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St Vlas - luxury and style on the coast

A luxurious beach resort located at the foot of the southern end of the Balkan Mountains (often referred to as the Stara Planina Mountains) in the calm Bourgas Bay makes it the only place on the Bulgarian Black Sea coast where all of the beaches face directly south. Its reputation as an up-market tourist resort is growing as it continues to provide a chic alternative to neighbouring Sunny Beach. It is now home to Bulgaria's largest yacht marina and attracts a great deal of wealthy new tourists as a consequence. St Vlas' beaches are almost two km in length and 16 metres in width. In 2007, the beach was extended using rocks and sand dug out during the construction of the marina. St.Vlas itself is a small town with just over 3,800 inhabitants. It lies 4 km north of Bulgaria's largest coastal resort Sunny Beach and 9 km away from the historical town of Nessebur.

It provides spectacular views across the bay to historic Nessebur with the forest-covered mountains as a backdrop. This rare combination of mountain and sea climates makes it an ideal health resort particularly for those with lung diseases and along with its tranquil setting it provides the perfect environment for rest and relaxation. The small town provides a host of amenities including a selection of small shops, good restaurants and bars as well as a post office. It is tastefully set out with landscaped grounds and adds to welcoming atmosphere, particularly suited to families and those in need of a quiet and relaxed holiday.

Everything in the town is within walking distance and there are plenty of taxis for the less able. There are regular public mini busses between St Vlas, Sunny Beach, Nessebur and Bourgas and several water taxis available to some of these destinations. The nearest international airport at Bourgas is 30 minutes drive away and has regular flights to the UK.

There are three beaches along this golden stretch of fine sand to choose from in St Vlas; the longest, Central Beach, is peaceful and uncrowded. A little further south, a small intimate beach offers camping facilities and stretches from the Sun Palace complex to the Riviera complex. To the north lies the lively new Dinevi Marina with its dazzle of harbour-side restaurants and cafes. There are innumerable activities available during the summer season including trips aboard pirate ships, jeep safaris around the unspoilt countryside and organized dives to the treasures of the deep. To the eastern end of the village there is a small port full of local fishing boats.Of all the resorts along the Black Sea coast, St Vlas stands out amongst the rest.

The Dinevi Brothers commenced construction of the Marina Dinevi in June 2006 making this the first private yacht port in the country. At the port, you can hire or buy yachts and obtain help and advice from a professional team of consultants. The marina covers 26 decares with an aquatorium of almost 40 decares. Moorings for 300 yachts are available, including moorings for 50 boats over 25 meters in length. Boats are secured on six floating walkways with access to power, water, mobile re-fueling facilities, Internet, cable TV, telephone and fax available at each mooring space. The marina is enhanced by a 24-hour manned security service with a surveillance camera system. The port has also been opened up as a border point with its own customs and border administration to deal with entry into the country. Facilities open to the public include a five-star hotel, fish restaurants, a piano bar, a sailor bar and other entertainment enterprise, a supermarket, shops, a sport and recreation center, a doctor's office, and a bank. The development accommodates the offices belonging to the port administration and border police as well as providing conference halls for private enterprise. Yacht owners will be able to take advantage of the specialised yacht equipment and repair shops, a 50-ton boat hoist with haul-out opportunities and a slipway to get boats into the water.

Dinevi have paid much attention to the protection of the surrounding environment by encouraging the development of a purification facility capable of processing household waste from the multitude of yachts. Hiring a yacht for four or five hours costs from 120 euros and luxury boats cost more, but a shorter organized cruise costs as little as 30 euros a person. Most yachts can take in around four to six people.

Emine Cape is the central cape of the Stara Planina Mountain and one of the country's most impressive capes, the other being Kaliakra on the northern coast. It's frightening 60-metre-long steep drop to the sea provides some breathtaking views. One of the best ways to see the rock and the lighthouse perching on the top is by boat from Bourgas. It lies around 20 km to the north of St Vlas.

Nessebur is a UNESCO, world heritage site. Situated on a rocky peninsula on the Black Sea, the more than 3,000-year-old site of Nessebur was originally a Thracian settlement (known as Menebria). At the beginning of the 6th century B.C., the city became a Greek colony. The city's remains, which date mostly from the Hellenistic period, include the acropolis, a temple of Apollo, an agora and a wall from the Thracian fortifications. Nessebur is full of historic nineteenth century Revival architecture and medieval churches. It is a quaint cobble stoned town with many small winding alleys, which used to be a thriving Greek and Roman port and was one of the last places to be ruled by the ailing Byzantine Empire. Noteworthy sites include the wooden windmill and the Archaeological Museum, which contains a vast collection of relics ranging from statues of various gods to gold jewellery including some delicately crafted earrings decorated with lion’s heads. The ancient churches pay homage to a range of eras from Byzantine to early Bulgarian. The Church of Christ Pantokrator is noted for its colourful exterior decoration, whilst the Church of St John the Baptist is puritanical in design. The Church of the Saviour houses a spectacular collection of frescoes and the Church of Sveta Bogorodista houses a remarkable collection of religious icons dating back to the 17th century.

Bourgas, Bulgaria’s fourth largest city is a thriving port with much to offer. It is home to several interesting museums including the impressive Museum of History, which houses a rich collection of local archaeological treasures and the Ethnographic Museum, which exhibits an interesting selection of Kukeri masks and costumes. The church of Saints Cyril and Methodius contains some amazing religious frescoes, which are well worth seeing. One of the city's most beautiful offerings is the incredible Sea Garden, a park located on a hill overlooking the sea, which has an abundance of attractions including a zoo, casino and open-air theatre. Bourgas is also a great place to dine out with a host of traditional and international restaurants to choose from, many of which play live music.
A little further, out of the town, there are some beautiful lakes. Lake Bourgas, Lake Pomorie, Lake Atanassovo and the Mandren Lakes are all ideal locations where you can relax with a picnic and watch the many herons and pelicans, which congregate here.

South of Nessebur around 40 km from St Vlas is the wine, spa town and beach resort of Pomorie. It is one of the country's main sources of salt and is famous for its therapeutic mud baths. The Monastery of St George is worth seeing; it has a domed belfry and is home to an eclectic selection of 19th century buildings brought to life by the multitude of pot plants and shrubs, which adorn the courtyard. The Church of the Transfiguration, an 18th century church at the eastern side of the Pomorie peninsula is also worth a visit. Whilst visiting the town, be sure to try some of its aromatic Pomoriiski Dimyat wine.

St Vlas offers visitors numerous private hotels of a variety of styles and high-quality service, making the small village a preferred destination for holidaymakers. The four-star Laguna Hotel stands out against the rest for its beautiful design and top-class service. Its prices are also very reasonable from 25 euro per night during peak season. The hotel offers a wide range of facilities including sea views, a private swimming pool, games hall and bars and restaurant.

The Bells Hotel is located in beautiful grounds with a lovely bell tower in the middle. The adjacent terrace offers spectacular views to the sea and each room is like a self-contained apartment with cable TV, kitchen facilities and a spacious living room. Another gem is the Gala Hotel, which lies close to a beautiful forest 400 meters away from the seacoast. This hotel is unique in its architectural design and offers 2 3-bed apartments, 13 double rooms and 7 studios. There are also a plenty of 3-star hotels in the town, such as the Alfa, Astra, Bel Ami and the Intzaraki.
The Admiral at the Palace Hotel is a particular favourite but a little on the pricey side by Bulgarian standards. The Johe Banana and Vodenicata also ranked among the town's top restaurants. Those seeking a more active nightlife will enjoy the Piano Bar, Diamond or the new Club Planet Yacht.There are plenty of fantastic restaurants to choose from in St Vlas, and many offer fabulous views of the sunset and the bay.

Similar to other seaside villages, accommodation with private pensions and houses is in high supply as well. St Vlas lies close to the lively resort of Sunny Beach and the historic UNESCO town of Nessebur. Both are easily accessible by public transport and a boat taxi links St Vlas to Nessebur. Bulgaria's largest holiday resort, Sunny Beach lies 5 km away and offers a wide variety of entertainment suitable for visitors of all tastes and ages. It is renowned for its lively nightlife, abundant family entertainment and prestigious 8 km of Blue Flag beaches.

Unless otherwise stated, photographs of St Vlas by kind permission of Elena Georgieva of