The more northerly of the two major cities on Bulgaria’s Black Sea Riviera
Varna is enjoying its new-found status as an international resort town. Peel back the surface and you’ll find ancient settlements, a vibey university scene and a thriving seaport with much to offer the inquisitive visitor. In fact, one eminent British newspaper even called it “the good time capital of Bulgaria”. Go - and find out why.
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Varna's central district is the best place for shopping. If you want to know where Varna locals shop for the latest fashions, head to the pedestrian stretch of Knyaz Boris I Boulevard, which is chock-a-block with international clothes boutiques. For local designer threads, spend time browsing Blaga Blagoeva (32 Vladislav Varenchik Boulevard). Local art is always a good souvenir, and Varna has plenty of galleries. Check out Capricorn Gallery (1 Sveti Kliment Ohridski Boulevard) and Graffit Gallery (65 Knyaz Boris I Boulevard) for high-quality, original paintings and sculpture by Bulgarian artists.
Food & Drink
Fine dining in Varna doesn't come better than Di Wine Restaurant & Wine Cellar (2 Bratia Shkorpil Street), which has a lengthy wine list and a good selection of French- and Italian-influenced cuisine. Less pricey but no less delicious, Pri Monahinite (47 Primorski Boulevard) provides a cosy spot to enjoy traditional Bulgarian favourites, while Paraklisa (8 Yoan Ekzarh Street) dishes up rustic local food with no pretentions. For a drink, Graffiti Café (65 Knyaz Boris I Boulevard) is an oasis of stylish minimalism, while Alba Restaurant and Pub (34 Maria Louiza Boulevard) has a popular beer garden that's perfect for people watching.
Sea and Memories Festival
Running since 1998, this three-day extravaganza of pop music from the 1940s to 80s includes performances from both local and international musicians. Concerts take place in Varna's Festival and Congress Centre.
Varna Summer International Theatre Festival
With an emphasis on Bulgarian theatre productions and international drama, this event is a great chance for visitors to see the latest productions on the world stage. The best of the year’s performances are showcased, while events and concerts take place throughout the city.
Varna Summer International Music Festival
The city's oldest music festival has something for every kind of classical music lover, from orchestral displays, opera performances and chamber concerts to soloist recitals. Musicians from as far afield as the USA and Hong Kong appear on stage during the programme. Most concerts take place in the Festival and Congress Centre, but there are also events at City Art Gallery and at open-air venues.
Varna Summer International Jazz Festival
This three-day festival hosts world-renowned jazz musicians, local big names and fresh faces of the genre in a series of concerts at the Archaeological Museum.
International Folk Festival
Celebrating the diverse traditions of folk music and dance, this annual event brings a spectacle of colourful costumes and fascinating performances to Varna. Folk ensembles from across the world entertain the crowds at this popular event.
Even five-star room prices here are fabulously affordable, making the 'summer capital' of Bulgaria a top choice for good value holidays. The luxury Graffit Gallery Design Hotel (65 Knyaz Boris I Boulevard) oozes contemporary chic, but if you're looking for something more traditional, Grand Hotel London (3 Musala Street) is packed full of charming old-fashioned style. Those on a budget can check into Boutique Splendid Hotel (30 Bratia Shkorpil Street), which boasts regal rooms in a beautifully restored building, while four-star Capitol Hotel (40 Petko Karavelov Street) epitomises art nouveau elegance.