the most famous one is “Cubo”. Although “Cubo” is not so different from the others, it’s my top choice and the one I recommend to most people coming to Varna. What makes “Cubo” so well established is that it was the first of its kind in Varna and also because the other bars focus on different music genres.

The entrance to the Cubo beach bar

Cubo Beach Bar

Why should I visit bar Cubo?

It is ideal for almost every occasion. Whether it’s for pre-party or a noisy celebration – this is your place. And of course the summer breeze is very pleasant in the hot and moist summer nights.

Pros

  • Really nice atmosphere
  • You can meet a wide variety of people here, but the really cool thing is that you will probably meet someone with whom you’ll have something in common to talk about and have a great time.
  • They are offering the craft beer “Shturk” for 5 lv. and to be honest till this moment this is the only place I know for sure where you can try it

Cons

  • If you want to have a long conversation with someone probably this is not the best place because the music can be very loud sometimes
  • As I mentioned before this bar is well-known, so be sure to come here early in order to get a nice spot

Visiting all the places cited above certainly takes a lot of time and that means the clock is now showing somewhere between 22:00 and 24:00 and I’m very hungry. So our next stop will be the food bar “Godzila”. Working non-stop. It is one of the favourite places of the locals for midnight meals.

Why shoud I visit Godzila?

Godzila foodbar

Godzila Foodbar

This food bar has almost everything – pizza, spaghetti, salads, soups, sushi etc. Its location and working time really can’t be more convenient. Me and my friends visit it every time after a hard party night to quench our hunger.

Pros

  • Low prices even for a normal food bar, adding the fact that it is open non-stop makes it an even bigger bargain
  • Pizzas are their specialty and they have a large variety of them. The same goes for the salads
  • Every BBQ order gets free garnish
  • The staff is good and they are fast to respond with taking your order and serving your food. Depending on your order, you can get served something tasty in less than 30 minutes – usually between 10-20 min

Cons

  • This place has really nice BBQ. I absolutely adore their neck chop and lamb kebab. So then why is this under the cons section? The biggest problem (for me) is that they only take orders for the BBQ until 22:00

Having replenished our strength it is time to help our stomach with the digestion. And what better option for this than listening to some nice music with a glass of your favourite drink. The place I’m talking about is called “Stars” and it is located on the last floor of hotel “Cherno more”. Roughly not more than 100 metres away from “Godzila”

Why should I visit piano bar Stars?

Cherno More Hotel

Cherno More Hotel

It is a really nice place with unique atmosphere. Like most of the piano bars in town, its open until 3 or 4 a.m. and it is the perfect ending of a long day or a wild party night

Pros

  • The view towards the city is spectacular. This is the only place to enjoy it in such comfort and being so close to the main attractions in the city
  • Good live music from the 70’s 80’s and 90’s

Cons

  • Although it is not actually a disadvantage many of the visitors tend not to read the sign at the door stating that there is an entrance fee of 3 lv per person after 22:00 which is calculated in the final receipt. This is probably for your information to save you from unexpected expenses. Bear in mind that if you entered before 22:00 but asked for the bill after 22:00 the fee is also applicable

Before putting an end to our daytrip I would want to give you one final advice. Usually I don’t take a cab because I live close to the centre but most of the people prefer to take one. The safest thing to do is to call a cab company and order a car instead of just stopping or hopping into the first one you see. Doing this can save you a lot of troubles like high rates or if you forget something in the car you can always call back in the office and the employees working there will ask the driver to search for it.
So I hope this guide will give some valuable information for the people who want to visit Varna and get a glimpse of the night life here. I would really like to hear your questions, ideas for a sequel or what you would want to read about next and don’t forget to check our posts about other tourist attraction like Varna’s retro museum.

Kiril Yanakiev

Kiril Yanakiev

Kiril is a man of many different interests. Like all people at Bulrent, he shares the love for cars and enjoys taking long road trips with friends. He has a technical background - he majored "Fleet and ports operations" in the Technical University of Varna and also graduated as a Maritime Navigation major.
Kiril Yanakiev

Latest posts by Kiril Yanakiev (see all)

Leave a Reply

Subscribe to Our Newsletter

Looking for Cheap Car Rentals in Bulgaria?

Car Fleet

Your cheap car rental is just a click away with Bulrent car hire booking engine. We provide you with great deals from local companies and simplify the reservation process.