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Balchik, the White Stone Town

Balchik’s incredible view out across the Black Sea so impressed the ancient poet Ovid that he wrote "O white stone town, I salute thee for thy inimitable beauty!" Balchik has been known as the White Town for centuries because majestic white limestone cliffs surround the quaint historic town centre and seaport.

The area is surrounded by a variety of secluded bays with quaint names like Shepherds beach, Golden Fish White rock.

The town has a population of 13,561 and lies directly on the northern coast in the southern Dobruzha.

 

Location and access

It sits on a series of undulating terraces cascading from the Dobruzha Plateau down to the sea. Its steep streets and Baroque architecture add an air of romance to the town seldom found in this part of Bulgaria.
Balchik is easily accessed by road. It is 440 km from Sofia and lies on the main highway from Romania to Varna, 60 km from the border. There is regular public transport between the cities of Varna and Dobrich, which lie 48 and 36 km away respectively and to the Albena beach resort 14 km away. The nearest international airport, Varna is 50 km away. The town has a good taxi network and a private mini bus system, which links Balchik with neighbouring villages and other Black Sea beach resorts.

Tourism is a leading source of income in the town and much has been invested into its infrastructure and the revitalisation of the main promenade. The success in this area is evident from the fact that during peak season you need to book hotels in advance.

The municipality has also invested heavily in the construction of a new yacht marina with a capacity for 60 yachts. The yacht port lies close to Balchik’s main port, which specialises in the handling of vegetable oil, livestock and grain.

 

A Dip Back in Time

Originally an ancient Greek colony called Krounoi, the town has always played an important role because of its easy access as a port. A Byzantine fortress once stood on the site of the town. During the rule of the Ottoman Empire, the town adopted its present name, which is believed to have originated from a Gagauz Turkish word meaning “small town.” After the Bulgarian liberation at the end of the 19th century, the town grew into a prosperous agricultural area and one of Bulgaria’s leading seaports.


During the 20th century the town had a somewhat interesting history; between 1913-1916 and 1919-1940, it was part of neighbouring Romania and it was not just the poet Ovid who fell in love with this beautiful town, Queen Marie of Romania, a descendant of the British Queen Victoria, loved the place so much that she arranged for a palace to be constructed overlooking the sea and spent many summers here. She also instructed that when she died her heart should be buried here and it was indeed kept in Blachik until the territory was given back to Bulgaria in 1940. During the 1960’s Balchik started to attract tourists due to its proximity to the newly opened beach resort, Albena.

Eating, Drinking and Where to Stay

Apart from the large restaurants around the palace and the promenade, there are a number of small private restaurants offering a wide variety of European cuisine from seafood to pizzas and spaghetti.

Noteworthy restaurants include The Mill underneath the Palace and the Crown also close to the palace.

Further afield visitors should venture out to the Mussel Farm known as Dalboka. Located near to Russalka it is only accessible by car, but is well worth the journey as it serves a vast selection of home produced sea food dishes.

Close to Balchik there are two large campsites, Sandrino Camping and Belia Bryag Camping. Both offer a variety of opportunities for relaxation and water sports along with clubs, bars and restaurants. The main promenade is home to numerous stylish restaurants, but well worth trying is the Morsko Oko, Balchik’s oldest restaurant. It is open all year round and serves a wide selection of fish, seafood and salad dishes. A small orchestra playing in the background lends an old fashioned ambience to this restaurant. The restaurants within the Lotus Hotel also offer live music and a wide range of Bulgarian and European cuisine.

If you are visiting the Palace the restaurant at its foot, The Korona is a good resting point with tasteful surroundings and food to match. The Diana Hotel restaurant has a charming terrace area where guests can dine and enjoy the beautiful panorama. The restaurant specialises in food prepared from local organic produce with particular emphasis on fish dishes and good quality wines and Rakia.

Nearby Albena offers a wealth of tourist hotels, but its restaurants tend to be highly priced and somewhat lacking in quality. Balchik offers more newly built accommodation with particularly excellent facilities.

The Marina City Hotel located on the main promenade opposite the yacht port offers stylish accommodation close to a host of water sports activities and cafe’s and water’s edge restaurants.

The hotel offers modern facilities, lobby bar, open-air restaurant at the beach, meeting- and conference room and all amenities needed for a business meeting or fulfilling holiday.

The Kaliakra Hotel lies close to the Palace and Botanical and has 80 rooms. It offers a personal, friendly service and is ideally suited to families. The Mistral Hotel is another hotel with an idyllic location overlooking the marina. The hotel has an attractive stone façade with some beautiful ornamental wrought iron work, which conjures up images of the South of France.

Located in the town centre, the Akroza Hotel has been tastefully refurbished to maintain the original character of the old building. In addition to its restaurant the hotel also has an onsite casino and the hotel goes out of its way to organise some interesting tours and activities for its guests including diving tours and yacht picnics.