With one of the best beaches on the Northern coast, Albena is ideal for holidaymakers of all ages. It lies 30 km away from the city of Varna and around 12 km from Balchik and 12 km from Golden Sands. The resort is renowned for its 6 km long beach. Its location is idyllic with the lush green hills of the Balata National Park as a backdrop to the wide, clean sandy beaches and sparkling sea.
A Dip Back in Time
Like the rest of Bulgaria’s beach resorts, they were no more than untouched stretches of coastline lined with oaks and sycamore trees. However, legend has it that the Roman poet Ovid stayed here during his journey of exile to Romania.
In a wave to cope with the growing demand in tourism in Bulgaria particularly from the Eastern bloc, Albena was constructed in 1960 and named after the famous Bulgarian writer Yordan Yordanov’s female character Albena, who was extremely beautiful.
Today much of the architecture in the resort reflects the Communist roots of the resort with many imposing concrete hotel blocks. This is not to say that the resort is unattractive; many prefer Albena to the other Northern resorts because of its abundance of greenery with its many parks and tree lined boulevards and undoubtedly the best beach on this part of the coast.
Things to Do
The tourist season in Albena lasts from May until October, when the weather is ideal for lounging on the beach and the crystal clear sea is like a warm bath. The resort is easy to get around by means of Disney-style trains, which shuttle visitors from one part of the resort to another.
The area is rich in mineral springs and many places offer some excellent spa treatments administered by professional medical staff. Albena’s mineral springs are rich in calcium, magnesium and sulphur and are naturally warm. The Dobrudzha Hotel, a large Communist style pyramid in the centre of the resort offers 120 different treatments
The resort provides more opportunities for sports than any other of the Northern resorts. There are seven football pitches, one of the best riding stables in the country, a multifunctional sports hall, several tennis courts, swimming pools and of course, plenty in the way of water sports like jet skiing, parasailing, diving and sailing. Albena hosts many amateur and professional sports tournaments particularly the spring and autumn – one of the most prestigious is the Vladimir Grashnov’s Annual Football Tournament. For kids there are numerous play areas, mini golf and an abundance of fair rides. At the beginning of May there is an annual car rally.
Albena hosts many conferences and hosts many cultural events including an International Children's Festival, the Golden Antenna Festival of Musical and Entertainment for the best TV programmes, concerts, a puppet theatre and a competition at the Art Galery Stil, where children are encouraged to draw works of art on the ground. One of the best events is the folk festival with performances from singers and dancers from the Dobroudzha region.
Eating, Drinking and Where to Stay
The resort has many beaches situated directly on the beach, but they are not the chic, modern buildings found in Golden Sands, although they offer all modern facilities and many have some splendid swimming pools with some exciting water play areas for children. There are around 43 hotels in the resort ranging from two to four stars offering over 20,000 beds and some of the hotels are open all year round in particular those offering spa centres. Most hotels have swimming pools on-site as well as other amenities. The resort is undergoing some renovation and the recently built hotels like the Flamenco offer luxurious surroundings. Most rooms have panoramic views either of the sea or the forests of the Balata Reserve.
Albena also has a rich nightlife with plenty of night spots right on the shore. The resort also offers a wealth of restaurants and bars and whilst prices are slightly cheaper than in Golden Sands, they are still expensive compared to those in Varna or Balchik. They range from traditional Bulgarian Mehana restaurants where food is grilled on open air barbecues to beach barsselling a range of Western style snacks. Some of the best places for dining in the resort are the Picnic Orehite, Slavyanski Kut, Starobulgarski Stan, Flambe Restaurant, Stariyat Dub, Ribarska Hizha and the Arabella ship restaurant, which serves delicious seafood. One event worth seeing is the Bulgarian Fiesta, a tourist staged evening held in the Orehite restaurant. The evening consists of traditional Bulgarian dancing and folk music with fire dances over hot coals. Traditional Bulgarian cuisine is served and includes plenty of salads and Rakiya.