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Varna - The Black Sea Capital

Varna, the summer capital of Bulgaria, is a vibrant and cosmopolitan city bursting with life. Bulgarian royalty endorsed this notion by choosing the city of Varna for their summer residence.

The Independent newspaper dubbed Varna "Europe's new funky town, the good-time capital of Bulgaria". It enjoys a nationwide reputation for its rock and hip-hop artists and related events such as the July morning rock festival. Libby Gomersall puts the Black Sea capital under the microscope.

Varna has a population of 530,000 and is the county's third largest city. It is a major tourist destination with in excess of 20 kms of golden sandy beaches and thermal mineral water sources.

Varna also acts as the gateway to the purpose-built beach resorts. Tourism is one of its most important revenue sources and is bursting with activities to suit all ages.A vibrant,sociable and inexpensive city that continues to catch the attention of more and more visitors each year.

The city centre has a quaint ‘shabby chic' retro style, a city in part languishing in the old glory of the twenties, yet embracing the spirit of a new millennium.

The emerging Bulgarian middle classes rebuilt the downtown area in the late 19th and early 20th century in Western style with local interpretations of Neo-Renaissance, Neo-Baroque, Neo-classicism, Art Nouveau and Art Deco and many of these buildings have undergone a tasteful restoration.

In Nezavisimost Square, the heart of the city, there is a refreshing fountain, which seems to cool down its summer visitors with its jet sprays.

Pavement Café's and restaurants surround the square and it is a great place for sipping on a coffee and watching the world pass by. Off the main square, there are many delightful boutiques and shopping here is a pleasure.

During the rapid urbanisation of the 1960s to the early 1980s, large, concrete, Soviet-style apartment blocks sprung up on land formerly covered by small private vineyards or agricultural cooperatives. These grim monstrosities still loom in the background but they are fading as the volume of new blocks done in a varied, tasteful pastel palette overshadows them.


Varna lies on the Northern Black Sea coast 470 kms northeast of Sofia; the nearest major cities are Dobrich (45 kms to the north), Shumen (80 kms to the west), and Burgas (130 kms to the south-west). The city's horseshoe shape envelops the bay of the Black Sea creating a perfect natural harbour. Its backdrop is the creamy limestone cliffs topped by the Frangen Plateau. A series of lush terraces descend downwards to what locals call Varna Lake. It's proximity to the sea means that it enjoys a mild continental climate with a long, mild autumn and spring, hot, sunny summers and a short unpredictable winter.